​Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): A Job Seeker's Guide

Posted on 19 October 2023

​Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): A Job Seeker's Guide

It has become increasingly important for job seekers to understand how Applicant Tracking Systems operate in the modern job market. This blog will provide job seekers with tips and advice on optimising their Curculum Vitae "CV" for ATS and increasing their chances of being seen by recruiters.

Introduction: What Are Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, are electronic resume-processing software used by Human Resources departments and recruiters to screen CVs. The ATS scans and organises CVs so employers can quickly identify and evaluate potential job candidates. The ATS initially scans CVs for relevant keywords and formatting and then quickly shortlists and assigns scores to applicants according to the relevance of their qualifications for the job.

The challenge for job seekers is that their CV may be rejected by the ATS if they lack the right keywords or if their resume format is not optimised for the ATS. This process can be highly time-consuming, as employers may receive hundreds of applications for one job and the ATS will reject any CVs that do not meet the basic requirements. As a result, job seekers need to know how to optimise their CVs for ATS to increase their chances of being seen by recruiters.

How to Optimise Your CV/Resume for ATS

When optimising a resume for ATS, the two key factors are using the right keywords and formatting. Using keywords (words or phrases that apply to the job) will ensure that the ATS can track and score your resume. For example, if the job requires a specific software skillset, then make sure to list those software names in your resume. Generally, employers will list their job requirements in the job post, so make sure you use those keywords in your CV.

Regarding formatting, there are specific guidelines to ensure that your CV is adequately picked up by the ATS. Choose the right font and font size, such as Times New Roman 12pt. Utilise headings, bullet points and spaces to make the information more accessible to read and more organised. The ATS will reject any CVs with unclear text blocks or too many characters on one line.

Finally, try to use the same language as the job description. Using similar terms, titles and keywords as the job post will demonstrate your understanding of the requirements and help the ATS to rank your CV higher.

How to Increase Your Chances of Being Seen by Recruiters

Optimising your CV for ATS is the first step in increasing your chances of being seen by recruiters. Once your CV has been shortlisted by the ATS, there are other steps you can take to ensure that recruiters will be likely to review it.

Using job boards with CV-parsing technology can be a great way to ensure that your CV will be read by recruiters. Generally, these job boards have their own ATS that automatically convert your resume into a format that's readable for employers. Researching the company you're applying to can also give you an edge. A well-tailored summary that provides evidence of an understanding of the company's work can give employers the assurance they need to contact you.

Finally, an excellent way to boost your application is to follow up with the recruiter after submitting your CV. Sending a polite email or a quick follow-up call can show employers that you are serious about the position and keen to progress in the application process.


In conclusion, Applicant Tracking Systems can be a challenging experience for job seekers as the ATS often rejects CVs for lacking the right keywords or formatting. To optimise a CV for ATS, job seekers must use the right keywords, choose the right fonts and font size, and use the same language as the job description. Additionally, job seekers should look to use job boards with CV-parsing technology, research the company they're applying to, and tailor their Cvs to the job. Lastly, it is essential to follow up with the recruiter if appropriate.

By understanding the concepts outlined in this blog, job seekers can better optimize their CV for ATS and increase their chances of being seen by recruiters.

Peter Barry

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