We all want to run high-quality and efficient hiring processes. Your hiring process needs to enable a sustainable, high-performing team more than ever. An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a key part of your HR technology that streamlines, automates, standardizes and improves candidate experience. The adoption of HR technology has exploded in recent years and the ATS market is spearheading it.

The advantages of an ATS are irrefutable. But what about ATS concerns? 60% of people say that they regret software they purchased in the last 12 - 18 months. Technology can be an expensive investment but when it results in bad hires or no hires, that expense compounds. When choosing, implementing, investing in and evolving your ATS, do these 7 things to avoid costly and unnecessary pitfalls:

1. Value the Human Element

Ever made that frustrating support call where you’re redirected in circles by bots and all you want is to talk to an actual human? Don’t make your candidates feel that way. That’s an extreme example but with the rapid adoption of AI and other automation tools in HR technology, especially ATS, we need to intentionally value the human element.

HR technology can already screen, interview, summarize, assess, communicate, schedule, and more. It’s incredible but inevitably an ATS concern to be mindful of. A key element of recruitment is matching humans to other humans and as much as technology is great, it’s not human. Using HR tech for functions like assessing skills, automating repetitive communication, scheduling interviews, and summarizing information is valuable.

But are candidates going to enjoy going through 80% of the hiring process without ever encountering an actual human? It’s an active debate right now but truly, it’s obvious that in recruitment your ATS features need to be balanced with human interactions. Incorporate phone calls into the process for initial screenings or to provide updates. A brief call can make candidates feel valued. Use VoIP systems integrated with your ATS or CRM to streamline call logging, note-taking, and follow-ups. While making phone calls may not be feasible for high volume hiring, use short video messages from hiring managers or team members to introduce the company culture and the team.,

2. Monitor ATS Candidate Screening Closely

Screening candidates is a time-consuming process but ATSs have stepped up to assist. The key word there being “assist”. Screening must be applied carefully and appropriately. There are concrete yes/no requirements, like the right to work in a certain country, that can accurately be filtered by an ATS. But there’s a whole resume to review. Your ATS steps up again and parses the candidate’s resume. Here we have another ATS concern: most recruiters don’t know how resume parsing works or what parameters it’s using. To effectively monitor screening, educate yourself about tools.

Most screening HR technology focuses on this initial screening phase but it’s not limited to that stage. In subsequent stages, we’re seeing AI bots doing chat and video interviews promising to assess body language, context, voice analyses, etc. and there’s proof of success in this but also proof of failure. In one country starting a conversation with pleasantries and smiling a lot is standard and in other countries getting right to the point and neutral facial expressions are the norm. Do you know what demographic your bot was trained on and what criteria it uses to assess “personable” or “social” and can it potentially be very biased? We also have HR assessment tech that uses established, replicable studies to conduct personality and skills assessments - and you don’t need to be an engineer to understand and decide what to monitor.

In no way as should it be said that screening ATS and HR tech is bad. Just to be aware of its parameters, research and assessment criteria and to monitor its output to ensure you agree with it.

3. Invest in Implementation and Training

HR technology is evolving at a massive pace and, like a lot of technology today, it’s not easy for everyone to keep up with it.

Investing more time and money in implementing HR technology after having agreed to invest in the system itself might, understandably, not be something a business leader wants to do. But consider these statistics:

  • 96% of businesses struggle with poor adoption of their technology
  • 88% of employees see “frustration-free” systems as integral to their productivity and happiness at work
  • 24% of leaders don’t get their expected outcomes from new systems, largely due to poor adoption
  • Only 40% of a systems features are used on average

Considering that, that understandable reluctance to invest in implementation and training isn’t so understandable anymore. Use an implementation specialist, allow your team time to learn, ask for your HR technology provider to train your team (even if you have to pay) and remember that every system evolves. The eventual ROI of your new HR tech will be a lot higher when you invest more in it upfront.

4. Choose the Right ATS for Today and Tomorrow

Another great way to avoid bad HR tech adoption is to ensure you’re choosing systems that can scale with your business. It’s considerably easier to encourage an ATS adoption when you’re not introducing a new system at all. There’s a reason why more established companies tend to have more ATS concerns than those starting up.Why? Because their ATS didn’t scale with them.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to them though. Rapid growth, steady growth and a lack of buy-in from decision makers to invest in an ATS are all potential causes for any business to end up with an ATS that doesn’t meet their needs. What your business is today isn’t what it was a year ago and not what it’s going to be five years from now.

Here’s how to avoid this ATS concern:

Rapid growth

  • ​Choose an ATS that has different tiers of pricing and features. When you’re small it’ll fit your budget and needs and as your needs and budget grows, you can simply add more features Steady growth:

Steady growth

  • ​It’s difficult to recognise when you’ve outgrown a system when you change steadily. Implement annual or 6-monthly reviews to reassess your business needs and whether your ATS is still meeting them.

For lifestyle and early-stage businesses

5. Understand There’s No Cure-all

An ATS is one type of HR technology. HRIS, performance management, training and development, compensation, interviewing, time-tracking, payroll and assessments all fall under the umbrella of HR Technology. When you’re looking for an ATS, keep in mind that you’re likely getting one from one of these two types of providers:

  • All-in-one (or at least some-on-one) HR technology systems that include some of the above capabilities, of which an ATS module would be one.
  • A company focused purely on ATS technology and its product is primarily an ATS that might have some extended features that are closely related to recruitment, like assessments.

Although nobody should speak for all HR professionals, in this case most would agree: having an all-in-one system that is really great at everything module would be a dream come true. But it’s largely still a dream.. Depending on your needs, these all-in-one options might give you what you need but what you’ll usually find is that companies who focus on a specific module (like just an ATS), tend to create a better version of that. Avoid disappointment and losing features by ensuring your system has a sufficient focus on their ATS technology,

6. Embrace an Integrated Tech Ecosystem

Extending on the above point, your HR tech stack will most likely be a stack and not a single product cure-all.

You want efficiency and accuracy from your ATS and other HR technology. The last thing you now want is a puzzle of HR systems with varying data and information that has to be manually input from one to another. Efficiency and accuracy immediately drops.

Native integrations between HR tech systems are common in most systems. If your system doesn’t have one, with a bit of tech support (or learning) you can use webhooks, third-party integrators and APIs to put together that puzzle of systems. It can seem a bit challenging and too techy at the beginning but you can ensure efficiency and accuracy by embracing integrations.

7. Understand the Current and Developing Legalities of New Tech

Compliance is a massive part of an ATS because we work with personal data. New technologies and more integrations are creating considerable legal concerns. A third-party integration system won’t consider that you can’t integrate your ATS with them because you’re holding EU candidate data and their servers are in the US.

And beyond existing laws, we also need to be aware of laws that are the process of development to try to catch up to new technologies that aren’t regulated yet, like AI. Systems have rushed to market without considering the extent of legalities surrounding people data. As recruiters, it’s our responsibility to ensure we are staying up to date with how laws are changing and the potential risks new technology poses. An ATS will usually be compliant but what you use with it (like interviewing tools) or newly created AI features might not be. And if they are, they might not be as the law catches up with technology. There’s already been at least two legal cases around new recruitment technology that were shown to discriminate on age and other biases.

Monitor your screening (especially AI) output, learn how a tool works and what data points it’s using, avoid technology making any key decisions on its own and take claims of features that seem too good to be true with a pinch of salt before properly researching it. These are good ways to avoid this ATS pitfall.

Capitalize on Your ATS

This article may shine a negative light on ATS and HR Technology but you shouldn’t shy away from technology. ATSs are an amazing addition to your HR tech-stack and it will overarchingly have a positive influence on your hiring. But nothing is purely positive and to capitalize on your ATS, you need to know how to avoid the pitfalls.

Continue Reading: Should you choose a free or paid ATS?