What is an Applicant Tracking System?

So you may have had some frustration with submitting your application into a system and never hearing from anyone ever again.

Some have even not so affectionately referred to it as the resume "black hole". While I certainly understand the cynicism I often find myself wondering why people felt like a piece of paper in someone's hand which would commonly get lost or tossed in a corner to collect dust was any better of an application method. But I came to the conclusion that people just miss the human interaction aspect of the application process, which is understandable. As much as we use technology to make our personal lives easier we can't expect employers to stay in the dark ages because of our own ego. 

Applicant Tracking Systems or "ATS" is a system used to electronically receive applicant data to help automate the recruitment process. Instead of your resume sitting on someone's desk running the risk of being lost or having your personal contact information floating around the office, it is now safely stored in the company's ATS to be reviewed for employment considerations. Not only do these systems store your information, but they can also be used to schedule interviews, send email correspondence, track application statuses, provide electronic notifications to applicants, and allow for running reports for metric analysis and government required reports.

That's right, there's a reason why you asked about your gender, ethnicity, race, veteran, and disability status, the government wants to make sure employers are providing equal opportunity to all within the scope of that businesses industry. I know what your thinking, who knew it could do all that when all you see is how annoyingly long the online application is. ATS have saved companies thousands of man hours with just a few clicks of a button, recruiters, managers, and others involved in the recruitment process can now source and filter through an ungodly amount of data in a matter of hours. (Mind you it would have to uninterrupted hours, but who is never interrupted at work?) 

On a positive note for an applicant, these systems are getting better every day. More updates, more intuitiveness, fewer redundancies, all to accommodate you the applicant! That's right grips have power! This way you don't get too frustrated and bail out of the application process before it even got started.

Whether we like it or not technology is here to stay and so are applicant tracking systems. So do yourself a favor, create a LinkedIn profile account, and after you apply for a position to do some research on that company, see how long people stay there, see how many employees are there, search the employees and find a recruiter or someone in HR and introduce yourself letting them know you applied.

While some may feel like it's a bit stalkerish, others may see you as being proactive in your own employment search. Sitting around waiting to hear from someone will only frustrate you more, your applying for the job not the other way around, so take the bull by the horns as they say, and do what you can to stay engaged.....but more importantly keep applying for other positions while you wait to hear back from that dream job. While you may believe you are the most qualified for the job (of course without knowing who else has applied), there is typically 1 position that is being filled..., so 1 job is available and someone has to go through 100+ (depending on the size of the company or popularity of the role) applications to find that top candidate. For my gamblers out there why not increase your odds of finding employment by applying with other companies that are also looking to hire someone awesome! 

Now you've learned a little bit about what an ATS is, I hope the next time you apply you take a deep breath and power thru while thinking there may be someone not as patient as you that decided not to complete their application...now you have 1 less person in the application pool....increasing your odds right off the bat! 



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