Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

THE IMPACT of APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS on JOB SEARCH

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

THE IMPACT of APPLICANT TRACKING SYSTEMS on JOB SEARCH

Article excerpt

Given the increasing prevalence of computerized applicant tracking systems (ATS) within the job search diaspora, a greater understanding benefits both career counselors and their clients. In less than twenty years, ATS have transformed the recruiting landscape (Zielinski, 2011). Job candidates who do not appreciate these changes, or who attempt to navigate them without help, may face significant obstacles. In particular, these systems offer unique challenges to young jobseekers with little work experience, to candidates returning to the workforce, and to clients undergoing voluntary or involuntary career transitions.

In 1995, fewer than 300 companies (all major corporations) used applicant tracking software systems to store, organize, and search resumes, according to Training & Development magazine. Today some industry experts estimate that 80 per cent of all companies, large and small, rely on the computerized ATS as the first reader for every resume received from any source.

This evolution in hiring methodology has major implications for clients, since for many candidates, the ATS is also the last reader - 75 per cent of the resumes in any company database are never seen by a human recruiter or hiring manager, because they do not meet the employer's preestablished criteria for a specific position. In some cases, highly qualified candidates are included in this group of lost resumes (Levinson, 2012), for a variety of reasons discussed below. Empirical evidence suggests that ATS can eliminate even the most highly qualified candidates. Bersin & Associates, a talent management research and consulting firm in Oakland, California, tested an ATS by writing a resume for a clinical scientist position. The firm used knowledge of the job requirements to crafta resume for a theoretical ideal candidate who met 100 per cent of the desired qualifications. The ATS ranked this perfect candidate as meeting just 43 per cent of the qualifications, a ranking far too low to merit an interview within most companies. In fact, the candidate was rejected as not meeting the minimum educational criteria, simply because of the way advanced degrees were formatted on the resume (Levinson, 2012).

Advantages of Using ATS for Companies

Applicant tracking systems, also called talent management systems (TMS) or applicant management systems (AMS), offer notable benefits for companies of all sizes and their human resources departments. The advent of online job application processes in the 1990s unleashed a tsunami of resumes for vacant positions. Google is said to receive 75,000 resumes per week. Employers frequently receive 1,000 resumes for a single position, and an internal recruiter handling multiple job openings may receive 900 resumes per day (Meade, 2000).

Typically, resumes are uploaded directly into the ATS by candidates on job boards or company websites. Resumes e-mailed by candidates are forwarded directly to the ATS, often without even a cursory glance from the internal recruiter or hiring manager. The majority of these resumes do not meet the minimum qualifications the employer has pre-established for each position, such as education, language fluency, or length of experience (Jenkins, 2009; Levinson, 2012). It is not cost effective for companies to pay a highly trained human resources professional (or even an entry-level assistant) to thoughtfully peruse each resume individually.

An ATS can increase consistency of hiring across multiple locations and drive improvements in HR key performance metrics such as time-to-hire (Hansen, 2006). A mid-sized company may find the time to fill an hourly position diminishes from weeks to just five days utilizing ATS.

The ATS allows internal recruiters to identify and maintain a connection with highly qualified passive candidates. Nearly 75 per cent of currently employed workers are open to the possibility of a new opportunity, yet only 18 per cent are actively engaged in a job search (Coombs, 2013). …

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