Hiring Applicant Tracking Systems

How Well Do Employers Know Their Applicant Tracking Systems?

Here’s a question for HR Departments and Hiring Managers: Would you like to know one of the easiest ways to irritate job seekers during the hiring process?

Complicated Applicant Tracking Systems

Hiring processes changed from the days of submitting paper resumes. According to Recruiting Daily, 75% of large companies – smaller companies are following suit – use Applicant Tracking Systems in their recruitment activities.

So, online applications are everywhere, and it’s easy to apply anytime. Who knows this better than job seekers though?


Applicant Tracking System; Recruitment Technology; Job Search; Employers; Human Resources
How Well Do You Know Your Applicant Tracking Systems
Creative Commons Flickr Photo Courtesy of Robert S. Donovan

For HR departments, the use of online application systems stands as a time-saving measure when it comes to identifying suitable candidates in their applicant pools.

Yet, for job seeking applicants, the completion of applications using these systems is one of the most frustrating parts of the job search process. The use of ATS by companies irritates job seekers, and this fact should be seriously considered by every Human Resources Department interested in recruiting the best applicants for their advertised positions.

Now, I want to clarify this: the completion of applications for employment using the computerized ATS software is not frustrating because we are lazy, unemployed job seekers.

This issue is these applications aren’t as streamlined as they should be from the “applicant-interface end.” Therefore, more time is needed to complete them.

For the most part, every online job application I’ve completed required the following information:

1. First and Last Name

2. Physical Address and E-mail Address

3. Education History (Including High School)

4. Telephone Number and Social Security Number

5. 10 Year Employment History (Including Addresses, Supervisor Information, and Reasons for Leaving Each Job)

6. Past Salary History

7. Salary Preferences

8. Professional References

9. Resume and Cover Letter

10. Pre-Screen Questionnaire and Assessment

Is all of this information needed at this point in the recruitment process? At this point, we’re only applying and seeking consideration for the targeted positions.

Additionally, in what way are salary requirements and past salary history relevant to be required on applications?

When online applications require all of this information up front, it’s hard for our applications to move from hiring automation to human hands.

We battle systems kicking out information if it’s not what the software expects, and we battle systems requiring us to match up “perfectly” with the application software keywords and criteria.

Simplified Online Application Tracking Systems

I am aware of this: official applications are needed in company files for compliance purposes. This, however, applies to employees not applicants. Why waste a job seeker’s time on inefficient applications?

I see Human Resources personnel love Applicant Tracking Systems, so they aren’t going anywhere.  In his article, Is Your Applicant Tracking System Hurting As Much As It’s Helping, David Gee states the following:

“The market for talent management systems (software to manage recruiting, performance and succession management, learning management, compensation, and related areas) is reportedly over $4 billion currently, and is expected to grow by over 20% in 2014. So the ATS is here to stay.”

You can read more of his article on Staffing Talk by clicking here.

With this in mind, hiring departments should change their online application systems and only require the following necessary information from applicants upon applying:

1. First and Last Name

2. E-mail Address for Contact

3. Telephone Number for Contact

4. Resume and Cover Letter

You might be wondering, “Why should I make these changes to benefit job seekers when they are the ones seeking employment?”

Making changes to the online job application systems will benefit hiring managers as well. Many applicant tracking systems are cumbersome with technical difficulties, and companies are missing out on suitable applicants because some choose not to apply.

Here’s Evil HR Lady’s take on it in her CBSNews article, How Online Job Searches Worsen the Job Crisis:

“Let me make it clear by speaking directly to hiring managers, recruiters and job-board operators: When the economy is lousy, you need the best possible matches between employer and employee. And those matches aren’t to be made through online key word searches. Why? Because such terms only represent how you think the job should be done — it doesn’t allow for the possibility of finding a better way to do a job, or exploring other options.”

You can read more of her article on Evil HR Lady by clicking here.

The job market is tough, the job search process is no easy one, and computerized ATS systems add to the frustration.

Why not make things a little easier for job seekers and simplify your online job applications?

Online Application Suggestion: Resumes and cover letters should be used to identify candidates in the beginning stage of the hiring process. Once there is a mutual interest on both sides and a job offer is secured, the new employee should then be asked to complete the official application.

With efficient application processes in place, you benefit from more qualified people in your candidate pools.

What’s your take on Applicant Tracking Systems in hiring screening processes? Share below.

Disclaimer: I am not an HR or Career Professional by training. When I write on job search topics, I write from the perspective of a job seeker with experience in job searching.


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