An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software used by companies to assist human recruiters manage candidate applications. While each system offers a different package of features, applicant tracking systems are primarily used to help hiring companies organize and navigate large numbers of applicants.

As a job seeker, you may be familiar with this scenario. You have been poring over job portals and submitted countless job applications. You don’t hearing anything from companies for a while. Suddenly, you receive frustrating rejection emails for jobs you’re well-qualified for! If you’re like most online job seekers, you are searching for answers to break this loop. But, what most job seekers are oblivious to is that the software that hiring companies use to collect applications is the hurdle between them and the corporate recruiter. In short, the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) make it harder for job seekers to get their applications in front of a decision maker.

What is an Applicant Tracking Systems?

On average, a job posting attracts anywhere between 200 and 2000 applications. To manage the volume of applications, companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to assist with the recruitment. Each system offers a different combination and scope of features. But, companies primarily use ATS to help collect, organize, and filter applicants. In fact, job seekers that submit their applications online applications through an online form or portals are effectively interacting with an ATS.

Why Do Companies Use Applicant Tracking Systems?

The relative ease of submitting an online job application has created a challenge for companies. Online job postings elicit hundreds of applications. Many of these applications are made by unqualified job seekers who figured it was worth a try. Instead of having to sort through a deluge of such applications, recruiters use ATS to organize and select qualified candidates. Particularly, this solution is especially critical for large organizations that simultaneously hire for multiple positions and departments. Most ATS offer Customer Relationship Management (CRM) type of tools to help streamline the hiring pipeline, communicate with applicants, distribute job postings, etc.

What are the major Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant tracking systems are everywhere. Most large corporations utilize Applicant Tracking Systems for the aforementioned reasons. About 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, while a Kelly OCG survey estimated that 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on such software. Some large companies develop their own proprietary applicant tracking systems, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. In summary, there are dozens of ATS used by companies big and small. A few of the more popular ATS include:

  1. Taleo
  2. iCIMS
  3. Greenhouse
  4. Jobvite
  5. Brassring
  6. Lever

Why Are Applicant Tracking Systems a Problem for Job Seekers?

Recruiters can have customize the ATS to automatically extract information from applications to build a Digital Applicant Profile that they can search, filter, and/or rank. Thus, recruiters can easily eliminate candidates that are under-qualified. This makes the applicant pool smaller and recruiters can quickly identify the top candidates. Unfortunately, for job seekers, most companies do not customize the ATS for the job postings. Correspondingly, the ATS in most organizations lack the sophistication to reliably search and filter candidates. This is largely because the hiring professionals have limited time and resources to customize ATS per job posting.

As a result, ATS wrongfully eliminates some highly qualified candidates from the applicant pool. Application formatting issues and the lack of correct search keywords are two major factors for such wrongful elimination. In order to get noticed, job seekers must optimize their application documents for the ATS.

Summary

To make sure you get past the ATS, you need to create applications that are ATS-friendly. Once your resume passes the unfailing eye of the ATS, it will then be scrutinized by a human eye. The good news is that all of the advice for optimizing your application documents for ATS is simply good practice. Here at INTRVU, we run our clients' application documents through our analytics tools - Skore and Atlas. These tools provide quick feedback on the application content as well as its ATS compatibility. Thus, we make sure that our clients' applications are not falling down the ATS chasm.