Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beware of Using ATS When Applying for Jobs Online

Today practically every company has some sort of ATS (Applicant Tracking System). With unemployment heading north and job candidates sending sometimes 70 to 80 resumes out per week there are a couple of things you need to know.

Sending your resume using many of the largest online job boards like and might not help you as much as you think with finding a new job!

Today more than ever, companies are trying to grab as many resumes into their database as possible. A problem with this practice is the tsunami of resumes that hiring managers are receiving via their ATS. They are inundated with people who are under qualified or over qualified for position and the ones that are right for the position are many times being overlooked. The research out there shows that there is a very low average (somewhere between 2-5%) of people who use these job boards that actually get placed in a position they find there.

Job Candidates today need an edge when it comes to finding a new Job. One area I strongly support is finding a successful recruiter with a strong client list to work with who can use his connections to help you out. I've provided countless supporting reasons for this throughout my blog. But even using a recruiter might not help many.

The fact is there is also a low percentage of candidates to placements with recruiting as well. Most candidates that meet a recruiter will not end up finding a job through that recruiter. Now... those job candidates that do not get placed by that recruiter will still indeed benefit from spending some time with a during a screening or just through a conversation with that recruiter.

Recruiters can provide very specific and effective recommendations job searching techniques that ultimately can be used by that candidate to help find and get that next job. The reality is that recruiters are seeking out the best of the best for their clients. For good reason too, since companies by and large pay, on average, 25% of a job candidate's first year annual salary to a recruiter for a placement. The last thing a recruiter wants to do is send a candidate to a client that is not of the highest quality in every aspect. After all, that is one of the main purposes that a company uses a recruiter for in the first place.

There is a misconception out there that needs to be cleared up however. Companies DO NOT pay candidates less in salary because they are coming in through a recruiter. Job salaries are set in place by a company regardless if a candidate is placed by internal hiring managers directly or by recruiters.

Now back to ATS... The fact of the matter is that when a job seeker submits their resume via a bridge like into a corporation they are actually sending their resume to a database with thousands of other possible candidates. Then, a piece or software (not a human) scans through every word of your resume and determines if you can be a fit. This is bad. I mean, it can be good for a hiring manager in that it reduces the amount of resumes that float to the top considerably, but it is bad because there are very qualified and very talented applicants that may never get noticed.

You simply cannot rely on a piece of software to get you a job. It's like anything else in life... if you want it, you've got to be creative and aggressive in getting it. If it is a job at, let's say GE, then find out who runs the department you are seeking to get into and find a few contact names and email addresses and reach for them. Find them on other social networks like LinkedIn.

You've got to separate yourselves from the pack. You've got to be aggressive. You've got to be creative and finally you've got to stop ignoring reality and be less complacent. A job isn't going to find you!


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more! My recent interviews have come from me networking. I have probably sent our 30 to 40 resumes to postings and have had maybe 3 responses back. It is frustrating to know that "sock land" exists!

Anonymous said...,, and Execunet are all a waste of time and money.

I am sick of all of them. They always ask for more money to get better results. What a lie.


Anonymous said...

Finding a job, any job can only be done through networking and people to people interaction, not countlesss and mindless emails with resumes attached to an unknown receivers.

Anonymous said...

It goes back to the old adage it's not what you know, but who you know. Your blog is very true and I commend you for letting those know that are aggressively posting resumes on is everyone else.


Anonymous said...

It goes back to the old adage it's not what you know, but who you know. Your blog is very true and I commend you for letting those know that are aggressively posting resumes on is everyone else.

Anonymous said...

It goes back to the old adage it's not what you know, but who you know. Your blog is very true and I commend you for letting those know that are aggressively posting resumes on is everyone else.

Anonymous said...

You have hit the nail on the head. I would also add that the level of position has alot to do with whether any of these 'ATS's will help. I don't think an executive level will gain much traction on boards.

I also think that your comment on Recruiters is right on. For some reason some people still think they can negotiate a better salary without a recruiter (going around them). You are correct. It does not matter since they are based on budget line items. Not to mention they typically have direct lines to decision makers.

stephanie mcdonald - recruiter said...

As a corporate recruiter, I have to say that you are wrong on one point of your post. I read thru every resume personally that someone posts in my ATS. There is no reliable tool for reviewing resumes except for your own eyes and brain. I read appx 5k resumes last year, probably more. Its my job. Also, resumes almost never go to a hiring manager without being screened by a recruiter, unless its a very small organization with no recruiting department.

Also, we search our ATS regularly when a new job is open to see if any candidates who have formerly expressed interest in us are qualified.

Please don't push people back to mailing resumes to hiring managers. They will just come to me, and I'll call you and tell you to apply online. There are reporting requirements back to the Govt that essentially require us to use an ATS so that information is reportable.


stacy said...

Although most of this article is spot on - I am going to have to agree with Stephanie - I read every resume that comes through our ATS. I think there is a misconception that resumes end up in "black hole" when submitted through an ATS. This is far from the truth for most corporate recruiters I know - we still read every resume - the ATS just satisfies a lot of the government reporting and regulations we have to follow and allow a more systemized way to track where candidates are in the selection process.
Please do not try to circumvent the ATS - I am just going to make you apply through it anyway - and if you don't then you are missing out on some amazing career opportunities.

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