On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Shane from Rolebot about the best time to implement an ATS.

Some Conversation Highlights:

Hiring, I think at this point is quite desperate just given where we are in the world right now and all the things going on and COVID turning hiring kind of on its head overnight and then coming back all at once. Everyone’s going after the same talent, and then you talk to customers and companies and they say, “Hey, we’re hiring. We need people, but we’re going through an ATS implementation over the next three to six months. We’re going to do that first before we look at any other tools.”

Anyone knows when you go through an integration, whether it’s an ATS or a CRM or one of those really big, large baseline or foundational systems, I mean, these things never go perfect. It takes a long time to implement. There’s always problems. It really takes people away from their core focus. So when you’re talking to talent acquisition teams and their core focus is putting in, for all intents and purposes, a database to organize talent instead of focusing what their leadership wants them to focus on: pursuing, selling, getting talent in the door, it’s just, mind-boggling.

Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 21 minutes


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Shane Bernstein
CEO & Founder Rolebot

When Shane entered the staffing industry 17 years ago, he never imagined he’d one day be revolutionizing it. As a modern-day pioneer of the passive talent space, he founded Rolebot in 2018. The World’s 1st and only AI-powered Job Board for Passive Talent surfaces over 75% of the skilled workforce— those who never apply, but are eager to pursue new opportunities. The platform allows companies to skip the tireless research and courting so they can begin the recruitment process at the initial interview stage.


Music: This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three year old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup

William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Shane on from Rolebot, and we’ve got a wonderful topic. It’s, “Let me get this straight. You’re waiting until your ATS is fully implemented before you hire?” Which is a fun way for him and I to discuss technology and TA and hiring and all kinds of fun stuff. So without any further ado, Shane, would you please introduce yourself and Rolebot?

Shane Bernstein: Yep, absolutely. Shane Bernstein here, Founder and CEO of Rolebot. We are the world’s first and only AI powered job board for passive talent. Really servicing the other 75%, those that never apply for a job and you have to actually pursue them to go out and acquire them for your companies.

William Tincup: So we’ve got a wonderful topic, like we said, and it’s really kind of a playful way for you and I to talk about, okay, it’s crazy that an implementation of whatever technology would get in the way of hiring. But you’ve both with your previous life and being in staffing and this, your technology and the way you interact with folks, what do you see in their worlds that kind of gets in the way of hiring as it relates to technology?

Shane Bernstein: We see a lot of … It’s funny, because hiring I think at this point is quite desperate just given where we are in the world right now and all the things going on and COVID turning hiring kind of on its head overnight and then coming back all at once. Everyone’s going after the same talent, and then you talk to customers and companies and they say, “Hey, we’re hiring. We need people, but we’re going through an ATS implementation over the next three to six months. We’re going to do that first before we look at any other tools.”

Anyone knows when you go through an integration, whether it’s an ATS or a CRM or one of those really big, large baseline or foundational systems, I mean, these things never go perfect. It takes a long time to implement. There’s always problems. It really takes people away from their core focus. So when you’re talking to talent acquisition teams and their core focus is putting in, for all intents and purposes, a database to organize talent instead of focusing what their leadership wants them to focus on: pursuing, selling, getting talent in the door, it’s just, mind-boggling.

William Tincup: It brings up a great point. Why don’t we have people that this is what they do? Not just in recruiting or HR, just organizationally. They implement technology, they just go around the company. Again, you’re probably a mid-size, larger organization, but it doesn’t even have to be that way with a lot of SAS today. You can have a small business and it’s Sally’s job or Jim’s job. That’s what they do. They implement technology, and that’s what they’re good at. They’re really good at both getting it set up, stand it up and get everybody trained on it and go. Move on to the next thing that gets implemented. Why do you feel like there’s talent acquisition people get pulled into project management or technology implementations to begin with?

Shane Bernstein: I really don’t know the answer to that. I think it really comes down to management overseeing TA teams to getting them to be productive. I notice a lot of TA teams have, and I have a number of family members in this space as well, they have a lot of meetings. They have a lot of non-productive of time and it comes down to, it’s not about technology. To me, it’s about just management at a high level, managing your teams to be productive, to be effective on a daily basis. ATS implementation to me, it’s kind of a sidebar. It doesn’t even really … Yes, it helps organize, yes, it helps prevent candidates from being submitted twice or large teams from going after the same talent. But outside of that, it doesn’t really help you do your job. It doesn’t help you increase productivity from acquiring talent.

I don’t know what an individual recruiter’s responsibility is in an ATS implementation. The big person brings it in, you implement it, you set up the fields to associate to your workflow. So, any time we hear that, it’s just an odd … I mean, how do you even respond to that to be honest? It usually takes one or two people in the organization to bring it in. Then you get the department heads or to your point, an implementation consultant or someone who just focuses on implementations within a business and you go for it. Again, when you’re talking to folks and they know what you do, and they tell you an ATS is the reason that they’re holding off, it’s just an odd response.

William Tincup: So it reminds me of that quote, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” The main thing for talent acquisition professionals is bringing in talent. That’s their main thing. That’s why they exist. Actually that’s where they’re their happiest, quite frankly. When we were brainstorming this topic, I was laughing to myself because I’m like, “There isn’t a whole lot of TA professionals that love implementations of any technology, much less ATSs.” When you hear that with somebody, obviously you’re not going to change their mind. It’s something that they feel like they have to get into. Can they run parallel though? I mean, is there a way to actually say, “Okay, you know what? Why do we do this? Why don’t you do what you need to do, and then we’ll do this in parallel, and even if we keep track of it in Excel temporarily we’ll run parallel?”

Shane Bernstein: I mean, the thing is most of these companies, they already have an ATS and they’re migrating to a new ATS.

William Tincup: That’s a good point.

Shane Bernstein: So it’s not like they don’t know what an ATS does and the function it has. ATS, as we evolve as recruitment professionals, we’re building out our internal recruitment tech stacks, and ATS is the foundation. Everything else plugs into that. It’s important to have. It supports recruitment, especially large recruitment teams. The issue is, “Okay, you’re bringing in ATS, but how are you going to go out and hire talent? How are you going to go out,” depending on whatever you do with recruitment. I mean, recruitment professionals by nature are doers.

We go out and we hire, we interview, we sell. Our goal is to produce candidates from any channel that we can get our hands on and get them into our companies someway somehow. Implementing an ATS is more of a project management responsibility. It’s so much the opposite of a trait of a traditional recruiter. So it’s just an interesting thing. I think at the end of the day, it’s how you’re led as a team. If your head of TA wants you to focus on implementations and busy work and project management, admin tasks, then you’re not going to hit your goals or hit your quotas of bring in talent to grow your businesses or to backfill talent to support your businesses. So-

William Tincup: Well, it’s interesting Shane, because some would argue, folks that are going to listen to this are going to say, “Well, the ATS is very important because of compliance.” Stated and covered. Agreed. “Okay, if you’re worried about being sued or you’re worried about unfair treatment of different groups of people okay, fair enough.” I don’t think anyone’s saying that we should just, “Oh, let’s get rid of the ATS.” Okay. Fair enough. But you said something that was really interesting in that it’s not like the ATS is going to make you faster.

I want to key in on that because it’s been my experience, especially in the beginning stages with a new ATS, even though you went from one ATS to the other, to the other, to the other, this is now your 14th ATS, there’s still a learning curve. Even though you’ve been in an ATS for 20 years or 12 different ones, doesn’t matter, there’s still a learning curve to that particular ATS, which slows you down. I want to get your take on speed as it relates to candidates these days and anything getting in the way of making us faster.

Shane Bernstein: Yeah. I think at the end of the day, technology is a tool to help us, and ATS doesn’t increase your talent pipeline, doesn’t increase your conversations. It’s there to organize all of your candidates. So it’s necessary, but it’s not the solution. It’s not the hiring solution that it’s made out to be. That could be misguided selling or marketing initiatives from ATS platforms, that could be uninformed recruitment teams or TA teams that think the ATS is the one-all solution. A number of these ATSs, the larger ones are starting to bring in other aspects that help with the hiring process, that help with the actual going out and recruiting talent and building a pipeline.

But at the end of the day, the ATS is a centralized platform that organizes talent. What separates productivity from a non-productivity is really management, still the users. Technology can only help any technology, CRM, any technology, even recruitment technology, can only help a company so much. At some level it’s really how it’s used and the user, and it’s how a TA team, recruitment team, is managed. If there’s no goals, there’s no KPIs, if there’s no reporting, any technology you have is going to be ineffective in your efforts. I think it comes down to the user at the end of the day.

William Tincup: So a few things. One is active candidates versus passive candidates. I’ve actually said to folks on stage before, “I don’t believe that there is a difference between active and passive candidates.” Basically it’s a joke, but I’d come at it and I’d say, “Well, somebody asks you $5 million to move to the Cayman Islands and run something, turns out you’re a candidate,” whether not you’re actively looking for that dig or whether or not that gig kind of dropped in your lap. “Eh, it depends.” That’s a joke of course. But what do you see with how recruiters today are looking at the difference between how we’ve kind of looked at active versus passive in the past?

Shane Bernstein: So traditionally, I mean, active, it can go either way. I like to call them passively active. You’re really defining a talent pool that moves at its own pace. So hard to put hard definitions on it, but really the difference between active and passive is generally speaking, an active person is active. They are either done with their jobs and they’re pursuing, but you would never know that unless they start to put out their resume or put alerts on sites like LinkedIn saying, “I’m actively looking.” But an active person is usually going to apply to a number of jobs. They need a job. A passive person is happy where they are. They’re not really looking, but I like to call them passively active because if you pursue the right person at the right time, and there is a number of different signals that you can use to get a better understanding of that and have a higher probability of getting that person to the table in terms of talking to them, that’s passive.

So, it’s looking at smoke signals to bring them to the table, but they’re not looking for a job. So you have to go out and pursue them. They are not applying like they used to. The original hiring talent is you put an ad in the classifies of the newspaper, they apply. That became digital, and it’s been like that ever since. Now there are tools such as Rolebot and others that are going out and pursuing talent that are not pursuing employers. That’s really what we define as passive.

Most of the workforce in the white collar space, they’re passive now. The reason being is there are more jobs than there are people. So they have the liberty to be passive and be choosy. Most companies to date are not set up to pursue passive. It might be what they want to do, but they may not know how. I think the TA industry is playing catch up to trying to kind of rework how talent is acquired because they certainly aren’t coming in through job boards anymore. I’m talking skilled workforce.

William Tincup: Right. Right. Of course. There was at a period, there was a huge bias against active candidates versus passive. Everybody just wanted passive candidates and active … If you applied to the job, there must be something wrong. If you’re out of work, God forbid, then we couldn’t be interested in you at all because something must be wrong with you. First of all, historically, I know that bias existed, but do you see that bias today?

Shane Bernstein: In terms of passive versus active?

William Tincup: Yeah. As far as preferring one over the other.

Shane Bernstein: I think today because there’s such a desperation to hire, I think any candidate that looks great on paper, looks great on the screen, you want to talk to. If they impress any interview, you have bird in hand. You’ve got to pursue it. I don’t think people have the liberty to hold off on that. I think it’s because of the state of the economy, and this is really the last two years post-COVID, maybe a year-and-a-half, I don’t see that as much. I think I used to see that a lot more often, but now it’s, “If you’re interested in the job and we’re interested in you, then this marriage should happen.”

William Tincup: So this desperation that you speak of, which is a great way of actually phrasing it, has it loosened up peoples’ requirements at all? It used to be we’d look at a job description, you need to have worked for NASA, have a PhD, 20 years in this, all these crazy requirements, but you mentioned desperation, which again, I think is a great word thinking about the current market. Have you seen a loosening in the job req or in the description of kind of like, “Okay, we’re flexible. Five years, eh. If they have three years, but they have great experience, okay, we could do that.” Have you seen some flexibility there as it relates to desperation?

Shane Bernstein: Yeah. I think you’re starting to see that. I mean, job descriptions, that’s a whole nother story by itself. It’s everything in the kitchen sink. They’re never really reflective of the job itself. They always give too much. Some of these filters out there prevent companies from getting to see candidates and actually hire them because of those job descriptions and those filters.

There’s definitely flexibility. I think it depends on, honestly, the hiring manager or the recruiter who’s overseeing the role. Some, they’re stubborn. They hold back. They say, “No, we want the perfect person,” and the market teaches them. When the market teaches them, and when I say market teaching you, you start to realize if you hold your ground too long as an employer, you’re not going to hire. They’re going to go elsewhere, and they do. So the ones that are more in tune with the market have experienced the market for better or for worse. They become very flexible very quickly, but there are still a lot of holdouts. There are hiring managers that are not actively involved in talent acquisition outside of just their specific roles that appear once or twice a year. They’re not educated on what the market is currently bearing. They read things, but they just don’t know it. For most people, you have to know it, learn it yourself, feel the pain before you become more flexible. You can’t tell someone that. They have to experience it for themselves.

William Tincup: It’s interesting because you’ve touched on leadership directly and indirectly a number of different times here. What’s leadership’s role in kind of setting the stage or setting the standard for how fast … Again, we all want quality hires. Stated and covered, but how fast we interact with people, how fast we change … Again, that hiring manager that only interacted with the process once or twice a year, they don’t understand. What’s leadership role in making sure that everyone understands, okay, 180 days open, that’s failure? Actually 18 days open is failure. So what’s the role of either the global head of talent or the CHRO or even just go all the way up to CEO, what’s their role in making sure that people understand how important hiring is?

Shane Bernstein: Yeah. I mean, it comes from top down for sure. It has to be on a continuous, consistent messaging across the board to the entire organization because it’s not only about the recruiters in the organization, it’s everyone. Just like everyone, as they say, is responsible for selling the brand, selling the company. Recruitment is no different. Customers are how you make your money. Talent is how you also make your money because they’re the ones powering your company, selling to customers. So you have to be outward all the time. If the top down doesn’t believe in it, doesn’t preach it, doesn’t talk about it, nobody else will follow. Most people have to be led at some level, even myself. I mean, everyone has to be led, whether we’re learning about it through the industry, through trades or through advisors or investors or customers, you have to be in tune with the market.

It’s about setting realistic expectations. Typically, what I would suggest is let’s say you’re a new head of TA, you’re coming to a company … You’re not a new TA, but you’re coming to a new company, first, I would assess what their current output is. Every company’s going to have a different … Company A might be very different from company B in terms of nuance, in terms of hiring, productivity efficiencies, number of candidates. But it’s very similar to a sales process. Every sales team has a goal. They have KPIs they have to hit. Recruitment is no different from that. It’s a relentless pursuit, and if it’s not managed to be relentless, there’s going to be failures across the board. So, it’s all-in all the time. I would almost compare your sales team to your recruitment team. It’s the best way to manage. It’s the best way to get results.

William Tincup: It’s also-

Shane Bernstein: And equally important.

William Tincup: Yeah. If not more important on the talent side.

Shane Bernstein: If not more important.

William Tincup: I mean, sales makes the car go. So okay, fair enough. Got it. We won’t diminish the importance of sales. But hiring talent, which is kind of the central focus of this podcast, hiring talent has to be first. Technology, your processes, kind of reorganizing internal talent, et cetera, all that stuff is important. It may even be critical in some cases, but you’ve still got to hire the talent. Just like in sales, at the end of the day, it’s closed deals won, and that’s what you’re measured on, that’s what you’re comped on, et cetera. So Shane, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast and helping us unpack this.

Shane Bernstein: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks so much.

William Tincup: Absolutely. Thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Until next time.

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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