ATS Explained:

Updated: Jan 27

What is it and what does it mean for my CV?

When you’re applying for jobs it’s inevitable that you’ll come across the phrase ‘ATS’. But what does it mean and how does it affect you?

In this blog, we’ll explore what ATS is, how it works, and tell you everything you need to know to make sure your CV gets through the ATS process.

What does ATS mean?

-- ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System.
-- Don’t panic - it’s a lot less complicated than you might think!

Essentially, an ATS helps recruiters to narrow down potential candidates to those who have the skills and experience needed to do the job well. Think of an ATS as the first stage of the interview process. An ATS will help businesses and recruiters to sweep away any candidates who aren’t suitable for the role, and leave only the candidates who are a good fit. It’s a common tool, and nearly 40% of employers use screening technology or ATS software to sift through applications before they get looked at by a real person.

The important thing to remember about ATS software is that it’s not there to make it harder for candidates to apply for roles. It’s there to make finding the right candidate easier.

As long as you have the right skill set and experience, an ATS is nothing to worry about. In fact, an ATS won’t really affect what you write on your CV, it’ll simply affect how you write it.

How does an ATS work?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scan through hundreds of CVs searching for keywords and phrases that indicate whether or not a candidate is suited to a specific role. For example, if a company is looking to employ someone to run online adverts, they may be looking for a CV that uses the phrase ‘Facebook funnel’, ‘social media advertising’, or ‘pay per click adverts’. If a CV doesn’t have any of the key words the ATS has been programmed to look for, that CV will be disregarded. Similarly, if a candidate must have a degree in mechanical engineering to be considered for the position, any CV without this qualification will be sent to the bottom of the pile.

ATS software will quickly sift through candidates and recognise if a CV is irrelevant to the position advertised.

Why do businesses use ATS software?

Corporate jobs can receive 250 applications per role, and during 2020, competition for jobs has soared even more., Using an ATS system can help recruiters to quickly discard candidates who aren’t suitable, leaving them with fewer CVs to look through.

The automation ATS software offers has the potential to save recruiters time, energy and money. 78% of companies that use ATS software, say it makes hiring ‘easier than ever’.
ATS can be customised to suit the role advertised, and the system can scan for everything from key words relating to specific technical skills, to the number of years of experience, and the university a candidate graduated from.

With single click applications offered on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed, it can be tempting to apply for a whole host of roles without ever really paying attention to the job itself. ATS software helps companies to immediately prioritise the CVs of candidates who fit their profile - and usually, that will be the candidates who have tailored their CV specifically for that role.

Why should you be aware of ATS?

Even if you are the most qualified applicant for a role, if your CV doesn’t tick all the boxes an ATS system is looking for, it may never reach the top of the pile. It’s essential that you understand how to optimise your CV for ATS to give yourself the best possible chance in the job market.