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Fact vs. Fiction: The reality of using Applicant Tracking Systems | peopleHum
Hiring and Recruitment

Fact vs. Fiction: The reality of using Applicant Tracking Systems

HR blogs
Sharon Monteiro
December 8, 2021
Human Resource Management Platform

If you've been around LinkedIn or, well, people long enough, you might have heard a great many stories regarding the misfortune of not getting selected for a job interview despite being an "eligible candidate". However, this short read isn't about contesting that last claim; it is about Applicant Tracking Systems.

Job candidates have voiced their opinions and posed a great many questions regarding ATS. The true misfortune is not knowing the reality of using Applicant Tracking Systems. Out there are many misconceptions and false beliefs on how an ATS actually works, how they review and qualify candidates, and what benefits they provide to both candidates and employers.

To dispel these erroneous misconceptions, here are some common beliefs concerning the ATS and the reality.

Separating fact from fiction: The reality of using an ATS

1. "I already have a LinkedIn resume, so I don't need to put my resume into the ATS."

If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can use the website's "Quick Apply" option to apply for a job, which sends a candidate's LinkedIn profile and CV to the hiring employer. Other job-search websites, such as Indeed and Monster have a similar streamlined application process. Applicants can also choose to submit a longer and more detailed job application through job sites, which will expedite them to the front-end of the employing company's ATS.

2. "The ATS looks for keywords, dates and job titles in your resume."

This may be accurate, depending on how an organization's ATS is set up.  Keywords that are used as pre-qualifiers are used to screen out applications that do not match the basic requirements of the role. Additionally, pertinent qualifying questions such as, "Do you have at least three years' experience as a marketing manager?" can also be programmed into the ATS.  Candidates who do not meet these requirements may be disqualified or their information may be placed in a "knock-out pile" for future review.

3. "ATS are advanced enough to figure out how to collect, organize and arrange all the information on the resume."

Many ATS require assistance, through the use of headings, to identify where data should be placed. As a result, valuable information can be misfiled and overlooked. Many ATS only use data that fits with their formatting criteria.

4. "It’s better to send your resume in PDF format when submitting to an ATS."

Most ATS can read documents in Word or PDF format. Most recruiters will look at the resume you've included to your application rather than relying entirely on the resume you've entered into the applicant tracking system. It's preferable to avoid using special characters like ampersands and accent marks or even tables and images as many ATS may have trouble reading them.

5. "If the keywords are not detected, you will be rejected right away."

This is depending on how the applicant tracking system (ATS) is set up by the organisation. Companies can programme their applicant tracking systems to score applications and hold those that don't match the basic requirements in a separate "holding database" for later consideration.

6. "Applicant tracking systems can read resumes in any format."

If your resume isn't ATS-optimised, it has a higher chance of falling through the cracks. Another chance is that an ATS could misread a resume.

An ATS may be unable to comprehend graphics (including bullets), erroneous headings, formatting, characters, and phrasing. Even then, a recruiter may interpret material on a CV as a single, unformatted paragraph. Some ATS are currently trying to utilise neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques to circumvent the absence of keywords in qualified candidate resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other social media profiles.

7. "Any resume longer than 2 pages will be rejected by an ATS."

Contrary to popular belief, the length of a resume doesn't make a big difference. However, if an ATS is programmed to look for specific terms, resumes that include more of those terms may score higher.

8. "All ATS operate similarly."

ATS aren't all similar. They differ in terms of complexity and functionality. An ATS from one business may be configured with different settings so that it functions differently than another ATS from the same company. Different ATS also provide various reporting.

Do candidates really need to fill out their resume information again?

Put your ATS doubts to rest with peopleHum

Now that we have dispelled the most pervasive misconceptions and given you a brief understanding on the truth behind using Applicant Tracking Systems, it's time to put your doubt to rest.

To know more about what an ATS does and how you can use it to effectively meet your organizational needs, head on to the following blogs:

  1. How to choose the right Recruitment Management System
  2. Quick guide to an effective recruitment process

Better yet, switch to an advanced grade of Applicant Tracking System that helps you practice your recruitment process the effective way. Make the switch to better ATS with peopleHum's integrated recruitment management system.

Too soon to commit? Take our free demo and talk to us.

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October 25, 2021

A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together


October 25, 2021

This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all