Mastering Applicant Tracking Systems, the Gatekeepers to Landing a Job Interview

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Kathy Lavinder
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

Technology has upended the job application process. If you are looking for a new fraud-related role, you will likely need to submit a résumé online. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the new gatekeepers and will have first crack at your information. 

An ATS is a parsing software that reads résumés, ranking them on specific criteria. Human Resources (HR) no longer weeds through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Unlike a human who seeks reasons to eliminate a résumé, an ATS seeks specific keywords to rank résumés. The higher ranking a résumé receives, the better chance it will have of being viewed by a decision maker. Simply put, if your résumé includes the keywords an employer wants, your résumé is ranked higher. This means any fraud fighter looking for a new role must tailor a résumé to rank higher and improve the odds of advancing through the application process.

Here are some tips to improve your odds:

  • Read the description carefully. Consider the company’s lingo for titles, roles and responsibilities.
  • Research employees at the company to compare your profile. Once you have a feel for what makes a good candidate and résumé, tailor your résumé to demonstrate that you are a good candidate.
  • Use keywords from the job description throughout your work history and skills.
  • It’s also acceptable when applying online to use longer résumés. Length doesn’t matter to an ATS, and it allows for more keywords in the right places. Have an abbreviated résumé ready if you land an interview. 

Websites like and will compare your résumeé with a job description to help increase your ranking in the keyword search game. It’s important not to use too many keywords as an ATS will eliminate an overly keyword packed résumé. Use two or three throughout your Work Experience and Skills sections.

An ATS searches for similar job titles as a criterion in the ranking process. That said, it is never a good idea to give yourself a misleading title or promotion. Use both acronyms and the full spelling of titles and credentials to ensure your terms match those the ATS is seeking. 

Here are a few dos and don’ts to ensure your résumé isn’t eliminated:

  • Don’t use headers and footers, special characters, fancy bullets, fields or tables. These jam an ATS.
  • Don’t put contact information in the header; include it in the body.
  • Do use basic sections: Work Experience, Skills, Education, etc. Too much formatting and the résumé will be ranked lower.
  • Don’t put dates of work experience first. An ATS searches for the company name first. The format should be company name, title and date.  
  • Don’t PDF the résumé as most systems don’t have the ability to convert the PDF to accurately parse the data.
  • Do answer all questions fully in complete sentences. Empty boxes lower rankings.

There are great fraud jobs out there once you get past an ATS. Good luck!