Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Aman, a pharmacy graduate, discovered an ideal job opening that aligned with his qualifications. He meticulously prepared a comprehensive resume, accompanied by a cover letter, and submitted his application through a job portal or company website, eagerly awaiting an interview invitation.

However, an unexpected hurdle arose. Despite his qualifications, Aman didn’t receive an interview call, leaving him bewildered. This scenario is not unique to Aman; it’s a widespread issue affecting many students and professionals in life sciences, pharmacy, and pharmacology.

The root cause of this challenge is often the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Many job seekers are unaware that approximately 75% of job applications are discarded by ATS before they even reach a recruiter. These systems might be obstructing your path to your dream job.

Let me give you a brief idea of what you need to know about applicant tracking systems,  and what you can do to optimize your resume and beat these bots. Before moving ahead, let’s understand below flow process;

Here’s what you need to know about ATS and how to optimize your resume to surpass these digital gatekeepers.

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An ATS is a software tool used by employers and recruiters to manage the hiring process. It scans, sorts, and ranks job applications for open positions, streamlining the recruitment process.

Functioning of Applicant Tracking Systems

ATS acts as an electronic gatekeeper. It scans resumes for specific keywords to decide if an application should progress to the recruiter. It filters out unqualified candidates, allowing recruiters to focus on potential matches for the position. Unfortunately, resumes not tailored for ATS, even from qualified candidates, may be overlooked.

Writing an ATS-Friendly Resume

To ensure your resume is ATS-compatible, focus on incorporating relevant keywords and selecting the right file type.

  1. Select the Right File Type: While PDFs maintain design integrity, they’re not always ATS-friendly. When in doubt, use a Word document in .doc or .docx format.
  2. Avoid Headers and Footers for Key Details: Some ATS cannot read information in headers and footers. Keep important details like contact information in the main body of your resume.
  3. Optimize with Keywords: Use job descriptions to identify relevant keywords (e.g., CRA, CRC, CDM, MW, Biostatistics) and incorporate these throughout your resume.
  4. Avoid Images and Graphics: ATS often can’t read images or graphs. Stick to text to ensure all information is captured.
  5. Simple Bullet Points and Clean Design: Use bullet points for qualifications and accomplishments. Opt for a straightforward, clean resume design.

Testing Your Resume for ATS Compatibility

  1. Convert to Plain Text: Check if the plain-text version of your resume reflects your original content accurately.
  2. Utilize Free ATS Resume Scans: Services like TopResume offer free ATS resume scans, providing insights into how your resume performs under ATS scrutiny.

Different ATS Systems

Several ATS platforms exist, each with unique features. Some well-known ones include Taleo, Workday, SuccessFactors, and Greenhouse. Large pharmaceutical companies and CROs commonly use ATS, as do job portals like Indeed and LinkedIn.

To enhance the chances of your resume passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), you can use various free online tools designed to check ATS compatibility. Here are some notable options:

  1. Jobscan: This tool helps you optimize your resume for any job by comparing it against specific job listings. It focuses on highlighting the key experiences and skills recruiters need to see. Jobscan also offers additional tools for resume and cover letter optimization, LinkedIn profile optimization, and a resume builder. The AI-powered system provides instant feedback on how well your resume matches the job listing and offers a match rate report for further optimization
  2. Resume Worded: This free ATS resume scanner evaluates your resume against over 25 different criteria, including ATS compliance, impact, and core competencies. It provides detailed feedback on key criteria that recruiters and hiring managers look for. The scanner also offers tips on ensuring your resume is ATS-compliant, like using standard section titles and fonts, single-column layouts, avoiding tables, and ensuring that your resume text is highlightable and readable
  3. SkillSyncer: This is a free resume keyword scanner and job application tracker, which helps identify skills and keywords missing from your resume when compared to a job description. SkillSyncer mirrors top ATS algorithms to rank resume keywords and provides an instant match score and job match report. The tool focuses on privacy and security, ensuring that your data is protected and not shared

These tools can be very helpful in tailoring your resume to specific job postings and ensuring that it is ATS-friendly. However, it’s important to remember that while these tools provide valuable insights, they may not capture every nuance of an ATS. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use these tools as part of a broader strategy, including getting feedback from career counselors or industry professionals.

Understanding and adapting to the intricacies of ATS can significantly enhance your job application’s success rate. Remember, it’s not just about your qualifications but also how you present them in an ATS-friendly manner.

Tags: Applicant Tracking System, ATS Software, Clinical Research, Clinical Trials, Overcoming ATS, Job Application, Recruitment Process, Talent Acquisition Platform.

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