Surprisingly Few Surveyed Employers Use Keyword-Searchable Resume Databases


Contrary to what we’ve been hearing for the last decade, more than 56 percent of respondents who were asked if their company uses scanning/database systems to manage resumes said they did not. Of those, 10.5 percent do not use such a system but plan to in the future, while 45.5 percent do not and have no future plans to use such a system. Employers using the systems but only for certain positions comprise 8.2 percent of respondents, while 37.6 percent use them for all positions. The responses were part of the 2010 Orange County Resume Survey*. Commonly called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), these applications enable employers to place resumes into a database that they can then search using keywords. The systems have been the main impetus in the last 10 years for encouraging job-seekers to pack their resumes with keywords. The statistic commonly batted around over the last decade to characterize the portion of employers who use keyword-searchable databases for resumes is “at least 80 percent.” Thus, it’s surprising to learn that only about 45 percent of Orange County employers use them. Only a small number of employers (85) responded to this question on the survey, so it’s possible the responses are not representative or the responding employers are with very small companies. In any case, since job-seekers typically don’t know which employers use these systems, it’s wise to include as many relevant keywords on resumes as possible.

*The 2010 Orange County Resume Survey by The Center for Career and Life Development, Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, CA, Eric Hilden, Career Placement Officer, was distributed by email to 2,000+ employer contacts in Orange County and shared online employer contacts in Orange County and shared online via social-networking sites including and Twitter.