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Although many in the corporate world swear by Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for a faster, more optimized hiring process, this technology is far from flawless. Candidates in particular hate ATS because of its drawbacks, which are often significant.

We might still be a long way from the robot-dominated world of I, Robot (streaming on Fubo). However, artificial intelligence has impacted our lives, and not always for the better, as seen in many situations where companies use ATS and similar technology.

Why Candidates Dislike an ATS

From a job applicant's perspective, an ATS is often tricky to use. There is also a lot of uncertainty about whether anyone viewed the application.

Companies using an ATS might sabotage some of their efforts while trying to save money. In an ideal situation, companies would try to balance the needs of clients and candidates.

However, in the case of an ATS, the client's needs usually take precedence over job candidates.

Disadvantage #1: Possibility of "Gaming" the System

Because the application experience is often frustrating, some tools claim to help applicants “game” the system. These promises are off-putting to many candidates, who may think they must game the system to stand a chance.

This can result in otherwise qualified applicants dismissing the job opportunity as out of hand. Further, if such applicants apply for multiple companies through ATS and discover not-so-qualified candidates getting the job, they may begin to lose confidence.

Entering questionable answers to make a mediocre application look good undermines the hiring process. Such practices also disrupt the algorithms designed to connect with the right candidates.

Disadvantage #2: Repetitive Information Asked

An ATS can provide an awkward, clunky user experience for job candidates. Although most candidates anticipate setting up an account and uploading a resume, most of these systems ask for more than that.

Some of that information includes questionnaires that rehash information contained in the resume. Applicants who are short on time might give up on the process in frustration if filling out the application takes too long.

Disadvantage #3: Concerns About Whether the Information Will Be Seen

Job seekers often wonder if there is any chance of anyone seeing their information. Because ATS systems make the process difficult, candidates may wonder if their efforts are for nothing.

The only way for candidates to know about their application status is if they hear back from the company. If at all there is a response set for rejected candidates, that automated response is shared with them. Candidates do not have the option to ask for clarifications or provide additional information.

Disadvantage #4: Losing Out on Non-ATS-Savvy Candidates

Not all candidates will be well-versed with the dos and don'ts of applying through ATS. There could also be technical issues that result in the resume not being read correctly (e.g. uploading in PDF format instead of Word, using graphics in the resume, etc.). Such candidates who would have otherwise been hired for the position are automatically eliminated from the talent pool.

What Companies Need to Do

Research has found that implementing ATS to benefit candidates rather than companies is an appropriate strategy. This approach keeps the "human element" in the equation, which is often missing in ATS implementations.

The more the emphasis on the human element, the greater the chances of better recruitment. Even the best technology lacks specific nuances that underscore the need for greater human involvement.


ATS has immense benefits for companies that want to make better hiring choices. Hiring professionals receive access to candidates with some of the best credentials, increasing the chances of making the right match.

However, this technology is not necessarily the best choice for every circumstance. Companies wishing to use an ATS would do well to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.