What’s an ATS and How Does It Affect Your Travel Nurse Job Search?

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Nurse job search

You’ve heard employers, recruiters, and other nurses mention an ATS. What is it and how does it affect your job search?

What exactly is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software program that serves as an electronic database of applicant information for recruiters and other hirers.

Think of the ATS as similar to the EHRs you keep on patients every day. You collect, store, and organize patient information through your EHR interface. Similarly, an ATS allows recruiters and hirers to:

  • Collect and organize information from candidates
    • Contact information
    • Job history
    • References
    • Cover letter
    • Resume
  • Organize the information provided by all interested candidates
  • Track a candidate’s progress through the hiring process
  • Post job openings
  • Screen resumes
  • Post job listings

The ATS centralizes data storage and eases the hiring process. It’s a useful tool that helps recruiters efficiently manage data.

How do you know if you’re dealing with an ATS?

Most travel nursing agencies use some form of ATS. Also, if you create an online application or log in to a portal, you are dealing with an ATS.

If instead you send your cover letter and resume to an email address, chances are you are applying directly to a hiring manager or recruiter.

How does an ATS affect the travel nursing job search?

So what does this software program mean for your job search? Primarily, it’s another element to consider in your quest to be your best. Since the ATS often reads your resume, it’s a good idea to make sure your resume is optimized for the system.

Resume parsing

The ATS reads your resume, extracts relevant information, and then translates this into “ATS-speak.” It associates the data in your resume with different pre-defined database fields, such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Years of experience
  • Relevant skills

When writing your resume, make sure it’s ATS-friendly:

  • Avoid complex formatting
    • Non-traditional fonts
    • Color
    • Underlining
    • Columns
  • Use straightforward, industry-standard headers. If you get creative with your headers, the ATS may miss entire sections of your resume. Stick to convention, such as “Summary” or “Job Experience.”
  • Hunt out and correct all grammatical and spelling errors. An ATS can’t “guess” the meaning of a typo or understand what you mean if you misspell a word.

Job matching

While most staffing agencies have an ATS, how much they rely on it varies from firm to firm.

Some firms rely on the ATS to make their job matches for them. These agencies will enter both open traveler positions with detailed job requirements and candidates with their skills lists into the system. The ATS will rank you and the recruiter will use those ranks to make placements.

A strong person-centered staffing agency will use the ATS only to supplement the hiring process. Your recruiter will use all the tools in their toolbox — the ATS, your resume, and discussions with you — to find exactly the job you’re looking for.

TotalMed is dedicated to one-on-one recruiting. Looking for a recruiter who cares? Contact TotalMed today.

Looking for more information on how to improve your resume? Check out How to Write the Perfect Travel Nurse Resume to Get the Job You Want.

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