Applicant Tracking System – Friend or Foe? #BigDataHR

This week on Blogging4Jobs, we are focusing on the theme Big Data sponsored by Jibe. Jibe provides cloud-based recruiting technology solutions that enable talent acquisition teams to strategically identify, attract and engage candidates. Join us April 10th 2014 at 3pm to talk Big Data on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDataHR and join our webinar, “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data in HR & Recruiting” on April 17th at 11a EST. Follow the week by bookmarking us

Life without an ATS system can seem liberating at first however, the long term effects are terrifying. I have lived on both sides of the coin, ATS or no ATS. I have used several different types of systems (even a simple excel spreadsheet at one point!), I want to share how I have come to terms with not only relying on the system but, adding a human touch.

I wish I could call every applicant, I really do. At one point in my career, I made an effort to do just that. I love people, I love their stories and I want to help as many people as I can. I had to find my own filters to become more effective.

No matter if you are in high or low volume hiring, sticking to a process is key to making any ATS system work with you not against you. Follow the same steps, keep consistent over time. It can be a pain to get used to but, six months from now when you don’t remember the conversation with John Doe, you will thank me. So, if you are adding a note to a spreadsheet you have created or using a robust ATS, keep it simple and consistent. Create your own language of abbreviations, write them down until you memorize them over time (NQ – Not Qualified etc.). Keeping a system will also allow you to keep better track of your metrics and ratios. Getting to the numbers in order to increase your productivity over time.

Narrowing Down Your Candidate Pool

  • Is the application complete? Did the candidate do everything we asked them to do in this process?
  • What does the position require? Education Must Have? Experience Requirements?
  • Is the Hiring Manager have any must haves? Specific type of designations?
  • The resume? How does it look? Spelling, grammatical errors? Personally: I dislike functional resumes. It’s not a deal breaker of course.
  • Salary Expectations?
  • Is there more to the story? Is this someone I want to talk to?

I have a love/hate relationship with ATS systems. Adding a human touch is not only important but, you may miss a great candidate by not taking a moment to review all of the information provided.

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Jen Ray, PHR

Jen Ray, PHR is professional relationship builder by day, general contractor by night. Her experiences come from the retail, financial services and banking industries. Outside of the office, you will find Jen remolding her home in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Connect with Jen.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kyle says

    Your point about consistency is very true and quite important. We will not, as you stated, remember most interviews six months after. Imagine a candidate being called back for a “first interview” six months after the last. Imagine this candidate telling the interviewer the following: You don’t remember me , do you?


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