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Automated Applicant Tracking Vs. Manual Tracking or a “Home Grown” Solution

Posted on February 27, 2014
Helios HRWritten by Helios HR | Email author

Are you a Federal Contractor who is in the process of or considering making a change to an automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) from a manual or “home grown” solution?  And do you feel that in order to be compliant you have to force candidates through a lengthy and cumbersome application process where you have a large decline in candidates who are willing to complete your application?

Well, rest assured, there are some effective ways to ease the burden of having an OFCCP compliant application process.  Of course you will need to ensure that your process is compliant, but if you design your ATS workflow correctly, you will actually have the opportunity to save time and add value to your recruiting process by maximizing the total number of applicants and enhancing your ability to communicate with candidates. Here are some suggestions for ATS workflow design:

How to Reduce Costs and Gain Efficiencies with Your Applicant Tracking System Workflow Design

Ensure that all of your candidates apply through a single application process.

This can be a source of pain for many firms who are accustomed to allowing candidates to apply using their CareerBuilder, Monster or other job board profiles as a quick and easy way to apply to advertised roles.  In many cases, when you switch to a process that redirects candidates to apply only through your ATS, you may see a reduction in applicant traffic to your openings.  But, in reality, many of the drop offs are likely those who are not fully qualified and don’t apply because it was not as easy as a click or two.   That may not necessarily be a bad thing.  If you application process is well-designed, you may have minimum drop off in candidates as well.

Ensure that your application process and questions are complete and compliant.

Does this mean that you have to ask people every possible application question the first time they express interest in your opening?  And will that application take 20 minutes for applicants to complete? Goodness, I hope not!  However, there are firms who have gone in this direction most likely for an iron-clad-compliant application process.  If you thought directing all your candidates to a single apply system might have applicant fall off, institute a 20 minute initial application process and you may see your application numbers plummet even further!

What if instead you implemented a process that breaks your application into several steps or phases? You can allow applicants to express interest in a role with an application that takes them only 2 or 3 minutes (as long as they can upload a copy of their resume in DOC or PDF format).  Then, upon review of the initial application by a recruiter, the applicants which appear to be qualified are invited to the next phase of the application process.  At this stage applicants are asked to complete a more extensive application and then are screened for the role.  By designing the application work flow in this manner, you will see more candidates complete your process and stay engaged.

Send automated communications to your candidates through your ATS.

One advantage to using an ATS is that you should be able to automate communication to your candidates as they go through the application process.  While you have applicants who may not be qualified for the role to which they apply, down the road that same applicant may be a perfect fit for another role.  Having communication with your applicants (even if you are sending a notification that they were not selected) is better than no communication at all.  Candidates appreciate knowing their status in your application process.  And since so many companies do not communicate with their candidates, doing so will set you apart as an employer.

So while you may feel that you are giving up a level of flexibility and control by switching to an automated ATS, you will have the opportunity to gain time, efficiency and even add value in the same or even less time using a manual process if you utilize the right ATS workflow design.  And let’s not forget about the gains you will make in keeping your applicant flow and recruiting data compliant for Federal contracting.

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