Applicant Tracking System: Friend or Foe?

Does anyone actually think that using an applicant tracking system is the best way to hire a live person for an important role? Why, for the love of God, are we relying on a computer to tell us which human is the best fit for an organization? Isn’t an organization made of people (well, at least for now)? Isn’t it bad enough that the bulk of society already relies on an algorithm to suggest new friendships every day? What is happening?

I can only assume that there is some magical reason why the ATS has grown in popularity in recent years. My guess would be a masterful sales pitch about how much time they were going to save in terms of data entry. Sure, it will save you an hour here or there, but is it really worth it? Are you truly getting the best applicants? Seriously, I want to know.

Personally, I still want to read a resume. I want to know that a person took time and care to put together a fabulous-looking, well-written, organized resume where that basic effort provides some clue as to the inner workings of that person’s mind.  If I am going to spend 40 hours a week with a person I would want them to be someone I respect and dare I hope, maybe even like.

What I don’t want is a recommendation from a system that can be tricked by a little black hat SEO and an online tutorial that explains how to do it. Seriously, see Top Tricks to Beat an ATS if you think I’m kidding. Why are we teaching young minds that the best way to get a job is to make sure your resume has the correct keywords to get around an automated system? How can that be in the best interest of anyone’s long-term recruiting efforts, let alone in the best interest of a young person looking for a job?

What if they have no idea what SEO stands for? Guess what? Most of them don’t. I know because I ask that question every time I interview a marketing prospect and have had the divine pleasure of witnessing many a blank stare.

Another bonus is that almost every single ATS seems to have some kind of glitch that is always blamed on the browser. My latest encounter includes an attempt to upload the same information five times. The system keeps telling me that I don’t have the minimum one job listed…No, you are right ATS, I have four. I have tried deleting, adding, redoing, rewording, all to no avail and for a job that was supposedly a perfect match for my resume (at least according to ZipRecruiter). I guess it’s a good thing that I am too persistent to give up, and that I have enough restraint not to throw my computer at the wall.

Oh, and let’s not forget the added convenience of ‘parsing’.  Why do I have to upload my entire resume so that an automated system can pull it apart, incorrectly I might add, and leave me to retype or cut and paste the entire resume that I just uploaded. What the heck? Why is that even a thing?

What happened to the good old days of creating an attractive resume that shows how clever you are along with your attention to detail and knowledge of Word? Nope, now you just strip it right down to nothing, in the hopes that some system will pull it apart correctly looking for the right key words.

I reiterate: Is this really the best way to recruit a human?

Anyway, I have to stop now, or I won’t have enough time to painstakingly recompile my 5th or is it the 8th rendition of my almost perfect resume, as I try one more time to upload it in the hopes of finding my next perfect job.

I am ready for you, Mr. Error Message. I will persevere. The ATS will not beat me, at least not today.


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