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Smarter ATS, Dumber Hiring Process

By Drew Hicks / JobwardApplication ProcessApril 15th, 2020

A field of new applicant tracking systems (ATS), like the rest of the recent tech crop, promises major advances through AI and machine learning. As Colleen Jenkins, CEO of PluggedIn HQ points out, a “smarter” tool doesn’t make a broken system any better.

Jenkins has a litany of well-founded concerns about the rapid adoption of slick systems without addressing the actual problems that job-seekers face, and that talent acquisitions professionals need solved. “Obsessed with new technologies and driving down costs,” she writes, “[companies] largely ignore the ultimate goal - making the best possible hires.”

The goal should be to create smaller, but better, talent pools where competent humans can make decisions about who to hire. Many ATSs promise to do just that by filtering out candidates and leaving hiring managers with a tidy selection of groomed options. In reality, Jenkins points out, while 95% of the Fortune 500 report using an ATS, less than 25% of talent acquisitions professionals report having the technological support they need to make good hires. We’ve made it easier to apply to a position, which generates more resumés, which are hastily sorted on too-literal criteria, before a human being has to intervene and actually make a decision.

Let’s do some fortune telling. I’m guessing that if your company uses an ATS, you still make most of your hires based on recommendations or other people inside your employee’s networks. I’ll bet you get better quality candidates when you use a recruitment agency. In any case, I’ll bet there’s a rockstar human resources professional that your organization relies on to vet and present your best candidates. At the end of the day, I’ll wager that a hiring manager who actually knows what the position’s requirements are has to actually speak to the candidates to access them.

If your best candidates come from people you know, and are assessed by people you trust, why are we so quick to remove people from the equation? It’s more work, but this your most valuable asset - your team’s strength and talent - we’re talking about.

Take Jenkins' advice: before you spin up a new ATS, think about fixing your broken hiring process.

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