Recruiting Systems - Too Many to Choose From! An Overview

12 October 2012, Comments 0

I had one person comment to me at the HR Technology Conference that every direction you could throw a rock on the expo floor – you would find a good applicant tracking system. And after 2.5 days of meeting with a veritable ton of vendors – I found this comment to be very, very true. So the challenge is going to be on how these companies try to differentiate each other.


Price of Entry – the basics:

It has now gotten to the point where every good applicant tracking system has:

  1. Good Applicant Portals that have decent user interfaces and workflows
  2. Decent reporting engines that provide the standard talent funnels, source tracking, and government compliance tracking.
  3. The tools are mobile enabled
  4. The recruiter and manager experience is well done – and tries to prepopulate the requisitions as much as possible.
  5. Social Media links that allow the recruiters to broadcast their reqs on 200+ social networks.
  6. Sign in from LinkedIn and Facebook (Not sure why everyone kept on telling me they had exclusives with LinkedIn – as it seemed like a lot of people had exclusives – smile)

So what are the differences that are starting to occur?


1. Social Media Sourcing Candidate Relationship Tools

From a marketing perspective, Social Media can be an instant headache as you can’t do segmentation correctly. You may have a wonderful college candidate that is on linkedin, Facebook and Twitter – but you don’t have a system that tracks him across all three – so without knowing you contact him via all three methods. There are now some tools that comb across those systems and start to build a consolidated picture of the individual and allow you to target your candidate messaging correctly.



2. International Workflows

When looking for an International Friendly ATS, look for three different elements:

  • Does the candidate portal allow for selection of language?
  • Can the system take non-english symbols – such as german umloots to Kanjii.?
  • Does the system allow for multiple workflows depending job, location and other dimensions?

The last is critical as often your hiring process may be very different around the world. You may have a small sales office in Africa where the Office Head does the entire process, and in the US – you may have a very centralized process. The ATS needs to allow this mapping in order to get the appropriate adoption around the globe.


3. Guaranteeing Awesome Interviews by Managers?:

This one surprised me, as one company built an ATS model around making sure the Managers were doing great interviews. Their thought was – it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton effort on getting great candidates in the door, if the manager’s interview questions contained such demanding questions like, “How ’bout those bears?” or such favorites as, “Will you work hard?”

Hireology spent a year building out a database of competency based questions that are specific to certain jobs. So each interviewing manager is given questions to ask – but here is the cooler part – they also give the manager the potential answers (Like good, better and best answer) – so the manager is truly prepped. Now here is the mind blowing piece – they have backtested the model, and shown a .86 correlation rate with the competency screening and quality of hire.


4. Configurability of the entire System and Portals

Quite a few systems now have user friendly editors that would allow entire in a recruiting operation to maintain and change their portal screens and systems. For the more technically inclined, some Applicant Tracking Systems are now coming with fairly robust content management systems. So if you have visions of building lots of pages specific to each job, adding videos, photos, etc. – the tools are out there!


5. More Data and Reporting than you can shake a stick at!

The tools now have all sorts of dashboards that recruiters, sourcers, managers, etc. can add to their pages, and make sure that the right information is at their fingertips. So what I would consider to be operational reporting is reached true maturity levels.

What is some what dizzying is the amount of Sourcing and Ad data that is now prevelant – it is too much. And at this show – I didn’t see anyone who could put it all into one cohesive picture from an analysis perspective – but maybe someone will by next years show. But here is some of the stuff that made my jaw drop:

Referral tools are now standard – have employees, friends or family forward postings all over the globe and you can track which source people came from.

Social Exhaust – yep – there is now tools like “talentbin” that measures the artifacts a candidate leaves in the Internet. So if you want to hire an IT person who knows iOS – you can find out what their score is on the internet for talking about iOS. Pretty cool stuff.

Where the Applicants are and Posting Effectiveness – This one almost feels like Big Brother – but eQuest has figured out how to track all the way to the applicant level as to what posts they are clicking on. But here is the wild part – since eQuest does almost a Million postings a week, they know which adds the applicant is clicking on, and which ones they aren’t. So this takes SEO to a whole new level.

Bottom line, if you get a new ATS – you definitely won’t be starving for data.

6. Games!!!

This one is really cool – as the industry is coming up with new ways to engage the candidates and learn a lot more about the candidate in the process. Imagine having your applicant play an online video game – which allows you to see how fast they think, how they prioritize, multi-task, etc.. There are a whole bunch of I/O Psych folks that now have a very cool new purpose – as this seems like a Goldmine. One CEO summed it up perfectly – “how much have you learned about people by playing Trivia Pursuit or Monopoly with them?”



7. Jaw Dropping User Interfaces

There are a couple of groups like Workday, PeopleFluent and Successfactors that are taking User Interface testing to all new levels. So you will find the recruiting and manager experiences to not only be easier from a “clickbility” standpoint, but graphically – some are just stunning. Take a look at the Workday and PeopleFluent iPad applicant you and you be amazed!



Again, I think the entire market has been lifted up several levels but get ready! In talking with the COO of Silkroad – you could sense his excitement! He explained that we should look at how much innovation has occurred in the last ten years, and now we should expect twice as much innovation in the next five years. So imagine that – who knows what the ATS of the future will look like!

So if you are going to market for an Applicant Tracking system, let me know if you found other good ways to delineate the companies!

In the meantime – Happy Recruiting!!


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