It would seem that CV verification fulfills the role of an employer’s first encounter with a prospective employee. Who do you think performs this function, on which the fate of job applicants depends? More and more often it is not a recruiting manager, but … a robot!

In an attempt to optimise the recruitment process, many employers first filter the stream of CVs through a special programme before they make resume checker themselves! Swiss companies are no exception. But can a machine objectively evaluate the employment potential of a prospective employee? This article on Switzerland Business Portal explains how robot CV screening works and what the consequences are for applicants.

How the program works

The Applicant Tracking System – or ATS – is a special software that is essentially designed to optimize recruitment workflows. Today, it is mainly used in large companies with a large workforce. In addition to creating job openings and controlling all resulting issues (such as maintaining a database of job seekers), the system can analyse the resumes received and select suitable candidates according to set search criteria.

In simple terms, it is similar to Internet searches: The hiring manager enters the skills of a potential candidate (e.g. “journalist”, “programming”) into a database, and the system – based on the keywords provided – searches for the most relevant CVs. Accordingly, the job seekers with the highest matching results go to the top. But can we call this search objective?

How do you check CVs with the ATS system?

Such analysis of resumes is undoubtedly effective for representatives of recruiting agencies: automation of all processes reduces time needed to find a candidate and simplifies life of HR-managers. But not for job seekers: ATS proved to have certain requirements which not all resumes meet.

All facts, no nonsense

Basically, it looks at CVs by how often they contain the keywords the employer needs. So according to Reto Rügger – co-founder of IT company “Softfactors” – an HR manager focuses on skills that interest him, thus depriving himself of the opportunity to explore the personality of the candidate. By the way, if your resume contains the HR managers’ favorite personal qualities such as “stress resistant”, “able to work in a team” or “motivated” they are of no importance for the automatic CV selection system.

Also, in this case the unique and creative components of your profile, which would certainly be remembered by the HR manager, will be lost – the program simply will not see them.

Errors, abbreviations and PDF files

Along with this we should not forget that the program is unable to check resumes of candidates with “misspelled” keywords. In this case we’re not so much talking about errors, but rather about incorrect job titles and abbreviations. The program may also fail to read a PDF file, so it’s safer to send the resume in the classic Word format. That way, the job seeker’s profile itself may fit all the parameters and not catch the employer’s eye just because of such trifles.

The right CV for ATS

A document in list format with a brief description of qualifications and education is considered a suitable resume for ATS. In turn, the ‘work experience’ column should contain concise information about the employers, the position held and the period of employment. The contact information should be given in a prominent place at the very top of the document.

Do Swiss companies need an ATS?

The Applicant Tracking System is undoubtedly an auxiliary IT tool for large companies that simply cannot physically cope with the high volume of applications. So while a recruiter looks at several dozen CVs a day, the software analyses several hundred applicants in a couple of minutes. So it’s not surprising that large Swiss companies (e.g. KPMG Schweiz and IBM Schweiz) use applicant screening systems. The ATS is also supported by the principle of equality of all applicants: Discrimination due to race, religion or gender is practically eliminated.

However, it is difficult to attribute objectivity in the competition for employment. For example, if a job seeker is just starting his career and has little experience (but with a good company), the system is unlikely to put his name at the top of the list.

In this case, the principle of the program – sorting candidates by the number of keywords they mention in their resume – works against him. So chances are high that his CV won’t even catch the eye of the employer. However, the qualifications and potential of the applicant could be as good as those of an experienced professional with a more “rich” resume. It is important to realise that CV verification by robots is far from being a separate phenomenon in today’s economy. The computerisation of the recruitment process proves once again that employers have increasing demands on jobseekers, as it turns out that robots can also replace poorly qualified people.