Applicant Tracking Systems: What They Mean for You

What are Applicant Tracking Systems?

Today, up to 80% of resumes are scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) before a human being gets even one glance at them. If a resume does not pass the ATS criteria, it is likely the resume will never be read by a human being.

Human Resource departments, hiring managers, and recruiters use Applicant Tracking Systems to streamline and accelerate the recruiting process. By using automated, computer-based, ATS technology, hiring managers can more easily and cost-effectively identify and hire the best-qualified job candidates. Since the advent of Resumix, the first-ever ATS introduced in 1988, the industry has been marked by enormous growth, technological advances, consolidations, the birth and death of entire companies dedicated to posting jobs and parsing resumes, and finally the dependence on ATS that we have today.

Why have Applicant Tracking Systems emerged as a dominant force in the employment industry?

Monster effect: With thousands of folks responding to every job posting, it is no longer possible to read every resume for every open position.
Matching Ability: ATS can help the hiring manager find candidates that truly match the job requirements without expending hours reviewing irrelevant resumes.
Ability to Find Candidates: ATS can search LinkedIn profiles and other social media for matches to the job.
Regulations: The federal government requires employers to report hiring statistics and to ensure hiring policies follow EEO requirements. ATS makes this easier.
Automation: By automating the hiring process from the beginning and tying the ATS into the existing HRIS platform, companies increase efficiency and save significant costs.
Every ATS is different. That said, here is how Applicant Tracking Systems work from the candidate’s point of view. First, the candidate selects a job to apply for. The candidate uploads a resume online and may need to fill out company-specific forms and answer additional questions.

Second, at the company, the ATS “reads” and parses the candidate’s uploaded resume. Based on how the software algorithm “reads” the resume, information from the resume is entered into set fields in the ATS database. Many ATS use clues from the resume, such as standard headings, to determine where to put the information in the database. The resume joins the LinkedIn Profile, other social network information, and application answers in the ATS.

Third, the ATS uses algorithms to score the candidate based on the job announcement. Many ATS either use keywords entered by the hiring manager or selection algorithms based on the job announcement itself.

Finally, the ATS uses the scoring algorithm (equation) to determine how well the candidate fits the job requirements, based on keyword matching and/or answers the candidate made to the questions.

Ideally, the ATS will select the best candidate(s) to be referred to the Human Resources Department, hiring manager or recruiter. Many hiring managers and recruiters will read only the resumes with the highest scores.

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