217. How to Find A Job: Applicant Tracking Systems Basics & How Candidates Are Qualified

04 takeaways from this video:

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This video is an evaluation of the now defunct Preptel software, a service that helped candidates improve their ranking within applicant tracking systems. Preptel shut down its services on August 30, 2013. Regardless, this video is a good introduction into applicant tracking systems, with more to come.]

00:00:01 Similar to customer relationship management (CRM) systems, Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are “software applications that enable the electronic handling of recruitment needs by automatically filtering applications based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended. This has caused many job candidates to adapt resume optimization techniques similar to those used in search engine optimization when creating and formatting their résumé.”

Job seekers still incorrectly assume that recruiters are selecting candidates through their emailed résumés, but equal employment opportunity laws coupled with so many eligible candidates from diverse backgrounds and professional experiences seeking work mean that today almost all companies and job boards such as Monster, Careerbuilder, indeed, and Linkedin rely on applicant tracking systems, and most recruiters – to avoid accusations of unfair hiring practices – will not review applicants until they can be accessed through an ATS.

Applicant Tracking System flowchart by Jon Ciampi

Even if you find a job through your professional network, your résumé will still likely find its way into an applicant tracking system.

00:01:28 The modern ATS recruitment process:

  1. Your résume (or CV) is parsed into its individual components according to each corresponding ATS field. This homogenizes all applicants to similar formats to allow for quick and unbiased sorting of all applicants within the database.Unfortunately, over 70% of résumés put into an ATS contain some form of error.
  2. After your résumé has been parsed into the ATS, with but a click of a button all candidates profiles are judged against the job description, and candidates are algorithmically ranked according to their ‘suitability’ for the job (i.e. their keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience and schools attended). Regardless of how ‘qualified’ you are, if your profile is not at the top of an ATS ranking, then you will have little chance of even catching the recruiter’s attention.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on how brands recruite employees, watch: