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Thursday, September 1, 2016

8 Must Knows for Navigating an ATS by Shannon Starke

Ah, the dreaded ATS. Candidate sourcing powerhouse, recruitment trend analyzer, reporting and analytics warehouse - no matter how this behemoth tool was sold to the powers that be, you're stuck with it.

Truth: the system is slow. And cumbersome. And not nearly customizable enough to meet your needs. Who cares about reporting when you can barely get through the workflow to process the hire?

I have spent nearly a decade as an HR Operations manager supporting large Talent Acquisition teams with all of their ATS-related needs. Why would I subject myself to this? I've tried to move on. But the truth is, there aren't many people who can put up with the daily grind of life in recruiting technology operations - the constant issues, the system latency, the pissed off hiring managers, the conflicts with IT, the battles with the vendor. I've cast attractive hooks for my role. No one bit.

I've grown to like my role. Why? Because I know enough to help. The way I see it, my role exists to tell you what your vendors won't. So here it is, eight tips to make your life in ATS-world easier.

  • Mark your positions referral-eligible, even if there is no associated bonus. Doing so will enable the "Refer a Friend" (or similar) link, which will drive referral-based traffic to your posting.
  • Utilize the "add locations" feature on the requisition. This will ensure your position displays in multiple location searches, increasing the visibility of the posting.
  • Post your positions externally and internally, unless policy specifies otherwise. There are few legitimate reasons to withhold posting on either site. 
  • Add pre-screening questions to quickly screen out candidates who do not meet the basic requirements. These do not need to be "knock-out" questions, but rather flags you can immediately review to aid in dispositioning the candidate.
  • Include salary and/or salary grade on the posting. Salary grade, in particular, will be meaningful to internal candidates and increase transparency.
  • Do sporadic quality checks with candidates. Not getting any response from qualified candidate pools? It is very likely a system glitch. If you suspect there is an issue, reach out to a few candidates of interest to see if they received the system email correspondence. It could be the email never triggered, or it contained a broken link. Whatever the case, obtain the details from your candidate and notify your IT team immediately.
  •  Double check your templates. I cannot count how many times I have seen templates incorrectly configured - triggered at the wrong step/status, erroneously linked to a defunct website, swapped with the wrong text. Ensure your star candidates are not receiving rejection letters by double checking your template configuration. Not sure? Contact your IT partners to confirm.
  • Confirm the new hire's start date. Most ATS's require you to uncheck a "tentative start date" box or otherwise confirm a new hire's start date in order to hire the candidate. This is a fail-safe to ensure data flows properly into the HRIS for payroll and onboarding purposes. If the date is not confirmed, you cannot hire the candidate.

It is my hope these tips and tricks will reduce your time-to-fill and make your daily lives a little bit easier. Happy hiring! 

Shannon Starke is a globe trotter, thinker, and day dream believer. A psychology junkie and former nervous Nelly, she writes about empowerment and self-transformation. She also provides advice for job seekers to her followers across the world. Check out her website at or follow her @thestarke.

1 comment:

  1. Ohh well this definitely going to be great help. You defined it soo well in steps. They can be followed easily. Thank you for sharing