What is an applicant tracking system?
An applicant tracking system — or ATS, for short — is a type of software used by recruiters and employers during the hiring process to collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive for their open positions.
The applicant tracking system was initially created for large corporations that are accustomed to dealing with several thousand inbound job applications on a weekly basis. Today, approximately 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on ATS software to help streamline their recruitment process. However, what began as a recruitment solution for large employers has turned into a commonplace tool for companies of all shapes and sizes.
How do applicant tracking systems (ATS) work?
Applicant tracking systems act as an electronic gatekeeper for an employer. The ATS parses a resume’s content into categories and then scans it for specific keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter. Its job is to essentially weed out unqualified applicants so the recruiter can devote his or her time to evaluating the candidates who are more likely to be a match for the position. In other words, the ATS is apt to toss the least-qualified candidates, rather than identify the applicants who are the best fit.
Unfortunately, that means if a resume is not written and formatted with the applicant tracking system in mind, a qualified candidate can be easily passed over.