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Does your ATS Have you Singing Sad Songs?

(May 12, 2008) 
As a former recruiter, I can personally attest to the pain and suffering of the first-generation of applicant tracking systems. They drove me into this business. Heck, in many cases, the second-generation of applicant tracking systems haven't been much better. In fact, as I travel around and meet with HR professionals and corporate recruiters, what they say reminds me of some downright sad country western songs.

"I Keep Forgettin' I Forgot About You"
Recruiting has never been a cakewalk. It requires incredible relationship management and superior organizational skills. Shouldn't your ATS do the latter while you concentrate on the former? Using the ATS as a central repository for candidate data also means that everyone can collaborate productively. And it means that prime candidates won't wind up working for the competition because you couldn't locate their resume in the stacks of paper in your office or in Microsoft Outlook folders.

"How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away?"
Ever have a candidate that applies to every job posting, every day? It's almost like they're stalking your career site and job board postings. While their tenacity is admirable, their approach is time consuming and unproductive. Don't you just want your ATS to handle them in a polite manner that doesn't divert valuable recruiter time away from working with the right candidates?

"If I ain't Got it You don't Need it"
HR professional and corporate recruiters want their ATS to make their job easier, not harder. So measuring a candidate's skills against the job's requirements before you put the person in front of a hiring manager goes a long way to building a solid talent pipeline, as well as improves your credibility with internal customers.

""I Wanted You to Leave (Until You Left Me)"
Opening a new requisition in the ATS should not leave you wishing for the return of a marginal employee. Turnover is a workplace fact of life and there's no sense crying over it, unless creating a requisition in your current ATS is tantamount to building Hoover Dam.

"Tears in My Ears"
With today's ever-escalating war for talent, when a company finds a superstar, the last thing you want to do is lose them, especially because your application process turned them off. It's all about branding the employment experience and if your ATS isn't with you, it's working against you. Avoid having tears in your ears from crying over lost opportunities!

"Thank God and a Greyhound, You're Gone"
And, by the way, shouldn't your ATS help you evaluate more data about that superstar before you fly them into town for an interview?

"I Would Have Wrote You a Letter, But I Couldn't Spell Yuck"
This one is my favorite. Sounds funny but it's not - candidate communiqués need to be integrated with the rest of the recruiting workflows and the ATS is the best place from which they should originate. If your ATS can't communicate elegantly, even when the news is bad, find a new ATS! Life's too short to be coordinating an ATS and Microsoft Word files.

"I'm Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail"
Speaking of workflows, make sure your ATS can seamlessly interface to other systems - such as your background checking vendor - giving you visibility into all aspects of the recruiting process instead of burdening you by having to maintain multiple systems.

"Remember to Remind Me, I'm Leaving"
Finding top talent isn't a nine-to-five job. Being able to access the ATS from home means busy recruiters can telecommute or work flexible hours to advance qualified candidates and passive job seekers who need to be on the radar.

By now, you're probably weeping profusely a la "There's a Tear in My Beer," musing over your own ATS pain and suffering. But take heart. The good news is that with proper planning - both from a business processes and technology standpoint - you can identify an ATS that will make your sad song blues go away!

An eighteen-year veteran in the field of recruiting, Kevin Harrison's professional career encompasses virtually every facet of the recruiting function, both in the corporate settings and in the staffing services industry. Prior to heading up PeopleFilter, he held leadership and high-volume recruiting roles in staffing for organizations such as Internet startups MyPoints.com and FullAudio, the global consulting firm DMR Consulting Group (now Fujitsu Consulting Services), Focal Communications, and MedFocus, a national leader in the field of clinical research consulting.

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