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88% of resumes are filtered through the ATS!

Did I catch your attention?


Here's the thing that WSJ article, you know which one I am talking about and the subsequent articles by INC and other major publications have gotten a basic and fundamental thing wrong.

The people they interviewed from the employer side didn't actually know how the ATS is used.

"more than 90% of employers in our survey use their RMS to initially filter or rank potential middle-skills (94%) and high-skills (92%) candidates." (Fuller et al., 2021)

This sounds super scary right?

This makes total sense why you the job seeker aren't getting calls back from employers that you are applying to.

The article makes many claims about how an ATS operates without actual source behind.

It claims that "Powered by AI, machine learning, and natural language processing technologies, an automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is designed to identify a limited number of candidates who most closely match specified criteria for a given position." But doesn't provide any backing to this statement. Where did they get this information?


If I have learned anything from my time as a Grad student is that academic papers need sources. You make a claim, you have to cite the source. So I ask Fuller et al., where is your source? How can people who work at Harvard make such claims without citing their sources?

Next, they talk about their survey. "Our employer survey confirmed that even midsize enterprises—those with between 50 and 999 employees—use such filtering technology quite extensively". (Fuller et al., 2021)

You know who they interviewed from the employer side? C-level executives.

I don't know about you guys, but I have yet to meet a C-level executive including the ones I have reported to in the past who know how an ATS works.

I have implemented quite a few ATS myself. None have "AI" that this article claims that it has.

You know how many employers or Sr. leaders they surveyed in the US alone? 760.

Yep, you read that correctly! Less than 800. Out of hundreds of thousands of employers, they only surveyed 760. That too we don't have visual into whether these were 760 from 760 employers or from 100 or 500.

Also, keep in mind, the US has lost over 600,000 people to Covid. That's a huge chunk of the population, and a lot of those were people in the workforce.

This statistic also doesn't include people who have been permanently disabled due to covid.

So now you might be asking, Tejal what did the report get right?

  1. There are ATS out there that do rank candidates based on keywords. However, most good recruiters ignore them as they know it's absolutely worthless.

  2. There are things called 'knockout questions'.

What are knockout questions?

Knockout questions are questions that you answer 'yes' or 'no' to and based on these responses the system auto-rejects you. Think about these being set up as 'if this, then that' scenarios.

  • Do you live in the US? You answer no, the system knocks you out of the game

  • Do you have a Bachelor's Degree?

  • Do you need sponsorship?

  • Are you willing to relocate?

These questions essentially help recruiters identify candidates who meet certain criteria.

The next question you might be asking is "Tejal, I apply to jobs that I am fully qualified for, why am I constantly getting rejected?"

There are a few reasons to this. Let's take a look

  • Your resume doesn't show how you are qualified. You have done the job, but is that what your resume is saying?

  • You applied at the tail-end of the hiring cycle and they already had a few candidates in the final stages and one of those accepted the offer.

  • The position was closed due to various circumstances.

  • They had enough qualified applicants and you got caught in the avalanche that is them interviewing too many candidates

Don't get me wrong, there are other things that the article gets right and I will be using that information as a backing but as with any good article there is good in there and there is bad in there.

Until next time,

Stay Caffeinated!

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