Applicant Tracking Systems Used by Larger Companies to Find Skilled Job Seekers

A majority of larger companies are relying more on technology tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to search for the right skills and experience in job seekers as recruiters and hiring managers are being overwhelmed by the volume of résumés in the current job market, according to an article from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). An expert on Applicant Tracking Systems from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) quoted in the story said the proportion of large companies using ATS is in the “high 90 percent” range and it is “very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that while job boards and networking websites help large companies broadcast job openings to a wide audience and allow applicants to apply for jobs easily, many recruiters are finding at least 50 percent of job seekers do not possess the basic qualifications for the jobs they want to possess. This “qualifications gap” has resulted in the need for large companies to use Applicant Tracking Systems to search piles of résumés for the right skills and experience. Some experts estimate that Applicant Tracking Systems screen out approximately half of all résumés at many large companies.

The WSJ article cites the following examples of larger companies that use Applicant Tracking Systems to find qualified job candidates in a veritable mountain of applications:

  • Starbucks Corp. had 7.6 million job applicants for approximately 65,000 corporate and retail job openings over the past 12 months.
  • Procter & Gamble Inc. received almost a million applications for only 2,000 new positions last year.
  • PNC Financial Services Group uses Applicant Tracking System software to filter out applicants for bank-teller jobs if their résumés do not indicate that they have two to three years of cash-handling experience.

According to the human resources consulting firm Bersin & Associates, the cost of hiring a new employee now averages $3,479 and that large companies spend approximately 7 percent of their recruitment budgets on Applicant Tracking Systems. To help lower the cost of hiring, the WSJ reports that modern Applicant Tracking Systems – while performing basic screening and guiding the applicant through the interview and hiring process – also scan for keywords related to the job description, former employers, years of experience, and schools attended to identify and rank the top job candidates.

However, Applicant Tracking Systems are not foolproof, according to a staffing consultant quoted in the WSJ article, since they may “miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn’t game the system by larding his or her résumé with keywords from the job description.” In addition, experts stress technology such as Applicant Tracking Systems are not intended to replace human screening entirely but simply make the hiring pool more manageable, and that “the single best method of getting a job remains a referral from a company employee.”

The article ‘Your Résumé vs. Oblivion’ from The Wall Street Journal is available at:

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has partnered with leading Applicant Tracking System (ATS) providers such as iCIMS, Taleo, and HR Integrations to offer seamless ATS integration and convenient paperless solutions to employers and recruiters. For more information, visit

To learn more about employee screening background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at or call ESR toll free at 888.999.4474.

Related Blog: “Employment Screening Resources and HR Integrations Create Partnership for More Accessible Human Resource Services”.


About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM – provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit or call 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at