Decoding ATS for Job Seekers: Resume Screening Software

Attius Li- Author
Atticus Li
Job Search Tools & Services
August 30, 2023
Blog Post Feature Image

Struggling to get your job applications noticed? You might be missing a crucial step in the modern recruitment process: understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS are widely used software that filter resumes, weeding out those that may not fit certain requirements.

In this blog post, we’ll unravel the mystery of ATS, explain how it works and offer valuable tips on optimizing your resume to stand out in an automated recruiting environment. Keep reading and take charge of landing your next job!

Key Takeaways

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are widely used software by employers to scan and filter resumes based on specific keywords and criteria.
  • ATS operates by automating the recruitment process, parsing resumes for relevant information, and matching candidates to job requirements.
  • Job seekers should optimize their resumes for ATS compatibility by using recognizable file types, testing their resumes for compatibility, and including relevant keywords throughout.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

An ATS is computer software used by employers to scan and filter resumes based on specific keywords and criteria.

What is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System, commonly referred to as ATS, is a type of software extensively used by employers during the hiring process. Its primary function is to streamline the collection and sorting of resumes thereby saving businesses both time and money.

This computerized system scans applicant’s resumes for specific keywords that match with the job description. It also ranks candidates based on their fit for the job role by comparing their skills and qualifications with what has been outlined in the job requisition entered into the system.

While this technology simplifies recruitment significantly, it can inadvertently filter out potentially qualified candidates if their resumes do not contain keywords recognized by the ATS.

How does ATS work?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) operates by automating and simplifying the recruitment process. Once a job requisition enters the system, the ATS creates an ideal candidate profile based on specified job roles and qualifications.

It then parses resumes, converting them into digitized data to streamline sorting and retrieval. Using AI technology, it scans each resume for specific keywords linked to skills, titles, or other relevant criteria from the job description.

The software matches this information with its ideal candidate profile to identify which applicants are most suitable for the role. As recruiters filter these profiles using key skillsets or job titles search options, they can quickly find candidates whose resumes closely match their requirements.

With efficient applicant management and recruiting analytics in place, hiring managers can accelerate decision-making while ensuring a consistent recruitment process.

Difference between ATS and CRM

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) are two different tools used in the recruiting landscape. ATS software streamlines the hiring process by scanning resumes for specific keywords, parsing resumes, sourcing candidates, and providing advanced analytics and reporting.

It is primarily used during the active recruitment stage when job applicants submit their applications in response to a job posting. On the other hand, CRM software targets potential candidates who haven’t yet applied but could be good fits for future roles or job requisitions.

By building candidate profiles and tracking interactions over time, CRMs cultivate relationships with passive candidates in anticipation of future hiring needs. While each system plays a unique role in talent acquisition, both technologies contribute to efficient recruitment and high-quality hires.

Key features of an ATS

ATS software has several key features that make it a valuable tool for recruiters and hiring managers. These features include resume parsing, which allows the system to automatically extract relevant information from resumes and populate fields within the ATS.

This saves time by eliminating manual data entry. Additionally, ATS software often includes advanced search options, making it easy for recruiters to filter through large volumes of resumes based on specific criteria such as skills or job titles.

In-built CRM software is another common feature of ATS platforms, allowing recruiters to manage candidate relationships and track their progress throughout the hiring process. Other important features include email templates for streamlined communication, advanced analytics and reporting capabilities for tracking recruitment metrics, integrations with other HR tools, scheduling options for interviews, and real-time collaboration functionalities that facilitate teamwork during the hiring process.

Who uses ATS and Why?

ATS software is used by a wide range of employers, including small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and online job sites. These systems help streamline the hiring process, saving time and money for recruiters.

To find out more about who uses ATS and why, continue reading.

The accuracy of ATS software

ATS software is designed to scan resumes for specific keywords and filter out those that do not match the job description. While these systems can save recruiters time and effort by quickly sorting through a high volume of applications, they are not perfect and may overlook qualified candidates if their resumes do not contain the right keywords.

In fact, studies have shown that ATS software can sometimes reject qualified applicants simply because their resume did not include the necessary keywords. Therefore, it is crucial for job seekers to optimize their resumes by tailoring them to include relevant keywords from the job description in order to increase their chances of getting past an ATS screening process.

Identifying the users of ATS

Companies of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use ATS software as part of their hiring process. This includes industries such as healthcare, finance, technology, and more.

Online job platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn also use some form of ATS to filter through the high volume of applications they receive. Recruiters and hiring managers are the main users of ATS, relying on the software to streamline the candidate screening process and identify qualified applicants efficiently.

By using AI-powered applicant tracking systems, these users can save time by automating tasks like resume parsing and initial interviews. As technology continues to advance, it is expected that AI-powered ATS will become even more sophisticated in the future.

Reasons employers use ATS

Employers use ATS for several reasons:

  1. Simplify the hiring process: ATS software streamlines the collection and sorting of resumes, saving employers time and effort.
  2. Efficient candidate screening: With a high volume of applications for each job opening, employers rely on ATS to filter resumes quickly and efficiently based on specific criteria.
  3. Improved accuracy: ATS software helps eliminate human errors in resume scanning by following predefined rules and criteria, ensuring consistency in evaluating candidates.
  4. Enhance collaboration: ATS allows multiple recruiters or hiring managers to access and review resumes simultaneously, improving communication and collaboration during the hiring process.
  5. Increase efficiency: By automating tasks such as resume parsing, scheduling interviews, and tracking candidate progress, employers can streamline their recruitment process and focus more on evaluating qualified candidates.
  6. Compliance with hiring laws: ATS software assists employers in maintaining compliance with hiring laws by ensuring equal opportunity hiring practices and storing applicant data securely.
  7. Advanced analytics and reporting: ATS provides valuable insights into the recruitment process, allowing employers to analyze data such as source effectiveness, time-to-hire metrics, and diversity statistics for continuous improvement.
  8. Enhance employer brand: A well-structured recruitment process using an ATS enhances an employer’s reputation by showcasing professionalism, organization, and efficiency to job seekers.
  9. Multi-channel candidate sourcing: Employers can integrate various sourcing channels like job boards, social media platforms, employee referral programs into their ATS system for broader reach in finding qualified candidates.
  10. Future-proofing recruitment processes: As AI-powered applicant tracking systems continue to evolve, employers can stay ahead of industry trends by leveraging advanced technology solutions to attract top talent efficiently.

ATS and the Future of Job Applications

With the advancement of technology, applicant tracking systems (ATS) are becoming increasingly prevalent in the job application process. ATS software is revolutionizing how employers filter through resumes and find qualified candidates.

As ATS continue to evolve, they will play an even bigger role in shaping the future of job applications. AI-powered ATS are already being used to screen resumes and conduct initial interviews, providing valuable time-saving benefits for recruiters.

These systems use algorithms to scan resumes for specific keywords and match them to job descriptions, ensuring that only qualified applicants make it through the initial screening process.

Additionally, ATS offer advanced analytics and reporting features that help hiring managers track their recruitment efforts more effectively. With these advancements, it is clear that ATS will continue to be a crucial tool for both employers and job seekers alike in the ever-evolving recruiting landscape of today’s workforce.

AI-powered ATS

How to Optimize Your Resume for ATS

To optimize your resume for ATS, use recognizable file types like Word or PDF, test your resume using a scanner to ensure compatibility, and include relevant keywords in context throughout your resume.

Recognizable file types for ATS software

ATS software is designed to scan and analyze resumes for specific keywords and qualifications, helping employers narrow down their candidate pool. In order to ensure that your resume gets past the ATS screening process, it’s important to use file types that are recognizable by the software.

Most ATS can read Word documents (DOC or DOCX), as well as plain text files (TXT). Some ATS are also compatible with PDF files. By using these file formats, you increase the chances of your resume being properly parsed and analyzed by the ATS software, improving your chances of getting noticed by potential employers.

Tips for testing a resume for ATS compatibility

To ensure that your resume is ATS-friendly and passes through the screening process, follow these tips:

  1. Use a recognized file type: Save your resume as a Word document (.doc or .docx) or a plain text file (.txt) to ensure compatibility with most ATS software.
  2. Test your resume for compatibility: Use an online tool like Jobscan to compare your resume against the job description and see how well it matches. This will help you identify any gaps or missing keywords.
  3. Optimize with relevant keywords: Tailor your resume to include keywords from the job description. Use variations of job titles, skills, and industry-specific terms throughout your resume.
  4. Avoid fancy formatting: Stick to a clean and simple format with standard fonts. Avoid using images, graphics, tables, or columns that could cause issues with ATS parsing.
  5. Keep it scannable: Use clear section headings and bullet points to highlight key information. Break up long paragraphs into concise statements for easy scanning by both robots and humans.
  6. Proofread for errors: Check your resume for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and formatting inconsistencies. Even though ATS focuses on keywords, a polished resume can make a good impression on hiring managers who review the shortlisted resumes.

Ensuring your resume gets past an ATS

To increase your chances of getting past an ATS and into the hands of a hiring manager, follow these tips:

  1. Tailor your resume with relevant keywords: Study the job description and identify the key skills and qualifications needed for the role. Incorporate these keywords throughout your resume in a natural and contextual manner.
  2. Utilize Jobsolv: Jobsolv is an excellent service that can analyze your resume and compare it with the job description to identify areas where you can improve. It provides a keyword match percentage and offers suggestions on how to optimize your resume for ATS software.
  3. Keep formatting simple: To ensure compatibility with various ATS software, stick to clean and well-organized formats. Avoid using intricate designs, graphics, or non-standard fonts that may not be parsed correctly by ATS.
  4. Choose the right file type: Submit your resume in a universally readable format such as PDF or Word document (.docx). These formats are compatible with most ATS software and minimize any potential formatting issues.
  5. Make your resume easy to scan: Both robots and humans should be able to quickly scan your resume for relevant information. Use clear section headings, bullet points, and concise sentences to highlight your skills, qualifications, and achievements.

The Limitations of ATS for Job Seekers

While ATS can be a helpful tool for employers, it also has its limitations that job seekers should be aware of. One major limitation is that ATS software relies heavily on keyword matching to filter resumes.

This means that if your resume doesn’t include the right keywords or closely match the job description, it may get overlooked by the ATS and never seen by a human recruiter.

Another limitation is that not all ATS systems are created equal. Some may have more advanced algorithms and parsing capabilities than others, meaning they may miss important information or misinterpret certain aspects of your resume.

Additionally, some ATS software struggles with formats other than plain text, which can be problematic if you’ve put effort into designing a visually appealing resume.

Given these limitations, it’s important for job seekers to optimize their resumes for ATS compatibility while still making them appealing to human readers. This includes tailoring your resume to include relevant keywords from the job description and using a clean and well-organized format that won’t confuse the software.

By understanding these limitations and taking steps to overcome them, you can increase your chances of getting through an ATS and landing an interview opportunity.

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Through an ATS

To increase your chances of getting through an ATS, tailor your resume to the job description, optimize for ATS search algorithms, use relevant keywords, and format your resume cleanly and clearly.

Applying for roles you’re qualified for

To increase your chances of getting through an ATS, it’s important to apply for roles that you are truly qualified for. This means carefully reading the job description and identifying the specific skills, qualifications, and experiences that the employer is seeking.

Tailor your resume to highlight these key points and showcase how your background aligns with their requirements. By focusing on roles where you have relevant experience and expertise, you can demonstrate to an ATS that you are a strong match for the position.

Including the right keywords in context

To increase your chances of getting through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), it’s essential to include the right keywords in context throughout your resume. ATS scans resumes for specific keywords mentioned in the job description to determine if you’re a suitable candidate.

By including these keywords naturally and strategically within your resume, you can improve your chances of passing the initial screening process. Studies have shown that tailoring resumes with relevant keywords from the job description increases the likelihood of getting past an ATS and landing an interview.

So, take the time to carefully analyze the job posting and incorporate relevant skills, qualifications, and industry-specific terms into your resume to align yourself with what employers are looking for.

Don’t try to trick the ATS

Trying to outsmart the ATS by using tricks or tactics to manipulate your resume is not a recommended strategy. ATS software is designed to identify relevant keywords and qualifications based on the job description, so it’s important to be honest and straightforward in presenting your skills and experience.

Using irrelevant keywords or keyword stuffing can actually hurt your chances of getting past the ATS, as it may flag your application as spam or untruthful. Focus on tailoring your resume to match the job requirements, including specific skills and experiences that align with the position.

By providing accurate information and avoiding any attempts to deceive the system, you increase your chances of getting through an ATS screening process.

Choosing the right file type for your resume

To increase your chances of getting through an ATS, it’s crucial to choose the right file type for your resume. While all ATS recognize Word documents, some are also compatible with PDF files.

According to recent research, 78% of Fortune 500 companies prefer receiving resumes in Word format. However, submitting a PDF can be beneficial if you want to ensure that the formatting and design of your resume remain intact.

It’s important to note that some ATS may have difficulty parsing information from PDFs, so it’s always a good idea to check the specific requirements or preferences of each job application before choosing a file type.

Making your resume easy to scan (for both robots and humans)

To ensure your resume is easy to scan for both robots and humans, follow these tips:

  • Use clear and concise headings: Organize your resume with clearly labeled sections such as “Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills.” This makes it easier for both ATS software and hiring managers to quickly locate relevant information.
  • Use bullet points: Instead of paragraphs, use bullet points to highlight your key achievements and responsibilities. This format allows ATS software to easily parse information and helps hiring managers quickly skim through your resume.
  • Include relevant keywords: Tailor your resume to include keywords from the job description. This not only increases your chances of getting past ATS software but also ensures that hiring managers see you as a qualified candidate.
  • Choose a clean and simple format: Avoid using complex designs, graphics, or non-standard fonts in your resume. Stick to a clean and professional layout that is easy to read both by ATS software and hiring managers.
  • Optimize file formatting: Save your resume as a .doc or .pdf file, which are commonly recognized by most ATS software. Avoid using uncommon file types that may not be compatible with certain systems.


- Do small companies use ATS?

- Can ATS reject your application without a human ever seeing it?

- Are there specific formatting guidelines to follow for ATS?

Do small companies use ATS?

ATS software is not limited to large corporations. While the adoption rate among small companies is estimated to be around 35%, many smaller businesses also use some form of ATS for their hiring processes.

In fact, even online job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn have their own built-in ATS. This technology helps streamline the recruitment process by organizing and filtering resumes, making it easier for employers to find qualified candidates amidst a high volume of applications.

So, whether you’re applying to a Fortune 500 company or a small business, understanding how ATS works and optimizing your resume for it can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed by potential employers.

Can ATS reject your application without a human ever seeing it?

ATS can indeed reject your application without a human ever seeing it. This is because ATS software is designed to scan resumes for specific keywords and qualifications that match the job description.

If your resume does not meet these criteria, the ATS may automatically filter out your application before it even reaches a human recruiter or hiring manager. In fact, over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to streamline their hiring process and ensure that only the most qualified candidates make it through to the next stage.

Therefore, it is crucial for job seekers to optimize their resumes with relevant keywords and format them in a way that can be easily parsed by ATS software in order to increase their chances of getting noticed by recruiters.

Are there specific formatting guidelines to follow for ATS?

ATS software has specific formatting guidelines that job seekers should follow to increase their chances of getting past the resume scanning process. It is important to use a simple and clean layout with clear section headings, as complex designs or uncommon section headings may confuse the system.

Additionally, using a text-only file format such as .txt or .doc can ensure compatibility with ATS software. Hyperlinks, fonts, colors, bolding, italics, and underlining should be used sparingly or avoided altogether to prevent formatting errors when resumes are parsed by the system.

Following these guidelines can help job seekers optimize their resumes for ATS and improve their chances of being selected for further consideration.


Understanding how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) work is crucial for job seekers in today’s digital recruitment landscape. By optimizing their resumes with the right keywords and understanding ATS limitations, applicants can increase their chances of getting through these automated screening processes.

Comprehending the intricacies of ATS and resume screening software holds great value for job seekers. Deciphering this process can empower your job search strategy.

Looking ahead, consider partnership with Jobsolv. A unique job search service in the field. With a remarkable 30-day interview guarantee, they excel in crafting customized professional resumes using cutting-edge smart matching technology, aligning with industry keywords and ATS compatibility. Opting for Jobsolv is an investment in driving your career towards exceptional success.

While ATS can be a valuable tool for employers, it’s important for job seekers to stay informed and adapt their strategies to stand out from the competition. With the increasing use of AI technology in ATS software, staying ahead of trends and continuously refining resume optimization techniques will be key in navigating the job market successfully.

Delve into a rich collection of related articles here;

Impact of Applicant Tracking Systems on Your Job Applications

Craft Powerful Bullet Points For Your Resume Job Descriptions

Master Compelling Resume Bullet Points on Job Descriptions

Crafting Your Success: Customized Resume and Cover Letter

Professional Resume Fonts: The Right Typography for Success

Table of contents

Apply to $100k+ Remote Jobs with

Jobsolv turns any resume into an interview-winning resume and
auto-submits the jobs for you.