Every single company that exists, whether it's Coca Cola, Apple, or Acadia, has a hiring process. Some are multi-phased, some are quick and simple, some informal, and others follow strict protocol. Regardless of your company or process, someone may be pulling out their hair over how to manage the flood of applications that arrive with each job opening.
An Application Tracking System (ATS) can help. An ATS is software that allows you to manage job postings, applicants and even the hiring (aka onboarding) process. The systems vary but most allow the recruiter to post directly to popular online job boards. Then, most take submissions from those same job boards and consolidate the responses, dropping them into a database. The system then crawls through each resume and searches for key words that relate to the position, qualifications, or skills you've specified. By selecting only the resumes that contain those key words, the system selects a group of applicants that is better qualified for the position. This reduces the number of resume a recruiter must comb through by up to 70%.
As the recruiter works through the top 30% of resumes, they can design and implement workflows in the ATS to organize and manage their interactions with candidates. Most systems will even allow you to manage your interview schedule right from the ATS dashboard. This stores all correspondence between the recruiter and candidate in one place.
As you move through the hiring process, the pool of applicants gets smaller. In some cases, this has nothing to do with qualifications. Maybe the timing is off for Zack, but he might be a good fit for a position in a few years. Maybe Patricia was ready to come aboard but had to pull out to take care of a personal matter. Whatever the reason, once you narrow the applicants down to the top 30%, you can’t hire everyone, at least not yet. The ATS solves this problem as well, building a pipeline of highly qualified applicants, ready to be recruited, interviewed, and possibly hired the next time a position opens up.
The Applicant Tracking System has irreversibly revolutionized recruiting. By integrating the job posting, submitted resumes and the onboarding process, the ATS tracks each activity pertaining to each candidate, or new hire, from first contact through hiring/onboarding. Many systems also assist in managing multiple aspects of the recruitment process, from the candidate database and job applications, to the workflows for contacting candidates and interview schedules.
In the olden days of bubble monitors, fax machines, and copiers that couldn’t staple, recruiters had to perform, keep track of, and execute each phase of the process on paper. Now with an ATS, recruiter productivity is growing exponentially, while the amount of time companies have to go without an employee has been significantly reduced. This frees up HR for other things, like working with and training employees and building relationships.
Increased productivity isn’t the only benefit of using an ATS. With government regulations on Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) and Affirmative Action Plans (AAP) constantly changing, it is becoming more and more difficult to ensure your company is in compliance with these regulations. Integrating your hiring efforts with an Applicant Tracking System allows you, the recruiter, to break down your applicant pool to ensure you’re operating properly under the law.
Most AT systems perform the previously mentioned activities, but the best systems go further. Some even provide analytics to help monitor your progress and growth. Others can automate your interview schedule, as opposed to simply hosting and helping you manage it. Many systems also have a social feature, allowing you to post to LinkedIn and other networking platforms. For the recruiter on the move, many systems offer a mobile app, allowing recruiters to keep tabs on their contacts, progress and appointments at any time.
Ok, but what happens after the candidate ceases to be a candidate? When he or she is hired, they are no longer an applicant, and the system simply stops tracking them, right? Wrong. Most HR departments have some sort of Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to organize and manage information on employees. Contact information, job type, position history, manager, salary, etc. are all housed in the HRIS. The best AT systems integrate with the HRIS, helping the HR department organize all information pertaining to hiring and employment. Want to take this a step further? Some systems, including the ones available from Horizon Payroll Solutions, can integrate with payroll for a completely streamlined experience.
Today recruiting software is more advanced than it has ever been, yet many recruiters fail to take advantage of the full functionality of the tools. Too often, learning new software is thought to be too much of a hassle or too time consuming. As a result, many recruiters stick to their guns and end up shooting themselves in the foot. Bahar Studdard wrote about Applicant Tracking Systems on RecruitingDaily.com, saying
“Never forget, all applicant tracking systems are only as good as the recruiters using it. If you suck, it’s probably not your system’s fault. But if you’re already a good recruiter, having the right tools and tech just might make you a great one.”