If you’re a job seeker, there’s little doubt that you’ve encountered applicant tracking systems in your job search. The fact is, 75% of large companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) for their recruitment needs and there has been an influx of small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) following suit. As an employer, though, how much do you know about applicant tracking systems and how they work? While there’s no doubt they serve a purpose, they could also be keeping qualified candidate’s resumes from your hiring manager’s desk. So in this post, we’ll be defining what applicant tracking systems are, listing both their pros and cons, and presenting to you – the employer – another, more personal, option (us).
Defining an ATS
According to Wikipedia, an applicant tracking system is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online on an enterprise or small business level, depending on the needs of the company. They’re designed for recruitment tracking purposes and are able to filter applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience, or even schools attended. In a sense, they’ve automated the job of a recruiter, and that has both its benefits and drawbacks.
The Benefits of an ATS
Large organizations, such as Microsoft and Google, are inundated with thousands of resumes each week. Even SMBs can see their fair share of resumes for opportunities in which there’s a great supply. So if you’re looking for a way to automatically sort and rank resumes, an ATS can be an attractive option. Let’s take a look at some of their benefits:
- They save time, resources (paper), and can help your company stay organized
- They can save SMBs tens of thousands of dollars, and large companies even more, in wasted time and recruitment effort
- They help to keep tabs on the hiring process and facilitate communication with candidates
- They’re able to keep track of resumes and can identify candidates that fit a position (on paper at least) even for roles the candidate hadn’t originally applied for – applicant tracking systems will rank resumes based on keyword match and will keep resumes on file in a database
- They’re all inclusive, meaning they’ll include links to candidate’s social media pages, such as LinkedIn, saving the recruiter/hiring manager the extra effort of finding those profiles
In summation, applicant tracking systems were designed to streamline the recruiting process, shortening the time it takes before a hiring manager contacts candidates who seem to be qualified for an open job. However, they’re not without their drawbacks.
The Drawbacks of an ATS
While an ATS was designed to help in the recruiting process, they do possess some character flaws that can, and are keeping qualified candidates from being considered for positions of need. In fact, 70% of resumes submitted through an ATS never make it to the hiring manager’s desk. That’s because:
- Applicant tracking systems search keywords, so if a search string isn’t carefully constructed they often times miss out on some highly qualified candidates
- Images and graphics cannot be read by most (if not all) systems – this poses a huge problem for graphic designers who have incorporated some design into their resume
- They’re unable to read certain fonts – mainly serif (Times New Roman, Cambria, etc.) – and resumes written in such are automatically rejected
- Resumes that don’t use typical bullet points (such as arrows or other intricate symbols) will be rejected or ranked lower – special characters prevent the ATS from parsing the resume/information in the correct way
- Resumes that aren’t submitted as Word or TXT files will be rejected – that means no resumes saved as PDF, HTML, Open Office or Apple Pages files
- Acronyms also pose a challenge. When applicant tracking systems search the skills and experience sections of resumes for specific keywords, the matches need to be exact – so while a candidate may have the skills you’re looking for, the ATS won’t rank them as such
- Spelling mistakes won’t be caught and pose the same challenge as those presented by acronyms
Applicant tracking systems are not your only option, however. Instead, you could…
Partner with PSCI for Your Staffing Needs
As an IT staffing firm who’s been in business for the past 25 years, we’re uniquely qualified to handle your organizations staffing and recruitment needs. Our staff has been trained in the techniques of being able to properly query resumes, so we see all the candidates that qualify for your needs and not just those resumes that have been optimized.
So if you’re looking for a more personalized recruiting touch, don’t delay and contact us today!