"So what's the deal with those applicant tracking systems? I mean c'mon...the month you started a job 10 years ago and the reason you left? Who knows? Who cares! Kind of sounds like something out of a Seinfeld routine, huh? Actually the sentiments expressed are mine, after recently filling out a couple of long, tedious, redundant ATS information fields in the Careers section of a couple of corporate websites.

I was on a business forum site recently and read a thread about how bad the typical ATS is, at least from the candidate's perspective.

It has been some time since I have filled out a job application, online or otherwise, so I thought I would pick out a couple of interesting jobs and see for myself.

Since I didn't have an account with either company of course, I had to create one. After I did that, and then spent several more minutes filling out the first page, I got called away from my desk. It took a while to get back to it, and by the time I did, I had been blown out of the system. No account was created and none of my basic information was saved.

That was kind of a bummer right off the bat. But I persevered and finally got to the meat of the process, slowly regurgitating and pulling down and filling in the biographical information already listed on the resume I just attached.

I don't read resumes for a living like many, or most, of you do. But everything I read about resumes nowadays says to not focus so much on the simple chronological listing of your experiences, but rather highlight more of your accomplishments.

I don't read resumes for a living like many, or most, of you do. But everything I read about resumes nowadays says to not focus so much on the simple chronological listing of your experiences, but rather highlight more of your accomplishments.

As in, I took the initiative to lead new projects, turned around a struggling business, inspired team members to do such and such, saved the company this, made the company that and so on.

Organizations today aren't asking for the linear work experience they once were, right? Everyone has been laid off or downsized or fired so gaps in your resume don't count against you like they used to. And maybe we took a pivot or career side street and don't have a straight path of ever increasing pay and titles and job responsibilites.

Why then does the ATS not reflect this? Why does it take us back to that old school way of listing - and thinking?

If a candidate is applying to multiple jobs online, and using an ATS over and over, and has no way of replicating a lot of this labor, at what point do they simply give up and fail to complete the application process? Or does that become the first low-level culling process?

If a candidate is applying to multiple jobs online, and using an ATS over and over, and has no way of replicating a lot of this labor, at what point do they simply give up and fail to complete the application process?

In the second job I applied for, a PR executive role, once I finished with the basic biographical stuff, it did lead me to another field that asked me specific questions such as the number of people I have managed, and how big the budgets I was responsible for were, etc. I did feel better about that part than I did trying to remember my supervisor, start/end date, pay and phone number for a company I worked for in a different decade.

I get what the ATS does for you. It sifts through lots and lots of resumes. It assesses the skills of candidates. It allows you to check backgrounds. It can even talk to payroll and benefits and compensation and learning management and all that. A timesaver for sure.

But isn't there some room for what it asks for to be brought up to date?  Or am I missing something basic here?

Don't be bashful about calling me out, but do know my feelings and experiences (and frustrations) are probably pretty common across job seekers.

And by the way, if you see my byline disappear from the pages of Staffing Talk in the next couple of months, you'll know I got that General Manager job in Mumbai.

Tags: ATS, Job candidates, Applicant Tracking Systems, Taleo, Job search, Reviews, Recruiting ATS, Staffing ATS