Clean Up Your ATS (I mean, for real. Or get one!)

Get part 1 of what you could and should be doing during your downtime.

What’s that, you say? My applicant tracking system (ATS) is fine the way it is! If that is the case, then you are definitely one in a million. As a contractor, consultant, and in-house sourcing leader, I can’t think of one organization of the twenty-plus I’ve done projects with that had a perfectly set up, well-organized and accurate ATS. And therefore providing every benefit it could perform.

According to Josh Bersin, “HR Tech spending is going to slow… [This] include[s] software for recruiting and ongoing systems for wellbeing.” So getting the most value out of current technology is a must. And I promise you, big or small, fortune 50 or start-up, your ATS can always use an occasional tune-up. 

Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems

When an ATS is set up correctly, it can do miracles:

  • Manage candidate flow
  • Perform automatic candidate engagement and outreach to talent communities
  • Set up interview scheduling for you
  • Provide metrics that can show snags in your recruiting process
  • Report actual activity needed to fill different kinds of jobs

Some ATS’ such as Loxo, have built-in resume parsing, outreach tools, sourcing tools, and automated candidate response capabilities that can boost candidate flow, improve candidate experience and automatically source past applicants – but only if they are set up. 

I was in awe when I was consulting for a unicorn tech company that had reached a staggering 1,200 employees to discover their recruiting activity was still being tracked on a gigantic spreadsheet. It was so interlinked to other sheets that daily updates took over five minutes to disseminate through all the pages. Not only was it clunky, but mining the information of past candidates, interview results, rejection reasons, and possible “keepers” was nearly impossible. 

ATS: It’s More Than You May Think

Many organizations simply see an ATS as a centralized location for all recruitment-related information. With all resumes, applications, and candidate information stored in one place, recruiters can easily access and review all relevant data, which can help make more informed decisions about which candidates to interview and hire. However, an ATS setup in alignment with an organization’s needs can also provide valuable insights into recruitment metrics such as time-to-hire and cost-per-hire, which can help companies better understand and optimize their recruitment process.

During a slow job market, I can think of no better (though mundane) task that will have big payoffs than a thorough ATS overhaul. The TA leader, sourcers, recruiters, and coordinators alike can all participate in the fun.

In fact, this is a project that should be a true team effort. In smaller organizations, the entire department should participate. In larger ones, there should be representatives from all the TA departments to provide input on the candidate journey, interview process, presentations and projects that are part of the interview process, and the offer process for different departments. 

Other Aspects of ATS and Beyond

Other items that should be looked at by the team include reformatting job postings in alignment with DEI, updating the old postings with this new verbiage in case they are reused, removing duplicate resumes, and ensuring that candidate information is accurate and up-to-date. Take a good, hard look at the recruitment process and find a way to standardize it between business verticals so that metrics are consistent and more meaningful. Examine sourcing activity tracking and make sure there is a CRM capability set up that seamlessly moves a candidate from prospect to being an active applicant.

Now, would also be the perfect time to add new features, such as a parsing engine or outreach tools to your ATS if you can swing the budget. Training on new technologies and sourcing tools, integrating them into the ATS, and the processes as you build them, will be a huge game changer when the market picks up.

Once all are set up, if so equipped, your ATS could deliver better results by automating many of the manual tasks associated with recruitment. For example, setting up a “drop box” or automatic parsing engine will allow your ATS to automatically search for keywords and qualifications that match the requirements of a particular job, and even schedule prescreens with the most promising candidates. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to find and hire the right people while ensuring that the recruitment process is more efficient and effective.

Some other benefits of making your ATS a well-oiled machine include:

  • Improving the candidate experience. With the ability to easily apply for jobs online and receive automated updates about the status of their application, candidates can be kept informed and engaged throughout the recruitment process.
  • Provide a platform for online assessments, which can help to identify the best candidates based on their qualifications and skills.
  • Improve the overall performance of an organization by providing a more diverse and qualified candidate pool. With the ability to search resumes and applications by keywords and qualifications, you can identify candidates who may have been overlooked in the past.

Final Thoughts

An applicant tracking system can deliver a wide range of benefits to organizations looking to streamline their recruitment process and identify the best candidates for open positions if they are organized, set up correctly, and old, duplicate data is consolidated. Whether it’s through automating manual tasks, providing valuable insights into recruitment metrics, or improving the candidate experience, an ATS can help companies to make more informed decisions. This can reduce the time and effort required to find and hire the right people, and ultimately improve the overall performance of the organization. 

So take a few weeks, grab your cleaning gloves, and dig in. When the job market fires back up – and it will soon – you will be amazed at the boost to productivity and results.

Steven Rawlings

LGBT Inclusion Champion, seeking diverse skilled talent in all fields. Over 25 years of leading in all aspects of Global Talent Acquisition specializing in Sourcing and strategic talent forecasting and recruitment enablement. Please contact Steve at [email protected].