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What are ATS and how can I make them work for me?


Lots of clients are asking about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) at the moment as they have heard that these exist and are unsure how they work. Essentially they are used by recruiters and hiring managers to help them to work through the applications they are getting. Here's what you need to know based on my conversation with a helpful recruiter.


Firstly, they are not meant to trip you up, rather they are designed to help those who are having to sift through masses of applications every day.

They search for key words and similar keywords, so if they are looking for a Business Development Manager they may also search for Account Manager and Sales Manager on a CV that they receive.

They want to know that you are looking for their role rather than any role so putting 'Seeking a role as a Business Development Manager' in your personal profile (if that's the exact wording they use in the ad) is helpful and will allow this phrase to appear to show up in their keyword search. They want to see the keywords they are looking for at the top of the CV as this shows you have done the role recently (as experience has to go in reverse chronological order). If you had a similar role title you could tweak it slightly to be the same as the one you're applying for ie change Account Manager to Business Development Manager. I'm NOT talking about claiming experience that you haven't got, just changing wording slightly. If you haven't done the role before but have experience in the area, again use the word they are looking for at the top of your CV. For example if it's a sales role, highlight your sales experience in your personal profile and skills and achievements sections. Also when you're describing the role you're in/were in most recently then talk about the sales aspects near the top of your description of your responsibilities in that role, rather than at the bottom.

My biggest takeaway was that if they get masses of applications they may simply close it off early unofficially and just take good applications that they get at the start of the process. How to get in early? Register for alerts and do all the good things like following companies you'd like to work for on social media and connecting with them on Linkedin so that you're ahead of the game.

The best thing of all is to avoid all this and get in through an introduction so get connecting on Linkedin/speaking to people/going direct and see where that takes you.


I hope that this is helpful. If you need more help and advice please get in touch. My Career Support Package, which will guide you through the entire process is currently only £299 until Wednesday 15th July. Find out more here bit.ly/Careersupportpackage


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