Generative AI and your career: ATS and AI in the recruitment process

by Sep 27, 2023

Have you ever wondered how AI will impact your chances of getting a job?

In recent times, the widespread accessibility of generative AI (GenAI) tools has raised questions around their ethical implications and how they will affect our everyday lives. Many people are asking how AI might affect things like the recruitment process. You might be surprised to learn that AI has been a crucial part of many organisations’ employee search strategies for years now. We’ve written on it before, yet it still seems clouded in mysticism for many students. So, let’s talk about ATS.

Applicant Tracking Systems (or ATS) are automated artificial intelligence programs that are a major aspect of large-scale recruitment. In this blog post, we’ll be diving into what ATS is, how you can know if an organisation is using ATS, and how you can safeguard yourself to make sure your application has a higher chance of being successful. 

What is ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a kind of program that automatically filters candidates for employers.

It does this by scanning a candidate’s resume, cover letter, and any other additional documents looking for their previous experience, education, and skills. Then it compares these details to the search parameters and details the employer is searching for. The software sorts, filters and ranks candidates based on their suitability for the advertised role. Check out this quick video from the YouTube channel Eye on Tech for an explanation of ATS.


How do you know if an employer is using ATS?

Organisations may not disclose if they are using an Applicant Tracking System or the specific program they’re using. It’s important to note that there isn’t one singular ATS model. Rather, different organisations will use various software according to what they need. However, the larger the organisation or level of recruitment needed, the more likely it is that they are using an automated system.

So, it’s important to safeguard your documents against these tracking systems to ensure you have the best chance of success.

How do you help your resume get past ATS?

There are a couple of ways you can tweak your resume to stand out to ATS.

1. Always tailor your resume to fit the job description.

This includes incorporating keywords from the listing, that employers may be using to screen candidates. Check out this blog post for more info on keyword searches.

2. Use both extended phrases and acronyms in your skills.

This ensures that regardless of if the systems filter for the full phrase or the acronym, your application will be picked up. For example: Trained in search engine optimisation (SEO)

3. Make sure your resume is formatted to be ATS-friendly.

This involves making sure your resume is in a clear, readable font, using headings to indicate different sections (such as education, work experience, etc) and avoiding using complicated layouts such as with multiple columns, logos or photos.

Consider also using a resume feedback tool, such as Rate My Resume to get feedback on how your resume may be improved for ATS.

Should you use generative AI to help you write your resume?

The answer to whether to use generative AI to help you write your resume is both yes and no. While AI tools can make general improvements to the structure and ATS-friendliness of your job search documents, they lack a very crucial part of any resume: personality. They can also exaggerate or lie about your abilities.

“For the time being we are still recruiting people and not computers, so it’s crucial that we are getting an application from a person (at least mostly) and not just a computer.”

– Alyssa Lumley, UTS Careers, Student and Community Engagement Coordinator

The primary thing to remember is that, although you want to put your best foot forward and break through the ATS’ barriers, the final step to that process is human review. So, while AI can help inspire, structure, or build on your resume, it’s important that your personality, uniqueness and value come through. Consider including things such as your hobbies, interests, volunteering or general experience in addition to work experience and education, to help build this personality.

Copy-pasting from Generative AI tools such as ChatGTP is not likely to create a valuable resume.

Industry perspective on using generative AI in recruitment

If you’re successful getting past any ATS, your application is going to be reviewed by humans. So, what do the people who are hiring think about generative AI in job applications? We recently reached out to people working in recruitment, including staff in our own team, to ask what they thought. We got some interesting insights, which we’ve broken down below.

Knowing when and when not to use AI

Many of the people working in recruitment highlighted the importance of the appropriate use of AI and using your judgement to determine whether it is suitable.

“It is smart to use in certain instances; but knowing when is appropriate is key. To write a resume is a good example; to answer a video interview question and simply read its response is not a good example.”
– Recruitment Specialist

One respondent spoke about how a candidate was rejected from the recruitment process due to using AI in a coding test, as the code was not their own. Another spoke about how they could tell a candidate was reading from an AI-generated response in a video interview. So, while it might seem like it is the easy option, it’s important to remember that the recruiters are assessing you on your own skills, not the AI’s, so be wary of when and when not to use it.

“It was pretty poorly used when we picked it up based on the structure, language and tone of the responses. Don’t be lazy – it is a great tool to help you prepare for interviews and do research etc. but don’t just ask it to write your CV and cover letters. Don’t use it for assessments, otherwise you will join the organisation and struggle.”
– Recruitment Specialist

Editing and being critical of AI responses

Across most responses from industry, there was an echoed sentiment of needing to be critical of, and edit generated text. Many spoke of using generated text as a ‘base’ or a ‘starting point’ to then build off with your own ideas and insights.

“Personally, I am not against the use of generative AI as a starting point for students. I understand that some students with accessibility issues will find the use of GenAI useful, especially students who do not speak English as a first language. My key issue lies in that students will use GenAI as the final version of their application documents when really it should be a jumping off point… because of the way that GenAI works, it is quite easy to spot when it is being used. When the language is unnatural, ensure that you are still using your own tone of voice and rewriting things in your own words.”
– Nadine Abellanoza, UTS Careers, Frontline Coordinator

“It often causes responses or paragraphs to read over-complicatedly and speak in an inauthentic manner… Even if you didn’t write the text yourself, when you read the output before submitting it, try ensure that it comes across as genuine and with some of your own personality as well.”
– Marissa Wilk, CA ANZ, Careers Engagement Consultant

“Probably the most important thing to remember is that if you are going to use chat GPT or another AI app to help you write your application, you need to be able to back it up personally in the face-to-face interview.

I have asked candidates questions in an interview before where they should know the answer because they wrote about it in their application, and their response paled in comparison to their written application. It could have been nerves, but if they had written at length about this topic in their application, I’d expect them to be able to repeat their ideas in the interview.”

– Rachel Yasmineh, UTS Careers, Orientation and Transition Manager

Humans are hiring you, not ChatGTP

As mentioned before, generative AI is only going to get you so far. At the end of the day, you are going to be hired by people, so it’s important that you make it clear to that person your value, beyond you knowing how to use AI tools.

“Use it sparingly. It can assist in your applications, however most employers are not yet ready to accommodate its use when we’re trying to assess your skills directly.”
– Recruitment Specialist

“When I am reviewing applications, I am looking for a human who will fit in with my team and office culture and the job itself. So, personality is key. I would encourage job seekers to use AI as a jumping off point and ensure you rewrite or at least edit your documents to ensure you are present in them and it’s your voice we are getting, not ChatGPT’s.”

– Alyssa Lumley, UTS Careers, Student and Community Engagement Coordinator

It’s here to stay

Although questions around their efficacy and ethical use continue to arise, generative AI tools are unlikely to be shut down anytime soon. With so many on the market, and the tools themselves evolving so rapidly, it’s important we adapt and adjust our practices around them. That means modifying content where needed, checking and screening things created by AI, and knowing when the use of AI is inappropriate.

“AI has its place in recruitment, such as assisting in writing job ads, and developing online content. Using AI creates efficiencies. It’s important to ensure AI created content is checked and modified to suit and add unique, individual content.”

– Jonathan Pelham, 360HR Solutions, Recruitment Director


While the rise in sophisticated generative AI tools has raised questions around the use of these tools in recruitment, AI in the form of ATS has already been a part of the job application process for many years. It’s important you know what these systems are so that you can give yourself the best chance of standing out amongst other candidates.

Generative AI is going to continue evolving and changing, and it’s important we adapt to the use of these tools. However, we also need to make sure we’re guarding against their weaknesses and maintaining ethical effective engagement with generative AI. Consider the effectiveness and impact of using generative AI, and always make sure you edit and think critically about any text generative AI produces.


This blog post is part of a series looking at how generative AI is influencing the world of work. Check out the rest of the posts in the series for more info. For more resources on UTS’s approach to generative AI, explore the UTS LX Lab resources on Artificial Intelligence in learning and teaching.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Amelia Bussing

Amelia Bussing

Communications Assistant

Amelia is a Sydney-based writing and communications enthusiast working at UTS Careers as a Communications Assistant. She is UTS Alumni who studied a Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing & Advertising), and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. She is passionate about creativity, storytelling, and the art of a well-timed gif, and has a vast collection of crazy socks.