The Demise of Applicant Tracking Systems and What It Means for Your Job Search

Great Resumes Fast » Job Search » The Demise of Applicant Tracking Systems and What It Means for Your Job Search

According to a report prepared by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, for Quintessential Careers, ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) are not all that effective, and may in fact bApplicant Tracking Systemse on their way out. She points out that if this type of tool really worked the way it was supposed to, employers wouldn’t be having so much trouble filling available positions. Currently, there are 3.2 million jobs available, and they’re not being filled quickly enough.

How is this possible, when there are still people in the United States who have been unemployed for long periods of time? There is no simple answer, but it could be a combination of employers having too many potential candidates to choose from and being unwilling to settle for anyone who isn’t “perfect” combined with the ineffectiveness of ATS. Applicant tracking systems simply doesn’t work the way it should, and in years to come, employers may begin to wonder why they ever even relied on this type of system instead of simply sifting through resumes by hand in order to find the right person for the job.

The Problem with Applicant Tracking Systems

ATS can’t read potential, and can’t identify creativity. For that reason, it can filter out perfectly desirable, perfectly qualified candidates who simply don’t know how to structure their resume content to include keywords that applicant tracking systems finds desirable. ATS is a strictly technological approach, and can often result in employers not identifying good, or even outstanding, candidates. The system that was designed to speed up the process of identifying potential employees may actually keep them from doing so. It’s simply because ATS has no human element—a candidate misses even one pre-set criterion, and ends up being eliminated.

The Human Element

Because ATS is essentially misguided, it often leads to problems in the recruiting process. The best candidates can end up being filtered out, and may even be discouraged from applying at all if they feel that they can’t identify and use the proper keywords. Human resources managers are increasingly beginning to realize the importance of the human touch when it comes to screening applicants, and that could mean the demise of ATS.

Your Job Search

What all this means for your job search is that hiring managers will start relying less on applicant tracking systems and more on human analysis of resumes and the potential a candidate brings to the table. Applicant tracking software can’t pick up on qualities like loyalty, integrity, or hard work. You’ll still want to make sure your resume includes good use of keywords, but your success or failure will depend more on a human element and less on an automated system.


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Knowledge Items Blog on September 23, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Career Rocketeer Job Search Tracker

    […] and can often result in employers not identifying good, or even outstanding, can […]

  2. Lexi Mandella on September 27, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Applicant Tracking System best solution for the recruiter. Well and explained article.

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