4 Ways to Optimize Your ATS

You have an applicant tracking system (ATS) to make recruiting better. You use it to hire better candidates more quickly. Unfortunately, if you’re using an ATS with subpar tools, or that isn’t very user-friendly, it could end up hindering recruiting instead of helping it. Here are four things to do with your ATS to ensure you aren’t losing great candidates.

Use collaboration tools

One common way recruiters miss out on perfect candidates is by eliminating them in early stages. It would be nice if recruiters and hiring managers had a psychic connection. That way, recruiters could ensure they aren’t eliminating candidates the hiring manager would actually love. (You know what they say: One recruiter’s trash is a hiring manager’s treasure … or something like that.)

Until you nail your psychic connection, you’ll have to rely on good collaboration tools, and your ATS should provide some. 86 percent of employees and executives blame workplace failures on lack of collaboration or ineffective communication—and hiring failures can be pretty costly. When you use an ATS with collaboration tools, recruiters can easily check with hiring managers to make sure they’re making the right call before eliminating a candidate.

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Refine your workflow

It’s not fun to be forgotten. Not by a server. Not by a friend. And certainly not by a recruiter who holds the keys to your potential job future. Unfortunately, it happens. A common problem with ATS (and recruiting in general) is neglecting and forgetting about candidates and where they are in the process.

To avoid losing candidates (in the system and as stellar employees), refine your workflow. Your ATS should allow you to create custom workflow statuses (e.g. reviewing resume, scheduled first interview, sent skill assessment) so you know exactly where each candidate is in the process. It should also track how long it’s been since you changed the status so you can track time since the last contact. If you stay on top of those things, you’ll be sure you don’t lose any candidates in the system.

Rely on MORE than resumes and keywords

If you only rely on resumes in recruiting, you’re likely missing great candidates. If you only rely on keywords, you definitely are. Resumes and keywords don’t tell you everything about a candidate.

Use your ATS to save time on collaboration, candidate communication, and job postings. Then spend the time you save getting to know more about candidates than the words they put on their resume. Do phone screenings or review candidates’ social networks. Tools like video interviewing can also give you more information about a candidate and help save time. Hiring is one of the most influential business activities because nothing else in the organization is done well if you hire poorly. It’s definitely worth reviewing more than just keywords and resumes.

Eliminate application barriers

Almost 40 percent of employers say they’re having difficulty filling positions, and that number of employers has been steadily growing since 2007. You might say that’s because there simply aren’t enough candidates out there with the right skill set. But it could also be because your organization is putting up too many barriers. After all, if your hiring process is too lengthy, stringent, and difficult, and a candidate has three other companies they’re applying to whose processes are simple, they probably won’t bother jumping through your hoops.

Your candidates should get the same experience with your ATS that you do: beautiful, simple, and custom. Use your ATS to customize a few questions specific to the job role; remember: make it quick and efficient or you’ll lose their attention. Use your job description and requirements to put up only the right barriers—does that position really require a degree, or just experience and demonstrated skill? Open yourself up to every candidate who can do the job well, and use your ATS to make the process easy and enjoyable for applicants.

An ATS can help you save time, get more information, and be more organized in your hiring process. Just make sure you are using it to create the right barriers (not unnecessary ones), do more than scan for keywords, manage candidate experience with a defined workflow, and collaborate with stakeholders. That way you’ll reap all ATS benefits and avoid the pitfalls that cost candidates.