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Why Are Applicant Tracking Systems Important?

It’s no easy feat being a hiring manager in the digital age.

A dozen online job boards means a dozen passwords and methods for posting openings. Over 150 million applicants are scouring those job search sites. Every position you post will likely receive hundreds of resumes. You have to sift through them all before you find the four to six candidates with the skills and experience to warrant an interview.

Or maybe you don’t. An applicant tracking system will give you the power to harness the digital age to make the most of your recruiting data.

You can let an applicant tracking system do the grunt work for you. The benefits of using software to track your hiring efforts go beyond saving a few clicks or tossing your password book. The built-in analytics that come with the system will help you hone your most effective hiring and retention practices. Ultimately, better candidates will become more valuable new hires with better retention rates.

Intro to Applicant Tracking Systems

An applicant tracking system will help you manage all your recruiting efforts, from posting the position to sending the offer letter and everything in between.

You’ll finally be able to post your open positions to multiple job boards and social media sites with just one click of your mouse. You’ll also be able to monitor your posting’s response across all those platforms. The data an applicant tracking system provides will help you optimize postings to attract higher quality candidates.

An applicant tracking system will allow you to customize your application for each position and location. You won’t need to depend on an individual job board’s capabilities. You can also use job screening questions to automatically rule out unqualified applicants. With an applicant tracking system, you can test your candidates’ resumes by requiring them to complete assessments.

Now that you have only qualified candidates in your job pool, you can begin sorting and applying status codes to applicants. An applicant tracking system can find resumes using keywords and other search parameters. You can save applicants and import them as potential candidates for future job openings.

An applicant tracking system doesn’t just make finding the perfect new hire easier. It also helps you track data for federal reporting purposes. You can automate the tasks and reports you require to ensure recruiting compliance. An applicant tracking system will even update the latest requirements to help you remain compliant.

Applicant Tracking System Features and Benefits

Applicant tracking software offers benefits and features throughout the hiring process.

Being able to attract more qualified candidates is just one applicant tracking system feature. For example, perhaps you’ve been too swamped to post your positions to more than a couple job boards. If so, you may have been missing out on your ideal applicant. With an applicant tracking system, you can post to multiple job websites with a single process.

Once job seekers find your posting, they can opt to apply for more than one job. The resumes and applications you receive can be saved for future job openings. With an applicant tracking system, you’ll be able to create a pool of applicants who have already expressed interest in working at your company.

You’ll be able to engage applicants on the devices they use the most. Millennials make up the largest demographic in the workforce. Your hiring process must be mobile friendly if you are going to reach the most candidates.

An applicant tracking system will make it easy for job seekers to post their resume and fill out your application from a mobile device. When it comes time to contact desirable candidates, you’ll be able to send text and email messages from within the applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system can improve the workflow of your entire hiring process. Everyone on the hiring team can work within the same platform. You can set up multiple users with varying levels of access. You’ll be able to set up interview questions and other documents for each position. You can search, sort and apply a status to applicants so only those who are most qualified are at the top of the pile.

From there, you can easily view all your communications with applicants. You’ll be able to schedule interviews. You can even disqualify candidates for future consideration. You can order background checks and send offer letters from within the program. Once you have your new hire, you can transfer all of her relevant information into employee onboarding software.

Applicant Tracking System Advantages

Companies spend billions each year in their recruiting efforts. Much of this cost comes from the time it takes to find, hire and train new employees. The cost is compounded when new hires leave before their first anniversary and hiring managers must go through the process all over again.

An applicant tracking system can help you reign in those costs. Many companies lack a centralized platform for their recruiting efforts. Job postings, resumes, and candidate communications are scattered in a slipshod collection of spreadsheets and filing cabinets.

An ATS offers features that you just can’t replicate. For example, the system can seamlessly integrate with online job boards. When an applicant tracking system is an Indeed partner, you’ll be able to allow candidates to view and start the application process for your job posting directly from Indeed. An applicant tracking system can upload a resume in PDF format to make it easy for job seekers on-the-go to quickly indicate their interest. Then, you may invite screened candidates to provide more information later in the selection process with a multi-step job application.

Putting your hiring documents and information in one easy-to-use platform will help you avoid wasting your team’s time. A robust platform that integrates with the latest hiring trends is better than learning how to build an ad hoc applicant tracking system with spreadsheets and a paper trail.

An applicant tracking system is better than an Excel template because it’s designed to parse through a large collection of data. Applicants will be loading their information into the system themselves when they apply on an easy-to-use job site featuring your company brand. From there, you’ll be able to search through applicant data without complex formulas. You’ll have simple searches and reports readily available.

With your system and hiring process in the cloud, you won’t need to rely on your company’s slow IT team. Your applicant tracking system also won’t be limited by the functional requirements of your company’s server. The scalability of an applicant tracking system means it can grow with your company.

Applicant Tracking System Disadvantages

Tracking applicants through an ATS doesn’t work for all employers.

It’s nice to have the capacity for data. But you’ll need to invest time for training stakeholders to manage the hiring process within an ATS system. For that reason, even stand-alone applicant tracking software is not for employers who hire rarely. And, an ATS that may be a part of an enterprise HRIS (human resources information system) is generally used by mid-sized organizations and larger businesses.

An applicant tracking system may not be necessary for employers that are not required to file recruiting compliance data. For example, businesses with fewer than 50 employees that also don’t have government contracts may not benefit from the data capabilities of an applicant tracking system. Such companies likely have just one person who manages the bulk of the hiring process using email folders, spreadsheets or a web form on their corporate website.

Characteristics of Top Applicant Tracking Systems

The best applicant tracking systems in 2020 bring candidates and the entire hiring team together. They’re more than a holding place for data. These platforms work harmoniously across users and sync across multiple websites.

Look for a platform that gives appropriate levels of access for all stakeholders. Your team will be able to collaborate from within the program. From the job’s qualifications to the interview questions, you’ll have an organized repository for the position’s important information.

A great hiring experience isn’t just important for your team. It’s essential for the applicants too. Look for a system that offers a customized online application on a jobs site that complements your branding.

The top applicant tracking systems in 2020 work seamlessly with the latest hiring trends to save time and money. But the savings don’t stop with the text recruiting feature. ATS analytic capabilities will help you zero in on the hiring practices that net you the best new hires. Increasing hiring efficiency is how many companies use applicant tracking systems.

Countless valuable features are why 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on applicant tracking systems.

Perspective on the Applicant Tracking System Free Scan

One of the most powerful features of applicant tracking systems is their candidate profile scanning capabilities. You want to make sure the system you choose gets this feature right. Otherwise, the best candidates may float to the bottom of your talent pool if you can’t perform robust search queries.

Tech-savvy applicants will strive for an ATS-friendly resume. They may load their resumes with the keywords they think you’ll search for in your job scan. There are plenty of blog posts about applicant tracking system free scans online that may inform them and impact their perspective.

You don’t want a new hire who can manipulate the system. You want the best qualified candidate for your position.

Some online job boards offer an applicant tracking system free download. But these low-quality platforms don’t offer a robust job scan for candidate profiles. An applicant tracking system that’s free is not necessarily good for qualified job seekers and could sabotage your hiring efforts.

The digital age connects you with more highly qualified candidates than ever before. But if you don’t have a robust applicant tracking system, you’ll be bogged down with too much data and redundant processes. You’ll never know where you consistently find your best hires, and you’ll have trouble knowing how to increase your employee retention rates.

Coordinate more efficiently with your team. Advertise across job boards and social media sites with minimal effort. Find the best resumes without bothering with low-quality job seekers that try to buck the system.

A robust applicant tracking system will help you manage and organize your hiring efforts. Once your open positions are populated with rock stars, you’ll be able to retrace your steps and gain insight that will save time and money in the future. 

Want to learn how to choose the right recruiting and HR software?

Choose Right HR Software | ExactHire

Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

Release Notes: Tracking Job Application Abandonment and Improving User Experience

Release Notes: Interview Scheduling, Custom Tags, Job Previews and Maps Integration

How to Effortlessly Use Texting to Hire Hourly Workers

You only have to look at your smartphone’s weekly screen time report to know that the amount of time we spend accessing our phones is increasing at a relentless pace. Whether our pervasive mobile usage troubles or encourages you, it is undeniable. In fact, according to research done by Hitwise, the average device split for searches was 72% for mobile and 28% for desktop in 2017.

In consideration of the amount of time people spend doing web searches on phones, naturally we’re in a climate where employers must adapt and leverage mobile communication in their hiring process–particularly while unemployment is at an epic low.

Today, the name of the hiring game is speed, and this is painfully realized in industries that employ a large number of hourly, non-exempt workers. The reality of those employers is that if they hesitate to respond quickly, the competitor across the street has already paid their would-be new hire for their first shift.

Signs that you’re not effectively using a text recruiting strategy

We can and should all continuously experiment with and tweak our hiring processes. The hiring landscape changes so quickly that constant attention is required. However, there are telltale signs that help identify when your organization has a more significant mobile communication problem.

Phone ghosting

I was initially surprised a couple of years ago when I heard that many employers of hourly workers, in particular, struggled to get candidates to respond to phone invitations for an initial interview. If your recruiters are frequently encountering full voice mail boxes when reaching out to schedule a conversation; or they discover that a candidate doesn’t even have voice mail set up, then it’s time to try something other than a phone call.

Candidate shelf-life

It’s not uncommon for employers who rely on large numbers of hourly workers to empower the managers and assistant managers of various store locations to screen candidates and invite them to proceed in the hiring process. Because hiring is just one of myriad operational responsibilities for these managers, they don’t always respond to candidates as quickly as may be necessary in this job market.

This failure in prompt candidate engagement all too often sinks a retail location’s recruiting efforts before the ship even leaves port. Or, maybe a manager is in such tremendous need of candidates that he recognizes this deficiency and immediately calls or emails new applicants. However, because many hourly workers tend to fill positions that aren’t necessarily accompanied by a desktop computer or an office landline, their tendency is to communicate via text rather than voice mail or email.

If a job seeker doesn’t recognize a general manager’s incoming phone number, chances are she’ll avoid taking the call–meanwhile, if she has applied to multiple hourly positions, a savvy competitor is grabbing her attention and her time via text before she checks her inbox.

Standardizing communication and respecting candidate privacy

In the absence of a strong hiring software platform that allows managers to contact job candidates via text message, many managers of hourly workers will resort to their own smartphone to contact applicants to connect for an interview.

This is commonplace; however, it isn’t in the best interest of the employer. In many cases, these applicants were not prompted to opt-in to receiving text messages during the job application process–why would they if the applicant tracking system didn’t support text messaging?

Not only is this a privacy concern as it does not allow job candidates to formally opt-out of text messages once they are initiated, but practically speaking, candidates won’t necessarily be on the lookout for text communication from your organization.

Arguably, they will probably quickly adapt given that texting is second nature to many of them, but your organization is missing an opportunity to set expectations about the hiring process and endear itself to candidates…candidates who are in hot demand.

Moreover, when general managers take texting candidates into their own hands outside of an ATS, there is no guarantee of adequate communication documentation with the job applicant. By utilizing applicant tracking software that includes in-application texting functionality, an employer is ensuring that multiple users of the system have access to review communication between candidates.

After all, in this highly competitive recruiting landscape, recruiters have full plates and may be called to work on different job requisitions if a co-worker is on vacation, on leave, etc. What you don’t want is for only one person in your organization to have access to candidate conversations–that’s a significant obstacle for a scaling company.

Why is mobile recruiting an opportunity for hourly jobs in particular?

Hourly workers are often the front-line defense (or offense) for your organization. They are the individuals who are most likely to interact directly with your customers. And, unfortunately, they are often in the positions with the highest turnover–whether that is related to the nature of the job, the typical lower pay (relative to exempt positions), and/or the lack of benefits (at least in the case of part-time hourly employees). In a job market flooded with open positions, candidates will leave for a few cents more per hour.

You see this happen in positions like

  • hosts and servers at your local restaurant,
  • cashiers at your retail store,
  • LPNs at your healthcare facility,
  • service techs at your automotive dealership, and
  • direct support professionals (DSPs) for nonprofits.

People who fill these types of positions tend to be on the go (i.e. not doing a desk job) and may have more than one part-time job at a time. They don’t get into email or voice mail as frequently (if at all), and so they need fewer barriers to communication when it comes to job consideration, as well as long-term engagement with an employer.

Considering that over 58% of America’s working population fills hourly positions (BLS, 2017), there’s real opportunity to leverage texting to be the first to attract and engage hourly job candidates. I’m offering the following steps to help you position your organization as an earlier adopter of the mobile recruiting revolution.

6 steps to successfully use texting to hire hourly workers

1 – Create communication efficiency

Use pre-built text message templates within your applicant tracking system. Create and label them for different stages in the selection process for hourly workers. This saves store managers time when they need to hire three new retail associates–“yesterday!”

2 – Model the right texting behavior

Train your hiring managers on appropriate texting etiquette for your recruiting process. Does the language they use and the tone they convey support your overall employment brand? Additionally, make sure they understand how text messages will show up to the job candidate.

An easy way to accomplish this is to test the messaging feature from within a sample job application. Then, take a screenshot of how it appears to a recipient on your phone and share it with managers. This step will help them understand from what number(s) messages may originate, whether the sender’s name, job title and/or organization name are referenced, and how much of the message will appear on the preview screen before being cut off.

3 – Lightning fast speed

Use text to reply promptly to candidates once they’ve responded to your initial outreach. Don’t make the mistake of resting on your laurels once you have native texting functionality and take your sweet time to reply–jump on message responses!

Remember: texting affords job candidates fewer communication barriers to entry, so they expect organizations to respond quickly, too.

4 – Strategically plan text content

You should absolutely use text to reach all types of job candidates to screen and schedule interviews. However, text messages also present an opportunity–when used thoughtfully and selectively–to reach candidates who are on the fence about joining your organization.

Consider the potential impact of a personalized message sharing a link to a positive article about your company. Or, the likelihood that a hired candidate will end up ghosting you during the pre-boarding phase if you regularly connect with him to prepare him for his first shift.

5 – Flip the script on thank you notes

Use text messages to thank a job candidate for her time and preparation after you conduct an interview. That’s right–once upon a time, we expected job candidates to thank recruiters and hiring managers for their time in order to help them secure an offer–but times are changing!

Thank you notes are still an amazing gesture on the part of a job candidate, but they are no longer a mainstay for job offer consideration in today’s job market given the sorry state of many employers’ candidate pipelines.

Today is about sourcing, not screening. Break through the clutter by proactively thanking candidates with a simple text message and humanize your hiring process.

6 – Hiring process visualization

When candidates know what to expect from the hiring process it

  • helps them visualize how they see themselves interacting with your organization,
  • may allow them to more adequately prepare, and
  • it makes it easier for them to say “yes” when you make the job offer.

You can use text to quickly outline the various hiring process steps at the onset of the recruiting process. Think of this step as reducing friction for distracted job seekers who probably have many options before them. If you can grease their understanding runway regarding your job opportunity–and you can do so quickly–you’ll be the employer who is poaching job candidates from competitors across the street.

Mobile recruiting facilitated by text message communication is here to stay. Armed with the steps outlined above, you’re on the way to engaging the job seekers in your hourly job candidate pipeline and positively impacting your employer’s bottom line.

ExactHire Hiring Software | Text Recruiting

Release Notes: Custom Application Questions, Job Question Groups and ZipRecruiter Integration

7 Tired Excuses for a Long Job Application

So your customer service representative and retail associate jobs have been posted for weeks on end…but you still don’t have enough applicants to satisfy the general managers at all your retail locations.

What’s a recruiter to do? Maybe you should come to grips with the excuses your organization has been telling itself about why it keeps its lengthy, increasingly-obsolete job application.

You say, “but this application used to be a gold mine – ten years ago we were flooded with job applicants!” Well, ten years ago the recession gave you an employer’s market that made it easy to nurture your “woobie blanket” of an employment application.

It seems obvious that employers should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their hiring process (and more frequently than once per decade); nonetheless, many organizations don’t put it at the top of the HR priority list…until their candidate pipelines have dwindled to a trickle.

Let’s examine the excuses that keep employers preserving their lengthy job applications.

1 – If they really want the job, they’ll complete it.

Once upon a time, this was more true. And, perhaps it will be sort of true once again as economic factors shift over time. In the meantime, your organization–however beloved it is in the eyes of your community–will never be so precious that it engages all of the top talent to complete a 52-question job application in a climate where unemployment is so low.

In fact, according to an Appcast study referenced by SHRM, job application completion rates plummet by nearly 50 percent when an application has 50 or more questions rather than 25 or fewer questions. Others say the impact is worse–Indeed research suggests that employment applications with just 20 screener questions lose 40% of candidates, with abandonment rate increasing as more questions are added.

2 – It’ll be too much work to screen later.

Recruiters and HR professionals understand that if you ask fewer questions up front in the job application, then you have less information to go by when it comes to screening candidates. You may be concerned that it will take too much time to ask these repositioned questions at the interview stage of the hiring process.

However, your lengthy job application is going to dramatically decrease the number of candidates you will put through your hiring process–so, you may have some free time for extra screening on your hands.

In this market, you must decrease your application complexity because the opportunity cost of a long employment application is more time sourcing more candidates because there isn’t enough talent in the pipeline.

3 – Our application “isn’t that bad.”

You agree that a 50+ question application is ridiculous and are giggling alongside me as you read this blog. Of course we can’t expect reasonable job seekers to waste their time on that fool’s exercise!

But wait, when was the last time you actually pretended to be a job seeker and applied to your own company? Hmmm….

Have you ever counted all the fields and questions in your employer’s job application? Go do it now, I’ll wait.

What’s that you say? There are…28 questions for the cashier job at your store?!?

Test your own job application with regularity–at least once per year, if not more frequently, as you notice significant changes in your application rates.

4 – We don’t have that many mobile job seekers.

Should no one in 2019 say ever. You’re in denial about the massive application abandonment rate you experience with mobile job seekers until the Google Analytics statistic of 70% is staring you in your face. Yes, at ExactHire we’ve seen abandonment that high with prospective employers who have not yet implemented a mobile-friendly, reasonably brief, job application.

Remember, an already lengthy application becomes an absolute beast on mobile and tablet views with smaller screens and ample finger pinching, scrolling and zooming.

By reducing the length of your application to appeal to the mobile job seeker, you also stand to improve your diversity and inclusion efforts. According to Pew Research done in the past 5 years, “black and Hispanic smartphone owners are especially likely to use their phone for job-related activities – more than half (55%) used their phone in the past year to find job information, compared with about a third (37%) of whites.”

5 – HR will yell at me.

You think your job application has to be long because Dolores Umbridge in human resources will stalk you if you deviate from the standard.

While certain industries and organization sizes require specific compliance-related questions, there aren’t so many requirements that your application should be painful to complete.

You should absolutely stick to applicable employment law when it comes to questions related to criminal history, pay history, employment eligibility, required licensure, voluntary self-identification, etc. (it will vary depending on employer size, location, contractor status, and industry).

But, that doesn’t mean you need to collect references on the first step of the application. Remember, your job application helps to form the first impression of your organization…do you want that impression to be one riddled with red tape and inefficiency?

6 – Everyone gets the same job application.

“Well, this is the way we’ve always done it.”

You feel compelled to have every job seeker, regardless of position interest, complete the same, one-size-fits-all application. It feels safe, right?

You can have different job application versions to meet the needs of different job categories and locations. And, our ExactHire applicant tracking software makes it a cinch to customize and manage application templates. After all, not only do questions sometimes vary depending on state, but the knock-out questions that you’d present an hourly worker are probably different than for a white collar executive.

7 – I don’t know which questions to ask at which step.

You’re starting to relent in your desire to preserve your lengthy job application. Fantastic!

Now you must figure out which questions to ask at which stage of the hiring process. First, examine your existing job application and consider questions that you really don’t need to ask in the initial step. Keep only the deal-breaker questions.

Deal-breakers for hourly positions at a retail location may be as simple as evaluating

  • which shifts the candidate may fill,
  • whether the candidate is available to work overtime, and
  • whether the candidate has reliable transportation to and from work.

Don’t be afraid to go to your general managers and ask them for the short list of questions that actually matter when they consider someone for this type of position. Of course, your short list will likely vary quite a bit when considering questions for your general manager positions.

No more excuses for your employment application

Be aware of these seven excuses so you can keep your organization from falling back into the trap of the dreaded, lengthy job application.

By regularly evaluating your application fulfillment rates and testing your own application versions for different job categories, you’ll increase the number of qualified candidates in your recruitment pipeline. You’ll improve your employment brand, too.

Optimize your job application

Schedule a demo of ExactHire to see how you can customize and manage multiple employment application templates to suit different job categories.

Release Notes: Applicant Stages and Disqualification, Compliance Reporting and Application Template Updates

Release Notes: Sticky Apply, Job Management, Application Edit Tools and Reporting Customization

Release Notes: Application Self-Service, Emerging Reporting Functionality and Robust Role Permissions for Users

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