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The Elimination Game

Automated Tracking Systems exist to “thin the herd”

Many nature programs talk about herds of animals that instinctively push their more susceptible members out to the edges of the group where predators are more likely to pick them off. It’s a survival of the fittest approach known as “thinning the herd.”

In the final analysis that’s precisely what the automated tracking systems (ATS) do for companies looking to hire new employees. Realistically, they’re not looking for the best candidates. They’re looking to eliminate as many as possible, sparring the human overseers from having to pour through hundreds of resumes.

To be fair, there is some method to their madness. Among those hundreds of applicants, one can expect to find the over qualified, the barely qualified, and the not qualified at all. Frankly, the company is just not interested in the vast majority of those applicants.

The bad news – all the way around – is that sometimes they end up discarding the babies with the bath water. If you’ve ever applied for a job by way of an ATS, you know the drill.

That’s why when applying for those jobs, the applicant (especially the older applicants) must specifically tailor their resumes to the job description. The ATS is very unforgiving. No variations. If the job description says that they are seeking someone with experience in “employee benefits,” they will reject your resume if you say you have “employee benefit experience.” (Note: your resume did not have an “s” at the end of benefits.)

As one recruiter recently put it, if they’re looking for a “purple unicorn,” they’ll eliminate anyone and everyone who is not a “purple unicorn” until they find one.


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