Wondering why your job application is not able to hit the right company and recruiters? There might be an intrinsic problem hidden in your application. Let’s discover it.
Most of you think that just noting down the right experiences, skills and qualifications are sufficient to get you highlighted in the eyes of the recruiter.
But, it could be partially true. Companies and human resource departments these days use various tools to shortlist the candidates who are the right fit for the job. One such software or tool is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
In this article, we will be discussing, what is ATS and how to write a cover letter that beats the applicant tracking system.
What is Applicant Tracking System?
The applicant tracking system (ATS) comes with a set of recruiting and hiring tools. It acts as a centralized tool or software that helps the human resources teams to accomplish candidate sourcing, evaluation and hiring.
In simple words, ATS helps the bigger organizations to collect, organize and filter applicants as they get hundreds of applications regularly and manually checking for the potential candidates is kind of tricky. This is where an applicant tracking system comes as a savage.
Let’s break down the whole recruitment process.
- Jobs are Published on Websites or Different Portals
- Applicants Apply with Resumes and Cover Letters
- Applications are Screened by Robots or Hiring Managers
- Face-to-face Interviews are Conducted as a Final Round
- Applicants are Hired
Now as you can see the whole process is pretty complex and requires time. An ATS can speed up the process and cut the hiring cost by more than 50%. However, machines are no better than humans and they can be tricked for our benefit. Below, I am mentioning a few points to easily beat the Applicant Tracking System.
How To Beat Applicant Tracking System
1) No Need to Play With Formatting. Keep It Simple
It is OK to show your creativity when you know that your cover letter will go directly to the hiring manager but when it goes through ATS you need to keep things as simple as you can. Optimize your cover letter by deleting all the extra things for instance symbols, logos, shadings, and pictures.
You will get the additional benefits when you prefer to stick with standard cover letter formatting that includes choosing professional fonts like Times New Roman, Arial or Courier. Make a note that ATS might not be able to read fancy fonts and can reject your cover letter before going to other parts.
Moreover, it is good to keep the general sections like Qualification, Education, Professional Experience, and Skills. Unusual headings like Memberships, Affiliations or Publications may choke up an application tracking system.
At last, make sure you send your cover letter as a Word document. You can also consider rich text format, just avoid sending your cover letter as a PDF. You must know that ATS can read PDFs but still many ATS fails to process all data and miss important things. So, we recommend you increase your chance by choosing Word doc or rich text format.
2) Optimize Your Cover Letter With Right Keywords
Be it any profession, your cover letter should be a perfect package of skills, responsibilities, achievements, etc. that are must for your job. Just remember to use the right keywords, and information that ATS has the possibilities to detect.
To ensure the application tracking system will consider you an appropriate candidate for the job, use below tips without any possibilities of failure:
Read the job description carefully and try to include appropriate skills and verb phrases in your cover letter. If you are looking to get an exact reason to do this then know that these keywords and phrases are very likely to be the same that the hiring manager may program the ATS to find potential candidates. For example “Adobe Photoshop”, “Team Leader”, “Digital Marketer”, “Graphic Designer:, etc.
Looking for a more suitable set of keywords? Don’t put much strain on your brain as the internet has all of your problem’s solution. Simply use free tools like Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/) or TagCrowd (http://tagcrowd.com/). These tools will help you to get the keywords you would like to use in your cover letter.
To use any of the mentioned tools, you need to copy and paste the job description and voila you will get your keywords in a word cloud format. From the result just pick up the most frequently used words and sprinkle it all over your cover letter.
Which one do you prefer the most in your cover letter, spelled out form or acronym? Well, here we are not judging you by questioning this.
Our prime concern is to inform you that you should use both while giving any title, organization or certification in your cover letter for instance Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It will assure you that ATS will always pick you just in case if it is programmed for any of one.
3) Your Cover Letter Don’t Need Career Objective Section
Yes, someone finally said!
If we are not wrong then this is something you are currently thinking, right? Well, you will be glad to know that your cover letter doesn’t need that boring ‘Career Objective’ section.
You can replace this section with a qualification summary – a bullet-pointed six sentences would look not just appropriate but professional too. Don’t forget to optimize it with ATS friendly keywords.
Need more creative ideas?
Utilize these six sentences to show your major skills, experiences, and achievements. Just make sure you present them shortly and crisply.
By following this tip you will kill two birds with one stone: you will become an ATS master because of your keywords and on the other side your cover letter will stand out when it reaches a hiring manager.
4) Proof Read Your Cover letter
This is something that sounds obvious but how many of you actually take the proofread thing seriously. Proofread is not just about checking the spelling but it is a process where you need to check the sentences you’ve written is relevant and not just filling up space.
Apart from that, check every single word for spelling multiple times. There is a high chance that the hiring manager may neglect any spelling mistake but ATS will not give you any single chance. As it is simply a programmed software, your cover letter will be instantly rejected because it will not get a single clue about the misspelled word or spelling mistake in your cover letter.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
Keywords play an important role in optimization and help the ATS to find the relevant candidate but over-stuffing or over-optimizing your cover letter is not a thing that we encourage you to do.
You need to keep in mind that, in the end, your cover letter will be read by a hiring manager and you can’t impress him/her with your nonsensical cover letter that is overloaded with lots of keywords or optimized only for machines.
It is important to add keywords but do it smartly. Before submitting your cover letter read it twice and ensure it has better readability so that any human would love to read without skipping anything.
I hope you liked our quick tips that will help you to beat the applicant tracking system. If you have any doubts related to any of the above-mentioned points or you want to add on some, let us know in the below comment section below. Apart from that, don’t forget to explore our other articles that cover how-to, tips and tricks related to cover letter and resumes.