Is Your ATS Truly Helping Hire Better?

Jun 08, 2016

Application Tracking Systems

An Applicant Tracking System is a software used for recruitment purposes. It is used for managing applications for job positions; and to screen resumes and determine which candidates match job descriptions of vacant positions.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are supposed to be a cure-all for organizations wanting to better coordinate their talent acquisition systems and processes.

So why is it that so many web searches turn up article after article focusing on the flaws inherent in most ATS systems? Or that other searches teach applicants how to "game the system" with ATS functionality?

Let's take a look at three of the biggest inherent problems with Applicant Tracking Systems.

1) Inadequate search

One large firm found that the resumes of 3 out of 5 of their top engineers were screened out automatically by their ATS as not relevant.

- ERE Media


ATS systems have limited basic keyword search features which only match words to words without discerning the context of the search and match terms. They merely match keywords with those in resumes and fetch search results. This method is not intuitive and generally foregoes relevant resumes.

2) Outdated systems

In a test, one company created a perfect resume for an ideal candidate for a clinical scientist role, it scored a mere 43% relevance because the ATS it was submitted to misread it.

- Bersin & Associates

Many of the systems in use today have been in place for years, even decades, with little evolution or upgrading. Given that the nature of recruiting has changed dramatically in recent years, many systems simply do not mesh with the way HR works today.

3) Wrong focus

60% of applicants quit an online application because it was too complex or too long.

- CareerBuilder

When most systems were created, they met the core needs of recruiting. These systems stored and reported applicant data and ensured proper tracking for various compliance and internal policies.

Today, recruiters are as focused, if not more so, to engage with potential candidates. ATS systems are not built for the kind of real-time engagements that candidates expect today. While savvy HR and IT staffers can use exports and other programs to send blast emails and automate responses, most systems do not have the integrated functionality that aligns with recruitment in the 21st century.

There are many horror stories which highlight the rigidity of ATS systems. Here is one more.

As many as 75% of qualified job applicants are rejected by ATSs due to spurious reasons like incorrect resume formatting.

- Forbes

ATS Must Become Intelligent to Raise the Performance Quotient of Recruiters

Today's recruiters need systems that can do so much more. Here are a few of the needs of a sophisticated recruitment team.

1 ) Dynamic and Contextual Search: Recruiters need intelligent tools to search through unstructured data particularly narratives found in resumes, cover letters and resumes. They need tools which can quantify skills to support hiring decisions by accurately matching resumes to job descriptions so as to shortlist only relevant candidates based on their skills and professional experience.

Existing search functions merely match keywords which is a redundant way of searching since it does not comprehend the depth and relationships between skills nor professional experience.

1 ) Social Media Integration: Social media profiles are among the most valuable sources of information on candidates. Most systems, however, do not provide a viable way to integrate social media profiles with stored candidate data and their digital footprints. With so much recruitment done via social, this lack of functionality is a major hindrance.

Recruiting technologies have to evolve to be able to search and extract only relevant data from social sites, and enable seamless engagement with potential candidates. The challenge here is that the data must be up-to-date in real-time.

1) Scheduling and Communication: Another simple but important area of need is integration of an ATS with calendar and email systems. Seamless integration would work to improve efficiency and eliminate the risk of missing an appointment due to switching among programs. It will also keep the recruiting teams connected and updated eliminating manual intervention.

Get a Contextual ATS or Top it with a Contextual Technology Platform

The reason why contextual technology is the differentiator is that it can transform any ATS into an accurate, intelligent, powerful and reliable talent acquisition tool. What’s more, it helps reduce time-to-hire and increase interview-to-select conversion ratios. It gives measurable metrics to ease a recruiter’s life with intelligent automation.

A contextual platform enables an ATS to handle large volumes of resumes and shortlist only relevant ones by using powerful contextual search and match function. The technology has the capability to read and interpret talent data just the way expert human recruiters do. Bias is eliminated and shortlisting is accurate. Contextual technology gives 90% accuracy in search and 80% accuracy in bi-directional mapping of resumes to job descriptions and vice versa. These figures are the highest when compared to any existing systems.

It's very likely that all of these issues are on the wish list for a new ATS.