Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 4, no. 3
|Managing uncertainty is part of career change and job search. But is technology adding to your stress? As more companies use an ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to manage parts of the recruitment process, it is essential that job seekers know how to adapt. Read this issue for more insight into ATS use and what they might mean for you as a job seeker, now or in the future.|
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The use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is growing as companies seek to increase the efficiency of their recruitment process. They are currently used by as many as 3 out of 4 large companies.
The Employer’s Perspective
The promise of the ATS is that it simplifies the recruitment process by ranking applicants so that only the most suitable candidates are filtered through. If only the resumes of the best qualified candidates need to reviewed, employers save time and money.
The Job Seeker’s Experience
As a job seeker, a “black-hole” experience is not uncommon. You submit your application through the online system, and that’s it. You don’t get feedback. So what can you do? A little insight will help you to navigate the process more effectively.
What You Need to Know about ATS
We all experience the limitations of technology in everyday life. But an imperfect tool doesn’t prevent you from using it. Think of the last time you used a search engine. If you were doing a specific search and knew the best keywords, you probably found what you needed quickly. But if not, the process probably took longer. When you review job descriptions, how specific are they? Many professional jobs are not easy to describe in a few paragraphs. The adequacy of the job description is one of several variables that may influence the effectiveness of the ATS.
Even though companies have been using automated screening for some time, there is a lot scope for improvement. Systems are still being developed. As a job seeker, it is important to understand that the term ATS is used to describe a growing number of different software systems. A 2012 review by the softwareadvice website identified more than 220 different products. If you hear conflicting advice, this may be one reason why.
In a recent report by Katherine Hansen of Quint Careers asks whether the ATS has “Ruined Recruiting, Hiring, and Job Search?” As this report discusses, some of the problems are to do with limitations of the current technology. Other problems are to do with how the systems are being implemented and managed.
Despite the problems, it is likely that the ATS is here to stay as employers look for new ways to reduce the cost of recruitment and hiring. As with other technologies, we can expect the ATS to evolve over time as systems get more sophisticated and companies will learn how to use them more effectively.
In the meantime, you can begin with these 2 steps:
1. Prepare a Machine-Readable Submission
If you are submitting applications through a company’s ATS, be sure to take the basic steps to enable your information to be read by the computer. This includes choosing commonly-used section headings, including industry keywords, and using plain text for your resume. For more information, review this helpful checklist from the Quint Careers Website.
2. Undertand the Bigger Picture
It is essential to look at the hiring process as a whole and ask yourself what you can do to be included rather than excluded. The ATS is designed to screen people out. If you are interested in working for a particular company, don’t rely just on online applications. Find other ways to connect with the company. Learn as much as you can about the organization, including their hiring process. This will help you find other routes to get known within the organization and make the human connections essential for success, with or without the ATS.
Questions or Comments
What has been your experience of submitting applications through an ATS?
Feel free to share your experience below.