How to Customize an Applicant Tracking System for Multiple Divisions in Your Organization

Just when you thought you made it through the difficult task of selecting the right applicant tracking system vendor unscathed, you find yourself faced with the challenge of customizing your new ATS portal to be well suited to the needs and workflow processes of your organization. And while the implementation process is critically important to ensure that staff members engage with the hiring software tool positively, it doesn’t mean that it has to be hard or take forever to get done.

With the right hiring technology partner, your applicant tracking software implementation process should proceed efficiently, avoid nasty surprises and leave you with a careers portal that is complementary to your company’s employment brand, and a boon to your HR department’s efficiency. After implementation is complete and you are up and running with your new software, you should be left thinking “how did we survive before this ATS?”

In this blog, I’ll specifically be discussing how to move through the thought process for customizing an applicant tracking system for multiple divisions within an organization. Business units might mean divisions, branches, facilities, departments, locations, or even companies. Your applicant tracking software should be flexible enough to be configured in such a way that business units have exactly the level and scope of access that you desire in terms of visibility to job listings, applicant records, settings, reporting, etc.

The solution that you put in place should also be scalable to adjust with any expansion plans in store for your business. Thinking longer term about what your company will look like a year from now, five years from now and so on will help to guide you and your implementation project manager on how to configure your ATS. As you embark on the installation and implementation process, be sure and explore the discussion topics covered below.

Branding the Job Listings Page for Potential Applicants

Do you wish for all job postings across the entire organization to be in the same place on one central jobs page? Or, do you prefer that each business unit have its own separate jobs portal?

How you answer this question may depend on whether or not separate branding accompanies each business unit. If multiple companies fall under one parent organization, then it’s likely that each company has its own logo, colors, look, etc.

However, if business units are comprised of different retail outlets for the same corporation, then the same brand may be universal. This would be true of the restaurant industry especially, with multiple locations spread out across a regional geographic area. Another consideration for customization may be whether or not all locations are corporate-owned. For example, while a retail chain of restaurants or convenience stores may wish to present a unified brand and job listing page to applicants, it may need to keep the processing of applicants on the administrative side more compartmentalized should some of the stores be owned by franchisees and others by the corporation.

Ask your applicant tracking software provider about options for creating administrative separation between business units, while at the same time having the option to choose between presenting a single, branded job listing page for all organizational positions; or, having multiple separate branded jobs pages for each business unit. For example, ExactHire ATS can support multiple sub-portals for an organization with many divisions, and each division can have its own careers page URL address…while also having an alternate URL on which the entire corporation’s positions may be featured. In this fashion, the parent corporation web site might link to the catch-all job listings URL, and the individual divisions’ branded websites’ “job openings” links might redirect to the separate, branded sub-portal URLs.

Other considerations include:

  • How much does your applicant target audience and ideal candidate profile differ for positions in one business unit compared to another?
  • How many job listings do you anticipate posting across the entire organization on average per month?
  • Will other career-related information for potential applicants be hosted on your corporate website, or on your ATS portal? How might that information (such as benefits, company culture, hiring process FAQs, etc.) differ from one division to the next?

Does One Version of Your Employment Application Fit All Divisions?

Will the questions asked on your standard employment application be appropriate across all business units?

Your approach to crafting your online application will likely depend on the industry in which you operate as well as the geographic distribution of your office locations or production facilities. For example, positions in some industries will have specific qualification prerequisites in the form of required experience or certifications, or even criminal record history. While many of these items should be able to be addressed in the job-specific screening question area of any good ATS application, there may be instances in which the job posting and applicant volume justify having a completely separate standard application…perhaps one on which an informational video can be embedded, to cite just one example.

When considering how employment applications might differ for a company that is decentralized across many locations in different states (or even countries), then a review of applicable employment laws and the potential restrictions they may impose on the language used to ask certain questions on an employment application will likely drive the customization decision.

Additionally, there may be instances in which the content of the application remains consistent for all job listings; however, the timespan during which it is completed may differ depending on the competitiveness of certain jobs. For example, highly-skilled IT professionals are often proactively recruited by organizations that struggle to get these candidates to complete lengthier applications up front. Some hiring software systems will allow recruiters to break the application process down into two steps, allowing in-demand candidates to complete a shorter, more basic application in the first-phase. You may wish to design your portal to allow you to use the two-step application for only certain positions rather than all positions for all business units.

Give Access to the Right Users in the Right Place

Considering your administrative users’ needs, will they require access to all jobs, applicants, settings and reporting across your entire organization; or, only certain items within a specific business unit?

The previous discussions of portal branding and employment application design both have a somewhat significant impact on the candidate’s experience with your company; however, making sure that user permissions are set up correctly are essential to ensuring ease of use for your administrators. Carefully considering the needs of your users is paramount to configuring your hiring platform to suit your recruiting needs, as well. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • Do your HR Business Partners travel between business units often?
    • If so, they will likely need access to all applicants and jobs across all locations even if they tend to focus their recruiting efforts on one unit’s needs.
  • Are your human resources staff members centralized in the corporate office; or, decentralized and present in a variety of field offices?
    • If your answer is the latter, then it may not make sense for all admin users to access all jobs and applicants in the ATS. However, it may still be important for those users to have the full menu of items available to them for their slice of applicants/jobs. They would still need to access settings, reporting and analytics tools for their business unit. This may be an important distinction between user permissions available to an admin-level user for just one sub-portal unit among many for a parent organization vs. being a hiring manager-level user for a sub-department in a single portal for an entire organization.
  • Will admin users want to assign applicants who have applied for positions in one business unit to consideration for positions in other business units?
    • Lastly, this portability question is key in determining the degree of separation appropriate across business units in your applicant tracking software portal. Answer it while keeping your organization’s future growth plans in mind.
  • Will users across many business units wish to all take advantage of the same job templates, applicant status disposition code labels, email templates and custom reports?
    • If the answer is no, then admin users will probably be free to create settings appropriate for their individual branch. If the answer is yes, then an extreme degree of separation may not be ideal…even though it should be fairly easy for an ATS provider to duplicate existing settings in one portal to a new, separate portal. Be sure and consider how any separation may affect productivity long-term if settings, reporting, etc. need to be standard across the organization. Over time, settings like status codes may be tweaked by different admin users assigned to different business units..and that can pose problems for things like compliance reporting if an organization must do a consolidated version for any reasons.

With these topics in mind, you’re ready to have a productive partnership with your vendor and create a platform that will streamline your recruiting and hiring efforts. Don’t be shy about voicing your needs and needing to feel comfortable with how your hiring software’s features will allow your department to be successful – both during implementation and for your entire relationship with your software partner.

Contact ExactHire today to discuss how ExactHire ATS can best be configured to take your recruiting staff to the next level.

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