Why the ATS is the Selfie Stick of HR

Applicant tracking systems, or ATSs, are often the bane of the HR and recruiting existence. They suck up my time as I click 17 times to push a single candidate through a job requisition. They aren’t dynamic and most don’t allow for boolean search let alone the ability to create a messaging or marketing workflow campaign where I can determine if the candidate is passive, wants to learn about the organization, or just might be interested in relocating to take a job with my company. Yes, I loathe the ATS almost exactly like I do the selfie stick.

They’re Both Awkward

It’s impossible for the selfie stick to not draw attention. The experience is  good for those who are using the tech, and awkward for those who are not. Reminds me a lot of the career website that sits atop your ATS. For the recruiter, it’s great, because the ATS allows candidates to complete an application. I get exactly what I need, not unlike you and your great group photo with the Hawaiian volcanos, framed in the distance. But for everyone else on that boat or at that scenic view the experience sucks — because its UX is designed just for you. Don’t get me started on the safety challenges of the selfie stick. This alone is the reason why a number of attractions, museums and amusement parks have banned the selfie stick. I wish our industry would consider doing the same.

Not All Selfie Sticks Are Created Equal

Earlier this year I had the unfortunate realization that my selfie stick wasn’t up to par. After receiving one at a user conference, I quickly and quietly in the privacy of my own hotel room decided to try it out. When it comes to selfie sticks, everyone seems to be an expert so I figured I’d give it a shot. Earlier this year, I spent most of my spring break vacation poking fun at the selfie stick, taking pictures of Hawaiian vacationers posing for ridiculous photos, with the plan to create an Instagram photo series complete with hashtag. But I also wanted to see what I was missing. I guess that makes me a hypocrite, but I thought I would give it a test drive, or a demo, if you know what I mean.

The selfie stick that I received was a hot mess. The functionality just stunk and I was left less than impressed. There were no automatic or timed photo taking or rechargeable battery, and through some trial and error I realized that all selfie sticks, like the ATSs, were not created equal. Luckily, I didn’t sign a long term contract with my selfie stick. It was free trade show swag. There was no debate about being on premise, or in the cloud software, because I didn’t know to ask. Plus, there was a free trial, so I figured, what the heck.

I just took that selfie stick and ran with it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And what I didn’t know is that there is a process and an art to managing and executing a proper selfie pose with that stick. I wish someone had written a briefing, an analyst report, or a simple blog post to tell me. More importantly, I wish I thought to Google or ask someone just what I needed in terms of that technology.

Selfie Sticks and ATSs Are One-Note

Unless you have bluetooth capabilities, your selfie stick serves one purpose and function, which is to take a ridiculously flattering picture without the hassle of awkwardly asking a stranger to snap your pic. I wish my selfie stick had additional functionality like boolean search, marketing automation, a stand to prop up my phone, or just a simple waist or head strap like the GoPro. It would make it so much easier to record my Periscope and Meerkat recruitment videos.

Your ATS is just an ATS. It’s not a dynamic CRM and integration is often a pain. But your selfie stick ATS is the only option to not just take great photos but fill those open job listings. I’m not going back to the hiring/recruiting spreadsheet or begging strangers to take a pic. That’s so 2008.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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