Job searching can be a frustrating and tedious process. A 2021 survey by Harvard Business School revealed that “being out of work did not just inflict financial hardship, it often cut much deeper, resulting in emotional suffering. It led to a lack of confidence, an absence of meaning in life, and an undermining of identity.”
What can job seekers do to take control of their job search? What does the hiring process look like for companies, and how can job seekers work with that system to increase their chances of getting an interview?
We started asking these questions nearly 10 years ago and we immediately knew we needed to go straight to the source: the companies themselves. Thus, Jobscan was born, and 5 years later, we started publishing the results of our ATS usage research.
Welcome to the 3rd Edition of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Usage Report. This report tracks which Fortune 500 companies use an ATS and which ATS they use.
We added a new statistic this year: general ATS distribution. This data shows which ATS are used across thousands of companies, regardless of whether or not they’re on the Fortune 500 list.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this report:
- ATS use by Fortune 500 companies
- ATS distribution across Fortune 500 companies
- General ATS distribution
- What job seekers need to know about ATS
- Methodology and data
(Find this interesting? We welcome you to use any of these charts or insights in your own content, social streams, and client meetings.)
Let’s jump in…
ATS use by Fortune 500 companies
We’ll start by reporting on how many Fortune 500 companies use an ATS. We reverse-engineered the career pages for each company on the list. In 2023, we detected an ATS for 97.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
That amounts to 487 companies out of 500. Of the remaining 13, 8 did not have a detectable ATS, which might mean that they use a proprietary system that was built in-house.
This number hasn’t changed much over the years. In 2019, 98.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies used an ATS. In 2018, we detected an ATS for 98.2 percent of Fortune 500 companies. (The difference between 97.4 percent and 98.2 percent is 7 additional companies.)
Which ATS do these companies use?
ATS distribution across Fortune 500 companies
There were some major ATS usage changes from 2019 to 2023.
In 2019, Workday (26.3 percent usage rate) and Taleo (22.1 percent usage rate) were the most widely used ATS. SuccessFactors (14.8 percent usage rate) was a popular tool too.
In 2023, Workday is by far the most widely used ATS among Fortune 500 companies. Over 38 percent of the companies on the list use Workday for talent acquisition. SuccessFactors is growing in popularity and now has a 15.1 percent usage rate.
There are a myriad of other ATS out there, but those two ATS are used by a combined 53.6 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
General ATS distribution
This year, we’re introducing a statistic that gives us a broader look at ATS usage.
Using Jobscan data, we analyzed job descriptions from over 11,000 companies where an ATS was detected to see which ATS they use. The results were very different from the Fortune 500 results.
There is a broader distribution of ATS usage among these companies, which could vary in size and industry.
Here’s what we found:
- 18.2 percent of analyzed companies use Greenhouse
- 16.5 percent of analyzed companies use Lever
- 15.9 percent of analyzed companies use iCIMS
- 15.4 percent of analyzed companies use Workday
Because of this broader distribution, it might seem like applying for a larger company is a safer option since you only have one or two ATS to optimize for. But there are benefits to applying to smaller companies too, as James Cooper from Final Draft Resumes points out:
Exploring opportunities at lesser-known companies in their field can potentially give job seekers a better return on investment, simply due to the lower applicant volume.— James Cooper, Final Draft Resumes
And the benefits don’t stop there. James goes on, “On top of that, job seekers can use LinkedIn to discover these small and midsize companies, engage with their employees or recruiters can provide insights and potentially open doors to job opportunities. Proactive outreach and networking, especially in smaller firms where a personal approach is often valued, can significantly elevate a job seeker’s prospects in a competitive market.”
What job seekers need to know about ATS
If you’re an avid reader of our blog or follow us on social media, you know that we educate job seekers on how to optimize their resume for an ATS and how to tailor their resume for each job. We do that because that’s what it takes to increase your interview rate.
Reports from Forbes and Glassdoor showed that job openings can get anywhere from 100-250 applicants. That number will be larger for more well-known, established companies. At Jobscan, we were recently hiring a content writer. We received over 1,000 applications.
Some recruiters will look at every single application, but many won’t. The aforementioned survey by Harvard Business School revealed that “more than 90% of employers […] initially filter or rank potential middle-skills (94%) and high-skills (92%) candidates” by criteria like skills, credentials, and years of experience. According to the report, “a recruiter will never see that candidate’s application, even though it might fill all of the employer’s requirements.”
“Many applicants are unaware of what an Applicant Tracking System is, let alone how it functions to select candidates to preview. To land a job, it’s essential to understand how an ATS works and apply that knowledge to creating a resume.”— Jazlyn Unbedacht, Resume Expert
An ATS can be used to search for candidates with certain skills, job titles, degrees, certifications, or keywords listed on their resume.
For example, to fill our position of Content Writer, we could search for resumes that only include the skill “seo”. That would immediately take the candidate pool down to about 500.
The action plan for job seekers is simple.
- Tailor your resume for each job you apply for so that you cite specific skills and experience the recruiter might use the ATS to filter candidates by.
- Make sure your resume is parsable so that the ATS can detect those skills and experiences.
- Understand how each ATS works so you can optimize based on their nuances.
Jobscan offers free tools to help job seekers get more interviews. Our resume builder helps you create an ATS-friendly resume. It’s completely free to build and download your resume. Our free resume scanner gives you a free report with a Match Rate to show you how well you match the job requirements and guidance on what skills to expand on to increase your Match Rate. Jobscan’s Job Tracker tool is free for all users and helps you track and manage your job applications.
Make your resume stand out and get noticed
Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.
Methodology and data
The data in this report was captured in two ways.
For the data on ATS use by Fortune 500 companies, we reviewed job listing pages for all 500 companies on the list. We were able to detect which ATS was used for 487 of the companies.
For the data on general ATS use, we used data from the ATS Tip feature in the Jobscan resume scanner. That feature allows users to enter the URL of the job they are applying for. Our system will automatically detect which ATS the company uses. The data came from over 1 million scans for 11,633 companies.
- Data on Fortune 500 companies was gathered in September 2023.
- Data on general ATS use comes from all historical data from the Jobscan resume scanner, starting in 2016.
- Individual companies were not contacted for information on ATS market share or individual use. The data was collected manually by an in-house data team to ensure an accurate and unbiased report.
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