Applicant Tracking Systems and What You Need to Know

At first blush, it’s easy to understand why the term Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and its definition would sound Kafkaesque — it is. There’s no other way to describe software that automatically collects, and sorts resumes with an obscure algorithm.

There’s even the possibility that your resume may never even reach human eyes as the all-knowing computer may decide that yours should remain at the bottom of the pile. It doesn’t seem fair, but in this fast-paced, high-tech economy, it’s something we should have seen coming.

It’s important to realize that ATS is everywhere now, with 98 per cent of Fortune 500 firms, 66 per cent of big business, and even 35 per cent of small businesses using them to prioritize resumes. It’s also not just one ATS you have to understand — different companies use different software of varying quality. Even Indeed has its own.

Wherever you may be applying, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to deal with an ATS judging your resume’s worth before a real person even gets a chance. Here’s what you need to know:

How ATS Sorts Data

ATS collects all resumes into a database that recruiters and hiring managers can access. Your resume can sit in that database for years before ever being considered, but employers search the database using several different methods.

Of course, some employers are old-fashioned and prefer to see every application that passes through the system, but you can’t count on that. Instead, they often rely on keyword searches. If an employer is looking for a market researcher, that term would likely be the first one searched. Searches can also contain multiple terms to help an employer be as specific as they desire.

If you can predict the keywords for which they’ll likely be searching, you stand a better chance of at least being noticed. Some ATS, however, have a feature that automatically recommends certain selected resumes based on how closely they match the job description.

Format Matters

Whatever you know about current resume formats, it’d be wise to employ it now. What you learned in school probably isn’t applicable anymore. A lot of applicant tracking systems don’t even look at your resume. Instead, they turn the file into a digital document and sort out the information, so it’s easily searchable.

If it’s not formatted correctly, keywords can get lost or distorted, and other details might just be ignored. Some ATS have gotten more intelligent about doing this, but it’s still a major problem.

How to Beat the System

You’ve probably already been given a few ideas above that can help you tailor your resume to beat ATS, but there’s much more you need to do:

  • Change your resume to suit each specific job application.
  • Guess some of the keywords they’ll be searching. Use the job description for ideas.
  • Stick to a chronological format.
  • Avoid columns and tables — they’ll only confuse the ATS.
  • Keep to standard headings. It’s not the time to get creative and call the “Work Experience” section “Jobs I Had.” For the most part, reserve your personality for the interview.

ATS systems seem to benefit the employer more than the job seeker, but there are ways to turn it in your favour.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

How to Effectively Network

For many, it may feel uncomfortable to put themselves out there with the goal of trying to make career-related connections, but networking is an undeniably important skill to develop. Through networking, people can create a world of opportunities for themselves and others. They can be part of a peer group of forward-thinking individuals who actively use connections to supercharge their projects with tailored talent and passionate personalities. Having a network means knowing what other exciting enterprises might be out there for you to be possibly a part of. The opportunities are worth the initial awkwardness that comes with learning how to network. Below are some tips for those wondering how to effectively network.

Get Your Contact Information and Online Presence in Order

Make sure that you’re accessible! Have your business cards ready with your phone number and email address. If you don’t already have a professional-looking email address, i.e. just your name or the name of your company, get one from a reputable email address provider like Gmail. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as well. Increase the privacy settings on your personal social media, like Facebook or Twitter, which could give off the wrong impression to those Googling your name. Your business should also have a web presence with accessible contact information as well.

Go to Networking Events with the Intention of Talking to Someone New

It can be tempting to go with a friend to networking events, but it usually means that you’ll end up talking to no one new. Go alone and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Ask about them, and what they do both in and outside of work. You don’t need to do much more than have a friendly conversation and get to know who the person is and what they do. Exchange contact information (such as business cards, phone numbers, or LinkedIn profiles) and follow up with a message the next day to remind them of who you are and what you talked about.

Make it Mutual

When you have made a connection with someone, don’t treat them like a resource or one-sided opportunity. Let them know that you are also amenable to helping them find the right people or projects too. A mutually beneficial relationship will last longer and strengthen both parties than an unbalanced one. Even if one party isn’t able to do anything for the other at the moment, they can at least offer to help in the future. Make it clear that you value the person for more than their position or potential. Treat them like a new friend, because that’s what they should be.

Rose Ho | Staff Writer

The Demon Within – Every Writer’s Curse

Writer’s block is inevitable. Every writer goes through the pains of frustration, lack of inspiration, and the overwhelming urge to give up. Writer’s block can be overcome. Each time you succeed it becomes easier to do so in the future. Some causes of writer’s block is personal fear. The Worrying if your work is good enough, the crippling anxiety of never being successful, and terror of being harshly judged. The difference between a good writer and a dreamer is the power of completion. Everyone has these fears. Coming to terms with them is the first step, the next is learning how to overcome the writer’s block.

Eliminate Distractions

Put away the cellphone, turn off the TV, and ask your significant other to go out for a while. We are growing up in a society where everything is at our fingertips. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are some of my personal time-consuming enemies. When the itch to check social media, or play a mindless game becomes too overwhelming, I remember that some of the greatest writers started with physical pen and paper. This is where I start. Pressing pen to paper and scribbling out ideas feels like you’re imprinting them directly onto your brain. It is very satisfying, and everything becomes a little clearer.

Get the Blood Flowing

Go for a walk, soak up some vitamin D. Working up a sweat also clears the mind.  As humans, we need to step away and take breathers. Never allow yourself to get overwhelmed by changing your focus and creating energy. By taking your mind from your work you are actually doing it good. Scientists states that working out works up the blood flow and reenergizes your brain. The change of environment and fresh air allows your brain to forget about overwhelming fears or deadlines and allows ideas to formulate. Taking a breather by moving your attention from writing to Facebook is not reenergization, its procrastination. Get out, walk the dog, jog to the park, or climb local peaks, and blood flow will get your ideas moving and onto the page.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Start with a small three-point checklist. A To Do List is endless. Give yourself the pleasure of checking off your accomplishments. By allowing yourself this credit, you will actually increase your productivity. No longer do you have an overwhelming 500-page book to write, but one name to think of, one paragraph to write, and one title to create. All these points are important, necessary and entirely manageable.

What does not help writer’s block is waiting for inspiration to come. Wallowing in self-pity, or allowing the aforementioned fear to overwhelm you, will not bring about the next greatest novel or inspiring blog.  Writing is work, but watching how characters grow, or learning from research is immediately strive for. We crave to create. Start right away, and see where your writing path takes you, not having the perfect story in mind first is normal and encouraged. You might find you ended up where you never originally imagined – maybe your final destination is the New York Times Best Selling List.



Janine Matetich | DBPC Blog

Five Conflict Resolution Practices

The following conflict resolution practices are helpful in managing disputes anywhere including in the workplace, relationships or other situations where negotiation is needed. Although these steps can’t guarantee a solution, they will certainly increase the chances. By understanding the issue, exploring the options and considering the advantages of a negotiated agreement, you are building a constructive environment for resolutions. Follow these practices to reduce the stress, fear and shock factors of dealing with conflict.

Self assessment

Before you can approach conflict management, you need to be aware of and understand your perceptual filters, biases and triggers. By being aware of these things, you allow yourself to be more prepared mentally, emotionally and physically to respond in an ideal way. Also, ensure that you are taking care of yourself by getting sufficient sleep, exercising, and eating properly. This will help you express your needs clearly and listen well.

Take a listening stance

As quoted by Stephen R. Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We often tend to “push” when dealing with conflict. It is important that we resist the urge to push and channel our efforts into active listening. This significantly improves the chances that both parties will be able to clearly express and understand each other’s ideas and feelings.

State your needs clearly and specifically

It’s sometimes challenging to clearly express your concerns so that they are understood by the other person. It’s important to use assertive communication, which is the process of conveying one’s needs clearly while respecting the needs of the other party. Just because you have taken a listening stance doesn’t mean that the other person will be able to do so. This may result in a back and forth discourse so it’s essential to not rush the process. In this case, it is important that you hang on and maintain a listening stance. Calmly build from what you have heard and listen well before asserting your needs.

Solve problems with flexibility

When resolving a conflict, it’s important that both parties take one issue at a time and begin with the simplest discussion. Collaborate and brainstorm more than one solution to the problem; doing so will avoid the possibility of judgements and evaluations of potential solutions (a.k.a. the “chilling effect”.) The best solutions are made when mutually acceptable criteria are applied to the decision-making process. Sometimes you may need to be open to other concerns that are beyond your control but it shouldn’t become a tangent. Ensure that the discussion is on track and be sure to summarize the agreement.

Build a working agreement

Finally, it’s crucial to bring everyone onto the same page. As you come to a conclusion, identify and review the agreement to confirm fairness. Make sure that everyone has agreed to implement the solution that was determined together. Also, check back on the agreement so any concerns can be voiced and that all parties are fully satisfied.


K. Nwankwo | DBPC Blog