Applicant Tracking Systems

If you have applied for a job lately, you likely were directed to an employer’s website to complete an application online. The employer probably uses an applicant tracking system. These systems are designed to help the employer manage the employment process more efficiently.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or candidate management systems, are used to post job openings on an employer’s website or job board, screen resumes, and generate interview requests to potential candidates by e-mail. Most employers that recruit at WMU use a type of applicant tracking system. It is common in business, engineering, government, healthcare and even education.

How to be successful with applicant tracking systems

  • Research of the company so you know the keywords, phrases and terms this organization uses.  Make sure your answers include the language of this organization.
  • Have all your documents ready so you can complete your application in one sitting.
  • Gather license numbers, dates of various certifications, and information on your references before you begin.
  • Give yourself enough time (and privacy) to read the questions carefully and twice in order to complete the fields correctly.
  • If given an area to add comments at the end of your application, do so. Don’t leave it blank. 
  • Write down the date and time you completed the application, including the login information you used so you can return to your application or follow up with the employer.
  • Follow the instructions on the website and upload the documents requested. Be sure to submit exactly what is asked for (no more, no less) in the correct format; failure to follow instructions could cost you an interview.
  • Write down the date and time you completed the application, including the login information you used so you can return to your application or follow up with the employer.
  • After you have completed the online application, you can also contact the HR department or a representative of the company to ensure they know you have applied and that you are passionate about working there.

How to prepare your resume for an applicant tracking system

  • Don't include tables or graphics.
  • You can submit a longer resume as the length of your resume doesn't matter in an applicant tracking system.
  • Call your work experience "Work Experience" rather than "Professional Experience" or "Career Achievements."
  • Don't start your work experience with dates. Always start with your employer's name, your job title, followed by the dates.