Michael Goldberg based in Dallas Texas is a frequent contributor to blogs in the recruiting space. He is currently engulfed in a project reviewing and selecting the next applicant tracking system for his recruiting firm. For those that have been part of  an ATS slection process and implementation, you certainly know the pain. We will be following Michael’s path through ATS selection and implemetation as he shares the good, bad, ugly, and painful.

Below is his first installment. If you have your own stories about ATS selection, please share.

Over the last three months, I have been seeing demo after demo of the best ATS Systems in the world.  I mean they got everything we need-OFCCP Compliance, Excellent Reporting Tools, and my favorite…it is configurable.  I will say we have it down to our top choice who I will keep nameless for the time being, but the road to getting down to the selection has been extremely exhausting.

Five parameters I set at the outset of the search:  Needs to be configurable, easy for our field offices, easy for candidates to apply, easy for the recruiters to use the system and finally, keep us compliant as we are a federal contractor.  Simple, right?  Not exactly.  As our company selects and begins implementation, I will be blogging about the experience and add some helpful hints so when you and/or your company goes through this, you will have some insight.  I will throw out a disclaimer that what works for one company may not be a one size fits all.  As always know your culture, your business partners and your resources available before starting.

Pushing the Easy Button:  I cannot say enough that every time I ask about a certain feature it was always how how easy it for my customers to do X or how easy is it to do Y.  Who are the customers?  Hiring managers who will use the system to review the candidate information, set up requisitions, and find the information they need quickly.   My second customer is my candidate.  How many clicks does it take to get to the candidate portal?  Can they find the job(s) they need to apply to quickly?  Most important, number of clicks it takes to apply for the job.  Ask anyone, the less the number of clicks to apply, the less candidate drop off you will have in the process.

We are in beta with a company who is measuring the analytics around candidate drop off within our site (stay tuned for some results in a future posting).  We will use that data to determine the clicks we want.

My goal is to keep it to three (3) clicks.  Companies with poor career sites beware…if you want candidates to apply, keep them engaged throughout the online profile process so they do not drop off. The goal in selecting your ATS is to have all questions and can the system do this questions answered before signing on the dotted line.  Do NOT settle for, oh yeah, it can do that.  I have heard too many horror stories over the last few months of “100K later and we are totally unhappy”, false promises, poor delivery lead to the assumption that recruiting made poor decision making.

No one wants that kind of egg on their face.   Avoid the mistake by asking “What can’t the system do”, “What are the upcoming updates in the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months?” Reporting is where the questions need to be asked.  Get sample reports and ask to play in the sandbox.  Test out all screens and get your clients involved when you are in the sandbox.We believe we have made the right choice and I will be announcing our decision in the coming months. Stay tuned to my post on Project Planning when Implementing an ATS coming soon!

An ATS choice is one of the most important decisions for a recruiting firm to make – the actual recruiters will be stuck using the ATS you choose for many years. It can severely impact recruiter productivity for the good or bad. Do you have your own story about applicant tracking system selection?  What do you think are the most important features for an ATS to have?

By Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.