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Should your ATS stand alone?

Most conversations on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) focus on how wonderful an ATS is and how helpful it is in finding the right candidate, but sometimes, those conversations miss a beat. At KRESS, we like to balance the human and the machine—we offer a human touch to a system that is oftentimes completely automated, to the detriment of candidates and employees. That balance between man and machine is critical, especially in hiring.

It may be time to rethink your reliance on the ATS.

For a small to mid-sized business, the reality of hiring can be overwhelming, much less the interviewing process (read “How Not to Hire” for more).  You have hundreds of resumes, many from applicants who have no business applying, and you need to search through them fast. So, the automatic solution is appealing. But, there are some distinct disadvantages.

  1. Most ATS systems cannot completely incorporate your branding and culture
  2. Candidates with minor errors are dropped, despite other qualifications
  3. Candidates who do not fit current opportunities cannot apply
  4. System gamers do better than actual qualified candidates

#4 is the most disconcerting, but it is absolutely true. There are over 3 million online entries on how to get your resume past an ATS. While some, like this article from The Ladders, mentioned the contextualization that is possible with next generation ATS, most include basics like “use standard character sets”, “divide sections clearly”, and “use key words several times”. So, if an applicant can study a job description, use the right keywords and has decent spelling skills, they have the best shot at the job, even if they’re not the most qualified.

Do you want someone who has spent more time studying the job description or someone who is out there doing the work?

As with background screening, balance between the man and the machine is a must.

  • Read your resumes—a new hire is one of the more costly decisions a small to mid-sized business makes.
  • Network and actively search for that new employee in venues other than an online job listing—referrals are still the best source of employees.
  • Interview for more than just a gut feeling (link to interviewing series).
  • Perform pre-employment screening to get a more complete picture.

There are new options out there, such as this one built for recruiters, but what is your go-to solution for finding the right candidate?

How do you balance the man and the machine?

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