How to Beat the Applicant Tracking System

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How to Beat the Applicant Tracking...
Sep 8, 2022 4 min read

The recruitment process is never easy, and of course there’s a variety of obstacles that can lead to mistakes you’re probably making on your resume without even realizing it. But don’t worry, the Enhancv Career Counselling team is here to help!

When you’re applying for a job, the first thing you need to consider is how to beat an applicant tracking system.

An Applicant Tracking System also known as ATS, is used as the first hurdle in the application process. Understanding how to beat an applicant tracking system will get you one step further to landing your dream job!

Recruitment is a fast-paced industry with lots of targets and deadlines to meet. A busy recruiter will receive over a hundred resumes every day. An applicant tracking system is a great tool for them to sort through the mountain of resumes.

What is an applicant tracking system?

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So, what is an applicant tracking system? It’s essentially a keyword counter. It will take your resume and match it against the job description requirements, then count how many times certain keywords appear on your resume.

So for example, if the job requirement is ‘good communication skills’ the application tracking system will count how many times ‘communications’ appear on your resume.

About 90% of recruiters use an applicant tracking system these days. It’s used when you apply straight through the company's website, or an online job portal. It’s used as the first hurdle in most application processes.  

If you’ve been headhunted, or you’re applying internally, you tend to get to skip the application tracking system.

The outcome of the issue

For the busy recruiter, an applicant tracking system is a great little tool that makes their day a lot easier. For everyone applying, it’s a big obstacle and if you don’t understand how to beat an applicant tracking system correctly, it could lead to your resume being missed out.

Luckily, we can help! We’ve worked with the industry’s best recruiters to understand the ins and outs of an applicant tracking system. Our Career Counselors can write you a resume that raises your chances of beating an application tracking system. If you’d like to learn more, you can schedule a free call today!

Below are a few important strategies that can help you to understand how to beat an applicant tracking system.

Read more: The Best Resume Formats You Need to Consider

List the job requirements keywords

Start by listing keywords from the job requirement. For this, you need to use your knowledge of the role you are applying for.

Of course, you’re applying for a role in which you have experience, so you understand the skills which are required in the job description. Most importantly, you understand the value of the skills in the job description and can pick out the key skills.

Read through the job description and start to think through the lens of the employer. Pick out the most valuable key skills. By valuable, I mean skills which took you time and money to gain. These are your keywords!

For example:

  • Development
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Data Analysis

Read more: How to create an ATS friendly resume

Write good examples demonstrating you meet the requirements of the keywords

The next step to beating an applicant tracking system is to demonstrate you can meet the requirements of the keywords.

Take your list of keywords, and under each keyword start to write some achievements which demonstrate your experience.

Remember to include the outcome of your work! Telling the recruiter what you have achieved for your current employer will make you stand out from the competition.

Here’s an example,


‘Communicated negotiations across 6 stakeholders to close deals exceeding $4m’


‘Developed operations strategy across 7 functions which improved efficiency by 70%’


‘Lead 5 teams of 20 IT professionals through 6 projects which lead to a 90% business growth’

Data Analysis

‘Analyzed marketing data to identify partner opportunities which increased our reach by 80%’

Use the right format

To beat an applicant tracking system, you need to ensure you have formatted your resume correctly for the system to read.

Here are some quick tips,

  • Don’t use multiple columns - keep your resume in a classic, one column layout
  • Don’t use graphics, charts, icons, table
  • Stick to the classic heading sections such as education, experience, strengths
  • Use a common font such as Helvetica or Arial
  • Don’t overcomplicate your sentences, keep things concise and direct

If you follow these rules and write towards the keywords, you will improve your chances of beating an applicant tracking system.

Remember that writing a resume is never an easy process, but we’re here to help. Enhancv is your secret weapon to getting your dream job! Book a free call today and see how we can help you combat every step of the recruitment process.

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Kate Mabbett
Career Counselor Expert @ Enhancv. Previously worked as a campaigner for mental health awareness and supported young people into finding their first steps on the career ladder.
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