Applicant tracking systems (ATS) get a bad rap for a good reason. From a candidate's perspective, they're often difficult to use, clunky and there's no way to tell if your qualifications are ever actually reviewed by a human being. For companies, however, the ATS can be a lifesaver; streamlining the application process and making screening candidates much more efficient. And therein lies the rub, as the saying goes: how to walk the line between delivering what candidates need in the sourcing and screening process and easing the administrative hassles on the hiring company's side?
"In our own client research, we see 75 percent of them using an ATS of some kind, and of those, 94 percent say it improves their hiring process. That's a 180-degree difference from what candidates see - they tell us the hiring process is frustrating, fraught with bugs and glitches, they have to manually enter information in duplicate, and then - poof! They're never sure if it even is reviewed by a human, " says J.P. Medved, a recruiting software specialist with Capterra, a software research and comparison service that helps businesses find the best software solution for their needs.
That disconnect is crucially important as companies face increased competition for talent, and sites like Glassdoor offer an open, anonymous forum for candidates, job seekers and the currently employed to share their experiences from recruitment to hire, Medved says.
The human element
Many next-generation ATS solutions are focused on improving the candidate experience by making it easier and more accessible to apply to hiring companies. It's an approach Aberdeen Research refers to as Hiring Success Management. In a nutshell, it's an updated, innovative ATS-type solution that uses data and analytics to continually update candidate profiles and gauge the success of specific hiring sources and more efficiently leverages technology so that HR departments are making the right talent connections at the right time, according to the Aberdeen report, Hiring Success Management: Moving Beyond the ATS.
Leveraging newer and innovative technology allows companies to hire faster and with higher quality results while putting greater emphasis on the human element to better connect with candidates for open roles, and to build up a pipeline of potential future candidates.
"Finding talent and recruiting is one of the most human of endeavors, but so often the human element is left out of the equation. Recruiting should take a page from marketing's playbook to focus on finding and connecting with people the same way marketing does - only your candidates are your consumers, " says Leela Srinivasan, CMO for ATS and recruiting software solutions company Lever.
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.