How to Handle Applicant Tracking Systems

Have you ever applied for a job the perfect job, that you're qualified for, but then you didn't get an interview? Applicant Tracking Systems might be to blame for that. Many schools now use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to scan CVs. This (in theory) helps them weed out all of those hundreds of applicants who don’t meet the minimum qualifications. It also gives them a searchable database they can use to explore and compare applicants. 

Considering how important it is for you to get past the ATS-scanning stage, with your CV. Here are some simple tips you can use to do that, to get your name onto the Qualified Candidate list and onto the interview stage.  


How to get past the ATS 

  • Make sure all important information (including your contact information) is in the main section of your CV. Information in images, graphs, headers and footers are not read by the ATS.
  • Use a standard file format. Word (i.e. .docx) and PDF files are easily read by an ATS. 
  • Use standard job titles. The ATS is scanning for words, so it’s better to call yourself a “Teacher of X” on your CV, even if you’d rather describe yourself as a “Facilitator of Student Discovery”. 
  • Use standard headings, like "Education" and "Work Experience," so your vital information is easy to find.   
  • Notice the keywords used in the job description and include those in your CV, to describe your qualifications or work experiences. Those are especially likely to be scanned for. 
  • Use some of education-related keywords. Don't be shy about dropping in your the words you use when talking about your practice--terms like Growth Mindset, flipped classroom, differentiation, inquiry learning, technology-integration, interdisciplinary and social-constructivist.  There is a bit of an art to this, which we can discuss if you'd like.
  • Use the long-form and short-form versions of all keywords on your CV. If you're certified in SEL, don't forget to write Social Emotional Learning as well. 
  • Use a standard font size (11-12 points) and a standard font like Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana or these other ones 
  • Avoid using tables and columns. These are sometimes less searchable for an ATS. More likely they will be searchable, but they can ruin the formatting of your information --making your information less understandable when read within the ATS.
  • Try copying and pasting the text of your CV into a plain text editor. All of the text that easily pastes into the editor should be readable by the ATS. Mac computers come with a program called TextEdit that you can use for this and Windows computers come with a similar program called Notepad.
  • Some ATS ask you to “fill in the blacks”, asking you to write-in all of your details. In these situations, don’t skip any questions and also avoid bullet points.  


It is possible to go a bit too far in this direction --making a CV bots would love, but humans don’t find very compelling. This kind of balancing is something I can help you with if you’d like. 


You can also go around them

It’s also sometimes possible to completely bypass these systems (i.e. with networking) and I can help you with that as well. 



Tim is available for online Zoom coaching almost every day, to help to make sure you are soon doing the work you are meant to do. He's a fully trained career and business coach and founder, with an MBA and over 20 years of experience. ๐Ÿš€ Click here to get started with Tim. ๐Ÿš€