An Applicant Tracking System Revolution

Robert Gary Dodds

By Robert Gary Dodds

Mar 5, 2023

It’s Time To Reset Your Online Applicant Tracking System Filters


Spending on marketing to fund budgets for talent retention

  • CEOs and business owners with vision should take a moment to switch their attention from what their customers want to what their staff wants. 
  • Every dollar spent on employee retention is at least two-three dollars saved on talent acquisition.
  • Wise employers are temporarily shifting chunks of marketing budget dollars into employee retention (and some to talent attraction) budgets to stabilize the workforce. 
  • There is little point in spending millions on ads to attract clients if you do not have the staff to deliver on the promise of service and hospitality excellence.
  • You may hear your marketing director screaming while reading this article if you listen very carefully!

What about your online Applicant Tracking System (ATS) filtering-out candidate criteria?

Nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS.  Adjusting the ATS thoughtfully to remove some “blocks” will let a few more candidates get through to a human, giving you a break.

  • Following COVID, CHROs, and VPs of HR should reconsider the qualifying filters in the artificial intelligence that drives their ATS because they may be eliminating piles of potential candidates you never get to see. 
  • Job openings are growing weekly, yet people aren’t lining up to apply for jobs. It’s a buyers’ market, and if you still have seller’s market strict filters in your ATS for each job, you could be losing thousands of great potential employees. You need to launch a revolution within and for now, adjust.
  • Small companies are focusing on this possibility, but if you temporarily change your applicant hiring filters in times of severe employee shortages, you can get thousands more qualified applicants.  The same is true for smaller regional and independent businesses. 
  • With even slightly fewer barriers to candidates, allowing more to get past your filtering system, more candidates sneak through for a human view, letting you catch stars you almost missed.

Management degrees

  • Most organizations require a bachelor’s degree for many senior property-based roles, most above-property management positions (particularly specialty roles), and applicants to management trainee programs.
  • With sufficient people with the right mindset, a brilliant hotelier or specialist without a degree may not pass your old ATS keyword filters. 
  • More progressive companies do not require GMs and above property roles to apply online but instead direct them to regional or corporate HR offices.
  • A fantastic hotelier or specialist without a degree may not pass the keyword filters of your applicant tracking system.  If you change the management candidate filters, you may need to do more human leadership evaluations to quickly rule in or out those extra candidates who got through.  But when you have more vacancies than candidates, it is time to wake up and change.

Non-management roles typically do not require degrees, but each has its role-specific filter “keywords” that let candidates through for human review. 

  • Review your filters and keywords that block out candidates who do not meet “all” of your minimum standards and find a balance of reduction and human resources oversight.  
  • There is no need to compromise your brand promises to deliver service and hospitality excellence with HR support. 
  • Review your filters and keywords that block out candidates who do not meet your minimum standards.  
  • Job titles: You might miss out on some great candidates if you use an ATS.  For example, your old requirements may have prompted your ATS to recognize and flag specific job titles relevant to your company’s keyword terms.  Still, the candidate’s current or former employers may use more unique tags than your company. 
  • For example, in the 1970s, you would have sought a Personnel and Training Manager, and by the 1990s, you would have sought Human Resource Directors, and you may still use this title.  Today, many companies use titles such as “People & Culture Director.”  
  • A Marketing Director may have become a “Wizard of Needs!” An accountant may have become a “Number Ninja.”
  • If your ATS knocks out candidates with unrecognized titles, you may have lost a great candidate or twenty!

About the author

Robert Gary Dodds

Robert Gary Dodds is the Founder and Managing Partner at MG Consulting and a consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Gary is an international best practice specialist in Human Resources, Learning & Development within the hospitality industry.  His global background includes living and working in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.  Now working with clients on most continents and previously having headed Human Resources in regional and corporate luxury brands worldwide – Gary is well qualified to talk about what best practices he sees and what are, for some, lessons still to be learned.

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