Applicant tracking systems, or ATS, are a type of software used by companies to assist with human resources, recruitment, and hiring processes. There are hundreds of companies developing ATS software and each system offers a different package of features. That said, ATS are primarily used to help hiring companies collect and organize large numbers of applicants.
Read more: What is an applicant tracking system?
Job seekers interact with an ATS just about any time they submit a resume through an online form. Rather than manually reviewing each resume, recruiters and hiring managers can search for resumes based on keywords, or have the system filter or automatically rank applicants. If an ATS resume doesn’t contain the right search terms or is formatted sub-optimally, it could get “lost” in the system.
We’ve known for a while that most companies used ATS. We wanted to get more specific, though, so we took a closer look at U.S. Fortune 500 companies.
Fortune 500 applicant tracking system usage
Our research began with what we already had in the Jobscan database.
As part of the Resume Match Report, job seekers can enter the name of the company and application URL of the job for which they’re applying in order to receive tailored resume tips. This crowdsourced data, once verified, contribute to our database of company-ATS matches. After filtering for Fortune 500, we had to do some groundwork to fill in the gaps.
Combining what Jobscan already had in its database with manual research of Fortune 500 companies’ processes, we found that all but nine Fortune 500 companies utilize an ATS of some kind in their hiring process– that’s 491 that use an ATS, or 98.2%.
Jobscan research: At least 98.2% of Fortune 500 use applicant tracking systems
Fortune 500 ATS market share
Not only were we able to find that at least 491 Fortune 500 companies use an ATS, we were able to identify which ATS was used by 482 of them. In other words, 96.4% of Fortune 500 companies utilize an ATS that we were able to identify via a variety of methods.
The most popular applicant tracking system
One thing we found is that software giant Oracle, itself a Fortune 500 company, continues to dominate the ATS market. A handful of their offerings cropped up in this list, but Taleo stood above all with a massive 30.2% market share.
We noticed earlier this year that Greenhouse ATS was gaining a lot of ground in the startup and tech, but their presence wasn’t felt on the Fortune 500 list outside of some subsidiaries. For example, Walmart corporate uses BrassRing for some listings, but Greenhouse for their Jet.com subsidiary. The rising star among Fortune 500 companies appears to be Workday, which offers robust human resource management services beyond applicant tracking. Second to Taleo, Workday has been gaining a lot of ground in the past year based on what we’ve seen in older ATS market share reports.
Why ATS matter for job seekers
Applicant tracking systems are indispensable software for large organizations but can be a frustrating roadblock for job seekers. Some offer a difficult candidate experience. Some take a long time to complete. Some have rudimentary search and ranking functions that allow stellar applicants to slip through the cracks.
Instead of reading through hundreds of resumes that come in for a job opening, a recruiter can opt to narrow the applicant pool by searching for keywords. These resume keywords might be job titles, hard skills, or qualifications. Even if an applicant is highly qualified for the job, if they don’t have the right search terms on their resume, they might not be found.
Some ATS, like Taleo, even automatically rank applicants by comparing the uploaded resume to the job description. This allows recruiters to cherry-pick candidates at the top of the ranking.
If you’re a job seeker, the best way to ensure you have the right search terms and a high match rate is to study the job description and pick out the top keywords. Traditionally, this was a manual, time-consuming process. These days, job seekers can automate the process with Jobscan.
Try it yourself here:
Applicant tracking systems are a central part of the hiring process in 2018. Job seekers who understand this and react put themselves in a better position to get job interviews and offers.
Hannah Craig and Etan Bard contributed to this article.