6 Common Issues With Applicant Tracking Systems & How to get around them

Applicant Tracking Systems

Navigating the competitive job market can often feel like a complex maze, with both recruiters and job seekers searching for their perfect fit. 

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) have emerged as the guiding light for many in this pursuit by simplifying and automating the hiring process. But even lifesavers can come with caveats! 

In this article, we’ll not only explore the ins and outs of ATSs but also delve into common issues they present – along with some handy solutions to make sure you’re leveraging their potential without getting lost in the process. 

Join us as we decipher these powerful tools designed to transform recruitment experiences for all involved!

The Basics of Applicant Tracking Systems

At the heart of modern recruitment lies technology-driven hiring solutions – and understanding applicant tracking systems (ATS) is essential for both job seekers and recruiters alike. Essentially, an ATS streamlines the hiring process by doing the heavy lifting when it comes to sorting, evaluating, and organizing applications.

While on the surface these systems may seem straightforward, they involve complex algorithms that scan resumes for targeted keywords, experience levels, and qualifications. This helps recruiters identify suitable candidates quickly from a large pool of applicants.

However, as advanced as these systems might be, it’s important to remember they’re not perfect. Technical glitches or challenges with parsing unique resume formats are just a couple of potential drawbacks that can occur when dealing with an ATS.

Ultimately, while Applicant Tracking Systems have transformed the way organizations hire talent by automating manual tasks and speeding up processes, it’s crucial we don’t neglect the invaluable human touch throughout the recruitment journey. Combining AI-driven insights with human intuition will help ensure a more balanced assessment of candidates across industries.


Common Issues With Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

1. Inability to Parse Complex Resume Formats

Applicant Tracking Systems have difficulty parsing complex or unusual resume formats. Naturally, many candidates opt for visually appealing resume designs or unconventional formats like PDFs with intricate details or multiple columns to leave an impression on potential employers. While these elements can make resumes look great to human eyes, they might cause some trouble for ATSs.

Resume formats

ATS are built to scan, sort, and rank applications based on predetermined criteria such as keywords or specific qualifications. However, when faced with a resume that deviates from standard layouts or formatting structures, they can struggle to extract relevant information accurately. Consequently, vital data might be missed in the process.

These parsing errors can have severe repercussions for applicants – their resumes may not even make it past the initial filtering stage due to misinterpretations by the ATS. Similarly, from an employer’s perspective, valuable candidates could be overlooked just because their uniquely designed resumes were not compatible with the system’s limitations.

To address this issue, encourage job seekers to submit ATS-friendly formats, and invest in an advanced ATS capable of handling various designs. Additionally, hire human recruiters to evaluate interesting applications that may have unique layouts but showcase exceptional potential.

2. Keyword Stuffing By Applicants

When we talk about this concern, we’re discussing how candidates fill their resumes with industry-specific phrases and buzzwords to try to get past the ATS filters and rank higher. Job seekers sometimes desperately want to land an interview. That can lead some of them to overdo it when it comes to using target keywords related to their industry or position.

But here’s the thing – while strategically placing relevant keywords throughout a resume is essential for optimizing its visibility within an ATS, going overboard can actually backfire. Excessive use of buzzwords not only leads to cluttered documents that are difficult for humans and AI alike to navigate, but it can also misrepresent an applicant’s actual qualifications and experience.

From a recruiter’s standpoint, keyword-stuffed resumes tend to lack clarity, making it challenging for hiring managers to assess an applicant’s true potential. Moreover, if a resume does manage to get past the initial ATS filtering stage but is overflowing with jargon or repetitive phrases, it could leave a negative impression on real human beings looking through those applications later on in the process.

To address the issue of keyword stuffing, recruiters can train their ATS to focus on context and quality of content rather than sheer keyword density. Further, implementing human reviews alongside ATS evaluations ensures a fair assessment that considers an applicant’s overall potential beyond buzzwords.


3. Lack of Human Touch

When examining this challenge, we’re essentially focusing on how an ATS might fail to understand the nuances that a seasoned recruiter can effortlessly grasp. Although algorithms and AI-powered recruitment systems have come a long way in recent years, they still face limitations when it comes to comprehension and context.

AI in recruitment

They don’t possess intuition or tacit knowledge that a qualified human recruiter can use effectively while reviewing applications. For example, a truly amazing recruiter might pick up on subtle cues in a resume that indicates overall potential rather than just matching keywords and qualifications.

An ATS mainly relies on predefined criteria like checking for specific skills or experience levels to filter through piles of resumes. This automation means that applicants with unconventional career paths or those who have transferable skills from different industries may easily get lost in the shuffle.

To combat this issue, use a hybrid approach that merges data-driven ATS insights with human evaluations. Allow experienced recruiters to review promising candidates flagged by the system, ensuring crucial context and intuition are considered alongside predefined criteria.

4. Poor Applicant Experience

Imagine being an applicant searching for your dream job and finally coming across that perfect opportunity. Excited, you click the apply button only to be confronted with an extensive application process involving repetitive data entry and time-consuming questionnaires. Chances are you might get discouraged or even give up halfway through.

This user-unfriendly experience is sadly not uncommon with some ATS implementations. Modern job seekers have limited time on their hands, so they naturally gravitate towards more streamlined and accessible application processes as opposed to lengthy ones.

If potential candidates face cumbersome procedures while trying to apply through an ATS, employers could potentially be turning away brilliant talent without even realizing it. The result? A smaller talent pool and reduced chances of finding the best fit for a job opening.

Therefore, focusing on enhancing applicant experience during the hiring process is crucial not just from a candidate’s perspective but also for organizations looking to attract more applicants. In short, creating accessible and simplified applications within ATSs can make all the difference in attracting exceptional candidates.


5. Potential For Bias

ATSs are designed to streamline the hiring process by separating out vast amounts of data and selecting suitable candidates based on predetermined criteria. However, these systems’ algorithms are created by humans who may inadvertently embed their own conscious or unconscious biases into the software.

For instance, an ATS might be programmed to prioritize candidates from specific universities or with certain keywords related to gender, age, or ethnicity. This approach can result in a flawed evaluation process that excludes talented individuals simply because they don’t fit within a specific preconception of what good talent looks like – perhaps even reinforcing stereotypes in some cases.

Moreover, some recruiters resort to “gaming” the system by adjusting job descriptions and qualifications in ways that favor particular applicant demographics. This manipulation could lead to qualified professionals from different backgrounds falling through the cracks during the screening and ranking stages.

Ultimately, addressing potential bias when using ATSs should be a high priority for all organizations looking for diverse and exceptional talent. It’s crucial to assess and modify algorithms continuously so they remain truly impartial.

6. Technical Glitches

As software solutions, ATSs are primarily designed to automate manual processes involved in recruitment by sorting, filtering, and categorizing job applications. However, like any technology product, they are not immune to glitches or malfunctions. For instance, a system could misinterpret the relevance of certain qualifications or fail to read a candidate’s resume due to formatting issues.

technical glitches in resume screening

Technical hiccups like these might lead to hiring managers unintentionally overlooking qualified candidates just because of an algorithm’s limitations or software-related failures. As such, it is vital for organizations implementing ATSs to keep their systems up-to-date and thoroughly tested for possible errors.

Aside from human error on the applicant side (such as poorly formatted resumes), biases built into algorithms may contribute to inaccurate evaluations of candidates too. Therefore, constant attention is necessary for refining algorithms based on feedback and data analysis.

To navigate around these glitches, companies should prioritize investing in high-quality ATS solutions developed by reputable providers who continuously update their software to address possible issues. By choosing reliable systems backed by strong customer support, organizations can avoid many potential pitfalls.


Wrapping Up

And there you have it – an in-depth exploration of the challenges and solutions linked to Applicant Tracking Systems. Just like with any potent tool, knowing the possible hurdles is essential for harnessing its full potential. 

So whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or an eager job seeker, always bear these insights in mind as you embrace the world of ATSs. Be prepared to face those obstacles and strive for a seamless hiring process for everyone involved. 

With awareness and smart tactics by your side, transform these systems into efficient partners on your journey to find that perfect fit.

Merin is an HR professional with an MBA in Human Resource. She likes doing a lot of research and study in the field of Human Resource and can't help but share her knowledge on the same in this platform. She is also a great cook and during her free times she keeps experimenting with new dishes. Know more about Merin by clicking here.
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