5 reasons why an applicant tracking system makes sense

It’s all about making a good first impression to help sway the next all-star candidate
By Leonard Brienza
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/02/2018
Chairs
A good ATS can have a significant, positive impact on the recruiting process — from both sides of the table. Credit: Ink Drop (Shutterstock)

If you’re still using manual processes or multiple tools for recruitment activities, you probably understand the frustration of sifting through mountains of resumés, digging through old emails to keep track of applicant communications, and chasing after members of the hiring committee for feedback on candidates.

You may have even had that horrible day when you realize you missed out on the best candidate because the hiring process simply took too long, or the all-star recruit chose another company because it offered a better recruiting experience.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to consider an applicant tracking system (ATS). Modern ATS tools help streamline the hiring process by centralizing all the data and providing automated tools for functions throughout hiring management, screening and approvals.

Here are five reasons to consider an ATS:

Track communications

Few people escape the tyranny of having to search for messages they’ve sent or they’ve been told they received. Many make the mistake of turning their inboxes into part of their applicant tracking process.

Moreover, some organizations oblige workers to keep their email files below a certain size limit so as to not overrun the email servers, requiring the occasional purge and subsequent loss of information.

Fortunately, a good ATS platform means no one is required to keep emails between the people who apply for jobs and the HR department in their personal inbox. A log is kept of exactly what was sent to them, and the communications log is tied to the job (and the candidate). Anything that is sent via email that is tied to the job is in the log, including emails sent to the numerous applicants.

Schedule interviews

If there are a lot of roles to fill and you’re still relying on phone calls and emails to schedule interviews, you are bound to get your wires crossed at some point. For most positions, multiple candidates are offered interviews. One scheduling misstep can mean lost hours, humble apologies and other consequences it’s best to avoid.

Instead of manual scheduling, use a recruiting system that enables candidates to choose interview times from a pre-set list. Each candidate receives a link to the scheduling system and selects the time slot they want. Once a slot is chosen, it is no longer offered to others, so there is no chance of double-booking. All an employer has to do is plot in the time slots it wants to make available.

Collaborate applicant evaluations

Many hiring processes involve multiple interviewers. Each person involved, each perspective explained, can contribute insights hiring managers need to make the right call.

This sounds great in theory, but hiring managers don’t get those perspectives as quickly as they’d like. A good ATS provides standardized candidate evaluation surveys. They should help solicit perspectives that hiring managers can use to improve their decisions.

That system should be as easy to use as an online survey, allow for numerical grades on questions, and let respondents type optional comments explaining their reasons for grades given.

Check unconscious bias

The effects of bias in a hiring process can cause serious issues. Some ATS platforms offer tools to help combat bias and encourage diversity.

Recruiters can select certain staff to join a hiring panel when they need to fill a new position. Each panel member receives an email to that effect.

But here’s the anti-bias twist: Panel members don’t know who else is on the panel. They screen candidates within the ATS, then categorize each applicant using a drop-down list. At no point do panel members discuss candidates.

Other ATS tools offer sophisticated and customizable reporting features that can do things like strip personal applicant details, such as names, from the information the hiring managers can see.

Automate CBA requirements

In unionized environments, recruitment requirements stemming from collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) have lengthened the hiring process. Traditional tools such as paper forms and spreadsheets let you step through these requirements, but can be very time-consuming.

ATS software can automate CBA-based recruiting requirements such as seniority ranking, self-identification, eligibility status and the maintenance of standing applications. Employers can quickly hire great candidates while simultaneously respecting applicable CBAs.

A good ATS can have a significant, positive impact on the recruiting process — from both sides of the table.

Leonard Brienza is director of consulting at CGI in Markham, Ont., working with the intellectual property (IP) solutions team in offering industry-specific solutions to address clients’ business needs. He can be reached at leonard.brienza@cgi.com or, for more information, visit www.cgi.com.

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