Digital age job hunting

Applying for supply chain jobs has dramatically changed in the past few years. You have to be an

Eugene Fernandez SCMP, CSMP, P.Log. PMP, is principal consultant at Eugene Fernandez & Associates Ltd.

expert in ATS—not just supply chain—to get a job. ATS means application tracking system, and ATS package solutions are large module systems that help reduce HR’s effort considerably. We will deal with the impact one module has on supply chain applicants searching for jobs.

The ATS stands between you and HR in getting that first screening call. It scans your resume and cover letter and sends only the top few resumes to the HR recruiter. If you do not understand ATS you will be left wondering why you are not getting the 20-minute HR screening calls and waste months applying for jobs.

Of course, if you use networking you can get your resume directly to HR. For contract jobs you are safer as agencies submit two to three resumes to HR directly and do not generally use ATS. However, if you want to apply for jobs through job boards or enter your resume on companies’ career websites you first need to understand ATS fully.

A large multi-national organization receives over 1,000 applications for a supply chain manager or procurement/sourcing manager position, and over 200 for a director position. Over 98 per cent of Fortune 500 companies now use ATS packages like Taleo (Oracle), Workday, Success Factors (SAP), Brassing, iCIMS and so on. Even SMB companies with 50 to 100 employees can afford to use cheaper ATS like, SmartRecruiters, Zoho Recruit, Jobvite, Greenhouse, Recruiter Box, Bullhorn and Jazz.

Skills matching
An ATS will arrive at a total rating based on the points arrived at by matching your hard skills, soft skills, and other skills in your resume against key words in the job description (JD). They may also give points for your resume word length (not too long), printing, margins, et cetera. Some allot a 10 per cent rating for a cover letter. Many ATS are sophisticated but some cannot even match tense or plurals of JD key words to a resume.

Some ATS allot points by comparing the number of times the key words occur in the JD versus the number in your resume. For instance, if ‘leadership’ soft skill is in the JD 10 times and only five times in your resume, you would get only half the allotted points.

More points are allotted for hard skills like bank, IT or retail experience compared to soft skills like leadership and team management and still fewer points for other skills.

Hence, each resume has to be customized to the JD and could take up to six hours to edit repeatedly after scans to get the required 80 per cent rating. offers five free scans a month for an applicant.

One of the reasons you have to use an ATS package to get the 80 per cent rating is that you must match the key words in the resume to be exactly what are given in the JD. If the JD has key words—senior manager, Microsoft Excel, demand forecasting plan, artificial intelligence, et cetera—and your resume has senior manager or director, MSExcel or MS Excel, demand forecasting plans, AI and so on, you get zero points and would be rejected.

Some ATS systems are more sophisticated—HR can use the questions in a company’s career website to allot rating points. HR can question years of experience and allot points of 1, 2, 3, 10, 0 for years of experience of 1, 2, 3, 4 to 6 or 7 years. So entering too many years of experience can get you a lower rating or even get you black balled.

ATS may match only against your last five or 10 years of experience. Some ATS cannot read a resume in PDF, graphic, skills in a table format or anything in a header like your professional titles: MBA, SCMP and CSMP.

ATS are designed to reduce HR’s time and effort, often at the expense of applicants’ time. Few or none of the ATS companies state the evaluation criteria for rating, which remains a black box to applicants. Public sector organizations state evaluation points in RFPs but do not disclose evaluation points for the ATS they use. Until Generation Z and Millennial applicants band together to educate each other, or demand it, we will have to live without knowing how ATS evaluates us.

The time may come, in perhaps five years, when no one will have to apply for a job. People will go to a website—‘UBERJOBS’ for example. The site could match the applicants’ past experience (entered once and later periodically tracked and updated by AI through social media and blogs, against an organization’s JD advertisement/need, organization type/characteristics/culture, immediate manager’s culture and leadership style, to the applicant’s experience, culture and needs. It would then submit just one or two names to the manager. When a supply chain professional wants a new job, he or she simply updates the need in UBERJOBS, then goes on holiday. The job seeker simply returns and joins their next company.