How to Work and Win With Application Tracking Software (ATS)

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    How does one follow up, reiterate interest in an application with an HR Dept outgoing message to view their website for details on your application, (which is of no help)? Are you familiar with the "resume/application filter" systems? Have any tricks, tips to avoid immediate dismissal of the resume?

    Thanks a bunch from a nurse seeking a CVICU position as a current progressive care nurse.

    Dear How to Avoid Resume Dismissal,

    It can be frustrating to have to go through resume filter systems, especially when you know you could WOW them face to face...if only you could get the chance.

    The following is an excerpt from my book and talks about application-tracking software (ATS):


    Your resume should mirror the values and culture of the organization.
    How can you do that? Use industry keywords from the job posting for your skills. Many organizations use keyword scanning software to screen resumes. Have the job description in front of you as you compose your resume. "Make sure to include keywords from the job description in your online application. Application-tracking software (ATS) is programmed to pick up the keywords, skills and experience for the job.If "leadership qualities" is listed in the job posting, use it in your cover letter"

    Here's an example from a job posting:
    "Demonstrates leadership, effective communication, and excellent critical thinking skills. Join our team of compassionate and passionate health care professionals who are committed to the well-being of our patients and provide patient care based on competence, professional expertise, knowledge and evidence-based practice."

    In your resume, under Clinical Experience, you can highlight that your senior practicum project was on evidence-based practice for central line management. The keyword "evidence-based practice" will show in a keyword scan. In this instance, you are choosing to highlight "evidence-based practice" because the employer focused on it.

    Note that you can use synonyms for keywords as ATS software is programmed to recognize constructs of the term.

    In addition to using ATS recognized keywords:

    • Make sure you include the specified job qualifications and skills
    • Make sure the date of your resume is updated, and that you have followed all application instructions to the letter. Errors can give HR cause to reject an application. I've seen resumes more than once with the wrong hospital name. It sounds laughable, but I'm sure the sender believed his resume was error-free.
    • Try to find out the hiring manager's email address and make contact; there's not much to lose, and personal contact can trump impersonal software and computer applications. To find out the name of the ICU manager, for example, call the hospital and ask for the ICU manager's extension, or call nursing administration and ask for it.

    As far as following up with HR, you are right, it can be a polite dead end. It is more effective to follow-up with the recruiter or hiring manager.

    In my book (link below) I also talk about some bold and creative strategies- many of which I've used to land jobs! I've always been persistent when pursuing a job because I mostly believe there's nothing to lose.

    One strategy includes tips for cold-calling the nurse manager, but you must be strategic about it. As a manager, I was subject to cold-calls; some were annoying, and some paid off for the applicant.
    For example, one tip is to cold-call on a Monday or Friday, when there are fewer scheduled meetings and the nurse manager is more likely to be in her office.

    Good luck to you and I hope you land the CVICU position!

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Dec 12, '17
  2. Visit Nurse Beth profile page

    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,415; Likes: 4,223


  3. by   MelEpiRN
    Great question and advice. Thank you!
  4. by   sunny time
    I was hired for a job from 1 word that stood out on my resume. PICC line dressing. ok 3 words but the point is 1 word makes a difference