You may have been discouraged by hearing about the negative opinions candidates have of recruiting software, particularly applicant tracking systems. Candidates complain about resumes being discarded unfairly and or ranked unfairly due to the prioritization of keywords in their resume. This is not untrue, recruiting software can reject or exalt resumes in a way even the hiring manager wouldn’t like. This is not an indicator of how recruiting software works, rather a sign of failure. Recruiting software is intended to improve the hiring process, if the candidate doesn’t also feel the benefits, then the intended result has not been achieved. Paid and free recruiting software should be good for candidates.
Recruiting Software is Good for Candidates
The Reasons for Complaints About Recruiting Software
Automation is a game-changer for hiring, taking tons of unnecessary work off of hiring managers so they can devote more time to the parts of their job that require thoughtfulness and skill, things like formatting resumes and posting to job boards. This should be good for the hiring manager and the candidates as the hiring manager can spend more time actually thinking about what they’re doing rather than being drained.
But automation has limitations. Recruiting software isn’t all-knowing. It can’t read every resume format, discarding some resumes just because it can’t read them, leading to quality candidates being rejected because of a technicality. It also can’t distinguish the nuances of a whole candidate, a resume that can’t be read and formatted by the software, or a resume that doesn’t happen to use the right specific keywords.
This is what candidates are complaining about, feeling that their talent is being wasted because recruiting software casts them aside for resume formatting or keywords, rather than their true merit as a candidate. It is, understandably, frightening for them to think that their value as an employee is not even being considered because they were automatically rejected or ranked as a poor match by software.
What Recruiting Software Such As Applicant Tracking Systems is Intended To Do
The things candidates are complaining about are what happens if a hiring manager does not know or ignores the limitations of recruiting software. It isn’t made to replace human eyes and brains, but to take certain tasks off their hands so they can use their human eyes and brains more efficiently.
Hiring managers get inundated by resumes, most of which come from candidates who are not a good match. Without automation, they waste a good deal of their time on mindless tasks or tasks that could be mindless with a little prior planning. They then get so tired and frustrated that they can skim resumes and miss quality candidates just because they’re sick of reading, or because they’re in a hurry.
Recruiting software saves hiring managers time:
- sourcing candidates
- posting to job boards
- searching for resumes they have on file
- uploading resumes
- formatting resumes
- reading resumes
- communicating with candidates
- organizing information on candidates
- communicating with fellow hiring managers
- organizing the entire hiring process for the individual candidate and the process as a whole
- being able to hire from anywhere
All of this time saved gives recruiters more time and brain power to pay attention to the candidates they pursue, to interview effectively, to create better job ads, and communicate thoughtfully with candidates. If they choose to do so.
Recruiting software can’t make a hiring manager care about candidate experience or instantly have the skills to offer a good candidate experience. It just gives hiring managers more time to devote to it.
How Recruiting Software is Good for Candidates
If a hiring manager achieves a more efficient hiring process from recruiting software, candidates should see direct benefits from this efficiency.
Candidates want quick hiring processes. They don’t want to wait a month or more to maybe discover if they were hired.
Recruiting software can aid this by:
- speeding up the hiring process
- giving hiring managers more time to create effective, informative job advertisements, attracting a higher percentage of quality candidates
- making it easier for hiring managers to communicate with candidates more often
- helping hiring managers communicate with candidates without mistakes made from sloppiness or poor organization
Candidates also want to feel that their carefully crafted resumes and their interest in the job are seen and valued.
Recruiting software can aid this by:
- having a system remind hiring managers of past resumes for current job openings
- weeding out resumes that weren’t thoughtfully submitted, i.e. the candidate didn’t pay attention to whether or not they fit the job
- giving hiring managers more time and a fresher brain with which to carefully read a resume
- providing organization opportunities to make notes about your resume to be easily viewed again when communicating with you and making their hiring decision
- making it easier for hiring managers to share your resume with other members of the hiring team
- helping hiring managers organize more effective and considerate interviewing
If candidates are receiving poor or unfair consideration from recruiting software, it is not because the hiring manager is using recruiting software, but because they are not using it correctly.
How to Use Recruiting Software To be Better for Candidates
To use recruiting software correctly, hiring managers need to educate themselves on the limitations of the software, plan to account for those limitations, and be more mindful of candidate experience outside of the bounds of the recruiting software.
A hiring manager can’t just run their recruiting software and expect it to magically do better than they can do; it just automates and optimizes tasks for the hiring manager. The optimal use of recruiting software is to make what the hiring manager does more efficient, like an organizational system in an office or craft room. Things are easy to find and easy to do, but you had to strategically create that organization system and you have to maintain it. It also doesn’t take away from the work the person does in said office or craft room
There are several steps you can take to create and maintain your recruiting system in efficient form:
Parameters for searching should be thorough and thoughtful. They should also be checked periodically to ensure they are giving the hiring manager the results they want. Many hiring managers would be horrified to learn that their best employee would rank low or be rejected by their recruiting software as it is set up. How many other excellent candidates are being erroneously weeded out?
Don’t forget about human eyes. Go behind the recruiting software periodically to skim resumes it’s rejected and ensure it is functioning as intended, that quality candidates haven’t been overlooked. Check the lower ranked people periodically as well.
If the recruiting software rejects candidates for certain spelling and grammatical errors that you don’t care about or are ridiculous, or if it has limitations about what formats it can read, notify candidates on your careers page so they can plan accordingly. A note telling people to only submit resumes in certain formats or document types, what formats the recruiting software reads best, and to be mindful that recruiting software doesn’t recognize words and names that don’t match the most common usage(if that is true about the software and can’t be fixed), will provide more useful candidate screening for both the hiring manager and the candidate.
Don’t underestimate candidate experience. Use your recruiting software thoughtfully to improve candidate experience, such as by providing plenty of informative and considerate feedback. They’ll want to be notified that their resumes have been received, of the next step to take during each stage of the hiring process, as well as to be notified of a rejection along with a brief reason for the rejection and an invitation to apply again in the future. Also make sure you are providing a good candidate experience outside of your recruiting software’s bounds. Are there too many interviews? Could the hiring manager ask more effective questions in interviews? Is the careers page and application process easy to use? Survey candidates to see how they feel about the company’s candidate experience. The hiring manager can also try to apply to the job themselves and see how they feel about it. Is it too long, frustrating, hard-to-use, or unprofessional?
Many candidates dread applying to jobs at companies who use recruiting software because they have gotten the impression, sometimes wrongfully but often correctly, that the recruiting software was rejecting them unfairly. This is not because recruiting software is bad for candidates, rather it should be good for candidates. A more efficient hiring process should mean a more efficient, thoughtful, and considerate experience for candidates. When it doesn’t, it is because the recruiting software is being used incorrectly. Hiring managers can address this by accounting for limitations of recruiting software and being mindful of candidate experience.
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