With plenty of qualified, experienced candidates eagerly looking for new roles, it has never been more challenging to find a new job. A single job opening can attract hundreds, potentially thousands of applications. Businesses have developed tools and strategies to save them time sorting through these applications, which are known as applicant tracking systems. What does this new method of recruitment mean and how can you tailor your job search to ensure you stand the best chance of an interview?
What is an applicant tracking system?
An applicant tracking system is a specially designed piece of software that allows businesses of all sizes to manage their recruitment online. Not only do they help with processing resumes and cover letters at the prescreening stage, they also help companies effectively manage the process in step by step format.
A typical applicant tracking system allows recruiters to collect information, sort the information you provide, allows them to scan and compare applicants, and allows them to easily rank candidates in terms of their suitability for the role. This shows up as a percentage against each candidate’s name and refers to how well the applicant’s resume and cover letter matches with the job tasks, description, and educational requirements.
How does this affect your job search?
Many job applicants are disheartened when they hear about applicant tracking systems, but knowing about them and understanding how they can affect your chances of getting the job is the best way to help you land your dream job. Here are 5 ways you can tailor your job search to make sure you stand out when your application is scanned by an applicant tracking system:
- Create a keyword rich online presence
Applicant tracking systems are utilized by companies regardless of whether you’ve actively submitted an application or you’re simply registered with a careers based website, such as LinkedIn. To increase the chances that a recruiter will find you and deem you suitable for their opportunity, ensure you analyze the keywords relevant to your dream job and include all of them in your personal profile.
- Refine your resume
As we’ve mentioned, application tracking systems scan everything you input into an online submission. In the past, it was easier to catch recruiters’ attention as they had to manually review every candidate who popped into their inbox. If you haven’t done so already, consider upgrading your resume so it stands out to scanning software. Similar to your online presence, your resume should be rich in keywords which directly match what the employer has stated they are looking for in the job advertisement. Begin by analyzing the job requirements, then upgrade your resume with the vocabulary to match.
- Targeted cover letter
Cover letters are difficult, but they can actually be easier when you consider what an applicant tracking system is designed to find. To begin, make a list of the capabilities, skills, and values the position and company have, then think of an example you have for each. You don’t have to use them all, but if you incorporate most of them into your cover letter in a succinct way, then you’re more likely to score that all important face to face interview.
- Search based on skill and experience
If you’re having difficulty finding a job or making it through the job application process, consider searching for potential jobs based on your actual skill set and experience. Application tracking systems will do the work for you, confirming that you do indeed have the ability to do the job you are applying for, which means you will be much more likely to be offered an interview.
- Select a job title that reflects your role
Applicant tracking systems are clever; they allow recruiters to consider people with a desired past job title. If you haven’t selected a clear title that honestly reflects your previous experiences, then you may find you don’t progress through to that all-important interview stage. Double check you are selecting the right job title, and you’ll have a smoother run with the applicant tracking system overall.
Take action to win
Application tracking systems may appear daunting, but if you prepare in the right way and ensure you enhance your application to the best of your ability, then you should stand a good chance at obtaining that role. If not, don’t despair; consider up-skilling, gaining more experience in a volunteer capacity, or doing a course. After all, everything you do is scanned by the system and just a little bit extra may be all it takes for you to get the job of your dreams.