Is It Worth It?: The Pros and Cons of Using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
July 23, 2021

At the end of summer 2020, many professionals were left without jobs and few companies were hiring. Now, the job market is beginning to recover and companies are ready to hire again. As a result, human resources professionals are being flooded with job applications. For companies that are not currently using an applicant tracking system (ATS), this process can easily monopolize the time of hiring managers and human resources professionals.

ATS, for those who may be unfamiliar, is an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is commonly used to filter job applicants based on a set of criteria. Oftentimes, these criteria are composed of keywords, skills, years of experience, alma mater or degree type, etc.

In 2019, Jobscan conducted a study and reported that 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS during their recruitment process. At a glance, using ATS seems to be the best choice for companies looking to hire. However, it comes with its downsides as well, mostly for job seekers, including the fact that 70% of resumes submitted through ATS are not seen by employers.

If your company is in a position to hire and is not currently using ATS, there are some pros and cons to consider before implementing it into your hiring process.



Let’s start on a positive note and go through some of the pros to incorporating ATS into your hiring process.

It has a high return on investment (ROI)

The majority of ATS options available on the market come with a price. However, most companies find that the cost is well worth the money. According to this article from GetFive, using ATS can save small businesses up to $10,000 in efforts. That number can increase for larger companies.

Hiring costs companies money, but it also can cost time. In a report from SHRM, it costs most companies approximately $4,129 for one hire. This process can also take around 42 days on average. With ATS, the cost is lowered and it takes less time to sort through the candidates.

If you’re dealing with a time crunch to fill a position, ATS can save your team time and money. For many, this argument is enough to incorporate ATS into their hiring process.

It can help diminish any potential for biases

While the human aspect of hiring can be a benefit, it also comes with it’s own shortcomings. Unfortunately, there are predisposed biases that arise during the hiring process. This discrimination can appear in the form of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and more. By replacing employees with an automated system, the system will read each application objectively. It not only ensures your company is giving each candidate an equal chance, it also protects your company from any potential legal issues.

Ideally, discrimination is not an issue companies will have to face in 2021. However, that does not mean that it isn’t an issue some companies still do face. If you want to completely remove the potential for bias from your process, ATS can help accomplish that with few risks.

There are many options available

There are plenty of options for ATS available on the market. Most ATS options also do have the same standard features and are constantly seeking ways to improve in order to stay competitive in an always-increasing market.

According to Jobscan, there are five systems most commonly used by Fortune 500 companies:

The options above are only a fraction of what’s available. Companies continue to build and launch their own ATS platforms all the time. With so much competition, innovation is placed at the forefront, which means your company has plenty of options to consider and much more to look forward to when searching for the ideal one.



Nothing can be perfect, not even AI. Before deciding whether your company should choose to use ATS, it’s also important to consider the cons.

It can disqualify ideal candidates

Technology has come a long way, but it hasn’t been perfected quite yet, especially AI technology. One of the biggest downsides to ATS is the fact that it can misread a resume quite easily. Each ATS functions differently. Some may be unable to read certain colors of text or even certain fonts. Others may be unable to read certain types of documents.

If you do not want to risk the chance of passing by a strong candidate, you may consider the time and effort of reviewing each resume worth it. Factors such as the number of applicants and the quality of applicants may impact this decision.

It can be manipulated by applicants

As easy as it was for you to come across this article online, it is equally as easy for job seekers to have found an article on how to beat ATS. The point of ATS is to help identify the ideal candidate; however, some job seekers may have a strong talent for making themselves seem ideal on paper, while they may be less ideal in reality.

For a job seeker who understands how ATS functions and how to use that functionality to their advantage, they can easily have their resume land on your desk while taking the place of a more qualified candidate who may have never heard of ATS. There is no guarantee this will happen, but there’s also no guarantee that it won’t happen.


It opens up the possibility of user error

Technology isn’t perfect, but neither are people. When you have employees using software and other technology, there is always the possibility that an error is made somewhere in the process. Unfortunately, one error can seriously affect your hiring process.

For instance, if a keyword is inputted incorrectly, ATS will not be able to register the correct keyword on any of the applications. Something so simple can hurt not only your chances of finding the right hire, but it hurts the chances of the job seeker being hired by your company.

Every option comes with pros and cons. It is up to you and your team to decide where you are willing to compromise and where you aren’t. If building and strengthening your current team is a top priority, then ATS may be a good option to consider. However, if your company is only passively hiring, it may not be a top priority right now.

For more on recruitment and hiring, continue to check in every Friday for new articles on BrandResumes’ HR Corner.


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By Emily Provost

Emily is BrandResumes' Content Specialist and is an Associate Resume Writer. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Publishing Studies with double minors in Marketing and Journalism from Hofstra University. She has had editorial experience working as an editor for various publications from Hofstra and worked as a writing tutor for undergraduate students.

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