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Robot Recruiters – The Rise of Applicant Tracking Systems

Written by Michael Burrell
04/12/18 - 11:40

Technology is forever changing the way that we live. It is incorporated in every inch of our lives, both personal and professional.  Although the impact of technology on how we work is both obvious and evident, it is now even creeping into how we look for work. Hundreds of job boards collating thousands of adverts on a daily basis mean that the days of posting your CV to countless companies is rooted firmly in the past.


Although technology has had a tremendously positive impact on the way that we look for work and find out about new opportunities, there are some applications that do more harm than good. “Artificial Intelligence” is being more heavily incorporated into the hiring process and sensationalised into headlines stating that the next time you apply for a job, you may never speak with another human through the use of Chat Bots. Although GDPR might be here to save us from that…!

Although this makes for catchy headlines and is there to shock the reader into clicking links or buying papers (who said print media was dead?) there is an element of Recruitment Technology already in use that rarely gets talked about: Applicant Tracking Systems.


The term Applicant Tracking System is misleading – whilst they do, well, track your application throughout the process – some can make a decision on whether the hiring manager is even going to get the chance to look at your profile. The system does this by scanning your CV for keywords relevant to the job in question. In theory, this sounds like an excellent way to quickly sift through applications and pin-point relevant candidates.  However, in real life application, there is nothing that can beat human interaction and judgment. For example, if you have a highly technical Linux Systems Administrator, you could go through the whole CV without the word “Linux” being mentioned once– more likely the tech listed will be RHEL, Debian, Red Hat, Ubuntu and Fedora to name a few. To a specialist recruiter who understands their field, it is obvious that this person works with Linux daily. In this case, however, the system wouldn’t be able to understand and an excellent candidate for your incredibly difficult to fill job has been lost in the system.


These systems are often employed when Senior Managers and HR professionals don’t have the time to sift through the applications (if you’re lucky to get any applications!), which is completely understandable, but a professional recruiter is far the best way to find the best people and make sure that you don’t miss out on excellent candidates due to the parameters of an ATS. But I would say that…


Michael Burrell

Infrastructure and Support Consultant