Job application tracking systems (ATS)

Job application tracking systems (ATS)

Robots now read your job application, not humans.  That’s right a robot makes the decision to invite you for an interview, not a person.

Shock, horror, how can this be right!

This robotic involvement is the reason why many people never get invited to interviews when in fact they are really ideal candidates for the advertised position.  Your beautifully crafted application documents are ignored and never seriously considered, rendering the whole exercise a complete waste of your time and emotional energy.

Q: So how do ATS robots work?

A: They scan your electronically lodged application papers looking for keywords and phrases that match the criteria that they have been programmed to recognise.  If you match, you get an interview, and if you don’t, you never hear or get a response.  Sound familiar?

Q: Why doesn't a real person read my application?

A: We live in a fast-paced world where time is of the essence.  Physically reading hundreds of job applications and shortlisting the most appropriate candidates can take an enormous amount of time.  Recruiters and human resource consultants cannot afford to waste so much time on one hire.

Q: Then many highly qualified and suitable candidates are overlooked?

A: That is correct.  Seems silly and certainly makes the recruitment process look dysfunctional.

Q: Do all companies and recruiters use ATS robots?

A: It is now very prevalent throughout industry, commerce, and the public sector.

Q: I cannot possibly match every word and phrase in a job advertisement so what can I do?

A: Actually you can, and there are specific techniques that can be used to get your application recognised by the robots so that you receive that all-important invitation for an interview.

Q: If ATS robots work like this and second rate candidates get interviews, surely companies and organisations ultimately want the best candidate only…so how do they ensure that these robots are not undermining their talent pool?

A: They don’t advertise any positions and recruit through their own connections targeting the best talent only.

Understanding how these ATS robots technically work is vital information.  The ATS robots do not read the printed word on the resume.  Technically speaking, they read the embedded code in the document and interpret this against the specific criteria that have been set.

The implication of the above technical information is profound because if you lodge a resume in a PDF format (which has no embedded code), your chances of being selected for an interview are zero.


Another way of avoiding the ATS robots is to talk directly to companies that may need your skillset and expertise.  In fact, on average 70% of jobs are never advertised, and this can be a fertile way of gaining your next job and avoiding the ATS traps.

"Opportunities don't often come along.  So when they do, you have to grab them." - Audrey Hepburn


ACMA creates successful career paths through detailed individual assessment, research and job market analysis, combined with expert personalised coaching.

Note: Career Development Association of  Australia research paper found that when professional career guidance occurred that the participant was 2.67 times more likely to secure a job. 

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