7 Ways to Transform Your ATS into a Powerful Candidate-First Experience

Your ATS does exactly what it was designed for: posting requisitions and tracking applicant data. It makes the recruiter’s job easier on the back end, but for candidates on the user side, the experience is more than frustrating and confusing.

For something that is of such huge importance to your recruiting success, engagement is a big fail with ATS software. Most systems haven’t changed their functionality in a decade or more, especially in regards to mobile adoption. There’s no integration of company branding or culture. And there’s no way for a candidate to actually engage with your company unless applying.

And engaging is the name of the game in recruiting ideal talent. You know this. While it might cut down on time spent sifting through resumes and singling out candidates, your decade-old ATS still is not the right tool for engagement.

But it can be.

A simple, cost-effective way to overcome the deficiencies on the front end is to add a platform overlay that puts a candidate-first face on your recruiting, keeps candidates in the pipeline, and sends more quality resumes to your recruiters.

The right overlay will integrate seamlessly with your branding and your ATS to provide robust front-end tools for engagement and further your reach into your recruiting market via multi-screen and multi-platform functionality.

In addition to candidate-centric features, the right overlay will enable you to hone your recruiting strategy by offering candidate data on the back end that you can’t get from your ATS.

Here’s what a fully integrated overlay should offer:

1. An Integrated Career Site

You’re already aware that company culture and employer branding play a large role in candidate’s decision to work for you. While active candidates already know who you are and what job they want with your company, it’s the passive candidate who needs some coaxing. Presenting them with your standard, difficult-to-navigate ATS application does nothing to promote your company in a positive light and quickly pushes them out the door.

Adding a career site, on the other hand, one that works on multiple devices, can provide all the information a candidate needs to know that you are the employer of choice for them.

integrate a mobile-optimized career site

In addition, integrating a suite of interactive features within your career site keeps candidates engaged with your content and nudges them gently into the apply flow. At the same you get critical data on interaction and drop off that will help you streamline your efforts.

2. An Interactive Talent Community

If you ever wanted to gain insight from what type of jobs a passive candidate is looking for, then you will understand the significance of a talent community. This interactive tool can give you a complete picture of your candidate before they ever enter the application pipeline, giving you and your recruiters a jump start on targeting.

The right talent community will not only integrate with your career site to work on all devices, it will offer a feature-rich dashboard that lets candidates set the depth at which they interact with you, all while providing you those important details not found in your ATS data.

add a talent community

By the right talent community I mean one providing tools that let candidates save job searches, save facility searches, set delivery frequency with email alerts, share jobs through email and social media and set up RSS feed alerts. And in today’s recruiting environment, one that can integrate with your social media recruiting strategy.

Simple yet powerful features like these keep candidates engaged the way your ATS can’t.

3. A Powerful Job Search

The job search function of your ATS. Tragic and bewildering. It’s a clunky behemoth that is slow to load and often shows unrelated job postings across hundreds of paginated results.

In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Candidates want to cut through all that clutter and find what they are looking for immediately.

powerful search options for better results

The right integrated job search works across devices and platforms, has more ways to search than just by keyword, loads results quickly and lists the jobs a candidate is looking for all on one page so that they are easy to scroll through.

In the end, you want a precision tool that puts candidates in front of your jobs in as few clicks as possible.

4. Mobile Apply

The malignancy that has plagued ATS applicants for many years now is the application process itself. Time consuming. Long and repetitive information input across applications with the same company. Information sometimes lost in transition from page to page. Not at all mobile-friendly.

Completing an online application through your ATS is a laborious endeavor even more so than was its paper predecessor. Especially today as more and more applicants expect to be able to apply quickly by phone. Yet ATS adoption has so far been slow to non-existent.

However, the right mobile apply overlay:

  • integrates mobile apply with your ATS to make the process as seamless and smooth as possible on phones, tablets and desktops.
  • allows applicants to upload resumes from multiple sources.
  • lets an applicant save progress in the application so it can be finished in more than one sitting.
  • performs on a cross-device experience so applicants can start from one device and finish from another.
  • provides a secure dashboard account so personal, employment and education information can be saved and edited and entered into application after application automatically.
  • relays all the important applicant data your recruiters were getting from applicants applying directly in your ATS.

integrated, multi-device apply

You can’t beat that with a baseball bat.

5. Employee Referrals

Employee referrals remain the backbone of hiring. They are the number one source for most companies. This in both quality and retention. Having an application that puts your employees in the driver seat and sets your recruiting on autopilot is essential for any company looking to establish an inexpensive funnel for talent.

The right employee referral program will, of course, include corporate branding and integrate seamlessly with your ATS and apply process, but it will also provide an easy-to-use secure dashboard where employees can add and edit a friend list, refer those friends to jobs in minutes, track the referral process, and accomplish all of this from desktop or mobile.

integrated employee referral program

Even better, your recruiters will be free from involvement until a referral applies. This will set in motion a series of automatic communications that let the employee know if the referral accepted or declined the offer, if the recruiter accepted or denied the referral, and when the referral is hired.

6. Better Performance from Search Engines

After employee referrals, search is the biggest avenue job seekers look to for jobs. The problem here is that your ATS requisitions can’t be found by search engines because of how they are programmed to display.

That’s largely why aggregated job sites like Indeed do so well. They tap into your ATS and scrape your jobs then publish them on their site. Indeed is also mobile optimized, which pulls in even more traffic than your ATS site.

However, while sites like Indeed are great for attracting mobile traffic, they still send that traffic to your ATS to apply when all is said and done.

And that great mobile experience dies there.

Having your jobs available from your own mobile-accessible site puts you in a position to better optimize your job descriptions and job results pages, so search engines can send traffic directly to you instead of to 3rd party sites.

The candidate experience is as much about flow as it is about finding the right job.

7. Candidate Analytics

With all the effort of making the experience of looking for your jobs an engaging event for candidates, there is no ROI unless you acquire actionable data on how they interact with you.

With the right candidate data you can hone in on your recruiting strategy, nail down your weaknesses and improve your strengths. This data will give your recruiters more leverage when approaching candidates who are lingering around the apply funnel.

The right analytics program will integrate with your recruitment platform to bring all the important decision making to one location, from a dashboard that let’s recruiters analyze what’s really happening on your site.

Providing more accurate, informed and strategic spending decision assessments will involve interactions, drop offs, geography, and other user-side data spanning variable date ranges.

The right analytics program will give recruiters insight into which job listings perform better so you can optimize future listings for better results. And measure which sources are a waste of money or which to invest in further. You should even gain insight into facility performance if you operate in more than one location.

Historical data will enable you to measure performance over time and configurable dashboards will enable you to build a complete profile of your recruiting success.

The right analytics program also provides access to your data from desktop and mobile, just as with your recruitment platform.

Putting It All Together

It sounds like a lot going on in this candidate paradise I’ve described. It probably sounds costly as well. Well, good news. It’s not. Most overlays can be tailored to any budget. Our own overlay, RightJobNow, is perfectly suited to any company budget, whether you are a small business, a large enterprise or somewhere in between, and is everything I’ve described in a candidate-first experience.

I encourage you to go through your current recruiting platform and test out your process. Do it once from the desktop and once from your smartphone, from start to finish. Time how long the process takes. Take notes on where the process hits snags. Take everything I’ve mentioned here and compare it to what you have now. Does what I describe sound better than what is actually happening in your process?

Candidates expect more from employers these days, especially in regard to mobile. An employer who is not mobile compatible is an employer who is technologically backwards, and, in the eyes of candidates, one not worthy of their talents.

When it comes to your ATS, the experience has proven time and again to be severely lacking in engagement and ease of use. I’m sure you already have an idea of this being true. While it might make your job as a recruiter easier in sorting legitimate applicants into hires, it does nothing to actually capture quality hires.

Investing in an overlay as outlined in this article puts a fresh face on your employer brand and really engages candidates that want to work for you.

If you’ve gone through your recruiting process with an honest assessment and realize you are missing out on important opportunity in talent acquisition, now is the time to make the move.

With the right overlay, you get branding and ATS integration and a candidate experience that is unforgettable.

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