Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are Bad for Job Searching

Applicant Tracking Systems

Estimates are that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use some type of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software for their employment recruiting. Employers and recruiters using this software can make it even more challenging for job seekers to land a position. Sending resumes and filling out job applications online already many times seems like a black hole in the universe. Job hunters often complain of no further communication from a potential employer once they spend time supplying the required information for a position.

Although research shows networking is what lands a job 85% of the time, using the internet to search for work is still part of the process in a job search. Studies have shown that very few people actually get a job through online applications and resume submissions. Research already indicates the difficulty of employment by only online methods. Applicant Tracking Systems are adding an even further obstacle in many instances.

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System is software used by recruiters and hiring managers to help organize and streamline the hiring process. ATS systems collect and sort through resumes and application information submitted by potential new employees. The software uses algorithms to filter potential job candidates to fill a position. A few examples of ATS software are Taleo and BambooHR.

Applicant Tracking Systems are used for the hiring process. There are claims it returns results for the best qualified job seeker for a position. Although these systems can filter results for qualified job candidates, they often fall short. They may not always be the best method for locating the ideal person for a job.

The Applicant Tracking System software is primarily used because it saves companies time and money. If used properly, ATS software can help prevent lawsuits concerning discrimination. Also, it can speed up the hiring process by supposedly eliminating job candidates that are not qualified for a position. The result is less of a chance for a lawsuit or fewer resources required to manually go through every resume and application.

Applicant Tracking Systems are a valuable tool for employers, but generally not good for the job hunter.

There are numerous companies in the market for applicant software and the industry is expected to grow immensely in the future. Using software to filter through employment applications is a valuable tool for employers. But it is not necessarily a good thing for the job hunter.

Why are Applicant Tracking Systems Bad for Job Seekers?

· Key Word Filters

If you submit your resume or fill out an online application and it does not have the proper key words, it will be a waste of time. Employers and recruiters can setup the filters in ATS software to look for certain things. Information that does not meet the requirements never make it to the next step.

· Format

Employment applications submitted to Applicant Tracking Systems can be thrown out if they are not in a format the system likes. For example, if a system does not like a PDF file format and a resume is submitted this way, hiring consideration may not even go any further. Uncommon fonts or graphics on a resume submitted electronically may also cause problems.

· Discrimination

Although there are laws in place for discriminating in the hiring process, such as the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some would argue employment discrimination still exists. I would be in agreement with this.

Application Tracking Systems sell themselves as a way to be compliant with discrimination. However, people design the filters and algorithms. Just because employment discrimination is not legal, this does not mean some employers do not do it. Moreover, it does not suggest some haven’t found a way around it.

There are stories and lawsuits with employers only putting certain date ranges as available for education and employment on applications. Also, using ATS to filter for certain degrees that are no longer widespread and more common for older workers is a loophole some have used.

Resumes many times may be in a format with dates of employment. Who is to say that somehow filters are not used to disqualify a candidate based on this with some type of algorithm? For dishonest companies, it probably doesn’t matter because they can just exclude a candidate based on dates once the system advances an application.

For the people that believe hiring discrimination is no longer as prevalent as it once was, you may want to look further into the research.

· Qualified Job Candidates are Often Eliminated with an Applicant Tracking System

A person may be the most qualified for an open job position. But with all the filters and requirements experienced qualified job applicants can regularly get passed over or filtered out.

Applicant Tracking Systems - Qualified job candidates often get filtered out.

· Job Hunters that Know Applicant Tracking Systems

There are people that have figured out the system when it comes to applicant software. Job hunters that really know ATS systems have the upper hand. Because of this, these people have their experience, employment history, and education optimized for Applicant Tracking Software. It is not unusual even for these people to not be as qualified as the next person and have their information make it through the ATS filters. Job hunters that have the right information hiring software is looking for have an advantage.

To Sum it All Up

Applicant Tracking Systems have their pros and cons. Yet the advantageous appear to favor employers over the people looking for a job. Employment application screening software saves hiring managers and recruiters time and money. Some may argue that ATS software finds the best candidate for an open job position. However, with all of the built-in algorithms and filters, it can still be easy to eliminate qualified people looking for employment. Moreover, discrimination with the use of ATS systems can still quietly exist.

For people with good inside knowledge of Applicant Tracking Systems there can be an advantage. This is good for these people. But it often times is a disadvantage for someone that does not have their skills and employment history optimized to make it to the desk of the person hiring.

The odds of landing employment through a passive approach of submitting online applications and resumes is slim to begin with. With many recruiters and hiring managers using these types of systems, getting a job by searching online is just much more difficult than many people realize.

If you are actively looking for employment online, it is important to realize the challenges with landing the next job by applying on the internet. The market for Applicant Tracking System software is expected to keep increasing. As a result, more employers will start using them in addition to mostly larger companies. Applying for employment online is not a complete waste of time. However, it is important for job seekers to manage their time in a job search and limit their online efforts to a small overall percentage. Even with technology, networking and who you know are still the best methods for finding employment. It has been this way before Applicant Tracking Systems and will likely remain the way in the future.


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