03/29/2016 Molly Moseley

Is your ATS a secret weapon or achilles heel?

HR software has revolutionized the recruiting process, helping save time, money and headaches associated with vetting qualified candidates. Research shows approximately 60 percent of companies use some form of applicant tracking system (ATS). The larger the company, the more likely they use an ATS, with data revealing 75 percent of big companies use this software to review and rank resumes.

The message is clear: ATS is here to stay.

But not every problem is solved so easily. Cumbersome application processes leave many candidates frustrated and confused, and this probably is not the first impression you want to make on future employees. From having to enter duplicate information repeatedly to wondering whether information ever reaches a human being’s eye, the ATS is often the bane of the job hunter’s world.

And that’s just from the applicant’s perspective. Legacy systems and clunky code can leave more work for the HR department. To make matters worse, a sub-par system might keep you from recognizing otherwise incredible talent and you wouldn’t even know it (and they’ll go right to your competition to work).

The good news, fortunately, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Savvy HR folks are embracing these key considerations to ensure they get all the information they need from talent so they can create a seamless application process from start to finish:

Ease of use: The ATS should be easy for HR to use. If it’s taking extra time or causing confusion, it’s not a worthwhile investment. It also should be easy for applicants to use. Make sure the interface is simple to navigate and isn’t a maze to complete. Conduct user tests if necessary.

Training and support: When researching different ATS options, what training and on-boarding does the company provide? Furthermore, what ongoing support is available when glitches and hurdles arise? You want to have experts on reserve if things go awry.

Mobile compatibility: A whopping 40 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices to search and apply for jobs. Make sure the ATS process looks as good on an iPhone as it does on a PC.

Streamlined processes: Make sure the ATS works with plug-ins like LinkedIn Apply, where applicants can automatically fill in time-consuming personal information. It also should have the ability to integrate well with social media.

Website integration: The ATS must work with your own unique career site that offers customized job postings and reporting. It also should seamlessly integrate with job boards and talent communities so you can pull in candidates from a variety of sources.

Respect: Give candidates proper information about their next steps throughout the entire application process. For applicants who are out of the running, make sure you can turn off the instant email notifications sent to them. Automatic rejections from computer software are sure to leave a bitter aftertaste.

Posting closures: The ATS should alert you when you have adequate applicants so you can take next steps. Make sure to take down job postings so people no longer spend time needlessly applying.

These considerations are some heavy hitters, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. What other advice do you have for HR execs looking to maximize their ATS?