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It's not an unheard of notion that employers, particularly large tech companies, might use automated systems to reject candidates, without any human involvement.

This article claims the following:

... an ATS will scan your resume for keywords and relevant work history to make a snap decision on whether you will advance to the next round ...

If this automated rejection was considered a useful feature by employers, then I would expect that Applicant Tracking System (ATS) companies to be advertising it. That is, I would expect descriptions on their websites talking about how their system accurately filters out bad resumes/CVs.

But, when I tried to use a search engine to search for such advertisements, I instead found just stuff about claimed ways to "beat the bots" and get a resume/CV past these filters. The existence of those sites does not prove companies are now, or ever did do this.

Going directly to the companies websites themselves hasn't turned up any claims about entirely automated screening yet either. On one ATS company's website, I saw mentions of using AI/Machine Learning but I was unable to find any specific claims of automated rejection of resumes/CVs.

Some examples of claims about using AI/ML regarding applications from this page created by an ATS company:

Allow recruiters to immediately identify and prioritize highly qualified candidates through automated review of 100% of inbound resumes

Help sourcers, recruiters, and hiring managers find top talent by surfacing profiles similar to their favorite candidates in seconds

That first claim seems too vague to say whether it includes entirely automated rejection. The second one sounds like it would influence the order in which resumes are looked at, including making some resumes not get looked at by a human at all, because they end up at the bottom of the pile. But, that's not the same thing as rejecting a candidate entirely automatically.

Is there any evidence that any ATS companies have definitively advertised entirely automated rejection, now or in the past?

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  • The radio ads I hear every day for Indeed.com say that they automatically screen resumes.
    – Barmar
    Nov 5 at 14:53
  • When they get 4K applications for a job, you can imagine they don't actually read them all.
    – Fizz
    Nov 7 at 5:43
  • @Fizz or indeed any of them... company outsources to an external party, they run some software that filters on keywords, rejects all but the top 10 according to whatever criteria, and forwards those to a human for screening. That yields 5 candidates which get proposed to the customer for inviting.
    – jwenting
    Nov 8 at 8:55
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I only looked at the first ATS system I found when I searched (Freshteam). It seems to have the features you're asking about:

Automate tasks for screening better

Now that the incoming candidate information is correctly categorised and structured after parsing, your ATS can identify candidate filters better. Using Autopilot you can automate certain screening tasks and work more efficiently. So, if you want to reject a candidate with less than 3 years experience, the parsed profile will be processed and rejected by your ATS automatically. You simply need to provide a condition and action to your autopilot, and it will take care of the rest.

The page also mentions the ability to "easily filter for candidates using keywords and tags".

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Filtering suitable candidates vs not-likely-suitable candidates (which can be in effect auto-rejection) was among the first feature releases of the in-house ATS we use where I work.

It's not restricted to paid systems. With the last job I posted on LinkedIn, 10 out of 11 applicants were auto-rejected. After checking them out superficially, there were good reasons; they could not possibly even attempt to do the job, as it required specific location, language, and coding experience.

Most ATS advertise automated candidate ranking or matching, but many have strict filtering as well.

Taleo has a matching process based on manually-set criteria. The Candidate and Requisition Matching section contains a thorough description of the process.

It includes filters, and then required and desired criteria.
Failing to meet a filter or a required criterion will exclude the candidate from the list displayed to the recruiter.

As the documentation states,

Requisition files that meet all the required criteria and that also meet some desired criteria will appear at the top of the requisitions list presented to the user. Competencies and questions criteria are considered as wildcards. If these criteria are not selected as required in the requisition, or if a candidate does not enter answers for these criteria, the answers will still be considered.

I.e., there are automated rejection criteria.

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    I hadn’t considered that companies might write their own in-house ATS. But in retrospect I can see why a company might want to do that. For example they may need customizations that ATS vendors don’t provide or charge unreasonably for.
    – Ryan1729
    Nov 5 at 16:44
  • @Ryan1729 and don't forget that many companies will have started writing their own before commercial offerings were available, often being a rather crude collection of Word macros to count required keywords in the text. As a contractor myself we're plagued with having to tweak resumes for every potential customer because of that, one keyword in the wrong place and you're rejected for a job you're quite capable of doing, even having something in capitals or lower case can make or break an application.
    – jwenting
    Nov 8 at 8:58

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