Applicant Tracking Systems

Posted by Andrew Purchas


What is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?

An application tracking system is a tool that some of the largest or most popular graduate programs use to help them process sometimes upwards of 10,000 applications. Understanding how these application systems work will make sure your application keeps moving.

The first step after getting your CV into shape for internship and graduate recruitment processes is submitting an application which will go through an ATS.

Why do I have to fill out my application again?

A common question from graduates is why do they have to fill in another application form if everything is included on their CV?

Each employer will be on the look at for a variety of different things, and an application tracking system in the graduate recruitment process allows them lock in on graduates who meet some or all of their company's criteria. The application form helps make sure all the information is in the correct format to be compared en-masse across thousands of applications where it can be hard to just look at CV’s. With application forms differing drastically between companies, this can also be a great insight to how the company might do things as another data point to weigh into what graduate jobs you might prefer.

Examples of what employers might be looking out for (This does differ employer to employer)

  • Grades
  • University / Location
  • Work rights
  • Extra-curricular activities and Hobbies
  • Achievements Work experience

You can read about our post on CV’s here, but CV’s are more about the specific information within them but how it’s presented, your attention to detail, how you sell yourself and align with the graduate job or program on offer.

All other parts of the graduate recruitment process such as your psych test and video interview results also flow into these systems so keep in mind that this is the full view of applicants for the graduate recruiter.

Top 5 things you can do to help your graduate program application

  1. Make sure you don’t skip any fields – If a field that you skip is evaluated as one of the the fields the graduate recruiter looks at, a blank field will not look as good as another candidate who has filled this out.
  2. Don’t lack on detail – Recruiters might skim details quickly and if there is a lack of detail to any candidate attribute they are interested in it might be the deciding factor between being moved to the next stage of the recruitment process
  3. Take your time – We know some grad and internship applications can take a long time to fill out but keep the end goal in mind as well as the context. Applying for graduate roles can be one of the most competitive jobs you’ll ever have to go for so taking the time to get it right can put you in the top slice of graduate candidates.
  4. Don’t leave applying until the last minute - We know you are well conditioned from university assignments to be able to get things done on a tight deadline but many students. The main reasons for getting on to things early are:
    • Some graduate recruiters process applications as they come in meaning that it is more competitive the later you leave submitting your grad application
    • Sometimes there are technical difficulties, especially when an ATS is under load. Whilst they can generally be flexible if there were issues, you don’t want to be the grad who needs an extension on their app!
  5. Complete application steps early like psychometric testing – As your application starts to progress, all parts of the recruitment process generally go through the ATS and can be from a number of third-party providers (video interviewing, psych testing etc). These steps have tight deadlines and can be harder for the graduate recruiter to be flexible on.

Many of the graduate jobs and internships advertised on GradConnection will place you into this process so we hope this information helps in your graduate job hunt!


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