A small company applicant tracking system is a game-changing investment, automating functions that take up too much of your time but don’t really require a human brain and helping you organize all of your hiring tasks. But without proper maintenance, an applicant tracking system may not work as it should. This is how applicant tracking systems get a bad name with candidates. And it’s a shame, because it shouldn’t be that way. An applicant tracking system should be improving the hiring process for both you and the candidate. Read on to learn how to ensure your applicant tracking system is doing what you purchased it to do.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell whether or not your system is functioning as it should. From your side, it may look like it’s working fine, but it may be giving candidates a terrible time. This isn’t just irritating for candidates; it could cost you great hires.
How to Ensure Your Small Company Applicant Tracking System Is Working as It Should
What Is It That Goes Wrong?
You’ve got to understand the problems before you can figure out what to do about them.
Applicant tracking systems do what you tell them to do, and only want you tell them to do. And they can’t read minds. You can read a candidate resume and decide you like it because their enthusiasm and soft skills outweigh their hard skill set even though it doesn’t necessarily have particular key words. An applicant tracking system can’t do that, unless you try to strategically set it to prioritize keywords to make this more likely. Which you can.
Because the system uses keywords to analyze the resumes, candidates may be rejected or put lower on the priority list than you would rank them if you were reading the resumes. It also may prioritize people that you might discount for other reasons.
Applicant tracking systems can automatically reject resumes because they simply can’t read them. The candidate’s qualifications may be fine, but their resume was incorrectly formatted, so they get an automatic rejection letter. You might balk at certain resumes for their formatting, but you aren’t electronically trying to read them and sort their data like the applicant tracking system is, so you can still read and analyze it. All the system can do is chuck it and move on to the next.
Candidates know these things about applicant tracking systems and have become fearful that their resumes are being unfairly handled or that their worth is reduced to keywords or technicalities that have nothing to do with their on-the-job skills.
While these fears are not unfounded, they are the result of mismanagement and improper functioning, not the intention or reasonable expectation of the software.
This means you can fix it! Below are some tips to ensure your small company applicant tracking system is working as it should and not incorrectly evaluating candidates.
Be the Candidate
For this tactic, you’ll want to pretend you are a candidate so you can see with your own eyes how the system works on the other end.
Create an ideal candidate resume and apply to the job. Hold nothing back, get in the role and add in all the details. For this moment, you are to act like a real candidate.
Apply just like a candidate would and go through all the steps.
Then, go back to your side of the applicant tracking system, check it, and see what it did with your resume.
You know if you saw this resume, you would love it, because you designed it to be your ideal candidate. Has the small company applicant tracking system agreed with you? It should. It’s supposed to be selecting candidates pretty close to how you would.
If it ranked this candidate a low priority or rejected them, your system is also doing this with real candidates, and you know something is very wrong with the way the system is configured.
Don’t beat yourself up too much if it was way off. Many people have found this to be true before realizing they had to pay more attention to their software.
Check Behind the Applicant Tracking System
Automated recruiting software like a small company applicant tracking system saves you a great deal of time.
It is wise to invest a little of this saved time toward ensuring the software works as intended, like you would perform maintenance on any investment or tool important to the running of your business.
Once in a while, every other month, or every six months, sit down and skim the rejections and lower ranked candidates your applicant tracking system has collected. There may be some candidates in there you would have liked to have hired. If your system is not configured correctly, there may be lots of them. Even if it’s configured as well as someone can possibly plan for in this imperfect world, there may be a few enticing candidates in there that it would be a shame to let go unnoticed.
An applicant tracking system is like a net or filter, sweeping by and sorting and collecting things. This is a very useful service, helping you organize your time better so you can actually focus on more resumes, rather than skim them, and spend more time working on other parts of the business as well. But no net or filter achieves 100% in one swipe. You have the choice to either let what was missed go on uncaught or you make it a secondary routine to look for the treasure among what was missed.
Applicant tracking systems use keywords to sort candidates, help you find them again, and even send them to right hiring managers. This use of keywords means it is up to you to ensure you have chosen the right mix of words for the system to select candidates almost as well as you would if you were looking at the resumes yourself. It should be like the best personal assistant you could possibly have.
This keyword selection requires a few steps.
First, you need to choose your keywords very carefully. Consider keywords for both hard and soft skills, consider variations on keywords, and include must-haves as well as nice-to-haves.
Second, you need to check the applicant tracking system to ensure the keywords you selected are working as you intended. A great way to do that is the method described above in the “be the candidate” section. If your ideal candidate doesn’t make the cut, you’ve got to figure out which keywords are causing the issue.
Third, it’s wise to reevaluate your keywords list every year, or maybe every six months depending on how well you’re reaching your targets or how much time you have, to make sure you can’t improve them. And you should almost always say yes, because there’s always room for growth and change in business and your small company applicant tracking system is no exception. Test your system using the “be the candidate” method again. Go back to the drawing board on keywords to consider which ones are working as you wish, which ones aren’t, and if your company or the job market have given you an idea for new keywords you should be using.
Consider Changing the Small Company Applicant Tracking System
Applicant tracking systems should be updated from time to time. Good vendors are constantly making changes to improve the functionality and reliability of the software. For instance, vendors consistently try to reduce the instances of the software rejecting resumes because they are in an incompatible format.
Small company applicant tracking systems should be getting better all the time. These improvements could protect you and your candidates and keep resumes from getting lost in ways you have no control over.
Read the information or website for the small company applicant tracking system you use or are considering using to ensure they say they do frequent updates and make it easy for you to update. This way, you’ll always have the best version of your applicant tracking system and gain more control over the software and have added protection from lost or incorrectly sorted resumes.
Many candidates believe applicant tracking systems are bad and that they filter them out by erroneous or unfair methods. This is not exactly untrue, many of them do, but it is not the function of the applicant tracking system that is at fault, it is improper management of the applicant tracking system. A qualified candidate being ranked too low or even rejected should be a rare occurrence. As the hiring manager or business owner, you can prevent this from causing problems for your candidates and your business with a little routine maintenance. Periodically, check to make sure you can’t think of better keywords and pretend to be the candidate so you can see how the applicant tracking system works from their side.
Best 2019 Small Company Applicant Tracking System
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