Applicant tracking systems

Companies that rely on an automated hiring process A Harvard Business School study “Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent” found that automated hiring processes “regularly eliminate all but those candidates who most closely match the job requirements specified” and “those workers are thus hidden from consideration by the design and implementation of the very processes that were meant to maximize a company’s access to qualified and available talent”.

The study also found that “an enormous and growing group of people are unemployed or underemployed, eager to get a job or increase their working hours. However, they remain effectively ‘hidden’ from most businesses that would benefit from hiring them by the very processes those companies use to find talent.”

The study estimated that there are more than 27 million hidden workers in the United States and “the sheer magnitude of this population reveals the potential impact that their substantial re-absorption into the workforce would have.”

This study found the following issues with automated recruiting systems. “An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a workflow-oriented tool that helps organizations manage and track the pipeline of applicants in each step of the recruiting process. A Recruiting Management or Marketing System (RMS) complements the ATS and supports recruiters in all activities related to marketing open positions, sourcing key talent, creating talent pools, and automating aspects of the recruiting process such as automated candidate scoring and interview scheduling. These systems are vital; however, they are designed to maximize the efficiency of the process. That leads them to hone in on candidates, using very specific parameters, in order to minimize the number of applicants that are actively considered. Most also use a failure to meet certain criteria (such as a gap in full-time employment) as a basis for excluding a candidate from consideration irrespective of their other qualifications. As a result, they exclude from consideration viable candidates whose resumes do not match the criteria but who could perform at a high level with training.”

The study concluded that companies “can take several steps to include hidden workers, and in doing so, create a new and valuable pipeline of talent. Chief among them: reforming their approach to talent acquisition overall and developing a customized approach to hiring hidden workers.” The complete study is available at