If I Were Running A Company…ATS

I will be going to the SHRM Conference for the first time in four years next Saturday, first time as a press blogger (I will write my preview next week). I’m mentioning this because I will soon be bombarded by email (and snail mail for that matter) of many numerous HR vendors going to be there. One of those HR vendor sectors will be applicant tracking system companies (ATS).

I have seen many ATS companies promoting their use and seen through live stream conferences about how recruiters must know the science of recruiting and what ATS to use.  I’ve seen many ATSs but here’s the problem I have: can it tell an applicant’s story? Does an ATS know what he/she is really looking for? Does ATS know their own workplace culture? Does ATS have an imagination?

That’s the problem I see in companies is they relying on ATS to make it easier for recruiting, which shouldn’t be the case. ATS (and yes, recruiters) look at applicants as face value instead of imagining if they fit with your organization.

Don’t get wrong; there are two ways ATS are useful: 1) it compiles and organize data in an instant and 2) user-friendly experience for the employer and job applicant. Other than that, ATS should not make the decision for the recruiter. The recruiter needs to look at who applied and does their WHOLE story fit what their looking for, not keywords or a read your resume for six seconds like this:


(Courtesy: TheLadders)

To me, the ATS is HR’s version of the polygraph. You can lie if you know how to game it.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Tony Kornheiser quotes, “Everything is 50/50.” In this case, employers have the data, story, and information; but also need wisdom and creativity if they have a place for that person in their organization. The ATS is here to stay, but your ATS will not work with a competent person using the ATS.


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