The Shocking Truth About ATS Software

Studies have shown that up to 75% of qualified applicants are rejected by ATS programs because they can’t be read” (Source: Article posted March 18, 2014, on Forbes.)

But is that true? Let’s have a close look at that statement.

That Forbes article was written by the ‘founder of a resume service’, aka person behind a company that is helping people with their resumes for money. It was more of an advertisement than an article. On April 17, 2018, published another article that has been often quoted on the internet, like the Forbes one. That article included a statement, “Most companies have thousands of resumes sitting in a database that they’ve never looked at. In fact, 75 percent are never seen by a real person.” Again, no relevant data or study is cited in support of this statement.

During my research, I found several resume-writing services and many articles that say their sources are these articles I mentioned or the search firm Preptel (which is now out of business), but what a ‘surprise’ — they were also offering resume-writing services.

I found one article from 2013 describing an example of the hiring funnel: “75 of those 100 resumes will be screened out by either the ATS or a recruiter, 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager.” That made me believe that this article became a primary source for that 75 percent statement.

Is it really 75%?

75% looks like a good number to get attention and also create frustration in readers that this is not fair that so many applicants are disqualified by ATS software. That’s why so many other articles and career coaches blindly adopt this lie without any proper research.

During the last few years, I spoke with dozens of recruiters about their recruitment process, and that statement doesn’t reflect reality at all. Based on what I heard over these years, 90–95%+ of all applications are viewed by a human. Large organizations also have a team of people dedicated to checking every resume and presenting those resumes that recruiters preselect.

What happens to the remaining 5–10% of all resumes? Many of them are not viewed due to the workload of recruiters being higher than usual. And several resumes could be lost via technical issues, like not completing registration. Of course, there could be recruiters not doing their job properly, but if recruiters had 100 candidates and they never checked 75 of those profiles, those recruiters would be without a job.

Does the ATS Ready Template Really Work?

More than 100 applicant tracking systems exist and there are probably even more that I have never heard of. When some career coach and so-called career influencer will try to offer you new guaranteed tips on writing a resume that will beat the ATS algorithm and get you invited to an interview, keep in mind that they could not check and test it with every ATS system.

Let me be clear, any resume template may get you the interview, but resumes don’t get you hired; only you can make this happen! Your resume is your intro, based on which you will get a call from a recruiter or invitation to an interview.

Those coaches are selling just a simple resume template that everyone could download for free as a template via Google.

How to Create Your “ATS Ready Resume”

There is no magical thing behind it; you only tailor your resume to the job description. There is no ATS-ready resume template that will magically increase your chances of getting a job. You will still need to write your own resume with your relevant experience and your skills reflecting the role you are applying for.

You can tailor your resume to the job description by adding the relevant information (phrases) and keywords from it. When you add the relevant keywords into your career history, recruiters will get more attention from the recruiters. Their attention will focus on the keywords that are in bold; those same keywords the hiring manager put into the job description.

How to Find Out If Your Resume Is ATS Ready

And if you want to test if your resume could be read by the ATS parser, here is a simple trick for you. If you are using PDF as a format, just click CTRL+A to highlight the whole text in your resume. Then press CTRL+C and CTRL+V whilst viewing your Word document, and if you can copy and paste the text, your resume is ATS ready. If your resume is in formats like DOC, RTF, DOCX etc., and you are not using images instead of text, your resume is ATS ready.

Now you know the secret behind the ATS-ready resume, and you don’t have to pay so-called career coach influencers to get it.

Final Thoughts

ATS algorithms could advise the recruiter that a candidate doesn’t match the relevant requirements (doesn’t have the right keywords in their resume etc.), but the reason you were rejected is simple. You were not a good fit for the role (42 percent of job applicants don’t meet skill requirements), there was somebody better, or your resume is poorly written and not tailored to the job description. There are many ways to improve your resume and get noticed, but another article will cover that. Some people even try to use a fake resume to get attention from recruiters.

Many recruitment myths like 6 Second Resume Scan or this one are spread for years without any real proof that this is true or sources that are backing up those theories. These myths have only one goal: to scare candidates and force them to spend money on some “Resume templates that will beat any ATS” and give them hope that their investment will secure them a new job.