Applicant tracking systems, or ATS, have gotten a bad reputation among job candidates because they feel an ATS unfairly impacts their chances for the job. They aren’t really wrong, but the problem isn’t with applicant tracking systems themselves, rather how they are implemented. An ATS can be poorly used and exclude candidates it shouldn’t. It’s also quite possible that what candidates are really seeing is a poor candidate experience at the company and blaming it on an ATS because it is new. This is why you can’t just purchase a small company applicant tracking system and wing it. An ATS will save you time, money, and headache, and provide a better hiring experience for both the company and the candidate, but only if it’s used properly.
Overcome a Bad Rap With Your Small Company Applicant Tracking System
Reasons Why Candidate Complain About Applicant Tracking Systems
You can’t address a problem unless you understand what’s causing it. The point of an applicant tracking system is to make hiring more efficient, usually by automating as much as is feasibly possible. We all know that sometimes what is intended to be efficient doesn’t always pan out and you end up with something that overdoes or inaccurately performs its function and is no longer efficient. Sadly, this can happen with your small business applicant tracking system. The good news is that it is preventable.
Discarded and Rejected Resumes
The most common complaint from job applicants is feeling that their applications have been discarded unfairly. It may be that their resume was never even read because a system chucked it because it didn’t fit the designated format or that it was immediately rejected because it didn’t meet keyword requirements. Those are pretty scary accusations, and it is quite possible that most people who say it are right.
Applicant tracking systems do format, parse, and store resumes in a candidate database. They also sort and can automatically reject applications based on keywords This sorting is intended to actually improve a recruiter’s appreciation of a candidate’s application because it can be more easily found again for a future job opening and because the recruiter has more time to really examine the application rather than skimming it with a numbed brain.
Recruiters receive so many job applications and many of them were not sent with a thoughtful interest in the company and therefore the candidate is not even a serious contender. That doesn’t mean recruiters should go, “oh well”, in the face of lost applications. #1, human eyes and application tracking systems can quite easily discard a resume too readily. In fact, the human may do it simply because they’re tired and the resume format and words don’t come into play at all. #2, recruiters can weed out most of those haphazard resumes with better job advertisements and careers pages. Applicant tracking systems can help with that.
Ensure Your Small Company Applicant Tracking System Aids You And Your Candidates
Check your applicant tracking system’s ability to read resumes
In your ATS or on the vendor’s website, discover how it discards candidates for issues with the resume format. This is not a deliberate feature, rather a limitation of the software, and most vendors of applicant tracking systems are already addressing this problem without you having to do a thing. If you discover that your ATS is lacking in this department, consider how likely it is you think they will fix the problem in the near future. Talk to them about it. If you aren’t satisfied, look for a small company applicant tracking system that has fixed the problem.
Do be aware that the problem can’t be eradicated entirely. Some resumes will just not be able to be read properly by a non-human. You can help candidates create a resume that won’t be discarded by offering resume formatting instructions on your careers page. Make sure it can be easily seen.
Review your keywords.
Are they really the most important keywords for hiring? Could you add more? Make sure keywords include must-haves, good-to-haves, and nice-to-haves. Consider variations on keywords.
Consider adding soft skills into the keyword list. You don’t want to miss out on the benefits of finding creative candidates or giving an enthusiastic under qualified candidate a try.
Test your small company applicant tracking system
You can learn for yourself how your ATS performs by trying it out. Draw up the ideal resume and submit it just like you are a job candidate. You could be surprised to discover that what you, the business owner or hiring manager who wants the employee, deem the best fit for the job, your small company applicant tracking system rejects or rates very low in compatibility for the job.
This is hard proof that your ATS is not configured properly. Tinker with the keywords and run the resume again. Keep doing it until the ATS agrees with you.
Discarding applications for “mistakes”
You should also check how it handles mistakes or the uncommon. Review functions on the ATS to see if you can control how carefully it checks for spelling and grammatical errors.
Sometimes an ATS can be too sensitive, more than you care for it to be, and reject candidates because of just one mistake. Maybe for your job, spelling and grammar wasn’t that crucial anyway, but you didn’t know it was doing this.
Even worse, sometimes a small company applicant tracking system will consider something a mistake that isn’t. Some correct words, names, and acronyms won’t mesh with the ATS. Consider how many times your word processor or cell phone considers something a mistake that you firmly intended and know to be correct.
This can be particularly harmful for your diversity efforts. If you were planning to hire refugees or remote workers from other countries, fields on their resumes may look incorrect. Also, if English is not someone’s first language, a person could understand and make allowances for spelling and grammatical mistakes while the ATS wouldn’t.
Tweak or turn off this function, if you can. If not, consider switching your small business application tracking system.
It’s Always About Candidate Experience
You always have to be mindful of candidate experience. A small business applicant tracking system doesn’t erase that need. It can help you improve candidate experience, in fact, it should, but it won’t if you aren’t ensuring that it does. Candidate experience doesn’t happen by accident, applicant tracking system or no.
The candidate should feel informed. On the careers page and in communications during the hiring process, include information that will eliminate doubts and confusion.
The hiring process should be quick. Whether or not you hire them, whether they should hang around and wait for you to do that, is a huge decision for a candidate to make. Don’t give them a chance to get frustrated and look elsewhere or for someone else to make them an offer.
Access is crucial. Candidates should be able to apply to your jobs on their pcs, tablets, and mobile phones. If they can’t, they’ll prioritize a company who does.
The hiring process should be easy. If candidates struggle with the application, as in there are errors or glitches or it simply takes too long, they may stop. #1, they may feel they can better spend their time applying to another job. #2, errors make your company look unprofessional.
Candidates need feedback. If you reject them, tell them. Don’t just not reply to them. Secondly, but no less importantly, let them know why you’ve rejected them. This shows them the respect to provide them with useful information to improve their career. It’s also an investment in your future talent pool. Invite them to apply again in the future and you’ll have to do less sourcing and networking to get quality, passionate talent.
Your small company applicant tracking system should make it easier to provide all of those components of good candidate experience, whether through an up-to-date career portal, easier communication, or a more efficient hiring process.
There are two ways to ensure you are providing a good candidate experience. #1, survey candidates to get feedback from them on the speed, ease, consideration, and accessibility in your hiring process. #2, try to apply to your jobs periodically. See what it is like for you.
Automation is Essential, but It Isn’t Everything, Bring Back The Human Element
Automation is a wonderful, life-saving addition to your hiring process, giving you more time to get to know candidates and plan hiring strategies, but it isn’t perfect. Technology works in tandem with humans, not instead of them. This means you should devote a little of your saved time that automation gives you to bring human eyes and brains back into the equation.
Every so often skim rejected candidates and candidates the small business applicant tracking system has rated as a low match to ensure you agree.
The small business applicant tracking system should not hurt candidates, it should help them as much as it helps you. If candidates are unhappy with the hiring process, there are several things you can do to fix it. Check the applicant tracking system to ensure it isn’t discarding or rejecting candidates you don’t want it to, evaluate the keywords you are using, and prioritize candidate experience.
Best Small Company Applicant Tracking System for 2019
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