Applicant tracking systems (ATS) offer many benefits to employers. An ATS can help you streamline the application process and make screening candidates more efficient. On the other hand, many candidates say that an ATS can be difficult to use and are often frustrated because they’re not sure if their qualifications are ever reviewed by an actual person. The challenge for employers, according to CIO Magazine Senior Writer Sharon Florentine (Why your ATS may be killing your recruiting efforts), is how to balance delivering what candidates need in the screening process with easing the administrative hassles on the hiring side. As companies face greater competition for talent, addressing this disconnect between employer and applicant needs is becoming increasingly important.
If you are using a traditional, or legacy ATS, there are steps you can take to make the system work better for applicants and help reduce the chances of losing qualified candidates who may get discouraged by a cumbersome or nonresponsive system.
Be upfront about the application process.
Ensure that candidates understand the application process upfront by giving them a brief overview of the process, such as steps required to complete their application, an estimate of the time needed to enter all required information and approximately when they can expect a response. You can convey this information in a short paragraph within the job description or on your career webpage.
Test and tweak your ATS.
Ask some of your current employees to fill out an application and go through the process as if they were applying for a job. This test run could help uncover flaws, software bugs or other issues that may be deterring qualified applicants. Does the application process take an inordinate amount of time? Are you asking candidates to duplicate the same personal or professional information in different sections of your application process? Is your system rejecting qualified candidates for immaterial reasons such as formatting incompatibility or resume uploading errors? You can also test your ATS’s keyword filtering settings by submitting resumes from some of your top performers to determine if their resumes are accepted or filtered out. Testing your ATS will allow you to fix bugs and customize the program to ensure that qualified candidates are not being rejected.
Offer a hotline or live chat for problems or questions.
If possible, provide a hotline that will connect applicants to a live person or a live chat feature that can help if they run into problems with the process or the software. While you have likely adopted an ATS to automate the application process and alleviate HR from answering phones or emails about open positions, providing some level of interactive support may help keep high quality candidates engaged in the process and convey a more favorable impression of your organization.
If you’re replacing an aging ATS or converting to an ATS for the first time, your research should focus on companies that offer a streamlined application interface and technology that enhances both the employer and candidate experience. Many next-generation ATS solutions have improved the application process by including such features as data analytics to continually update candidate profiles. Newer ATS are mobile friendly to accommodate the dramatic increase in candidates applying for open positions on their smartphones.
Ensuring that your ATS solution is making the application process more user friendly as well as more efficient can produce better results by putting greater emphasis on the human element to attract and engage high quality candidates for your job openings.