What Happens When Your Recruiting Efforts Outpace Your ATS

Learn about talent acquisition’s new future that goes beyond the ATS. Join Forrester and Smashfly for their webinar on 4/30 at 2 PM EST. Click here

Since it’s invention in the 1990’s, the ATS short for applicant tracking system has been the heart of your talent acquisition and recruiting efforts. It’s served as the central system for all your recruiting and hiring efforts. Problem is the hiring process has expanded and your ATS is not equipped to handle the change.

In 25 years there has been little to no innovation, re-invention or advancements outside of moving things from on-premise to the cloud. It’s the same old ATS we used in 1992 to process, select and store our candidates. The applicant tracking system isn’t responsive, dynamic or anything more than an online storage system to keep you in compliance with your favorite government agency.

The applicant tracking system has stood the test of time because human capital is a slow moving ship that until that last 36 months hasn’t demanded it upgrade, adapt or change. Our most recent recession delayed the inevitable keeping our ATS as a viable option to manage our recruitment processes and hiring strategy. We kept writing the checks and fooling ourselves blaming our lack of quality of hires and/or ability to quickly fill roles due to the improved economy. However, we have come to realized the problem is two fold. We must adapt and adjust our recruiting strategies while also upgrading the ATS and other HR technology.

In late 2013, our relationship with the old reliable ATS really went bad because old reliable just isn’t enough for us and our highly competitive and robust recruiting and hiring needs. Talent is now the number 1 priority of your CEO which in turn is the priority of everyone in your company.

Proactive Recruitment Strategy Has Outpaced Your Existing ATS Capabilities

Those hiring needs are either reactive recruiting or of the more proactive variety. Reactive recruitment suits your ATS, but talent acquisition teams are moving away from traditional job posting and focusing on candidate relationships, employment branding and engagement efforts. These things take time. We are unable to manage, engage or organize our efforts the way our current ATS is structured and built. Our proactive recruitment is built on talent pipelines and recruiting funnels to feed and fuel our future hiring needs. Spray and pray recruitment was build for the old ATS, but it just isn’t enough given the current focus for our CEO and the competitive job seeker marketplace.

talent-pipeline (2)


Our current ATS is built for the middle phases of our hiring and candidate engagement processes. It isn’t prepared to handle the pre-candidate engagement campaign (as shown above), practices and efforts in addition to the post-offer and new hire onboarding, engagement, training and socializing.

Pre-Candidate Engagement: Candidate Pipeline

In the last 24 months, we’re focused on building relationships with candidates BEFORE there is a traditional job posting via our ATS technology. Our ATS isn’t equipped to handle the pre-candidate engagement cycle. We don’t just need a sourcing platform but a candidate relationship manager (or CRM), recruitment marketing platform as well as new employment branding technology. Because recruiting is more than just an ATS. It’s about mobile, social, employment branding, email nurturing, employee referral programs, sourcing, job marketing and content marketing. Only together can all these things combined determine the success of your total recruitment marketing and talent acquisition strategies.

Post Offer Engagement: Onboarding, Training & Socializing

Post offer engagement is another area where our ATS lacks. Although our candidate has accepted our recruiter’s job offer, they are at their most vulnerable. We have no process or built in engagement automated or otherwise that goes beyond standard onboarding documents, employee handbooks and I-9 documentation. Candidates who have accepted job offers are awaiting start dates are likely still interviewing for other job openings. This means they have leverage and are also vulnerable to accepting a job offer at a different organization which is why we we need more from our ATS. We need a post-offer engagement and onboarding strategy focused on socializing, embedding them into the culture before their official start date.

Recruitment marketing knows no bounds and we must move beyond ATS processes and focus on relationships to attract, engage and nurture candidates post offer as well as pre-candidate. Recruiting is highly complex and these increasingly complicated skill sets are the reason that the ATS just isn’t enough. Our tech like our current recruiting teams must move beyond the traditional ATS in order to be successful in our hiring and talent acquisition efforts.

Learn about talent acquisition’s new future that goes beyond the ATS. Join Forrester and Smashfly for their webinar on 4/30 at 2 PM EST. Click here

Posted in ,

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.


Pin It on Pinterest