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The secret to beating the application tracking system

Tips for beating a job application system

Filtering resumes as per the Job requirement is a daunting process in most of the organisations. According to Capterra, (an application tracking system review company), 75 % of large companies use ATS (Applicant tracking system) and SMBs are not far behind to chase them. But what is ATS all about and why you need to learn how to decipher.

ATS, a software helps recruiters to scan, sort, scan and rank the job applications. This system was created for large multinational considering the number of applicants and jobs they have. However, it has become a commonplace tool for most of the organisations irrespective of their size.

So, it’s apparent that job hunters should know how to crack this code of ATS when they apply for jobs. Also, ATS is aimed to save the employer’s time and nowhere depicts a tracking system of the entire process of selection. It filters out applicants by dividing strong Vs weak candidates. Most of the time, its never seen by a real person!

Follow the standard format

ATS (Resume Robots) cannot decipher fancy words or graphics. If you really want it crack the ATS then use simple language, simple font, save it as Rich text or as MS doc. Use standard headings like Education, Work Experience, And Skills. There is quite a possibility that few organisations carry a certain format to read in a sequence like Company Name, Title, Dates of employment and so on. Company’s name is core keyword here to be placed as priority.

Use of keywords

As we know ATS works on keywords, and there is no human touch in the initial process. So, all the resumes need to go through the same technology before they reach their destination. Adding some descriptive words on core skills or related technology would be added advantage. But that doesn’t mean that you can even use those keywords where you had never worked. Please be honest in what you write and see if the kind of work you have done can really fit into that keyword, which the organisation is looking at?

Descriptive resumes are better

The formats which have been used for Standard resumes have changed in these years. Few prefer to make it as crisp to fit into a single page while others try to make it more reflective in terms of accomplishments. But ATS finds it easy to find useful context in your mentioned keyword. Then, it becomes imperative to be more descriptive when you talk about your professional life. Never limit your achievements and writing about professional accolades. These are the value additions and make your resume better.

Avoid Acronyms

When everyone prefers to use code language with a list of acronyms, ATS looks for the whole term. This feature avoids any type of confusion while scanning. Also, Acronyms are good on personal communication, but Resumes should never be loaded with it. There is no shortcut to cover description if you’re aiming to crack ATS. Apart from this, ATS can’t read graphics or symbols of any kind, too much of capitalisation of sub-heading, tables (use tab) and sometimes even photo to avoid discrimination of age, race, sex etc.

Job posting keywords

Before applying for a job, it’s imperative to read the job posting carefully. Jobs posted online with specific keywords and while you apply for that job please use the same keywords in your resume. In the end, it should match and there is a high possibility of ATS to pick that resume out of thousands. So, never ignore what the job is all about and how you need to refine your content before you apply.


To maximise the effectiveness of your job search, it’s important that your resume and LinkedIn profile carry similar keywords. There shouldn’t be a difference in terms of expertise and what role you’re looking at. Never exaggerate or lie about the work experience as it might affect your credibility. It’s not always a trick to decoding the ATS algorithm but honesty in applying for the dream job. Also, never add those experiences where you unsure about the detailing. Write as per your gained knowledge and not just to crack ATS. You might crack ATS but ultimately you need answer all those you’d mentioned in your resume, even you are not the expert in that niche.

While you apply online and how ATS helps to sift through thousands of applications to find out the most qualified resumes to match the job posted on a job portal. To add, ATS is a Resume Robot which enables organisations to filter the extensive applicants. But on the other hand, please keep your LinkedIn or Professional connections alive and apply for referral programs, crossing over the ATS process. Please remember being honest in your resume is the best thing one can do. Your target shouldn’t be only cracking the ATS code, but the credibility goes within.

About the author

Jayakumar Muthusamy is a Digital marketer at Freshworks Inc. He generally writes about software that improves your marketing, sales or hiring process

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare why not check out these related posts and dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is recruitment.

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