The Business Value of Recruitment Process Automation

Automation is a red-hot topic in business circles, and HR is no exception. For instance, to compete in today’s challenging labor market, many employers are looking for new ways to streamline and improve talent acquisition. As a result, recruitment process automation is rapidly changing how recruiters connect with candidates. But what does this mean for the human side of hiring?

Successful employers know that a personal touch is integral to a positive candidate experience. This is why they don’t want automation to replace recruitment staff. Instead, they prefer technology that works side-by-side with recruiters.

What makes this approach so effective? Let’s look closer by exploring these topics:

  • Why Candidate Experience Matters
  • How Recruitment Process Automation Enhances Candidate Experience
  • Implementation Best Practices
  • Features to Look for in Recruitment Automation Software

Why Candidate Experience Matters

With qualified talent still in short supply, employers can’t afford to overlook how they treat potential employees during the hiring process. Why? Nearly 4 in 5 job applicants believe overall candidate experience indicates how deeply an organization values its people. A stellar experience can help your company can benefit in multiple ways by:

1. Elevating Your Employer Brand

Employer brand plays a vital role in the hiring process. In fact, 82% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand and reputation before submitting an application. A positive candidate experience can significantly enhance your brand. Conversely, a negative experience is likely to tarnish your image and send fewer candidates in your direction.

2. Attracting and Retaining High-Quality Talent

A solid applicant experience can be instrumental in attracting and retaining top-tier talent. When prospective employees experience a positive recruitment process, they’re more likely to accept a job offer and stay on board longer. This decreases staff turnover and reduces overall hiring costs.

3. Creating a Competitive Advantage

Think of candidate experience as a differentiator that sets you apart from competitors. When applicants are considering multiple job offers, a positive experience can be the factor that helps them choose you. On the other hand, if their experience with you is negative, they’re more likely to choose another employer, no matter how attractive your offer may be.

4. Boosting Brand Advocacy

Most importantly, a positive hiring experience lays the groundwork for stronger long-term relationships. Even if a candidate doesn’t land an open position, they’re more likely to apply for future positions with your company and refer others to you down the road. What’s more, satisfied candidates are more likely to become brand ambassadors, spreading positive word-of-mouth that can lead to new business opportunities.

5 Ways Recruitment Process Automation Enhances Candidate Experience

At its core, recruitment automation streamlines and automates manual processes that are repetitive, time-consuming, and prone to human error. This includes steps involved with candidate sourcing, job description optimization, resume parsing, interview scheduling, applicant tracking, hiring logistics, employee onboarding, and more. For example, automation can help you:

1. Drive Ongoing Communication

Automation facilitates continuous communication with applicants, which is crucial for engagement and transparency. Features such as automated email notifications and updates can provide candidates with timely information about their application status and progress. Also, with interactive AI-powered chatbots, recruiters can offer real-time assistance and immediately answer applicant questions for a more responsive and supportive candidate experience.

2. Customize Interactions

Automation might sound like a robotic “one-size-fits-all” concept. But you may be surprised at how simple it can be to personalize communication through every stage of an applicant’s journey. Recruitment platforms make it easy to customize email templates and personalize each message, so you can keep in touch, even when applicant volumes surge. You can also generate dynamic assessments and evaluations based on each applicant’s unique profile.

3. Streamline Interview Scheduling

An automated applicant tracking system can simplify interview scheduling, reducing logistical headaches for both recruiters and candidates. For instance, you can implement self-service scheduling tools and AI-driven systems to sync dynamically with recruiters’ calendars. This enables candidates to choose interview slots that fit their availability.

4. Manage Candidate Feedback

Automation also makes it easier to collect useful feedback. By distributing automated surveys — along with reminders and follow-up notices — you can gather, organize, and analyze relevant data about any aspect of your recruitment process. This provides valuable insights you can use to continuously improve the applicant experience.

Best Practices For Implementing Recruitment Process Automation

1. Understand Your Organization’s Needs

Before automating various stages of recruitment, it is crucial to assess your organization’s unique goals and requirements. Start by investigating issues with your recruiting process to pinpoint top priorities. Then document the objectives you want to achieve through automation.

This can help guide your decisions on which tools to adopt, how to use them, and where to focus your efforts for the biggest impact. It can also jumpstart discovery discussions with software vendors.

2. Select the Right Automation Technology

A plethora of talent acquisition software is available, with each platform offering its own unique capabilities. Your choice should align with your organization’s needs, budget, and long-term goals. In addition to core recruitment automation software, you may find it useful to leverage complementary tools, such as:

  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Automated text messaging technology
  • Candidate pre-screening tools
  • One-way video interviewing platforms

When choosing software, focus on factors such as cost-effectiveness, user-friendliness, support and maintenance, alignment with your existing process, and flexibility to adapt and scale with your organization’s needs over time. In-depth demos, hands-on trials, and pilot programs are all viable ways to gauge how well a tool fits your needs.

3. Integrate Automation With Your Workflow

When you invest in new recruitment tools, you’ll want to make the most of their capabilities. This means you’ll want to integrate the software into your existing recruitment process and HR ecosystem. The goal is to streamline and simplify your workflow, not complicate it.

Remember that automation should enhance your current process, not replace vital human interaction, analysis, and decision-making. Also, to avoid disruptions and maintain a cohesive workflow, look for tools that easily integrate with your existing software and systems.

4. Emphasize Training and Upskilling

User adoption is the key to software success. Even the most user-friendly platform relies on training to maximize its potential. This means every team member should understand how the platform can enhance their daily work activities and how to use relevant features effectively.

Investing in training and upskilling accelerates adoption, which in turn leads to more frequent and efficient use of the platform. Ultimately, this increases ROI.

5. Evaluate and Optimize Continuously

Automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. For best results, you’ll want to evaluate your automated processes on an ongoing basis. Use the data and feedback from your automation tools to understand what’s working and what needs refining. This includes identifying areas for improvement, adapting to changing technology, and ensuring an optimal candidate experience as your organization changes over time.

Features to Look for in Recruitment Automation Software

How does innovative software like Recruit CRM use the power of automation to manage the complex dynamics of recruitment? Look for features like these:

1. Automated Candidate Communication

Does the platform make it easy for recruiters to schedule periodic email messages and updates to ensure that candidates are informed at each step in their journey? This kind of proactive communication fosters candidate engagement and trust, setting the stage for a positive recruitment experience. In addition, look for capabilities that streamline client communication. You’ll want to keep everyone in sync throughout the hiring process.

2. AI-Powered Candidate Matching

The best solutions available today are integrated with resume parsers. This significantly improves the candidate matching and screening process. For example, Recruit CRM integrates AI technology with Sovren resume parsing software to automatically analyze each applicant’s profile, skills, and experiences. This makes it much faster to identify the ideal fit for each role. What’s more, with OpenAI integration, key insights from interviews and interactions are captured accurately. This further streamlines the hiring process and enriches the candidate experience.

3. Privacy Assurance

Personal privacy is a top priority for applicants as well as employers. To ensure strong data integrity, insist on automation software that is GDPR compliant. This can help you build trust with candidates by ensuring their data is secure and transparent. It also safeguards your firm from potential legal challenges.

A Final Note

Recruitment process automation is not just about streamlining operations. It’s also about making the candidate experience a more productive, rewarding journey for both recruiters and applicants.

As organizations continue to invest in digital solutions, this is an ideal time to embrace recruitment automation. Smart choices can elevate your brand by helping recruiters do a better job of attracting, engaging, and supporting potential talent.

Image by Peshkova

ATS + AI: Using Talent Intelligence to Unlock the Potential of Candidates

What is talent intelligence? And how can it help drive the right candidates into your company’s talent funnel?

An applicant tracking system provides the foundation for many corporate talent acquisition departments. These applicant tracking systems do what the name implies: they track applicants. They also store information such as resumes, perform keyword searches, help companies with government rules, etc. And to that end, they do the job.

And yet, many companies need more. 

The reality is that companies design ATSs to hire people who’ve done a job similar to one that’s open today. But for the companies whose businesses are changing rapidly, hiring someone based on specific experience isn’t sufficient. Take, for example, this quote from the recent 2021 HR Tech Market report from the analyst Josh Bersin: 

“I recently interviewed the head of talent acquisition for a large pharma company. She told me that the science of genetics is advancing so fast that they can no longer recruit for specific positions or jobs. Rather, her teams now look for people with advanced scientific expertise and recruit them into jobs needing these skills. This is a big trend in AI, machine learning, and cyber, where the core disciplines are advancing so fast that companies can’t hire for specific positions.”

Like this pharma company, many employers need to be future-ready. They need to hire for jobs that haven’t been created yet. So they need to hire people for potential and capabilities – not experience. Their ATS is not enough.

ATS + AI = Talent Intelligence

A system of talent intelligence, on the other hand, is designed to hire for potential. It considers an applicant’s “adjacent skills” – enabling them to succeed in an open role.

Here are some of what companies can do by pairing an ATS with artificial intelligence:

Add Deep-learning AI to Searches

Adding the deep-learning capabilities of AI to searches helps bring people with the potential to do the job to the surface. By identifying adjacent skills and delivering far more relevant profiles, an employer increases the number of qualified candidates in their talent pipeline.

Use AI to Enable Talent Rediscovery

AI helps find people in a “Talent Network,” which includes past applicants, employee referrals, and “silver medalists” who may not have been a fit before but are now. We’ve found that companies that pair AI with an applicant tracking system find that roughly one-third of new hires coming from past applicants.

Building a Talent Network

A Talent Network is more than a database of past applicants. It can include employee referrals, ex-employees, and even current employees. In fact, we’ve seen from our customers that a Talent Network averages roughly about 200 times the number of employees at a company. So, as a rule of thumb, if you have 10,000 employees, you have something on the order of a 2 million person Talent Network when pairing an ATS with a capable AI platform. And more data equals better search results and more qualified candidates.

Make Matches

With AI, companies can see who the strongest matches are for any job, regardless of whether these matches are past applicants, ex-employees, passive/sourced employees, or referrals with the potential to succeed. This saves time and improves quality of hire. Postmates turned to a talent intelligence platform and saw a 46 percent increase in strongly matched candidates between September 2019 and September 2020.

Focus on Skills, Not Jobs 

An AI platform understands the capabilities, including current skills and learnable skills, of every individual. Without this, with just an ATS, companies often default to “who has done the exact job we’re hiring for” based on antiquated keyword searches.

Personalize a Career Site

Within a career site powered by talent intelligence, candidates can immediately find the right job for them. They’ll also understand the reasons why that job is a fit for their qualifications and potential. This improves engagement and measurably lowers drop-off rates. Companies can also add a chatbot to improve the candidate experience and handle employee queries more efficiently.

At AirAsia, for example, the percentage of recruiting website visitors who eventually applied for a position rose 35 percent after adding talent intelligence to its career site. At Dexcom’s career site, 40 percent of career site visitors now apply for a job, and 42 percent upload a resume.

Improve CRM

Rarely does an applicant tracking system come equipped with the kind of technology you find in leading sales and marketing platforms. (Heck, many of the CRM systems made for the talent industry are lacking as well.) The ATS-AI combination, though, nurtures candidates in a pipeline based on their interests and delivers content of interest to them. Veterans, for example, can receive blog posts or company information about a company’s work with veterans and the military. Nutanix has seen a 70 percent open rate with some of its targeted campaigns. 

NextRoll decided to sponsor the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual event that draws thousands of women who want to pursue a career in engineering. It sent emails to all women engineers in its database of potential candidates, saying NextRoll would be at the conference. “We got an incredible response that greatly exceeded our expectations,” Global Head of Talent Jody Atkins recalls. “People came up to us and said they received our email and wanted to seek us out. That was really rewarding. And it helped our employer branding, which was the goal of going to the conference.” 

Conference sponsors received an electronic book of resumes from all attendees. In the end, NextRoll uploaded more than 10,000 resumes.

NextRoll has also tailored contacts with individuals identified as high-potential candidates. “You have to engage people multiple times if you want to attract them to your company,” Atkins says. “Our engineers are encouraged to write blogs, and we use Eightfold to identify the subset of people in our database who would be interested in the subject of each blog.”

Improve Diversity

Companies like Postmates also have seen huge improvements in the diversity of their job applicants after combining AI with an ATS and hiring for potential. Postmates increased Black, Hispanic, and female applicants sharply, the latter by 91 percent between September 2019 and September 2020. 

Run Virtual Events and Hire Virtually

Virtual and in-person events are just so much more effective with the AI-ATS combination; it allows companies to spend their event time on the people who are strong matches for your jobs. AirAsia said that “Virtual Event Recruiting improved our recruiter’s efficiency and the quality of candidates through AI-enabled candidate matching. It was a single place to review and manage registration, assessment, and candidate experience.”

Schedule Interviews 

When asked to break down how they spend their days, many recruiters will tell you they wished they were doing a lot more… recruiting. Instead, recruiters get bogged down coordinating schedules. Adding an AI-based interview-scheduling system to an applicant tracking system frees recruiters up to do what’s most valuable and more fulfilling:

  • AirAsia cut recruiters’ coordination time by about 48 percent
  • Conagra  told us it has given “time back to recruiters to allow them to be true advisors to our business leaders.”
  • COIT Group said it has “freed up the recruiters to focus on the part where the human element’s important and allow them to go in and eliminate having to spend all day looking through that database for pockets of gold.”

Measure Results

Augmenting your ATS with the right platform offers ready-to-use, real-time reporting for diversity, CRM, recruiting pipeline, and other talent functions. So, with some legacy systems, a company may just see that it has a “diversity problem” if it can determine how many women, to take one example, work at different levels of the company. You can hone in on the problem with talent intelligence: are people from under-represented groups dropping off at the screening stage? The interview? Not accepting offers? In which departments/managers is the problem the worst? In the end, identifying the specific problem helps get to a solution.  

Pair Your ATS with AI

The bottom line is that, for the most part, an ATS actually does do what humans designed it to do. By definition, it’s a system of tracking and storage that relies on keyword matching based on the candidate’s experience. However, it is not a talent intelligence system – one that provides the ability to hire based on adjacent skills, as-yet untapped potential, and capabilities. 

Pairing an ATS with AI – and creating a talent intelligence platform – can dramatically increase your return on investment. And it can drive the right candidates into your talent funnel. Yes, even for jobs that didn’t exist until now.


Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

#WorkTrends Getting Real About ATS

We may be at a tricky point in the economy, but hiring is on many company’s minds — along with what tools can help. So Meghan brought in Doug Coull, founder and CEO of APS, Inc.— the makers of SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software — to talk ATS. They spent this episode of #WorkTrends going over the nuts, the bolts, and the advantages of applicant tracking systems. 

Of course, not every business needs an ATS, Doug noted. But if you employ any kind of sizable workforce — say around 150 or more, you likely need one. What you should look for, however, isn’t a plug and play system, but a system that comes with a partner. Understand your own needs, then look for a counterpart that has a similar outlook — and size and approach that fit your own. Parity helps align the decision-making, he said. As Meghan added, you want an ATS provider whose culture matches your own.

The most apparent hiring and recruiting issues may just be “symptoms of the problem,” Doug explained, but technology can help you find the weak links. And he cautioned against the practice of pitching an ATS to people who aren’t actually involved in the day- to-day of talent acquisition. Don’t just sell it to the director of HR or the director of recruiting, said Meghan. Sell it to those who are going to be actually using it, and know what they need.  

 Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations need an ATS? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations better choose an ATS? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can companies optimize their technology purchase? #WorkTrends

Find Doug Coull on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by SmartSearch.

The Practicality of Purchasing an ATS

How do you know you need a new ATS?

(Part one of a three-part series)

When looking for an applicant tracking system (ATS) your first job is to critically evaluate your motivations as to why you need one, and if you currently have one, why you need to change vendors. Analyzing where and why the current ATS is not performing and why a new ATS is needed should be bona fide business reasons, not driven by subjectivity. Looking objectively and pragmatically at your business and motivation to switch providers or when making an initial purchase are the biggest factors to consider when shopping for a new ATS.

Mind the Gap

Start by conducting a gap analysis of your recruitment business and looking objectively at what you are lacking. Consider your company’s present requirements as well as anticipated future needs. For example, if your business is growing, your software needs to be scalable to suit your anticipated plans, if not, you may face having to re-evaluate ATS systems down the road. Further, prioritizing your needs is critically important to evaluate competing systems, since no off-the-shelf software will likely satisfy all of your requirements.

Before you begin the product evaluation process, look objectively at your talent acquisition processes, your current ATS’s performance for reliability and support along with your future goals. Without this in-depth knowledge, it will be difficult for you to adequately compare ATS products to determine which is best suited for your business goals and talent acquisition practices. I recommend having end-users’ input when determining where your current software is falling short. These individuals can provide the feedback you need to know as part of the due diligence in your analysis.

Also, part of the due diligence in understanding what you need for your business will help you avoid over-purchasing or under-purchasing what is actually needed to sustain your talent acquisition workflow and pressing business needs.

Where it Goes Sideways

Over the past 30 years, I have heard many subjective reasons as to why a company wants to leave their current applicant tracking software provider or make an initial ATS purchase… this case rarely ends well. Reasons that aren’t supported by a solid business case generally means the decision makers bypassed a needs analysis, and what ultimately results are one or more of the following mistakes: Buyers creating a broad list of overly general questions, using a templated RFP, not applicable to the buyer’s organization and sent to a long list of (mostly) unqualified vendors, preemptively choosing a vendor used in the past at a previous employer, or selecting a vendor exclusively on cost versus knowing the true value to the buyer’s organization.

I’ve also experienced interactions with organizations that have assigned the task of evaluating potential ATS providers to a third-party consultant or departments outside of the area where the end-users sit. This can spell disaster for the end-users and job candidates because the decision usually doesn’t serve the end-users and support the business needs of the company. We recommend designating one or more “power users” or internal subject matter experts who can help with the product evaluation process, and later serve as key points of contact to support user adoption and maximize the ongoing cost-effectiveness of the system.

Further, fostering good communications with your current provider and understanding the full complement of what your system has to offer is important for understanding what you really have at your fingertips, and I’ll address more about this is part three.

Keeping in line with good communications, the first place you should take your completed gap analysis is to your existing vendor and discuss the results. Often times your current software provider has the functions you need, but you simply aren’t aware. You should be satisfied that you have reason to explore other options and not just assume the grass is always greener based on the latest marketing hype of a potentially new vendor.

In part two of this series, I’ll discuss how cost versus the true value and why a vendor’s company culture matters in helping you make the right decision for your ATS purchase. In part three of the series, I’ll discuss the implementation and care and feeding of your ATS.

Photo Credit: alberthobbs Flickr via Compfight cc

How to Ensure You Hire for Keeps – The ATS Way

Applicant tracking has always been one of the most tedious tasks that recruitment managers faced in the past, especially for companies that receive tons of applications for each job opening. Today with the advent of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), life has become a whole lot easier for recruiters and HR personnel, helping them hire employees that stick around for keeps.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

ATS is a software application for the purpose of automating the recruitment process. From screening candidates to finally hiring candidates it covers the entire process.
The application can be deployed or it can be cloud based recruitment software as well.

Purposes of Applicant Tracking System

The purposes of using an applicant tracking system are many. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Ease of scanning applications – Thousands of applications can be scanned in a jiffy, based on customized filters or keywords.
  • Greater resource savings – Saving resources such as time, energy and paper (since everything is online, there is zero or minimal need for printing).
  • Streamlined and timely communication – Enables speedier and prompt communications with candidates.
  • Interview scheduling and coordination – Schedules interviews with multiple stakeholders for the particular role.
  • Storage and access to candidate pool – Helps maintain a large database of candidates. This is particularly the case when the solution is cloud based since it offers almost unlimited storage capabilities.
  • Social media integration – An ATS can sync with the online platforms (such as LinkedIn) to pick candidate profiles and extend the hiring pool.
  • Cost savings – One of the key purposes is also cost saving. Investing in an ATS helps lower the costs of recruitment in the long run.

Managing Applications for Positions

An applicant tracking software has parsing features which allows it to screen thousands of applications for various positions. Applications from diverse mediums are integrated (email, social media, website applicants) and mapped to the various open positions.

Screening Candidates

An Applicant tracking system typically screens out candidates from a large database of resumes, depending on predefined criteria for a particular job role. They may also use the social media platform profiles in addition to the submitted resumes since candidates today largely have evolved to the space of social media profiles.

Candidates are screened out based on an automated search for keywords which are appropriate for the job role. The ability to set filters ensures that no time is lost in screening candidates who are unfit for a particular job role.

Adherence to Hiring Compliance

An applicant tracking system can be programmed with the customized filters in such a way that the hiring process is adherent with the compliance guidelines for an industry, as set down by regulatory bodies or the government. This works in generating the right set of questions relevant for the role and ruling out any inappropriate questions.

A regular report is also generated and sent across to the relevant agencies. This is particularly helpful while recruiting in the government sector. Hence, applicant tracking system can go a long way in ensuring hiring compliance.

Providing Hiring Managers with Metrics and Data

Most applicant tracking systems provide regular reports, not just for compliance agencies but also for internal consumption. This includes a dashboard of the current status of recruitment in your organization, helping to keep hiring managers and other concerned personnel updated about recruitment efficiency within your company.

The stage-wise status of a job position is reflected till it is closed, and red flags are raised in case of any roadblocks, which may need action from your end. An indicative trend of the industry may also be reflected in the updates that are provided from time to time.

Applicant tracking systems have created a revolution in the space of recruitment. Recruitment is no longer an arduous task of going through a pile of resumes, then filtering the most suitable one and then following up time and again with candidates and internal stakeholders hopelessly. With the advent of modern applicant tracking systems, the whole process from screening to the deliverance of the final offer letter is just a breeze!

Photo Credit: gar_xxx1 via Compfight cc

Time-to-Hire Increasing. What Can We Do About It?

What do you get when you combine rising skills gap and an internal need for specialized employees? Longer hiring periods and higher recruitment costs – neither of which are particularly appetizing for organizational leadership. The response is a growing desire for companies to spend more strategically and save time during the hiring process. But what does that actually mean? To get a grip on the increased time-to-hire enigma, there are a couple of steps you can take to understand and reduce the growing costs of filling open positions.

Why is the Price Tag Rising?

In 2014, organizations in the United States spent anywhere between $3,976 and $5,380 per hire depending on the size of the organization. With a hiring cost of nearly $4,000 at best, it begins to make business leaders wonder why each new hire costs so much.

The price tag is much more than the number of zeros at the end of the numeric value. It is costly in time and effort on the shoulders of the recruiters as well. A thinner recruitment staff can mean a longer time-to-hire simply because they have taken on a larger workload to compensate for the influx of candidates. Mark Mehler, Co-Founder of CareerXroads said:


“Depending on how many hiring managers [company recruiters are] dealing with, it’s impossible.”


Make Smarter Hiring Decisions

I don’t mean you don’t already make smart hiring decisions, I’m sure you make the best decisions you can with what you have to work with. But that is the issue. You don’t have the necessary resources to make more highly educated hiring decisions in a timely manner. Max Messmer, Chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, said:

“If you’re desperate to fill a position right away, you’re more likely to rush a decision, and you have a higher chance of choosing the wrong candidate for the job. You may determine an applicant is ‘good enough’ just to place someone in the role.”

Unfortunately, without the right tools, you run the risk of hiring the candidate who barely fits the minimum requirements. Don’t rush the process, but rather streamline the system to make better hiring decisions.


Tech Choices to Streamline

Again, in 2014, Deloitte noted the source of the most candidates was the company’s career site. So, you need a platform that is able to publish your job ads to job boards, social media sites, and your career site. In order to streamline the hiring process, 57% of companies were already looking to make HR purchases within 18 months in 2013.

With the right ATS and other platforms to augment your current recruitment and hiring system, you can streamline candidate files. With an organized system of automated responses and candidate information, responding to and choosing the right candidate is faster. Which is a plus for the recruiter (saves time and effort) and the organization (saves manpower and money).
The price tag for both time and fiscal value of time-to-hire is steadily on the rise. However, you can take measures to streamline the process so it doesn’t dissolve your recruitment and hiring resources. Don’t rush through candidates just to fill the open position. The rush can lead to a higher turnover and lower employee productivity because they aren’t truly fit for the role. Good enough shouldn’t cut it. To help you weed through the talent pool, consider investing in some of the ATS HR technology companies have to offer. They keep your candidate files organized and automated so your team can spend time doing the things that take higher priority over the administrative tasks. Understand your time-to-hire to take the next step in making better hiring decisions.

Photo credit: Bigstock

The ATS Alone Is Not Enough

This is the final part in a four-part series on why talent acquisition doesn’t need to reinvent the ATS. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

In my last post, I outlined the parallels between marketing and sales and talent acquisition. The traditional recruiting process exemplified by the ATS has been focused on the bottom half of the funnel, similar to sales, with the main goal of hiring qualified applicants.

Because of this goal, the ATS was built with process and compliance in mind and admirably serves this function. It enables recruiters to better understand open job requisitions, work with hiring managers and manage the hiring process for candidates. The ATS does exactly what it was asked to do when it was built 10 years ago for the part of the funnel it addresses. Most of this functionality is still very relevant and, in most cases, crucial to talent acquisition in today’s environment.

But the problem is that we want it to do more. We want it to be an engagement platform. We want it to help our recruiters market our jobs and employer brand better. We want it to measure the full funnel from view to hire for all our sources. And we don’t just want it to―we expect it to. In most cases, this is why we hate our ATS (although you may have other reasons as well).

The question, though, is: Where the fault should lie? Is the fault with the ATS for not adapting, or is the fault with us for unrealistic expectations?

With the shifts mentioned earlier, organizations are starting to understand the need for more robust recruitment marketing strategies on the front end of the recruiting process. It’s no longer about just posting jobs to the right channels, but how we use the budget and resources to create a strategy that consistently converts high quality leads to applicants in our ATS.

Most importantly, recruitment marketing is fundamentally different than traditional recruiting―complimenting what the ATS is meant to solve while providing the attraction capabilities many recruiting organizations are eager for.

Technology for the Front End of Recruiting

The ATS is just like the Sales CRM. It’s meant to be the system of record for converting qualified applicants into hires, or in the Sales CRM example, for converting qualified leads into customers.

Attracting and converting prospects into qualified leads requires a different system of record. Recruitment marketing uses different strategies and tactics and therefore requires different technology to be successful. It’s about engagement, multiple sources, promoting your employment brand, content outside of jobs, measuring every step of the funnel, providing candidates multiple calls to action and most importantly, creating and nurturing lasting relationships with the right skilled candidates.

And that means technology built with a recruitment marketing focus.

The technology marketplace has been flooded with products that are focused on one aspect of the pre-applicant recruiting process, such as social, mobile, job distribution, CRM or SEO. And these products have helped organizations make progress in attracting and engaging better with candidates, but not without limitations.

As organizations have evolved their recruitment marketing capabilities, these siloed products have exposed the need for integration between them not only from a usability standpoint (i.e., logging into four to five systems), but also from a data analytics perspective (i.e., pulling and trusting reports and data from multiple sources).

Recruitment marketing is channel-agnostic. It doesn’t matter what initiative or channel generates the most qualified candidate leads, whether it’s a job board, email campaign, career site, social media or employee referral program, as long as it generates qualified leads within budget and time constraints. Underperforming sources should be eliminated, and good performing initiatives replicated.

At the end of the day, we need to execute and evaluate all of these initiatives side by side. Recruiters must understand what works in the aggregate, not just in the silo. A complete view of every data point from every source will help talent acquisition leaders better understand and use their resources and budget for candidate attraction globally across all possible channels.

But this is impossible to do with today’s ATS or point products.

An Integrated Recruitment Marketing Software Solution

We’ve been here before. Just like the ATS and the HRIS before it, we are seeing a technology category emerge to address this opportunity. There’s always talk about the large HCM systems building these capabilities into their products, but the reality is it usually doesn’t happen early enough to capitalize on the opportunity or is so lightweight that the overall impact is not felt.

So what’s the future in technology for recruitment marketing?

The name of the product category is Recruitment Marketing Platforms. Some consider Recruitment Marketing Platforms a next-generation CRM because recruitment marketing strategy is more than just a database.

A Recruitment Marketing Platform offers a holistic solution to execute and measure your entire recruitment marketing strategy and will include the following in a single system:

  • Job Marketing: Execute all job marketing on job boards, niche sites, banner ads, retargeting, pay per click and one-off channels.
  • Social Media: Manage social media publishing, including marketing your jobs and other thought leadership content, as well as measure the influence of your social channels on a candidate’s decision to apply; create and measure social career pages on channels like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Facebook.
  • Recruitment CRM: House your candidate contacts in a full CRM database and attract, engage and nurture them through multiple initiatives, including:
    • Landing pages CTAs and sourcing campaigns.
    • Targeted and automated email and SMS.
    • Pipeline tracking for key skills and disciplines to determine candidate readiness and interest.
    • Social and video interview integration for richer candidate profiles.
    • Marketing automation to help recruiters and sourcers more effectively build, nurture and engage with targeted talent pipelines.
  • Career Site/SEO: Host, manage and measure the candidate-facing career site through a content management solution that ensures SEO optimization and mobile-responsiveness and provides full brand and content creation control for a better candidate search experience on both desktop and mobile channels.
  • Employee Referrals: Integrate an employee referral program that enables effective communication with both sponsors and referral candidates to encourage better and more timely referrals to jobs and general skills.
  • ATS Integration: Integrate multiple touch points with the ATS from a data and candidate contact perspective, offering seamless interaction between the two systems and a holistic picture of your candidate’s journey from first attraction touch point all the way through apply and hire.
  • Complete Analytics: Pull trustworthy data and analytics from all the above initiatives and channels in a single view and dashboard, including:
    • Full Pipeline Insight: All interactions from click to view to applicant to hire in the recruitment funnel by source.
    • Job Level: Actionable, real-time performance data on a single job level across all channels.
    • Aggregate Level: Actionable, real-time performance data on an enterprise strategy level across all channels, skills and categories.
    • Source of Hire: Universally track the final source that converted a candidate to submit a job application.
    • Source of Influence: Universally track ALL sources and channels that influence a candidate’s decision to apply, not just the last source of application. This is incredibly important to give credit to all channels that influence a candidate’s decision to apply, especially when you look to assign budget and resources.

A dedicated recruitment marketing software solution will include all of the above AND integrate with your existing ATS solution. It will provide the foundation to begin to build and grow recruitment marketing at your organization. And if done right, it will be where your talent pipelines live ready to be tapped into the next time a job requisition opens up.

Let’s not focus on what the ATS can’t do, but focus on what other technology can do in order to take advantage of the emerging discipline of recruitment marketing.


Smashfly is a client of TalentCulture and has sponsored this post.

Talent Acquisition Technology: Reinvention And Innovation

Last time, in Why We Don’t Need To Reinvent The ATS, I disscussed the common frustrations companies experience with Applicant Tracking Systems. In this installment, we’ll consider if we should now look to reinvent the ATS?

Should We Reinvent the ATS?

There have been a number of new ATS companies sprouting up over the past year or two, and many have received positive reviews from early adopters. But I’d suggest that much of the praise is from small- and medium-sized businesses that require less functionality and in many cases have different needs.

The majority of the large organizations I’ve talked to still require established ATS solutions that have built necessary functionality over the past 10 years, especially due to compliance and legal reasons. So I ask these four questions before answering the big one:

Can We Live Without Many Of The Features Provided By Legacy ATS solutions?

Consider the crucial features and functionality that are needed for large organizations to gain supreme value from these solutions. How quickly can we build this functionality (and other new-age features) into a reinvented ATS?

From talking to the people who have actually worked to build these technologies, it will take a years upon years to match what many solutions have today, and a majority of this functionality is integral to meeting the legal demands the government requires from organizations. It would be great to make this process easier, but if we can’t report and remain compliant to the federal government (one of the major benefits of the ATS) then what’s the point? There’s a give and take around what’s inherently needed and what’s not.

What Would We Be Improving?

Many are looking to reinvent the entire concept of what an ATS is – and that can be a worthy goal. This reinvention is happening mostly on the recruitment marketing, candidate attraction and relationship side of recruiting. How do we better capture candidates as applicants and provide recruiters with ways to better engage these candidates in the ATS?

However, many ATS tools aren’t just for hiring, but flow into talent management with onboarding, training and other modules to facilitate processes downstream in the talent process. Much of the innovation has gone in this direction, and there’s a lot of value to having a system that starts at the application and bridges the gaps to your core HR systems.

So let’s think about what the ATS should truly be and where value is ultimately created. It can’t do everything, but what should it truly do? Where should it fit in our talent acquisition process?

What’s The Opportunity Cost?

By spending time, resources and money reinventing the ATS, what opportunities are we unable to tackle? We can’t do everything, so where can we provide the most value in today’s technology ecosystem? Does the industry need a better mousetrap? Or does it need better bait to ensure the mousetrap works more efficiently and can worry more about disposal vs. attraction?

Where Are We Today?

When I look at the ATS, I see a solution that serves its purpose. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have qualms about the issues inherent in these systems. I just believe that we will never truly be satisfied with the status quo, and we’ll always find ways to try to improve how we do things. But we have to understand the motivations behind this urge.

It’s easy to say, “yes,” of course we should try to reinvent the ATS, given its widespread use and the need for additional solutions in talent acquisition now. But the better question is: “Why do we want to reinvent the ATS?”

Where Else Can We Focus Our Talent Acquisition Technology Innovation?

You’re right, I haven’t provided an alternative to a better ATS … yet. Hopefully, I’ve provided a good cliffhanger as we look to explore where else we can pour our energy and innovation to improve talent acquisition.

In my next TalentCulture post I will tackle how I see the trends in talent acquisition technology and the pros and cons of transforming our thinking on how we use technology to attract, engage, nurture and hire qualified candidates.

Image: Bigstock


Smashfly is a client of TalentCulture and has sponsored this post.

Why We Don't Need To Reinvent The ATS

There are a lot of opinions, many conflicting, on how recruiting technology can help us innovate; how we find, attract, engage and nurture candidates in the recruiting process.

One idea I hear a lot is that we need to reinvent the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Make it more about relationships and less about process flows. Improve all the candidate-facing elements like job search and apply process. Build a better one from the ground up that’s more intuitive, candidate friendly and connects better with all your efforts to attract candidates to apply in the first place. If we can do one thing, this would be it.

But I pose this question: Is this really the best use of our time and energy? And is this where technology can make the greatest impact on talent acquisition?

What I Know About The ATS Today

Hey, don’t get me wrong, a better ATS would solve some problems. But in many cases, the ATS solves many more problems than most give it credit for. The ATS is not a mobile app built to do two or three things really well – it is an enterprise system built to be a full compliance and process flow manager for thousands upon thousands of applications.

Few remember the mess that recruiting was before the ATS, as it’s been a mainstay for a while now. Trust me, it’s helped make talent acquisition way better and more efficient, and it’s a system that recruiting organizations couldn’t live without. Plus, from a legal and compliance standpoint, it’s a savior and necessity.

But there have been a few consistent story lines around the ATS for the past few years:

Everyone Has Issues With Their ATS

Do you hate your ATS? A question asked a little too frequently during conference presentations, but mostly because presenters know they will get a resounding, “Yes!” But why do talent acquisition professionals get annoyed sometimes with it? Here are a few reasons:

  • Feature Creep: The ATS has become an albatross in terms of features. People have a hard time wrapping their minds around everything that an ATS does, even the features they use on a daily basis. Many of these features are sorely needed and were built because organizations requested them, but in the end it makes for a system that feels cumbersome to the average user.
  • Unfair Expectations: As new candidate attraction trends like mobile, social, candidate experience and employer branding entered the talent acquisition fray, many expected the ATS to help provide solutions for these trends. The problem is that the ATS was never built or meant to solve problems on the candidate attraction side. It was meant to provide order to the application and hiring processes and them measurable. In all fairness, it became the center of our recruiting universe over the past 10 years. But now, everyone expects it to remain so, despite a lot of shifting needs in a more interaction-based and data-driven environment.
  • It’s Not “New” Anymore: Let’s face it, the established ATS vendors have lost their luster, and that comes with a more mature market. What felt innovative in the past decade feels less so now. And with more competitors in the space, it feels like every ATS or talent management suite has the same features (even though they don’t … more on this in Part II).

Switching Your ATS Doesn’t Make You Happier

I’ve spoken with a number of companies that are undergoing ATS switches in order to gain more value from their talent acquisition process. And in many cases, it’s a bad experience.

  • First, it takes a much too long to implement and switch everything over (we’re talking a year if not more). This isn’t a knock on the ATS – it;’s understandable, as these systems are compiling a ton of information and require thoughtful  processes in order to achieve what it’s meant to.
  • Second, many don’t realize the unique differences among solutions. Not every ATS has the same features (although we seem to think they do), and a crucial feature you had before isn’t always available when you switch. It’s left many angry at the sales teams for not being transparent, but really, all the key functions that an ATS helps with aren’t easily replicated.

What Next? 

So people here think: If lots of people have trouble with their ATS and switching to other established vendors doesn’t improve the process, why don’t we reinvent what an ATS is? Watch out for the next installment of my discussion of the current and future ATS.

Ditching Your ATS? You’re Not Alone

Having been in the HR tech business for a number of years, I have spoken with countless HR and recruiting experts about their technology moves. As applicant tracking systems have grown in popularity over the last several years, larger companies are looking for new, more effective software and smaller companies are looking to make their first ATS decisions. Regardless of which group you fall into, there are a few things you should consider when shopping around.

Software Advice used the information that they gathered about past clients’ issues with their ATS and their reasons for switching, to create their 2013 ATS BuyerView report. Let’s look at the top three reasons that today’s software buyers are in the market for a new ATS:

1) Need More Robust Software

The applicant tracking software of less than a decade ago won’t have some features that have become pretty standard, and totally necessary in today’s recruiting climate. As other forms of HR and recruiting tech have advanced, each other type has to keep up. For instance, LinkedIn’s “Click to apply with LinkedIn” button has become wildly popular with applicants and recruiters alike, yet this option is not available with some of the older software.

Furthermore, social sharing and the ability to post listings on job boards directly from the secure platform is a relatively new function that only more current software will have. Many companies with free or outdated software are also finding that they need cloud-based software to keep up with the competition.

2. Current System Too Complex

Seeing this at #2 on the list isn’t surprising at all. I actually run into this a lot. A company is sold on a vendor that offers it all…except for user-friendliness, support or training. The most robust, all-inclusive and up-to-date software is going to be useless if no one can, or will use it. Recruitment expert Randall Birkwood said:

“You will find vendors will offer a number of bells and whistles, which may be confusing.  Ultimately, what is most important is whether it is easy to set up, intuitive, and requires minimal maintenance.”

3. Improve Efficiency/Effectiveness

This is sort of a broad category, but I have some solid hunches on what these users were unhappy with, given my experience in the industry.

Searching and Matching

An ATS that easily imports, parses and organizes all of the data you can shoot at it is great, but the user has to be able to access that data effortlessly. Poor search functionality can render an ATS useless.

Internal Candidate Portals and Referral Portals

HR is tired of being the middleman. Internal movement and career development is crucial to engagement and retention. Allow internal candidates to easily view and apply for listings. Additionally, your ATS should have a portal for employees to make referrals. These portals will provide all information that the candidates and referrers need, while decreasing the burden on HR and recruiting resources.


Metrics are vital to the continued success of any recruitment team, and they aren’t easy to gather without the right tools. Companies are looking for reporting tools that effortlessly gather information on important metrics like time-to-fill, source of hire and diversity. RecruiterLoop provides more information on important recruiting metrics.


Many companies quickly realized the burden on their IT team after purchasing their non-cloud-based software. The cloud is where it’s at now. With cloud-based options, your vendor is tasked with maintaining and updating the system, instead of using your own resources.

While there is plenty more to picking out the right software for your company’s unique needs, I think it’s important to hear from software buyers who have already spent the money and found the issues. That way, you don’t have to do it!

It is also important for software buyers to ask questions about updates and upgrades before deciding to make any purchases. These might come with hidden costs, but they might be simple changes that your vendor can make for you. One last piece of advice: Don’t buy until it’s right!

(About the Author: Raj Sheth is the CEO and co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, Sheth founded two other web start-ups — a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He graduated from Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

Photo Credit: buso23 via bigstock