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Bot busting! How to spot an ATS

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There are a lot of nuances to modern job searching. If you’ve filled out an online application recently, you’ve probably noticed things look and feel a lot different than they did even just five years ago. That’s because most hiring managers utilize software called an applicant tracking system. With some strategic steps, the ATS can be your friend, but for many job hunters it feels like your worst enemy.

The basic way an ATS works is the hiring manager programs different requirements and keywords into the system to efficiently filter through many candidates. This saves the person doing the hiring time, but it comes with one big drawback: If a qualified candidate doesn’t include those specific keywords in their resume and application, they won’t get flagged.

Hence the massive frustration for job seekers. You could be the ideal candidate, but if you don’t craft your application just so, it’s going to end up in the virtual trash can. Before you can learn how to beat the bots, you first need to know how to spot them. Here are some clues you’re dealing with an ATS:

Clue 1: Online forms

You see a job of interest and you click on the “apply now” button. You are then instructed to go through various pages of online forms. It can be time-consuming to type your information in each section, but it’s a necessary step. All the information you fill out in online forms is likely to be parsed out and sorted by the ATS.

Clue 2: Complicated URL

When you’re filling out an application, is there a lot of gobbledygook in the URL at the top of the browser? There may be numbers, categories, locations, and other coding inclusions. This is an indication you’re working with an ATS. You may even see the name of the ATS the company uses in the URL, such as Jobvite or Taleo, two popular systems.

Clue 3: Company size

The majority of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS of some kind. Not doing so presents a logistical nightmare of managing an overwhelming flow of resumes for a large number of open jobs. The larger the company receiving your resume, the more likely you’ll be forced to use an ATS. The startup with five employees may not need one quite yet.

These three simple clues let you know that you need to be particularly careful about the words and phrases you use in your application to ensure you can move one step closer to scoring an interview. Learn more about how to get past the ATS and make your resume shine by researching strategies and working with your GetFive career coach.

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