Applicant Tracking System, how to beat the job search filter

Applicant Tracking System
No more humans. The first screen of your resume is now a computer.

Why you need more than one resume

The applicant tracking system or ATS. We have heard about them, we have been frustrated by them and today, we learn how to beat them. Most of the hiring world has moved to the use of an applicant tracking system. This is a system that takes the first screen out of the hand of the human reviewer and automates the resume review. For many large companies, humans are not the first filter.  Today, we explain how Career Tracker can help you be successful in an applicant tracking system world.

Here at Career Tracker, we receive a lot of questions about applicant tracking systems. The top two questions are:

  • What is a keyword?
  • What advice do you have for me when filling out an online application that might be processed through an applicant tracking system or ATS?

We have answers to both of the above bullets, but first, let’s establish a baseline of terms. 

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system is the software that most large hiring companies use to scan, store, and track an applicant’s resumes within a database. Most growing companies that have a lot of job openings are also using applicant tracking systems.

After your resume is submitted, the ATS reviews, sorts and stores your resume into a database. This is a good thing because recruiters who are not using an ATS don’t have an efficient way to access your resume. You may not be the perfect candidate for a current position, but you might be the perfect candidate for a position that opens up 4 weeks later. With an ATS, your resume remains in the system and is easily accessible.

Database vs. piles of resumes on a desk

At a very high level, if a recruiter is looking in their database for a Customer Service Representative and your resume has customer service experience, your resume will be flagged. What recruiters like about a database is that they can search the database for specific resumes and in some cases, skills, and even specific company experience.

Most of us use Google to research a specific topic and we what we type into the Google search field is considered the “keyword”. As a recruiter with 20 open positions, I don’t want 20 piles of resumes on my desk. I want a database where all candidates who have applied in the past and in the present can be searched.

What is a keyword?

A keyword:

  • is a word that acts as the key to a cipher or a code
  • an informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of the document

In the candidates use case, the “cipher or code” is the job description. If you can crack the job description then you can recognize the “keywords” which are being used to filter your resume. 

The informative word is the word used to search the database of stored resumes.

How do keywords affect your application?

Let’s say you have 5 years of experience as a Customer Service Representative. You find a position that is looking for 5 years of experience as a Customer Success Representative. If you have 4-6 years of experience as a Customer Success Representative, your resume will probably get picked up. When you list 5 years of experience as a Customer Service Representative, you may or may not get picked up.

If the job description is looking for experience as a Customer Success Representative, we want to avoid listing our experience as a:

  • Customer Service Representative
  • Customer Service Rep
  • CSR
  • Customer Support Representative

The software is looking for a Customer Success Representative and that is what we need to give the system. A perfectly qualified Customer Support Representative may not score as well as a Customer Success Representative.

Applicant Tracking System Tip number 2

The summary statement at the top of your resume is a great place to use keywords. For this reason, you need to make sure you insert the keywords and vocabulary from the job description to match.  

The way to crack the code is to review the job description and find the “keywords” that are critical to the job description. These are usually found in the job title, first 4-5 bullets of the job description and the first 3-4 bullets of the job requirements.  They are not going to bolded, highlighted, or circled, but they will be the “important” words used in the job description.

How Career Tracker helps you get past the Applicant Tracking System

A resume for a Customer Service Representative position using the words Customer Service Representative will make it past the Applicant Tracking System filters.  If you are applying for a Customer Success Representative, we should create a 2nd version of your resume for this specific job. Your first resume may be filtered by the Applicant Tracking System because we don’t have the correct lexicon. This second version will make use of the keyword Customer Success Representative. This new resume can be saved and tracked within the Career Tracker application.

How many resumes can Career Tracker handle?

If you are also applying for a CSR position, create a third resume in the Resume Creator. With this resume we change our Customer Service Representative language to CSR.

Career Tracker makes it easy to create and track the various versions of your resume. It also takes the guesswork out of where and when you applied to each position. We don’t want to show up to an interview for a Customer Service Representative and give the interviewer a resume for the Customer Success Representative!

Good luck!

The Career Tracker team


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