ATS: What Are They, and Why Is Everyone Talking About Them

The recruitment process has undergone a significant transformation thanks to the advent of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These intelligent software applications have become essential tools for recruiters, helping them efficiently manage the influx of job applications and identify the most qualified candidates.

They've also been built up to be scary AI robots that will kick you out of a job pool if you're resume isn't a 100% match to a role.

The truth is, Applicant Tracking Systems are great to help recruiters get through mountains of applications more effectively. Yes, they do filter out a lot of irrelevant applications. No, they aren't scary robots.

We'll look at how the ATS effectively filters job applications for recruiters, streamlining the hiring process and improving overall recruitment outcomes - and what job seekers should be aware of.

What is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is software designed to simplify and automate various stages of the recruitment process. Its primary functions include posting job listings, managing candidate applications, parsing resumes, and helping recruiters identify the most suitable candidates for a given role.

Applicant Tracking Systems are equipped with algorithms that filter and rank applications based on specific criteria, ultimately saving recruiters time and effort.

The ATS Filtering Process

Resume Parsing:

One of the initial tasks an ATS performs is parsing resumes. This involves extracting key information from resumes, such as contact details, education, work experience, and skills. This parsed data is then stored in a structured format, making it easier for recruiters to search and filter candidates later.

Keyword Matching:

ATS systems use keyword matching to compare the content of resumes or applications with the job requirements. Recruiters specify relevant keywords and phrases related to the job posting, and the ATS scans applications to identify matches.

Candidates whose applications contain the most relevant keywords are ranked higher in the system.

Qualification Scoring:

Many ATS systems assign scores to candidates based on their qualifications, experience, and skills. Recruiters can set the criteria for these scores, and the system calculates a score for each applicant accordingly. This helps recruiters quickly identify top candidates.

Filtering by Criteria:

Recruiters can set specific criteria to filter applications automatically. For example, they can specify a minimum number of years of experience, required certifications, or preferred locations. This could also look like a simple multiple choice question you have to answer when submitting your resume.

The ATS will then eliminate applications that do not meet these criteria, allowing recruiters to focus on the most qualified candidates.

Customised Assessments:

Some ATS systems offer the option to create customised assessments or questionnaires that candidates must complete during the application process. These assessments can be designed to evaluate specific skills, cultural fit, or other job-related qualities.

Automated Communication:

ATS systems can send automated email responses to applicants, informing them of their application status. This streamlines the communication process and ensures that candidates are kept informed throughout the hiring process.

Benefits of ATS Filtering for Recruiters

  1. Time Efficiency: ATS systems significantly reduce the time recruiters spend sifting through numerous applications manually. This time-saving feature allows recruiters to allocate their time more effectively, focusing on interviewing and assessing the most promising candidates.

  2. Improved Candidate Quality: By using ATS to filter applications, recruiters are more likely to identify candidates who closely match the job requirements. This results in a higher-quality pool of applicants for each position, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions.

  3. Consistency and Compliance: ATS systems help maintain consistency in the recruitment process by applying predefined criteria uniformly to all applicants. Additionally, they help ensure compliance with equal opportunity employment laws by eliminating bias in candidate selection.

  4. Enhanced Reporting and Analytics: ATS systems provide valuable insights and reporting features that allow recruiters to track the effectiveness of their hiring strategies. This data can help organisations refine their recruitment processes over time.


Applicant Tracking Systems have become indispensable tools for modern recruiters, offering a streamlined and efficient way to filter job applications.

By automating tasks such as resume parsing, keyword matching, and candidate scoring, ATS systems enable recruiters to focus their efforts on the most qualified candidates, resulting in better hiring outcomes.

As technology continues to advance, ATS systems will likely play an even more significant role in shaping the future of recruitment, helping organisations build strong and talented teams.

What job seekers should understand however is that the "AI" component is still very much led by people. The criteria and final assessment is most likely still a person behind the screen making the call.

It can seem very daunting that an AI machine is going to dissect your CV and spit it back out if it isn't perfect... guess what? There is no perfect resume. Do your best to match the requirements for the job you are applying for and you are 90% there. It won't guarantee an interview, but it will be your best chance at getting one!


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