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The Applicant Tracking Systems: Still A Jobseeker’s Enemy?

The Applicant Tracking Systems: Still A Jobseeker’s Enemy?

Okay. We get it. Employers, you need Applicant Tracking Systems because you are overwhelmed by the resumes that are coming in. That’s partially because this economy is so bad that desperate jobseekers are submitting their resumes everywhere, without consideration for whether they are qualified for the job at hand.

ATSes serve a lot of fantastic functions, like eliminating those people.

But they can do a lot more harm than good.

According to this WSJ article about the rise of ATSes (about five years too late, guys?), even the tiniest misstep can throw you out of the running.

Example: “One small error, such as listing the name of a former employer after the years worked there, instead of before, can ruin a great candidate’s chances.”


Josh Bersin, CEO of Bersin & Associates, says that it’s a good idea to try to counteract this issue by putting your former employer, dates worked, and position all on separate lines–at least in the machine-readable version of your resume.

“There are some things parsers are just too stupid to figure out,” he told the WSJ.

Can we just say “argh,” please?

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  1. As an organisation using ATS or any other recruiting technology, there is a responsibility to know how this works. If the ATS is filtering out suitable applicants then you should know and change this!
    Any piece of software is simply a tool to let people carry out tasks easier. If it is not working as desired, then one must realize this and correct it.
    Here is a post which I wrote in response to this WSJ post –

  2. There is a way to use an ATS without relying on parsing. Smart HR departments setup online applications with a few prescreening questions that filter out the absolutely non-qualified applicants, then review the rest of the completed applications (& resumes) manually.

  3. Hmmm. It sounds like ATS can make employers’ jobs easier and not job applicants who are not careful with how they put together their resume.

    This is a great reason to use some sort of service to put your resume together.

  4. “The parsers are too stupid” – Josh, that’s an easy way out and it puts the blame on poor software design… Applicants Tracking Systems should be named Applicants Filtering Software. With the current unemployment figures, these systems have tremendous opportunities in taking their algorithms to the next level and offer much more than filtering. The current matching game is over. We have to look at this under a new light.

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