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How to get your application to be selected by an Application Tracker System (ATS)

Due to huge volumes of applications and advances in modern day technology, most companies in the 21st century are adopting the use of the Application Tracker System (ATS) to shortlist candidates from a large pool of applications. Many international organisations have adopted this system and now the question is what can you do to make sure that your application letter is selected with an Application Tracker System (ATS). An Application Tracker System is human resources software which acts as a database for job applicants and it picks applications that strongly match with the job description. It does this by matching keywords on the applications documents with the ones listed on the job profile, if they strongly match there is a higher chance that your application will be selected. The following are the tips to get your CV and cover letter get past the Application Tracker System (ATS).

  • Tailor your CV and cover letter to the job description

You should always tailor your CV to match with the job description so that your CV can be picked.

  • Do not use Tables

Tables may cause database errors in many ATS systems therefore they should be avoided and also do not split pages on your CV as this may cause database errors.

  • Use a reverse chronological format for making your CV
  • Make use of key words by matching resume key words to the skills listed on the job description

ATS system is always looking for matching key words and relevant headings. You should match your CV and Cover letter with the job description so that your application maybe selected. Use the same phrases in your CV and cover letter as that of the job description. Before making an application, you should read thoroughly the contents and identify key words in the job description, skills required, job titles and include those key words in your application documents.

  • Make use of specific words not similar words

Application Tracker System (ATS) only pick specific words not similar words therefore it is advisable to use exact phrase from the job description on your CV and cover letter. For instance, if a job posting asks “knowledge of energy auditing” your resume should read I have knowledge of energy auditing.

  • Use full Acronyms or Abbreviations

Acronyms and abbreviations may confuse the ATS system. ATS system does not understand the difference between full title and acronyms therefore it is always good to put a full title or Abbreviations so that the application can be selected.

  • Avoid spelling and grammar mistakes

ATS system is always looking for matching key words and headings, if a word is misspelled the ATS will not register it as a match instead it can be rejected even if you are perfect match for the job

  • Use standard section headings

ATS uses headings to perfectly look through /scan through your application documents therefore headings must be clear. If its education details, they must fall under the heading education and if its work experience, they must fall under the work experience header. Headings should be simple to be compatible with the ATS system. Using other titles which are not clear for headings may cause your CV to be rejected or the information to get lost.

Examples of section Headings

Contact information


Key Achievements

Work experience


Training certifications

IT skills

  • Do not put anything important in a header or footer
  • Use friendly traditional format

Use friendly traditional format such as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Calibri and cumbria for best results.

  • Save your document in Microsoft word file and pdf format for best results  



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