Three signs your applicant tracking system isn't working for you

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is an efficient way to attract candidates and manage the recruitment process. An applicant tracking system should make life easier for your recruiters by bringing in the best candidates. How do you know when an applicant tracking system is not delivering value for you?

1. Applicants are leaving mid-process

A statistic used in online retail is ‘abandoned shopping carts’ where a shopper places items in a cart but does not complete the purchase. The equivalent metric in the ATS world, ‘abandoned job applications,’ is a critical measurement. When candidates start a job application they are interested in a position with your company. If your tracking system is not intuitive or requires too many non-relevant details potential employees may abandon the job application. A negative job application experience may even turn the candidate off completely from future opportunities in your organization.

2. Recruiters spend more time on administration

A fit-for-purpose applicant tracking system should save HR time and money. Automated workflow tied to requisition posting is an easy win. Establishing templates for candidate communication will pay off in less burdensome administrative processes.

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An ATS that is not highly functioning performs in the opposite manner. Recruiters are hindered rather than helped by the ATS. As a hiring manager I once received an email from a recruiter with ten resumes attached. When I questioned why I couldn’t access them directly via the system, the explanation was, ‘it’s too difficult for hiring managers to find the candidates and provide feedback.’ If your recruiters spend more time on administration with your tracking system then it’s time to review the system.

3. Applicants get lost in the system

There is nothing more disheartening to an eager applicant than to receive an automated submission acknowledgement and then nothing further. Are your recruiters actively reviewing your candidate database for fresh talent? Does your ATS alert recruiters when an existing profile matches a new requisition? It can be helpful to create a list that shows where your ATS is proactive rather than reactive as these are the strong points of an applicant tracking system. If they are few and far between, it’s time to review your configuration or the system itself.

From a candidate’s perspective communication is a key to success. Is your ATS sending updates to your candidates or reminders to hiring managers and recruiters? How many candidates never hear anything after an interview experience? Or do candidates only receive a notification once the requisition is closed and the role has gone to another candidate? A high-performing ATS should help you to manage these situations. If candidates are getting lost in the system it’s time to review your applicant tracking system.

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Heather Batyski

About the author…

Heather is an experienced HRMS analyst, consultant and manager. Having worked for companies such as Deloitte, Franklin Templeton and Oracle, Heather has first-hand experience of many HRMS solutions including Peoplesoft and Workday.

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Heather Batyski