Narc Executive
6 min readApr 26, 2022


Wonder why your resume looks visually impressive with the prolific experiences and original design template but fails to be called for an interview? One way or another, the Human Resource managers may have moved your email to the trash box, or never once fancy to look at it for more than 6 seconds. With over 1000 job applicants seeking a place at big companies every year, it is taxing and time-consuming to scan manually one by one. This is when ATS becomes the personal assistant of busy recruiters.

Application tracking software, or the so-called ATS, tracks the resumes of job applicants before reaching the eyes of a company’s hiring manager. In the broader spectrum, the software acts as a gatekeeper in the process of filtering candidates, including sending notifications on new job applicants, posting open recruitment ads on the company’s website or job search websites, analyzing job applicants’ resumes using machine learning, up to scheduling job tests and interviews. More conveniently, it provides a paperless database of every application that can be sorted and searched specifically in real-time, therefore assisting hiring professionals in making recruitment reports. All mentioned above, employers can save hours with ATS to work on other tasks.

Primarily working to sort out candidates, ATS has a complex algorithm to achieve human trust. But how does it work? The technology tracks keywords from the candidates’ resumes that are relevant to the position chosen, especially the parts of qualifications and duties. It underpins keyword optimization, screening for keywords that have been selected by the employers; so the more similar the words from your resume and their vocabulary bank are, the higher the chance candidates get promoted to the interview. Unfortunately, studies show that different job titles between companies (albeit the job is the same), may encounter errors in ATS reading. For this reason, top recruiters will manage to skim through the resumes, to look for special qualities that may be offered using different language styles. Human intervention is nevertheless necessary if the candidate is overqualified. This case can happen to someone who has much more or much fewer years of experience in the field. Still, the system is so highly efficient that 98% of Fortune 500 companies would employ ATS to weed out top candidates and eliminate less-qualified applicants. For instance, in 2012, Procter & Gamble has nearly a million applicants for 2,000 jobs, averaging 500 applicants per job. If their hiring managers were required to examine each resume manually, this certainly would be a laborious ordeal!

So, what are the tips to cross the border of ATS and get hired? Above all, this one is arguably the indispensable point. Have you met 75–80% of the prerequisites? If yes, go for it, unless you shouldn’t expect the next round to come. After this green light, start writing your resume uniquely for each company. This is because companies set up keywords for ATS which may be biased, and reject you when there are too many mismatches in your interpretation. Words for job titles, duties, and skills do matter a lot. Acknowledging that, firstly, you should respect the format. Select an ATS-friendly resume template over the more creative ones. It is also recommended to avoid using fancy, must-download fonts and opt for Word-existing fonts. In addition, the format should be clear of graphics, tables, text boxes, colored ink, as well as headers and footers. Secondly, employ the range of vocabulary mentioned in the job advertisement post. Repetitive use of words reveals more positive results of ATS. Although appearing dull, ATS works like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), meaning more implicit language styles are less suitable. Before the final step, check, check and re-check! You may also want to request a more experienced person or your peers to review for feedback. Once you are confident, send your resume as a Word document rather than in a PDF version, to be eligible for the ATS system. So the next time you are applying for a job, be sure to implement these effective steps!

Picture 1. ATS-friendly template

Source: Resume Worded

Another interesting fact to point out is that ATS also records other jobs a person applies for a company. If you apply for too many jobs in the same company, the system will automatically reject you. Moreover, employers can track your engagement with their company, including the number of your visits to their website, the company’s blog posts you have read, and your activity with the recruiters or the company’s social media. This term is better known as CRM (Candidate Relationship Management). Even sometimes, the company may unintentionally target their recruitment advertisement to potential people who are updated with their activities. That being said, your social media interaction rate is just as essential as building your career.

Moving forward to the future, employers will explore deeper about their applicants’ interests and accomplishments that may not be very widely publicized, such as digital badges, e-portfolios, or even transcripts and assessments. For instance, Devscore is a website that ranks web developers’ coding skills and experiences based on their coding styles, framework, and language from their uploaded codes to the website. Recently, it has allowed recruiters to evaluate developer candidates whose talents match their business needs from anywhere worldwide. When an employer’s search for some criteria has not been available, the software can notify them once a new relevant candidate appears. This way, non-tech savvy employers can also achieve better results rather than reading a “polished” resume, as the system assesses candidates’ hard skills. Hence, in the years ahead, recruiters will be interested to find every available data about their candidates across the Internet.

Picture 2. Devscore’s ranking of candidates

Source: The HR Tech Weekly

Picture 3. Candidate’s coding portfolio in Devscore

Source: The HR Tech Weekly

In conclusion, ATS is today’s way for large companies to hire employees. Resumes need to be carefully designed and written, to pass the gates of ATS before being screened by a hiring professional. It is, therefore, crucial to follow the guides above to kickstart your job. Additionally, in the future, employers will examine candidates beyond the scope of the existent norms; that is, to seek as much data to fully grasp the notions, potentials, and ultimately the image of a candidate based on their life experiences and social activities.

Written By:Calista Narta


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