Things you should know about Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

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Things you should know about Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Aman is a pharmacy graduate and he finds the perfect job opening which matches his role. He prepared the perfect resume along with a cover letter and submitted the application via job portal/company website. He has waited for the interview call.

But wait!

He has not received interview call? Why? No idea!

This is not only happening with Aman, this is happening with many lifesciences, pharmacy and pharD students.

Have you heard about ATS system? What is it? Black hole?

You left wondering why not received call from employer!!!!

What many job seekers don’t know or realise that 75% of job applications are rejected before reach to recruiter.

Applicant Tracking Systems are keeping you from your dream job!

Let me give you brief idea which 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;

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What is an applicant tracking system?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software used by employers and recruiters during the hiring process to scan, sort, and rank the job applications they receive for their open positions.

Today, many companies rely on ATS software to streamline recruitment process.

How do applicant tracking systems (ATS) work?

Applicant tracking systems act as an electronic door for an employer. The ATS scans resume content for specific keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter. It essentially weed out unqualified applicants so the recruiter can devote his or her time to evaluating the candidates who are more likely to be a match for the position.

Unfortunately, that means if a resume is not written and formatted with the applicant tracking system (keyword example CRA- MONITORING), a qualified candidate can be easily passed over.

How to write an ATS-friendly resume

The only way you write ATS friendly resume is to target relevant keywords which are needed for job.

If you want to make sure your resume is compatible with an ATS, follow the tips below to write an ATS-optimized resume.

Select the right file type for your resume

Contrary to popular belief, a PDF isn’t the foremost ATS-friendly file type. While PDF files are the simplest at preserving the planning and format of your resume, it’s not compatible with all ATS software. If option for uploading resume to an applicant tracking system and “PDF” is listed among the file types you’ll, by all means, use a PDF version of your resume. However, if the system doesn’t specify which file types are compatible, play it safe and stick with a Word document in .doc or .docx.

Since the simplest resumes are written with two audiences in mind — the robots pre-screening your application and therefore the live human in HR who will review your resume, should it make it past the ATS — i like to recommend employing a Word document rather than a plain-text file for your resume file type. This will provide more creative freedom to write down a resume which will appeal to a recruiter or hiring manager.

Don't put important details within the header or footer

Not all applicant tracking systems can read and parse information properly which are stored within the header and footer sections of a Word document. In fact, our recent study confirmed the ATS was unable to spot some of the work seeker’s contact information 25 percent of the time. Avoid placing important contact details (such as name, telephone number, or email address) outside the header or footer of your resume.

Optimize your resume with keywords

One of the smart way to make sure your resume is compatible with an ATS is to optimize resume with keywords which are relevant to job post, e.g. CRA, CRC,CDM,MW or Biostatistics. Keywords represent the soft skills, hard skills or clinical trial skills you possess and the expertise you’ve acquired over the years that qualify you for your target job application.

If you’re unsure which keywords should be utilized in your resume, start by collecting three to 5 job descriptions that represent the sort of position you’re pursuing. Copy-paste the job description into a word and phrase frequency tool like Online –’s Text Analyzer, to spot that are regularly used throughout your required positions.

When it involves creating an ATS-optimized resume, you would like to believe the frequency, also because the placement of those keywords throughout your resume. Some applicant tracking systems will determine the strength of your skills supported the amount of times a term shows up in your resume (aim to feature the term two to 3 times throughout your resume), whereas others assign an estimated amount of experience for a specific skill supported its placement within the resume. To make a resume that’s truly compatible with any ATS, you’ll be wanting to optimize your resume with both systems in mind.

First, create a professional summary that lists your strongest hard skills and soft skills which are relevant to clinical trials. If there’s a standard abbreviation for one among your proficiencies like “SEO” (for program optimization), include both versions in your resume. Then, pepper these same terms into your “Work Experience” or “Education” sections, where appropriate, to demonstrate once you leveraged that skill.

Avoid images, charts, and other graphics

Using image or graphs always look nice to the human eye, resumes with embedded images become a mess, or get completely omitted from your application in ATS. If you insert an image or chart to showcase your key skills, the ATS might not able to read.

Stick to simple bullet points

Bullet points are recommended for highlighting accomplishments and qualifications on a resume.

Use a clean resume/CV design with a clear hierarchy

When it involves your resume’s design, less is more. Not only do complex resume designs or unusual formats confuse most applicant tracking systems, but they also annoy recruiters who are familiar with quickly scanning a resume for specific information they expect to seek out especially areas within the document.

How to run an ATS-resume test for compliance

There are easy ways to determine if your resume or CV is compatible with an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Convert your resume to a plain-text file

Copy the content from your resume, paste it into a plain-text document (you can 1st try in notepad), and review the results. If the plain-text version is missing or opt-out details from your original resume or CV, has characters saved incorrectly or looks disorganized (i.e. the heading for your “Education” section appears within the middle of your work experience), then assume your resume would require editing before it’ll pass the ATS.

Request a free ATS scan for your resume

Here at TopResume, we provide a free ATS resume scan as a part of our free resume review. When you request a free resume review from TopResume, you’ll receive feedback on your resume’s content, also as its ATS compatibility.

The first half the review offers an objective check out what your resume is doing well and where it’s falling short, from both an information and style perspective. The last half of the free resume review will shows you what information an ATS pull from your resume, what information it’ll be unable to spot and retrieve (such as your name, contact information, most up-to-date job title, and most up-to-date employer), and for what top skills and keywords your resume currently ranks.

If the ATS is unable to spot this important information or thinks you are fit for employment when you are not , then your resume will be got to be further optimized before it passes the ATS-compatibility test.

There are list of different ATS, each with features, strengths, weaknesses, and quirks.

Here are just a few:


If you’re applying to a large pharmaceuticals or CROs, chances are you’ll face an ATS. Even job portals like Indeed and LinkedIn have their own built in ATS.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Ramchandra

    Utterly useful…

  2. Joe

    very informative, didnt had any idea about it.

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