ATS tool vs. Freedom of speech – Round I
HR Tech
June 10, 2020

The Internet is bursting at the seams of newsletters, blogs, guides, and even services that are supposed to save the candidate. From what? From the ATS tool.

According to various data, between 60% and 70% of companies use ATS. This is irreplaceable help. Keeping all correspondence in one place, publishing job offers in many places at one go, conducting large, complex recruitment projects, creating and quick access to the candidate database, and much, much more.

In addition to the above, most of these systems have functionalities equipped with algorithms that analyze the content of the CV. These algorithms are mainly sensitive to keywords that the system searches for in the submitted application documents. Thanks to this, Applicant Tracking System can automatically qualify the candidate for the next stage of recruitment or reject them.

You probably already know what could go wrong …

At the forefront of optimization

We all know how time-consuming it is to search the database for ideal candidates. Recruiters often receive up to 300 applications for one position. The best way to analyze this amount of data is to automate selected stages of the process. Technology has a lot to show off here. Scanners contained in Applicant Tracking Systems cleverly capture the most desired keywords contained in the CV content. Thanks to this, the amount of time saved is unbelievable.

Each stick has two ends

Unfortunately, next to the already mentioned superlatives of using AI to filter candidates first, there are many accusations regarding the above functionality. The Preptel Company has conducted a study showing that 75 percent of all CVs are never seen by a real person. Instead, they are filtered out by the ATS without a second look. What’s more, many CVs are rejected due to poor formatting, which disqualifies you from the start and never goes through the filter.


Not only do recruiters know how filters based on keywords work in ATSs. This knowledge is so widespread that candidates also have access to it. People actively looking for a job are trying very hard to “beat the system.” Due to negative experiences, at a time when this technology was still crawling and based on current experience where it is still not perfect, the underground of the candidate was created.

What happens at the ATS tool when a candidate tries too hard?

One of the personalities of the candidate underground is the candidate who wants too much.


  • create their CVs,
  • reaching the top of their skills
  • want to break through the filter at all costs and at the same time be noticed by the recruiter
  • create CVs to the satisfaction of everyone and anyone
  • stuff their CVs with keywords that theoretically have to help them but at the same time are indigestible neither for the Applicant Tracking System nor for the recruiter

ATS tool – mind hackers

Another example of fighting the system is interference in the scanner’s “mind”. Candidates fill the empty spaces of the CV with text in the color of the workspace. Some candidates were caught copying the entire job ad, word for word to their CV in white font. Clever? Unfortunately, it works. Most scanners recommend such a candidate. When the recruiter discovers such cheating, the run of luck ends. Nobody would want to hire a cheater.

Corrective actions – are they possible?

People have already got used to the fact that their documents are analyzed by machines. The world will never go backward. Everyone wants to optimize, build /develop tools that will replace the human factor on many issues. For many years, candidates will be looking for a way to outsmart the Applicant Tracking System and algorithms for more precise results.

How ATS tool HelloAstra can increase the chance of getting a valuable candidate?

We’ve built our algorithm with a view to precision in recommending candidates. Along with the standard weights of the expected qualifications, we have added a special “Skills” field. It is particularly important because the recruiter can add popular synonyms in advance to each “skill”. This means that if the candidate is well qualified but does not have the expected keywords in their CV, only their counterparts automatically increases their chance of moving to the next stage of recruitment.


Both recruiters and candidates face a great challenge. Recruiters want to gain valuable employees. Candidates want to get through the scanner and get a vacancy in a reputable company. Together, we should fight to not limit ourselves and be free to use live language in our CV. We should also responsibly choose tools that will not limit this freedom.

Żaneta Pindel
Marketing Manager
HR tech