Many jobseekers admit gaming online application systems

A new survey shows jobseekers are gaming the job application system, particularly those who understand how automated systems work, but many, especially younger women, prefer the online application process.

tablet with 'send cv' button


Jobseekers are routinely cheating recruitment technology platforms, to better their chances of landing a job, with 67% admitting to deliberately using optimisation strategies to improve their chances of getting a job, according to a new survey.

The study, Hiring Humans vs. Recruitment Robots, by recruitment software provider TribePad canvassed the views of over 1,000 employees and job seekers in the UK and found that jobseekers are looking for ways to game the system.

Of the tactics used, just over a fifth (22%) have searched online to find out how other people have been hired, a similar number (19%) have used buzzwords in their CV in order to manipulate an automated system, 15% have lied or exaggerated about their experience to get an interview, while nearly one in ten (8%) have cheated on a psychometric, skills or other kind of test.

The survey shows these statistics increase considerably among those candidates who understand what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is. Nearly nine out of ten (88%) of candidates aware of what an ATS system is, admitted to optimising their CV with keywords and skills they know some automated tools are looking for, while those that are aware are also four times more likely to cheat, by using keywords for skills they may not necessarily have, to increase their chances.

Nearly seven in 10 now feel that greater automation in recruitment is useless because people can cheat the system by amending their CVs.

Dean Sadler, CEO of TribePad, says: “It’s clear that as businesses automate more processes, they have to be wary that they don’t create so many hurdles that candidates try and game the system. It’s human nature to try to find shortcuts or opportunities to simplify processes. But businesses don’t want people who only fit the bill because they’ve arrived in disguise.

“However, this doesn’t mean that businesses should shun tech completely, online applications offer jobseekers the ability to job search at their own convenience. Instead, businesses have to understand more about where tech is most beneficial, and how to balance it with that crucial human touch.”

The survey shows over half (57%) of respondents prefer to search for jobs online, which rises to almost three-quarters of people who are not in work (70%).

There was also a generational and gender split: over half (59%) of 18-24 year olds and nearly two-thirds (60%) of 25-39 year olds said they also preferred online, while nearly two-thirds (61%) of females indicated online was better than human interaction.

This gap does, however, narrow the older applicants get, with just under half (46%) of middle aged workers (40-54 year olds) preferring human interaction, and a 50/50 split between online v. offline for 55-64 year olds.

The research found that online has benefits that outweigh applying for jobs in person. For example, an unemployed female aged between 25-39 said that an “online application doesn’t bring up nerves as much as face to face interaction”, while another young female in employment, aged 18-24 said “it’’s a bit easier to feel confident behind a screen”. For others, they valued the speed in the online, automated process:  “It gets you to the interview process quicker, also you find out if you’re successful quicker”  said a male, part-time worker aged 40-54.

Sadler adds: “Online applications are growing in preference because they’re so easy to use. It also makes people feel more confident, they’re able to showcase the real ‘them’ without feeling put off. But these positive feelings will only remain if we can stem the tide of applicants trying to game the system. Businesses therefore have to make sure they apply technology within talent acquisition correctly, and that their hiring teams explain the process better and highlight why it’s beneficial to the candidates.”


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