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Utilizing Your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) To Optimize Your Talent Acquisition Function

The Problem with your ATS

A properly setup and utilized Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is critical to optimizing your talent acquisition function and generating great outcomes from it. However, ATS’s are a pain point for most companies. Typically, we see companies using an ATS as a messy data placeholder because there was no initial strategy in place when the ATS was brought in.

The ATS just gets turned on, but then there is an immediate struggle for the talent acquisition team to pull the right reports for management so they can understand the progress that the entire company is making, that each department is making, and for each specific role that they want to dial into.

A lot of really intelligent, skilled talent acquisition leaders are very frustrated working with their industry-leading ATS. The ATS has the functionality they need, but they're frustrated because it's not giving them what they need and they don't understand why. They can't get anybody on the phone with the ATS provider to actually walk them through and tell them how the system should be (or should have been) set up.

Our experience has shown that up to 90% of clients do not have a properly utilized ATS and it is not set up to work well at scale. However, configuring an ATS does not take a ton of time to do, it just takes a plan. A lot of companies are missing that plan.

Proper ATS utilization is one of the most impactful things that SecureVision is implementing for our clients. Ensuring that they're setting up their interview structures and stages in the right format to where they can actually get value from the system at scale. Making sure they have a foundation to unleash the potential of what they could actually be doing with the system opposed to just a placeholder for candidates that are actively in process.

The reality is, there isn't a whole lot of training given to most talent acquisition professionals on how to properly utilize an ATS. When recruiters are coming up and they move into a Director of Talent Acquisition role, or VP of Talent Acquisition role, etc, they are basically left alone to figure it out. Not surprisingly, mistakes are made with how an ATS is set up.

Utilizing your ATS to Help Scale Your Talent Acquisition Function

So, what are some of the top things a company should be doing with their ATS to actually get the value they need that's going to enable them to scale effectively?

Step One

The very first step is to think of an ATS as a CRM that contains everything about your hiring process, your candidates, interview processes, etc. Ideally, you have a roll up view of all the stages in each of the aforementioned processes in your company, and then a granular view to be able to go per department and per roll. Understanding this concept will help you utilize your ATS more effectively - and might require re-work if your ATS has already been set up and running for a while.

Getting your workflow into the ATS means you need to map out the hiring and recruitment process data from a company level, while still maintaining the segmentation per departments and per position.

You will have to document what each of these processes looks like. In other words, as you are documenting your processes and writing down each granular step, you are actually putting together your company's requirements for a successful ATS implementation. This will help you have a clear picture of what's happening on a high level and a granular level so you can see what's happening per department and position.

Step Two

The second step is to work with the ATS implementation team to make sure the system fits the various workflows that we described in step one. In our experience, the ATS implementation team will help you with some things but you still need to do most things on your own.

But, if you are just getting started with your ATS, you can go into that implementation meeting with a more clear idea of how you want things structured. If you have already been working with your ATS for some time, you might not get much value from the ATS implementation team. That is where SecureVision comes in and where we provide value to our clients.

Step Three

The third step is to have a skeleton-stage structure in place. The skeleton-stage structure will ensure everybody company-wide is working from the same initial plan. Within that you can place custom interviews so that hiring managers have flexibility to put their specific, custom interviews into the system but are also working within the greater company-wide skeleton structure.

This approach pays off when you pull pipeline reports, time and stage conversion rate reports or whatever reports that you are pulling within the ATS because you will actually have a bird's eye view. And then you can zoom in on a department or specific role to see the stats that you need to.

Continuous Feedback Loop

Step Four

The fourth step is a key component to optimizing your ATS. Gathering feedback from other departments and key stakeholders, taking that data and information, and making adjustments accordingly.

As the talent acquisition department, you need to make sure you're interacting and connecting with the hiring managers to get their feedback on how their specific interview process will be conducted. Once you have that data, then it’s your job to translate that into the ATS and modify that skeleton stage structure that we referred to earlier. This process needs to be done per position, per department, on a regular basis, to effectively utilize your ATS.

Data Mindset

The more data you collect, the better you will be able to optimize your ATS. Be sure to add custom questions for each interview within each stage on a company level. You want to make sure that you're analyzing and vetting candidates based on the same criteria.

There is a tendency to only focus on your in-the-moment workflows because there isn't much immediate pain associated with setting up the workflows in a way to capture the right data that's going to work for you at scale. The issue is that if you don't do it, then six months to a year or two years down the road, you're going to have this massive mess in terms of data and then it becomes a lot harder to clean up that data in hindsight versus just doing it from the jump.

How SecureVision Can Help

Here at SecureVision, we are constantly helping our clients with their ATS implementations and optimization efforts. Given our experience working with over 140 VC-backed growth-stage companies, our talent advisors are constantly in ATS systems and know all the nuances to be successful. For more information on how we can help with your ATS, and hiring goals, please reach out to us.


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