Virtually all large employers utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage their simultaneous job openings and high volumes of applicants. These systems make it possible for recruiters and hiring managers to comb through hundreds or thousands of applicants, but they’re not without drawbacks. Resumes and applications that aren’t optimized for these systems might never see the light of day in what many job seekers call the “resume black hole.”
There are dozens of different ATS out there and they all have their own quirks. One up-and-coming ATS that you’re increasingly likely to encounter is Lever.
What is Lever ATS?
Like its competitor Greenhouse, Lever came out of Silicon Valley in 2012 and offers cleaner design and a more user-friendly interface for recruiters and applicants compared to older ATS institutions like Taleo.
Lever allows hiring teams to collect applicants and move them through the interview and offer stages.
Companies that use Lever
Some of the most recognizable companies using Lever do their work in tech and online, including:
3 things you should know about Lever
If you’re applying for a job at a company that utilizes Lever, here are three things that will give you a competitive advantage over other job seekers.
1. Lever displays docx files better than pdf
This advice can be broadly applied to most ATS, but our tests in Lever demonstrate one of the reasons why we recommend submitting a docx file (Microsoft Word, Google Docs) rather than a pdf whenever possible.
In this example, we uploaded a very conservatively formatted resume to Lever. In the recruiter preview, the resume is fine as a docx but encounters formatting issues that make it harder to read as a pdf.
These formatting issues only compound with more complex resume designs. If you’re uploading a resume into an ATS, use docx if possible.
2. Avoid columns and tables in Lever
Using columns or tables on your resume helps organize and economize information on the page, but they can also cause catastrophic problems within an ATS like Lever.
We, as people, know to read the left column left first, then the right. Lever and other ATS aren’t programmed to accurately parse columns and tables, so they often “read” left to right across the entire page regardless of columns.
Here’s what it looks like in Lever. We uploaded this resume with a table that divides the resume into a two-column layout.
Lever parses each resume into a digital applicant profile that’s supposed to be easier for the recruiter to read. However, these columns get completely garbled.
Use columns and tables when creating a resume that will be emailed or handed directly to a hiring manager, but avoid them when uploading a resume to an ATS like Lever.
3. Lever’s search algorithm allows for keyword flexibility
One of the best ways to increase your chances of getting noticed within an ATS is to ensure that your keywords (industry buzzwords and hard skills) are an exact match to what is in the job description. That’s because most ATS rely on exact matches to compile candidate rankings and search results.
Lever is one of the few ATS that uses “word stemming” to create some wiggle room when it comes to your resume keywords. For example, when we searched the term “communications,” Lever returned results for words like:
Here’s an example of a search for “engineers,” which returned words like “engineering,” “engineer,” and even “engine.”
You should still carefully tailor your resume to the job description, but if you know the ATS is Lever, you can loosen up on the keyword matching just a bit.
That said, you’re better safe than sorry as word stemming has its limitations. For example, we found that Lever struggled to return “project management” in a search for “project manager” and vice versa. To come up as a search result for both terms, you’d need them both in your resume.
Check your resume for ATS red flags
We test and research top ATS like Lever to add unique insights to our resume optimization tool.
Just paste in or upload your resume and paste in a job description to instantly generate a customized Match Report that details exactly how to increase your interview rate with a resume optimized for ATS and human recruiters alike.
Why Jobscan uses an ATS
We’re in the business of helping applicants avoid the “resume black hole” of ATS. With that in mind, you might be surprised to learn that Lever ATS is part of Jobscan’s recruitment and hiring processes.
The truth is, we’re not an anti-ATS company. While we’ve seen ATS enable unjust recruiting practices that cause highly qualified candidates to slip through the cracks, we’ve always acknowledged that they’re necessary for hiring companies.
“When we post a brand new job, we get around 350+ applicants within the first few weeks,” says Jobscan’s Jenia Xayamountry, People Operations.
As a small team balancing multiple job openings, it’s not feasible to manage that many incoming resumes without an ATS. Trust us, we’ve tried.
“It was really important to find the right partner for an ATS that would allow us to streamline our internal recruiting process,” says Jenia. “Being able to clearly evaluate and track candidates in a consistent way allows for a more efficient and transparent hiring process.”
Check out Jobscan’s career page.
Don’t forget to optimize your resume before applying!