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.


The road to my next work adventure. Yikes…(Part 1)

So here I am, after almost 20 years with the same company, suddenly looking for a new job. I am incredibly sad, very excited, somewhat terrified and a little frustrated all at the same time…and boy do I miss my team.

The thing is, I loved my job. The people, the challenges, the variety of work that I was able to do, the trust and responsibility, the impact that I had every single day and all of the many things that I have learned over that time. 

I started working there as a PR person and an event planner, eventually launched an entire events product line, built my very own department and made the company millions of dollars. I moved up, took on more, learned more, and worked more, until I came out a full blown marketing director with a healthy side of sales management and operations. My ultimate goal was to one day become a VP and I am proud to say that I did exactly what I set out to do.

Now, when I look back, it is a little crazy to think that I have worked on so many different projects, I have probably forgotten as much as I have retained. 

Of course the nostalgic part of me always hoped it would last forever, even though the rational part of my brain realized where the company was likely headed a long time ago. And, even knowing the probable outcome, I was always committed to stay until the bitter end…and boy is there bitterness, not mine, because I think I have the fairly unique perspective of a long time employee who was by and large very happy for most of my tenure, but there are more than a few out there taking pleasure in watching the final crash and burn, even after 32 years of business and some truly incredible success from which many actually benefited.

Personally, I think rooting for anyone’s failure is just bad for the soul, so I choose to look on the bright side and take the high road. If you know me, you know that is just what I do, and I do it even when others call me crazy, or worse, yet somehow I know the right thing to do for me, is to stay and to help.

Now, as the final weeks fly by, I am surprised to find that I am yet again learning something new…and that is how to close a business. It is certainly something that I never expected or wanted to know, but here I am tracking what is owed to the company and to others, doing random HR work, making brutal final decisions, talking to angry customers, clients and readers who don’t understand or don’t believe it’s the end, trying to wrap up a ton of loose ends (and there are so darn many), working with brokers that don’t understand the company, selling some of the remaining assets myself, cleaning out the filing cabinets and watching the owner clean the space in preparation for new tenants…all why trying to build my own website (because why not learn how to do it myself), keep my husband and kids from panicking and find a totally new job. 

I have to say that it makes me sadder every day, knowing that soon, this chapter will be over…and I will have to start again with no idea what that next step might be. But I believe that something interesting is around the corner and that it will be awesome, because I will make awesome. I will worry, because the job search is a heck of lot harder than it was when I came out of college (more about that later), but I am really excited just thinking about the possibilities and knowing that I still have so many more things that I can learn.