My Thoughts on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

My Thoughts on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

During my 8 year tenure as a paid Moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Career Group, someone posed this question for me:

“Lisa, would love to hear your thoughts on Applicant Tracking Systems. The last stat I heard is that it immediately sidelines 75% of all resumes submitted. That means that there is a high probability that a human being will never even SEE our resumes. I feel that the dehumanization of the hiring process is not good for anyone—not the companies looking to hire (because ATS technology keeps telling them that there are no worthy candidates out there) and not helping those looking to get hired.

It’s tough to keep putting hours worth of work tailoring a way to approach a company only to be dismissed by cold ATS technology in as little as 24 hours.“

— Frustrated Job Seeker

There is a lot in here. Here are my thoughts:

(1) Frustrated Job Seeker is making an assumption that before Applicant Tracking Systems came on the scene, that all resumes were read and replied to. This is false. When only humans read resumes, pre-ATS system, only a fraction of all resumes received were read. Most often, what would happen if a total of 300 resumes were received, the first 50-60 may have been read. Once 8-10 candidates were identified as good options, they were called and asked in for an interview. 5-6 people were interviewed and one was hired. Only if no one was hired, would they go back to the remaining 240 resumes. But pre-ATS, all resumes were not read.

(2) I am not sure about the 75% stat he mentioned, but the system is weeding out the people who think they are qualified or think they can do the job, but they are not really qualified. For example, the system is weeding out people who are finance managers wanting a career change into marketing. Or if a company only wants to recruit out of competitor firms, then those resumes without the competitor names in the resume get sifted out. The people who don’t have the right keywords in their resume that will most likely qualify for the job will get sifted out. This process saves the recruiter eyeballs to read qualified resumes… and it’s a good thing.

(3) Add to this frustration of Frustrated Job Seeker, that only 20-25% of hires happen through job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems… whoa! It’s a real small number of resumes that land an interview through job postings. Yet this is how most people spend most of their job search time… and wonder why they are frustrated.

(4) In addition to these prior three thoughts, it’s important for you to know that 65-75% of hires happen through networking (employee referrals, social media connections and personal contacts).

So if you are like Frustrated Job Seeker, and you want human contact in your job search, reach out to humans.

Most people won’t get hired by job boards or third party recruiters (they are the remaining 10-15% of how hires are made). Yet, again, this is how most people spend their time job searching.

If you want to shift gears and make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile is right for people hiring for your target jobs… the 65-75%… then hire us to critique your resume and your profile in the context of your target jobs.

My team consists of recruiters each with 20+ years of experience in hiring who will give you specific, pointed, individualized feedback on what to change in your resume and profile — from a recruiter’s perspective.

Invest in your resume and LinkedIn profile critique today: The Ultimate Resume & LinkedIn Profile Critique.

Let’s do this.


Lisa Rangel – Executive Resume Writing Services

Chameleon Resumes


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