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Why your ATS may be killing your recruiting efforts

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 2, 2016
Applicant tracking systems get a bad rap for a reason -- many are clunky, hard to use and difficult to calibrate. But that doesn't mean you should ditch them entirely. Here’s how to improve your ATS.

If you're replacing an aging ATS or if you're a startup looking for an initial solution, your research should focus on the candidate experience and the application interface. The best technology today allows for extensive user interaction without a lot of commitment -- like requiring a login and a password, says Srinivasan. That makes it more likely that a candidate will interact with software without feeling forced to do so.

"Legacy systems make applying for a position a really terrible process. It's very off-putting to candidates who want a much lighter touch, especially if they're using it on their mobile device or a tablet. I would caution anyone against a system that makes candidates create a login and then go through the process of filling out a million forms or duplicating information, especially since so much of that is available through LinkedIn and other professional social networks," Srinivasan says.

Newer systems can facilitate better interactions with potential candidates over time, even if they're passive. In the past, it's been difficult for companies to keep track of potential candidates, and many are lost because of bad timing. The new generation of ATS solutions were designed with this in mind; timing is a critical element of today's recruiting landscape and being in touch with the right candidate at the right time can be a major competitive advantage, she says.

"So many companies are finding that a continuing conversation with a potential candidate can help unearth what their motivations are, why and when they would make a move. Say I'm a candidate, happy at my current job, but I get an email from a company I would love to work for. That's great -- but I have a bonus coming up in a couple months, or maybe I'm reaching a vesting milestone. Now isn't the right time, but maybe later -- at Lever we call that 'snoozing' a candidate, and we can flag in our system when to go back and resume a conversation with that person," Srinivasan says.

Companies spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on finding, attracting and getting people to apply for open positions, but with traditional ATS, those candidates who aren't hired to fill a role are shelved. With legacy systems, it's surprisingly difficult to search for candidates within these systems, so unless a candidate applies for another role, or there happens to be a recruiter or hiring manager who remembers seeing their resume, you may have missed out, she says.

"Say you have an Android developer role open, and you get a bunch of candidates, interview a couple, and you find a great one and hire them. What happens to the ones who don't get hired? Maybe they'd be great in another part of the company. Or maybe you'll have a similar role open up eight months down the road -- you have to be able to easily go back and say, 'Let's not reinvent the wheel and start an entirely new search if we don't have to! Here are those other Android engineers we also interviewed but weren't quite a fit, maybe we can talk to them again,'" Srinivasan says.


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