The Future of Job Applications

What is ATS?

ATS = Applicant Tracking System

ATS is a type of software that allows employers to manage their job applications more effectively. As you can imagine, employers receive lots of applications for each job they post. ATS filters and sorts the applications so employers only see the most relevant applications. This makes it easier for employers to assess applications and speeds up the overall recruiting process. The software uses keywords from job descriptions to filter and sort applications. Therefore, CVs that have not been tailored to the specific application will fall at the bottom of the ATS list and may not be viewed by employers.

How does it work?

Employers will input specific keywords relevant to the role they are hiring for to create a focused search within the ATS. Keywords may include qualifications or software names that may be required for the role. For example, finance opportunities may flag programs such as SAGE, Xero, or Quickbooks. The applicants who have these clearly written on their CV will then be highlighted and ranked higher on the list.

The software also tracks how you engage with the job market. This means employers are able to see any other roles you may have applied for within their company. If you apply for many roles that are substantially different, employers will see this and maybe wary of your application. It will appear as though you have not researched into the role and tailored your application. With this tracking facility, ATS is also able to store your application on a long-term basis.

Tips to Boost Your Applications with ATS:

CV Formatting:

You can take action to ensure your CV is not overlooked by ATS software and increase your chances of job success. Although they can showcase your digital creative skills well, creative CVs cannot be read properly by ATS. You can still send creative CVs directly via email to apply for jobs but be careful when submitting CVs online as they may pass through ATS. Even with the use of relevant keywords, your creative CV will not be read properly and will show that you do not have these keywords. You also do not want images on your CV that holds information as ATS only reads text. It cannot read text written on images.

Within your personal summary section, you should include a sentence stating the role you are applying for/want. This will also come in useful when submitting your CV onto the job boards such as CV-library and Total Jobs. Recruiters are less likely to contact you if they have a role that does not align with what you are after.

CV Tailoring:

You want to tailor your CV to every role by pulling relevant information from the job description. For ATS purposes you do not necessarily need to include the full word if the acronym is used within the job description. However, recruiters reading your CV may not know the terminology and may need the term to identify the skill. For example, without specifying what ATS means at the beginning this article would be very confusing for those who do not know applicant tracking systems.

As long as you tailor your CV to each job including keywords and skills, you should not be filtered out by ATS. When tailoring your CV for ATS remember to include the following keywords:

  • Title of the role you are applying for.
  • The technical skills you have that match the job description.
  • The qualifications, both from school and other chartered institutes i.e. additional online courses on Excel.
  • Generic locations of recent places of work, i.e. Milton Keynes.
  • Specific duties you completed within employment that match the duties listed on the job description.


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