6 Easy Ways To Bust Through That Online Application System


Don’t get mad, get hired!

Many c0mpanies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or Talent Management System to gather resumes and track candidates during the hiring process. These automated online systems can can seem very impersonal. We’ve heard candidates say that there are too many fields to fill out, the information required seems redundant, and there is no way to make direct contact with a hiring manager.

We hear your frustration! This post is not meant to debate whether an ATS should be in use, but HOW you can use it to your advantage.

So, why do companies even use these systems?
Applying for jobs has changed over the past decade. These systems make it easy and efficient to post jobs, collect resumes and screen/evaluate potential candidates during the recruitment process.

Gina Williams, a Human Resources Systems Analyst who works with these systems daily, explains that the ATS is typically used by companies with many openings “to save time and effort, to keep compliant with government regulations, and to build up a good database of candidates.”

“I know job seekers may feel frustrated about not having easy access to a human contact during the application process,” says Gina. “However, the up side is that if you spend the time to load your resume and carefully update the fields in the system, the next application will be much easier. Recruiters will then be able to search the system and locate you for future openings.”

To make it past that initial cut:
1) Make sure you fill in ALL of the fields – even non required ones. The more information you can share that shows your qualifications match the opening, the better.

2) Be careful about applying to multiple jobs. Don’t just apply to anything. Only apply for jobs where your qualifications match the opening.  Some systems allow the administrator or hiring manager to see ALL of the jobs a candidate has applied to.

3) Embrace key words. The system will scan to pick up on key phrases for the job and industry. You want the phrases you use to be detected so that a match can be made.

4) Use the job ad to guide your resume and cover letter. Go through the job description. Your resume should have many of the same skills and terms listed. If not, and you have those skills, add them. Or, think twice about applying for that job. It may not be a fit.

5) Be careful of formatting and spelling. While spelling errors are a sure way to go to the “no” pile even outside an ATS, they are even worse in the system. Even if you’re the perfect match for a job, your resume can be filtered out due to typos, spelling errors and inconsistent, busy or unusual formatting.

6) Creativity can kill your resume. In an effort to stand out, many people title their experience and jobs using more creative terms. Don’t! Keep it simple and straightforward.

Love them or hate them, Applicant Tracking Systems aren’t going away. You don’t have to embrace the ATS, but take heed of these tips to enhance your chances of being selected as a candidate.

** Bonus tip: A majority of ATS systems send an automated response that confirms your application has been received. You do not have to follow up at this point. If a hiring manager is interested, they will contact you directly.

What about you? Have you had any experience using an ATS? We would love to hear about it!

P.S. Please share this post if you found it to be helpful.

This post, by our Social Media Specialist (Recruiting Office), originally appeared on LinkedIn.


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Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.



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Filed under Careers, Job Search, Resumes

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