Why an ATS Alone Won’t Solve Recruiting Challenges

ATS Data

Applicant tracking systems may be near-ubiquitous, but many HR and recruiting professionals have something of a love/hate relationship with theirs. Some leaders say they tame what might be an unmanageable process, while others argue they complicate the recruiter’s life.

For example, one HR executive recently told us her ATS has made all the difference to her company’s national recruiting and onboarding efforts. Days later, another leader said his system flooded his staff with unqualified applicants, leaving recruiters with less time to follow up with more promising ones.

A new report from @HRdotcom Research Institute says 77 percent of employers use an ATS, but only 52 percent call their hiring process good or excellent. #HR #HRTech Share on X

Apparently, that’s not an unusual dynamic. A new report from HR.com’s Research Institute said that while 77 percent of employers use an ATS, only 52 percent call their hiring process good or excellent.  

It’s important to note that 90 percent of the employers who say they’re good at talent acquisition use an ATS, compared to 61 percent of lower-performing organizations. And if some executives worry that an ATS can flood them with a greater number of unqualified candidates, 59 percent of HR.com’s respondents said improving the screening process was a significant reason they adopted an ATS.

ATS Good, ATS Bad

The ATS may be widely used, but it’s far from perfect. While vendors talk about improving the candidate experience and offering razor-sharp search tools, many users say their systems fall down in these same areas. For example:

  • Only 30 percent of the report’s respondents said their ATS is good or fair at automatically matching candidates and postings.
  • Just a third are good or fair at personalizing the candidate experience.
  • About 32 percent say their ATS is good at uncovering internal talent, while 30 percent say they help identify passive candidates.

More Integration, Please

Of particular note in this era of integration, most respondents said their ATS is tough to incorporate with other systems, especially tools for workforce planning, video interviewing and advanced sourcing.

However, this is changing, the report found. HR.com’s respondents put a high value on recently improved integration with onboarding processes and social media sites. (And sources tell us that vendors are focusing on solving integration challenges in light of customer demand.) Beyond that, HR wants to see improved mobile friendliness, texting capabilities and features that will lower abandonment rates, such as autofill capabilities.

HR.com CEO Debbie McGrath said the report suggests that more employers need to their ATS is just one building block of their TA efforts. “It’s after implementing an ATS that companies need to take the more difficult steps to optimize the features and functionality,” she said. “A commitment to ongoing training, feedback, metrics and tracking will help maximize the benefits of your ATS and bring strategic advantages.”

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