Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS for those in the know have been around for many years, they have evolved from the standard database of old such as Cardbox to significant players when it comes to resourcing for candidates.
I am not sure if anyone out there remembers Cardbox? Cardbox was a database system which allowed you to input information about candidates and write general comments about the candidate. This system allowed you to search for key words and would at the end of the search give you a list of candidate names to choose from. Now your work did not stop there you would then look at the candidates folder and review the skills further, if you felt you had a match you would then call the candidate to discuss the skills in more detail and get a better idea if there was a fit with your clients specification.
ATS systems today such as IGrasp, Taleo, Tribepad and many others are more intelligent than Cardbox. The candidates information is collected the individual reviews the details and in a short space of time deselected at a push of a button. Time is saved which allows the individual to move forward with other projects.
The ATS systems are indeed clever but are they making us lazy? What has happened to the contact between the hirer using the ATS system and the candidates. I think within an Agency environment it seems to have had more of an impact when it comes to the relationship with their candidates. I have come across many posts that describe a lack of communication with Agencies. Could it be that there is a great reliance on ATS systems managing the candidate process and the Agent managing the client?
What about HR? Do they suffer a similar problem in that the ATS system is used to manage the candidate journey whilst they become involved in other HR issues. Even those solely focused on recruitment can become zombies of the ATS system. I myself have fallen fowl of this, particularly when I was managing 60 vacancies per week, you rely heavily on the system to process information quickly.
When using an ATS system you are involved in a formal process which can diminish your ability to be involved in creative thought process. What I mean by this is looking deeper into a candidates skill set and reviewing it without allowing yourself to think ‘it doesn’t tick that box so therefore they can’t do it’
There is also a concern about unconscious bias. Depending what filters are set on the ATS system, bias can be present at this stage causing candidates to be deselected before their full application have been reviewed. I remember working for one organisation who added a health questionnaire onto their ATS system and a Equality and Diversity form. These two forms were not to be used as part of the selection process however the organisation allowed Manager’s access to the information held on the forms. It is my belief managers’ used both forms to deselect candidates.
We should not be a slave to the ATS system, we must stop ourselves from becoming zombies and use the system to engage our minds to great effect to allow more communication and support of those applying for jobs. Remember its people’s lives in our hands and we must go over and above to ensure we have managed the process appropriately.
What has your experience been with ATS systems? How has it effected your recruitment process? Have you used any alternative methods? I would be interested in hearing your views.
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