If you've taken the time to customize your resume, write a great cover letter and submit your applications, everything is out of your hands. But, what happens to your resume after you hit send? You might be surprised to learn that almost all employers, even very small companies, use an applicant tracking system.
So, why is this important?
If you understand the process, you're much more likely to be asked for an interview. Many people still believe that most companies have hiring managers who read through every resume and make a decision about who they want to contact. This couldn't be further from the truth. Today, it's so easy to use a screening program. These programs sort through all of the resumes looking for keywords that apply to the position. The screening program will eliminate resumes from people who don't match the criteria, leaving only the most suitable matches for the hiring manager to look over. It saves the company time and money, making the hiring process more streamlined. Although the applicant tracking system may rule out resumes from people who are actually qualified, it leaves the ones that understand how the process works.
So, why do employers use these systems if they miss some qualified applicants?
There are too many resumes to read - Especially now with the tight job market, employers are being flooded with applications for just a handful of job openings. It's estimated that most employers receive about 1,000 applicants for each job posting. Added to that, job boards have made applying for jobs very easy and quick, which means that unqualified people aren't risking much by applying for jobs they don't expect to get. The applicant tracking system can quickly go through the stack and narrow the list down to just the people who are truly interested in the job and who have the necessary skills.
Prevents discrimination and charges of misconduct - There are many laws on the books that prevent employers from discriminating against job seekers because of their age, gender, ethnicity and more. For most companies, it's important to show that they aren't using any of that information to disqualify otherwise acceptable applicant. This is where the applicant tracking system really comes in handy. Because a non-biased computer program is sorting through the resumes, there's no chance that a hiring manager could be swayed, even without realizing it, by any of these factors. The system also allows companies to quickly show that they are complying with all federal laws.
They save money - There are lots of different applicant tracking programs. Some of them are free, while others are not as expensive as hiring someone to read over all of the resumes. Because they are easy for even a small business to use, they are a good investment. The low cost, combined with high results means that this type of screening is probably here to stay.
The good news is that once you understand how the applicant tracking system works and why almost every company uses them, it's easier to make your resume stand out. Be sure to use the same keywords in your resume and cover letter that the company used in the job listing. If they list specific requirements, make sure that you have them listed clearly so that your resume won't end up in the trash pile.
Are you familiar with the applicant tracking program? Do you think that they are a good thing or a bad thing for business? Please share your thoughts in the comments.