First, I want to thank Toni Bowers for mentioning my blog article. You can find her comments here:
I have looked over some of the reader responses to her article, and thought I'd add a few clarifications.
Applicant tracking software or applicant tracking systems can vary greatly in terms of cost and functionality. Here's a link to a short Wikipedia summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applicant_tracking_system
Mention of these systems can refer to the enterprise level systems used by multinational companies, but can also refer to applications that are used by small to mid-sized employers. Search firms also use similar systems that also include the functionality of being able to manage client information.
Technically, resume scanning, refers to the process of manually scanning resumes and then using OCR software to convert the scanned images into documents. This represents a somewhat dated process, but probably still takes place. That's why you'll see resume tips about creating plain vanilla versions of resumes if you are going to fax them in, or mail in hard copies.
What I was referring to was more of a data extraction process. Good applicant tracking applications can not only extract your contact information, they can even identify employers, job titles, and many words and phrases referring to specific skills.
Someone rightly commented that it hardly seems necessary to make sure that you r name gets extracted when many employers require you to manually log into their systems and enter all that data. That's technically correct. However, many companies don't do that. Many search firms don't do that. Lots of organizations would rather make the application process as easy as possible for you and will accept emailed resumes or uploaded resumes.
Another person commented on how sad it is that many resumes don't actually get read. While I agree, I may end up having to write a complete article on the subject of what corporate and/or third party recruiters deal with on a regular basis. I'll just mention one incident that comes to mind. A couple of years ago, I was working as a contract corporate recruiter for a major employer. In that role, there were countless instances of people logging on and applying for every single posted position, or every single IT position. (Consider that a not what to do when trying to get hired tip.) In one instance, I posted a position on the company's website, and in a matter of just a few days, there were considerably more than 500 applicants. Had I physically opened every single resume, I would not have had time to do anything else. Also, I had tools at my disposal to start eliminating unqualified candidates based on things like educational requirements and required skills.
Sorry that I can't comment right now on other feedback people provided. There were some very good comments.
Thanks again Toni!