applicant tracking systems

The modern job market exists largely online: you search for jobs online, you apply for jobs online, and you can even get interviewed for jobs online. On the other side of the search, recruiters post jobs, receive replies, and review applicants online. Employers of all sizes today do this using a software called an applicant tracking system (ATS).

This software helps filter and rank submitted resumes. Every ATS is slightly different. Most parse resumes to extract information such as contact info, education, years of experience, and skills, then enter this information into a database. Employers can then easily compare candidates.

The Resumator is an applicant tracking system used by more than 2,000 U.S. companies, including Alfac and Tinder. It does not rely on a resume parser.

Instead, an employer can tailor each job posting to ask for specific skills. The Resumator makes it possible to use these specifications as a filter later, screening out applicants who don’t have the desired skills.

Take a look:


The Custom Questions option below (big red arrow!) is where employers can create custom questionnaires to ask for specific qualifications and skills (such as multitasking, phone skills, Microsoft Office, etc.).

applicant tracking systems screen capture
An employer’s settings page in The Resumator when crafting a questionnaire for specific requirements (in this case, for an administrative position).
applicant tracking systems screen capture
How the live posting appears to job seekers. (The bottom question is a custom one created by an employer.)

This customization option makes it easy for job seekers to understand exactly what employers are looking for.

As for resumes, applicants are required to submit one by attaching it or pasting it in (only in .doc, .docx, and .pdf form). The ATS then stores a complete copy of each original resume. A note for job seekers: The Resumator cannot correctly read tables in PDF format, though tables in Word documents are read correctly.

Applicant tracking systems resumes
The Resumator stores original versions of each resume.

The Resumator is actually in the process of removing their resume keyword and tagging feature, according to their customer service department.

Perhaps this is because so many qualified applicants are rejected by applicant tracking systems—not because of a lack of qualifications, but because not all resumes are ATS-friendly.

To test The Resumator’s keyword tagging feature, we submitted two fictional resumes, each containing the same keywords (phone skills, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Excel) but in different frequencies. One resume mentioned Microsoft Word eight times while the other resume mentioned it only once.

As expected, a search for “Microsoft Word” showed that the resume that included it more times ranked higher than the resume that included it once. Searches also showed that The Resumator did not see “Microsoft Excel” and “Excel” as interchangeable.

For job seekers still grappling with resume keywords and trying to improve their chances of having a highly-ranked resume, resume optimization tools such as Jobscan are crucial. Applicant tracking systems can be finicky, and Jobscan can help find simple tweaks that make a resume more ATS-friendly.

No two applicant tracking systems are the same, but luckily there is a way to stay ahead of the game.

See if your resume can stand up against the Resumator by scanning it here:

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