Every time a new piece of software comes out, everyone is quick to check it out and jump on the bandwagon of “ooooh, we need this!” A company will spend thousands of dollars to buy the new software, customize it to what they think is their needs and then train everyone on how to use it. After all, to be competitive in this new marketplace, every company has to be “up to speed” with the latest and greatest tools, right?
What ends up happening for some companies is:
1) The program ends up rarely getting used, or
2) even after training, their employees don’t really know how to use it so either they don’t anymore or they become depend on the software and forget how to use their others skills.
So, let’s talk Applicant Tracking Systems…fondly called ATS.
First off, what exactly is an Applicant Tracking System?
Here’s the Wikipedia definition:
“An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. The principal function of an ATS is to provide a central location and database for a company’s recruitment efforts. ATSs are built to better assist management of resumes and applicant information. Data is either collected from internal applications via the ATS front-end, located on the company website or is extracted from applicants on job boards.”
It is estimated that roughly 50% of all mid-sized companies and almost all large corporations use some type of Applicant Tracking System. And there are plenty of different software versions available, not the mention formats in the form of “modules” that many HR & payroll companies offer as an addition to their software package.
But….should your company even be using one in the first place?
Jobseekers will tell you that it seems every company is using one and some are extremely tedious when it comes to having to apply to the company via one of these ATS systems. You can do a Google search of all the new “trends” in “how to optimize your resume” just so their application can be found and considered. But is it helping YOU find those stellar candidates?
Let’s go back to what an Applicant Tracking System is in the first place: it is a database.
When an Applicant applies via an ATS, their resume is downloaded and then parsed for key areas (contact info, salary range, education, skills, etc). When this information is uploaded into this database, the user is then able to “search” multiple resumes at once using specific fields or keywords.
Many Recruiters and Staffing Agencies use an ATS because when they receive an open order for a position, they need to be able to quickly and easily search through all the applications they already have on file to see if they have any candidates on file that could be considered BEFORE trying to solicit new applicants. It gives them a starting point for a candidate pool to pull from.
Unless you are a company that has constant openings for the same or similar positions, will using an ATS really help you?
Think about it: What will a database of candidate applications do for your company? If you only fill a position once a year, for example, are you really going to go back to a list of candidates from a year ago or are you going to want to get updated resumes to consider? Most of those candidates will have moved on to other jobs by then so time spent reaching out to them may be better spent on just posting a new job ad.
Are you only using an ATS because of the volume of resumes you receive, thinking it will make it easier for you to search and sort through them?
Remember, an ATS grabs keywords – keywords that you upload as you are setting it up – so if a candidate doesn’t use those same keywords when uploading their resume into your ATS you could be missing out on some star candidates. Yes, jobseekers are “advised” to add keywords to their resumes based on the job ad, but you are taking a chance thinking that all of them do and will. Being dependent on the ATS to sort them out for you may leave candidates overlooked…and why filling those positions may be taking longer for you these days.
And, the more complicated you setup your ATS system to be in the application process, the less likely many job applicants will sit and go through the process. Many jobseekers complain about company’s that use an ATS that first asks for their resume and then makes them spend another 20min not answering interview-style questions but actually re-inputting all the info that they say is already on their resume. They have admitted to just quitting the application process and moving on when it appears to be that “difficult” to apply.
Bottom line: Take a look at whether or not you really need an ATS at your company. Sometimes, you don’t need the “latest and greatest” as a solution to your problem. Sometimes, it can actually hurt more than it helps.