Applicant Tracking System – a helping hand to recruiter but a stab to job-seeker?

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? 

ATS is no longer an unfamiliar term to HR professionals. ATS is of the essence to assist recruiters in managing applicants’ database and for a better job-match. Basically, ATS’ functions are somehow overlapping with other HRIS (Human Resources IT System), such as saving and managing resumes, applicants info and so on. However, one of the most crucial function of ATS which is mentioned as a mass job-matching to best seek the potential applicants.

How does ATS working? 

Regularly, ATS use keywords to track and match an applicant’s resume and it can quickly tells whether that applicant is a fit to their organization or not. Every thing is done automatically and quickly, saving recruiters’ a bunch of time and money; except for its vague mechanism.  The keywords from an applicant’s resume are extracted then put in comparison with keywords drawn from the job description and for example, if your resume’ keywords are not matching at least 80% of those from the job description, you are out! As the keywords are extracted and generated from applicants’ resumes automatically by the software/apps, it leads to unwanted in-explicitness. Sometimes, the reason is that the software/app cannot understand or read the keywords, they will just skip it and decide that the applicant is lack of necessary skills. Or even just for no reason.

My experience

It is certain that each of ATS app/software has different level of operation and so do their accuracy. I used a site called and I suppose it has the same mechanism with some other ATS. Just copy your resume contents and the job description contents and paste into two boards, it will present how much your resume could be a match with the job. I found that the key words are generated exactly and time of processing is not up 10 second. However, there are some concerns that arose.

For example, the app keeps on informing me that I am lack of Microsoft Office Skill, while it is written in black and white on my resume that I own an advanced skill set of Microsoft Office. I later found out that the cause for this mistake is that I have written Microsoft office, instead of MS Office like what was presented in the job description.

A similar mistake is that the app decided I have no Officer skills, while I really have a heaps of those, under the name of Office Administrative skills. There were more than 4 several similar confusion.

Of course, my purpose is not to claim that this is a bad example of ATS, it actually helps me to adjust part of my resume. However, I believe there might be other ATS which would behave the same, and for these reasons, your resume is gonna be kicked out.

How to beat ATS?

Well, this is the question that it takes lot of time and technical skills to answer, but meanwhile, we could do something to light a hope of landing an interview.

  • Use different resume-analyzing site, for example, to understand the keywords concept. This jobscan allows you to scan your resume 5 times/month for free but you could treat your resume similarly manually by scanning keywords from the job description and adjust your resume’ keywords in a way that they look really close to those of the description.
  • Be more alert with job vacancies which require you to fill in information on their sites, or copy your resume as plain text and paste. There is a high likeliness that they are using an ATS instead of reading your resumes with your own eyes.
  • Some even use more direct way such as taking a very active role to contact recruiters rather than passively scanned by an ATS. Much impressed by this video:

Published by

Duong Doan

born in Vietnam, studying in Finland, Germany and Spain, loving to study Chinese and Finnish I suddenly feel like writing and picking up some writing skills so in this blog you will find my favorite topics such as Human Resources, metal/rock music, food and some random thoughts of my own life

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