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If you are currently on the hunt for a new job, there is a good chance that you have heard of Applicant Tracking Systems, often abbreviated ATS. TechTarget states that roughly 50% of all mid-sized companies and nearly all large corporations use an ATS, which is a scary number considering how many people are unfamiliar with the purpose of an ATS. The purpose of this article is to explain what an ATS is and how it affects your job search.

An Applicant Tracking System can go by many names: candidate management system, talent management system, etc. But what is it, and what does it do? An ATS is a software application which handles the recruiting needs of companies electronically, and is often implemented on an enterprise or small business level. These systems can be used to post jobs on job boards (CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.), correspond with job candidates, and various other features. Most importantly, ATS are used to screen and rank resumes in order of relevance. Companies use these systems to quickly eliminate unqualified candidates and improve their efficiency.

The resume screening and ranking ability of applicant tracking systems is what helped increase the utilization and popularity of “buzz words” in resumes. If your resume includes the correct words, you are kept in the system for consideration. If your resume lacks the necessary terminology, your chances of landing an interview are eliminated. Because of this, utilizing proper industry keywords is essential.

Do you know what keywords are important in your industry? If you are transitioning into a new career/field, are you confident that your knowledge of that industry’s keywords is thorough enough to beat an ATS? How you answer these questions may be an important indicator as to how well-prepared you, and your resume, are for a job search in today’s economy.

By Drew Roark