Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are one of the most common tools used by recruiters and HR managers. They help companies streamline their hiring process and get rid of redundant paperwork. But what is an ATS? How does it work? Should you be using one in your job search?
Applicant tracking systems have been around for many years, but there are still companies that don't use them. This is because many businesses struggle to find the right applicant tracking system for their needs or know how to properly set it up. Others may not even be aware of what an applicant tracking system is or what it does.
A lot of organizations out there are using applicant tracking systems—or ATSs—to better manage their recruiting efforts and find the best candidates for open positions. An ATS can help streamline the hiring process by automatically collecting data from resumes submitted through a company's website or email inbox, then filtering through those responses based on specific qualifications criteria requested by recruiters.
The first step in getting started with an ATS is understanding how they work, how they can benefit your organization, which features you'll need most often (like resume parsing), and how much they cost so you can budget accordingly!
This article will go into the following details:
- What is an ATS?
- How does an ATS work?
- Why do employers use applicant tracking systems?
- How can I get past the ATS?
- Limitations of Applicant Tracking Systems
- How accurate are ATS in performing their jobs?
- Make sure your resume is optimized for ATS
- Quick Tips on making ATS-Friendly Resumes
- Why do companies choose to use ATS?
- The Pros and Cons of ATS
- What is the Future of ATS?
1. What is an ATS?
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that automates the process of screening resumes, CVs, and other job applications. It's used by companies to streamline the hiring process.
They allow companies to save time and money by automating the process of tracking applicants' progress through your hiring funnel.
2. How does an ATS work?
An ATS works by identifying relevant keywords from the resume, then matching them to the job description. In this way, it can determine whether you're a good fit for a particular job—and rank your application accordingly.
The first step is parsing your resume. The ATS scans it for keywords that match those in the corresponding job description; if there's no match, your application will not be considered further. If there are multiple ways to say something on your resume (like "executed" or "delivered"), an ATS will pick one version of the word and use that throughout its search of potential matches.
After parsing resumes and finding relevant keywords, an applicant tracking system will compare each applicant's background against their stated skills and qualifications listed in their resumes against those required by each position posted via its website or third party sites like Indeed or Monster.
If you think about it, there are many processes in your company where you want them to be automated for efficiency and cost savings: ordering office supplies, sending invoices and payments, tracking employee benefits and training needs…the list goes on. Why should the hiring process be any different?
3. Why do employers use applicant tracking systems?
Applicant tracking systems are used to streamline the hiring process. They allow employers to use a single database to store candidate data, share job postings with applicants, and organize resumes. They also allow recruiters or hiring managers to efficiently manage the recruitment process by automating tasks such as distributing applications and screening them for qualifications.
A good application tracking system will keep track of every applicant who has applied for your job opening. This includes their contact information, which can be used later if you need follow up with them about the position or schedule an interview at a future time.
4. How can I get past the ATS?
Follow these actionable steps to make sure your application gets noticed by a human.
- Use keywords in your resume. Make sure that the resume is ATS-friendly by using keywords and phrases that will be recognized by the system. For example, if you are applying for a role that requires experience with specific software packages or technology-related skills, be sure to include these on your resume. An applicant tracking system won't recognize job seekers who don't use relevant terms in their resumes and applications—the result will likely be an immediate rejection of your application.
- A good rule of thumb is to use keywords from the job title, company name and location of the job posting wherever applicable. You'll be surprised at how much more likely you are to get an interview if you do!
- Use a professional email address and phone number. Don't use personal email addresses or numbers when applying for jobs through an applicant tracking system; instead opt for professional ones that clearly demonstrate your desire to work at this company (for example: [email protected]). This also goes back to ensuring that all contact information used on your application is correct—it should match exactly what's listed on your LinkedIn profile so they know they're dealing with one person throughout each step of the hiring process.
- Make sure your resume is optimized for ATS. Applicant tracking systems are designed to find certain words and phrases on resumes that match a specific set of criteria (like skill sets). If yours doesn't have those words or phrases listed—and especially if there's even one thing that doesn't fit—your chances of making it through an ATS drop dramatically!
5. Limitations of Applicant Tracking Systems
The ATS is not perfect. It’s certainly a good tool to have in your arsenal, but it has its limitations.
The ATS is not always accurate. The system may identify certain candidates as suitable for the role when they aren’t or vice versa. It can also mistake candidates who are unqualified for the role as being highly suitable for that position.
It can be biased against ethnicities or genders if you use keywords like “male” or “female” in your job description and ads on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn (which many employers do). This kind of discrimination is illegal under federal law—but some employers still do this anyway!
ATS are also slow at processing applications; some systems take days to send out an email alerting applicants that their application packet has been received by the company (this delay could cost you valuable time if another candidate gets hired first). And finally, ATS tend to be expensive—the average cost per applicant processed by an ATS platform comes out between $150-$200 (not including any customization costs).
6. How accurate are ATS in performing their jobs?
The ATS are not accurate at all. In fact, they have a high rate of false positives, meaning that they will find some candidates who don't match what is being searched for, but they will also miss many qualified candidates. They also have a low rate of false negatives—that is, they miss many qualified candidates and let through some who aren't as good. This means that the job seeker needs to be even more prepared than ever before when applying online because there's no guarantee your resume will be seen by anyone if you don't know how to get it past your system!
7. Make sure your resume is optimized for ATS
If you want to make sure your resume is optimized for ATS, there are several things you can do. First, include keywords in the right places. If a keyword doesn't apply to your job experience, don't include it on your resume (unless it's something like "teamwork" or "leadership," which are fairly universal skills). Check out our list of 100-plus common keywords used by ATSs and make sure they're included in contextually appropriate areas of your resume—like in the summary section (if relevant) or on a relevant bullet point within each work experience section.
Second, avoid overusing all-caps text throughout your document; this can be interpreted as yelling by an ATS and may cause potential employers to pass over parts of your document that contain too much capitalized text. Finally, make sure that any PDF files have been properly formatted with no extra formatting elements such as shading or borders using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC software before sending them off into the world!
8. Quick Tips on making ATS-Friendly Resumes
- Keep it short and simple. Applicant tracking systems are designed to scan resumes quickly, so it's important that your resume doesn't have any unnecessary information or too much text.
- Use keywords in the resume. A good portion of the job application process happens online, so you should make sure that your resume contains relevant keywords that will help an applicant tracking system find it.
- Use consistent formatting and style throughout your resume. This makes it easier for an applicant tracking system to read through all of your materials, since they all look similar and there isn't anything unexpected in them (like bolding or italics).
- Include a professional summary at the top of each page of your document—this should include information about how you meet each company's needs as well as things like goals for the future, what sets you apart from other applicants, etcetera
9. Why do companies choose to use ATS?
There are many reasons why companies choose to use ATS. The system makes it easy for recruiters to find the best candidates for a job, and it also helps them to reduce their hiring costs by making sure that they're only interviewing people who are qualified for the position. Recruiters can save time by using an applicant tracking system, because instead of having to manually log all of the information about each candidate into a spreadsheet or database, everything is automatically recorded in real time as candidates submit their applications and resumes. With an ATS system, recruiters can focus on doing other things besides just checking and reading emails; they will be able to spend more time talking with potential employees over the phone or at interviews.
10. The Pros and Cons of ATS
The advantages of an ATS are as follows:
- They help save time and money.
- They help ensure that you hire the right employees for your business.
- They can be used to find the perfect candidate for a job opening, even if they don't necessarily match all of your criteria.
The disadvantages include:
- ATS can be inaccurate, especially when it comes to screening for candidates who have skills or experience in specific areas (like programming or graphic design). Because these systems aren't able to account for every possible skill set, they might screen out certain applicants who are actually qualified for the position being advertised.
11. What is the Future of ATS?
The ATS is becoming more sophisticated, and it's being used in a wider variety of industries.
For example, you can use an ATS to screen potential candidates for non-traditional positions. For example, a company can use an ATS tool to hire someone who will manage their social media accounts or write content for their website.
In addition, the future of applicant tracking systems seems bright because they're so versatile: You can use one to find employees for any kind of job!
In the end, ATS are here to stay. They’re a great tool for saving companies time and money by automating some of the more mundane parts of the job application process. As long as employers use them responsibly and don’t rely solely on these systems to make hiring decisions, they will continue to be an important part of business operations everywhere. In you are even more interested in the topic, please take a look at our other blog posts in regards to ATS to gain more knowledge.