Why you shouldn't be worried about 'beating' an ATS

Scattered all over the Google search result pages when you type in "ATS, is content upon content related to 'beating the ATS'. It's as if, the ATS is an unbeatable level in a video game, and everyone has a walkthrough to show their way through it. When it comes time to apply for jobs, recruiting software such as an ATS is not something to fear, rather, it's something to work with.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) An applicant tracking system (ATS) is the software used by recruiters and HR departments to track candidates that apply for jobs. They are instrumental in assisting recruiters and hiring managers with this process and assist them with a number of unique features.

Job seekers have often been misled to think that they need to “beat” an ATS in order to get their resumes seen by a hiring manager. When in reality, it is quite the opposite.

Why are job seekers always trying to "beat" an ATS?

Any good Applicant Tracking System has something called a resumé parser. This feature allows the recruiter or hiring manager to keyword search through the many resumes they receive in order to find candidates who are applicable for certain jobs. In addition, an ATS also provides tools like email and calendar sync, custom job portals, and SMS to assist the user with their hiring efforts.


As we mentioned before, there are countless articles that try to coach job seekers on how to “beat” a resume parser, resulting in the mindset that an ATS or resume parser is something more than a simple tool. In reality, it is quite the opposite. Suggested tactics like keyword stuffing (putting certain hidden keywords in your resume in an attempt to boost your appearance in search results) will often be noticed by the hiring manager and can actually negatively impact your chance at getting a phone screen or interview. Good ATS’s will highlight all keywords, so if you’re trying to pack your resume with hidden text it will be extremely obvious to the recruiter.

The other misconception is that applicant tracking systems automatically “knock out” candidates who are lacking certain keywords in their resume. Again, in the end, it is the recruiter or hiring manager who makes the final decision on whether or not to consider your application and move you forward in their hiring process, or “workflow”.

According to GetFive, “keyword stuffing is a common pitfall for job hunters who often don’t even realize they’re making the mistake. Cramming your resume with too many keywords is risky and has cost many people job opportunities. The first reason to use keywords strategically in your resume is to appease the applicant tracking systems.”

So instead, a candidate’s time is better spent trying to make their resumé stand out from the crowd. Simple things like choosing an easy-to-read format, or making sure there are no grammatical errors or gaps in employment history will get noticed more than a cloud of keywords.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that a human is still the one in control of the ATS, and the one that is making the hiring decisions - so why not aim to satisfy them?

What are the benefits of an ATS for recruiters?

Custom Workflow: With so many candidates being thrown through a pipeline, recruiters can take advantage of a custom workflow for job orders. As an organizational tool, this one makes the ‘tracking’ in Applicant Tracking System real. A customizable workflow is an essential tool for recruiters, automating simple tasks like scheduling interviews or phone screens, sending email templates, or even a pre-written text message.


Calendar Sync: This feature allows recruiters to keep their ATS calendar and their external Google, Outlook or Exchange calendars in sync at all times. No matter which application you are in, recruiters will always have a complete view of which events are coming up. When combined with features like the CATS meeting scheduler, calendar sync is an extremely powerful tool that eliminates the back and forth of scheduling interviews or phone screens.

Sending Text (SMS) Messages: Recruiters can even use recruiting software to send out information and invitations to connect through more modern channels such as text messages. With SMS capabilities, Applicant tracking systems are able to bring recruiters right to the forefront of a candidates mind and connect where it matters - on mobile.


These are just a few of the many features provided by an applicant tracking system that help recruiters easily identify and place candidates for open jobs. These extra steps in organization and communication are often crucial to making a placement and scoring someone a dream job.

In essence, recruiting software and ATS alike are not out to get you. As a candidate, you don’t ever have to be worried about ‘beating’ the almighty applicant tracking system. Rather, working on your resume and ensuring that you have the correct job descriptions, titles and experience for a job application are more worthwhile.


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