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.