Hire Wisdom: How to Implement an Applicant Tracking System that Works

August 21st, 2014

Ross Campbell Financial Services Insurance Recruiter
By Ross Campbell, Toronto Financial Services & Insurance Recruiter

Applicant tracking systems get a bad rap.  Before I explain why, I’ll explain what:  An applicant tracking system (ATS) tracks jobs, candidates’ information and resumes, categorizes their information, and matches the right candidates to the right jobs.  There is a lot written on how these systems are inherently flawed; that they depend too much on resume keywords, are error-prone, and take the human element out of hiring.

But, can you imagine having to sift through sometimes thousands of resumes to hire for one position?  It’s just not realistic.  For better or worse, applicant tracking systems are the best current solution we have to organizing enormous amounts of candidate information.

Hire Wisdom implement an applicant tracking system

It may seem like an impersonal approach to hiring, but I believe that, when used well, ATS’s can actually help you create an exceptional candidate experience, maintain relationships with top candidates, build your company brand, and ultimately attract more top talent.  I’ve seen way too many mid-sized and even larger companies who have yet to get on board with an ATS to help them organize job candidates.  The right people are the most important part of your company, so you cannot afford not to invest.

So, how do you choose and implement the right applicant tracking system?  We recently went through the process here at IQ PARTNERS, and I learned a lot, so here are my tips:

1.       Develop a team

Who are the stakeholders and decision makers in your organization? Get the senior most leaders in the room and make sure they have gathered information from their team about hiring processes, what is working / not working, and recommendations for ATS ‘must-haves’ vs. ‘nice-to-haves’.

2.       Decide on specs

Create a flow chart to compare the needs of your best practice hiring process with the capabilities of each ATS in the market.  Here are some top ones to compare against.  Some ATS’s are better for different lines of business.  Research, research and then research some more.  Ask a lot of questions and speak with those who are currently on ATS’s for back-door references.

3.       Find the most user-friendly ATS with social capabilities

When in doubt, look for 3 things:

  • The best user experience to earn the buy-in from your internal users. 
  • The best candidate experience – the last thing you want is to lose top talent to confusing application processes.   
  • Finally, social is the wave of the present and future so make sure your ATS has strong, user-friendly social capabilities.


4.       Trial run the search and reporting functionality

Have the vendor(s) walk you through the system on how to search for candidates, to recall information, produce reports, and to contact candidates while tracking communication through the ATS.  Is it accurate and user-friendly?  Will it save your company time and money?

5.       Implementation and tech support

Who is performing the implementation and what kind of support will you have?  Is the ATS on a Cloud or an IT system that you will have to maintain with in-house tech support?  Is your organization equipped for this?

6.       Set financial goals

Perform a cost/benefit analysis.  Cash flow is king in running your business, so be careful not to over invest.  They want your business, so negotiate with your rep to meet your financial needs.

7.       Need for speed

It has to be a fast, reliable system, or your internal users and job candidates will get frustrated and try to go around the system.  What happens then is information gets captured inaccurately or not at all, which negates the whole point of using an ATS.

8.       Develop your exit strategy 

Who owns the data if you want to discontinue using the service?  How is the data returned to you?  What other transferable systems could be used?  It’s important to think long term.

Ultimately, the right ATS should automate your hiring process, create a more cost-effective hiring process, and help you build stronger relationships with candidates, hiring managers, and your recruitment team, and improve your odds at achieving Hire Wisdom.  Don’t get left behind.  Get the right ATS for your company today.

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Check out the rest of the series, Hire Wisdom: The 12 Keys to Successful Hiring.  Learn more about Toronto Financial Services & Insurance Recruiter Ross Campbell and connect with him on LinkedIn.

IQ PARTNERS is a Recruitment Agency with offices in Toronto, Montreal, & Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have teams of specialist recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations, Energy, Mining & Engineering, Life Sciences, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.

 

Ross Campbell

Ross Campbell is a Partner and Practice Lead, Financial Services & Insurance with IQ PARTNERS. Celebrating over 10 years of management consulting experience in executive search, recruitment, and training in Canadian financial services and insurance companies, Ross thrives on the belief that business can be done significantly better by investing in the right people.