Applicant Tracking Systems: The Pros & Cons

Despite first being introduced during the mid-1990’s, automated processes are still proving to be a highly popular method of streamlining the recruitment process. Over the past few years, many larger companies have begun adopting an ATS (or Applicant Tracking Systems) into their business, with the aim of improving their current hiring procedures.

By providing a smart solution to many of the time-consuming, administrative tasks that often delay clients, this ATS offers huge benefits. However, it also has its drawbacks and limitations.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this automated software…


Saves time and money sorting through CVs

One of the biggest advantages of an ATS are the automated elements that work to minimize many of the day-to-day recruitment processes. By reducing the amount of paperwork that a recruiter must sift through, countless hours of lengthy administrative costs are saved. Not to mention that the keyword searches make it easy to file applications and scan for the ideal candidate, as well as flag up any that are unsuitable. By streamlining this system to reduce the amount of time spent looking through CVs, the recruiters are left free to carry out more important tasks.

Reduces the potential for employment discrimination

Furthermore, because of the lack human involvement, an ATS system can also decrease the chances of personal bias or prejudice that occasionally plagues the selection process. More specifically, as a result of its focus being entirely on the candidate’s skills and experience, the ATS is much more likely to select the best candidates regardless of their background or upbringing. Making the recruitment system, not only more effective, but also inclusive and fair.

Matches candidates based on highly specific criteria

Lastly, due to the previously mentioned emphasis on keywords, an Applicant Tracking System can generally improve the selection process by scanning each CV for a set of predetermined keywords. These phrases or concepts can be based on a series of the client’s criteria and tailored to find the candidate that is best suited to the role based solely on their qualifications, skills or experience. What’s more, by holding any historic CVs on file they can also highlight any old applications that they may not have been entirely appropriate for a previous role but would suit a different position.


Relies heavily on candidates to include keywords

However, the significant reliance on keywords and phrases to identify the best candidates also highlights some of the core issues with the Applicant Tracking Systems. For instance, an application might match the client’s specification perfectly but lacks the specific phrases outlined for the role. This is also true of candidates who experience may not be comparable to a certain industry but demonstrate a range of desirable qualities or values. This clearly demonstrates the limits of an Applicant Tracking System and often results in an otherwise ideal candidate going unnoticed by the system.

Algorithms sometimes struggle with certain fonts/layouts

Certain automated systems have also been known to experience difficulties when presented with a non-standard CV that uses an atypical font or layout. This can happen if the application employs a serif font, features an uncommon form of bullet point or even if it is simply too complicated or elaborate. This not only causes issues for the recruiter when they are trying to file or scan for a CV, but it is also unfair on the candidate who likely had no idea that their application was incompatible with the Applicant Tracking System and its strict set of formatting requirements.

Contact us

Here at GECKO Executive Search, we recognize the potential of new technology in aiding the recruitment process. That’s why, wherever possible, we’ve tried to employ the latest software and procedures to offer a bespoke solution that caters for your individual requirements.

To speak with one of our helpful and friendly sales team about your specific aspirations please give us a call on 033 005 86057. Alternatively, you can reach us via email at info@geckoexecutive search.

What to read next

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On the other hand, if you would like to read more about Applicant Tracking Systems, then check out the list below:

The Pros And Cons Of Recruitment Automation