Are Applicant Tracking Systems Really a Black Hole?

Are Applicant Tracking Systems Really a Black Hole? Knowing how an ATS operates is critical in today’s job search. When there are a large number of applicants for a position, an ATS allows hiring managers to screen out low-ranking resumes, saving them valuable time.

For an overview of Applicant Tracking Systems, read the initial post in this series.

Basically, you can equate an ATS to your email spam filter.

An ATS separates out resumes that are not relevant for the position being filled. Like a spam filter, an ATS recognizes content that might not be important.

If your resume is not structured in a way that fits the applicant tracking system, it can enter a black hole. The appeal of an ATS for those doing the hiring is clear. Looking for a candidate with specific skills? Type them into a database and receive a targeted list of candidates with exactly those skills. Success on the hiring side of things depends on querying the system with the right keywords, specifications, and requirements to draw out resumes that are the best fit for the position.

Even if you are the BEST fit for a position, if your resume doesn’t work well with an ATS, the recruiter or hiring manager won’t find you!

There are no clear statistics about the number of companies using applicant tracking systems; however, it’s clear that those numbers will continue to grow as the software’s cost comes down. You also might not be aware of which companies are using an ATS when you submit your resume; however, applicant tracking systems are currently being used primarily in midsize and larger companies. Research indicates that almost all Fortune 500 companies use ATS software.

Most online applications end up in one of two places: an applicant tracking system, or an email inbox. Neither are particularly easy to get out of.

Although companies can search their database for candidates (much like you would query Google to find what you’re looking for), most companies use their ATS only to manage applications for a specific job. They only look at resumes submitted for that particular job; they don’t query the database for other candidates.

Clearly, it is important to understand how employers use ATS and how they may assist jobseekers through the application process. But, there is still much more to learn about these sophisticated systems if you hope for your resume to stand out and make it past the initial screening.

In our next post, we’ll look at how an ATS actually works so that you can begin to think about how you must tailor your resume to successfully navigate the system so that it doesn’t overlook you and your qualifications.



Note: This blog post only touches on certain aspects of this topic and is not a comprehensive list. This blog post is an educational and informational resource for job seekers and is not a substitute for working with a resume writer or other professional. See our Terms and Conditions for additional information.

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