Are We Becoming Too Dependent on Applicant Tracking Systems?

According to a recent article published by Forbes, there has been a massive interest and investment into how employers are increasingly becoming dependent on Artificial Intelligence to streamline the efficiency of the workforce. Luckily, the article says that it is unlikely to ever completely replace the human touch. However, signs are that AI in its emerging form of Applicant Tracking Systems filters job applications before a hiring manager becomes involved.

Dependent on Applicant Tracking SystemsHow to Make ATS Your Friend in the Recruitment Process

Recruitment and job applications today take place in a digital environment and with more and more applicants chasing fewer positions, human resource professionals have had to resort to automated systems to assist them in the selection process. One of the major applications being used today by many companies is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Job hunters should know that nearly 40 per cent of employers use an applicant tracking system to screen candidates for their job openings. Don’t let the name fool you. Applicant tracking systems don’t ‘track’ where you are in the recruitment process. They save employers time by dividing good candidates from weak ones. But the way in which your resume is written, and the language you use — not necessarily the information it conveys — is what the technology actually uses to decide. As a result, most companies have thousands of resumes sitting in a database that they’ve never looked at.

ATS is a software application designed to help an enterprise recruit employees more efficiently. An ATS can be used to post job openings on a corporate website or job board, screen resumes, and generate interview requests to potential candidates by email. Other features may include individual applicant tracking, requisition tracking, automated resume ranking, customised input forms, pre-screening questions and response tracking, and multilingual capabilities.

It is estimated that roughly 50-80% of all mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations are dependent on software of this sort. But don’t worry; there are ways to make the software work in your favour.

Getting AI to Work for You

The first thing people think of when talking about automated systems is keyword searching. But although this is used to help recruiters pick out certain industry-specific skills or adjectives that denote your attitude to your profession, seasoned HR specialists realise that great talent is not always recognised just via keywords. A talented HR professional will use software sparingly and strategically. However, it is incumbent upon you to do your homework and not hope that a one-size fits all resume will do the trick. Read up on the company and especially the position description and search for keywords you can use organically and congruently within your resume. But this is also where keyword optimisation comes in. It’s not just about using certain keywords; it’s how often you can use them without making your resume unreadable.

When you are listing your qualifications, key skills and technical proficiencies, stick to standardised descriptive methods and acknowledged ways of stating things like your degree, your IT software skills and so on. If you stray from the norm, ATS is likely to miss them, and you could get rejected on a technicality.

Dependent on Applicant Tracking have put together a great list of do’s and don’ts that summarise the simple things you can do to ensure that a human gets to see your resume.

You Can Beat the System if You Work At It

Summing up, Applicant Tracking Systems makes the job easier for HR departments; it reduces their time in sifting through hundreds of resumes. But for most positions, it is not likely for the recruiting process to be 100% automated. If you know your best attributes can only be fully appreciated at the interview stage, you can still rank highly within the ATS. Spend time to research the companies and role details and optimise your resume with relevant keywords before you apply to them and apply to the ones for which you best meet the requirements. Employers may be becoming more and more dependent on Applicant Tracking Systems to make their lives easier, but you needn’t be lost in the shuffle when you know the rules of the game.


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