Written by Chris Russell
12th October, 2021
Mining Your Applicant Tracking Software for Talent
There’s gold in your applicant tracking software. It’s called talent.
Disguised as silver and bronze, these are the job seekers who almost got hired the last time. They were edged out by a candidate with a bit more experience, an extra skill or maybe because they had a firmer handshake or were an internal referral.
Now a year or two later, these runners-up have more experience. They’ve enhanced their skills and picked up others. They’ve tackled new and likely even more challenging projects than when they were first interviewed. And you know they wanted to join your organization.
Especially in this tight labor market, they should be the first candidates to be considered. But they won’t be. Most recruiters never search their applicant tracking software, so they’ll never find the gold candidates waiting there.
Several years ago, a survey of some 8,000 companies discovered that the resumes in their ATS might as well have gone into the trash. Not only did two-thirds of the companies have no idea how many candidates were in their applicant tracking software, a shocking 98% never made a hire from there.
Rediscover Your Talent
If that survey were conducted today, the percentage of recruiters who search the ATS for candidates would be higher. Credit that to the intense competition for talent and, at the largest companies, the candidate pipeline building.
Still, at most organizations recruiters never think first, or at all, of searching the ATS. Why is that?
Habit, born of the difficulty of searching applicant tracking software. Without training and at least some search skills, recruiters find it easier to send a job posting to job boards and the company career site. Applicant tracking software may have become more versatile over the years, but searching the candidate resumes takes time and, for most systems, a good grasp of what it takes to search with precision. Sending a stock job description out into the world takes seconds.
Writing about the search shortcomings of applicant tracking software, recruitment author and marketer Travis Scott said, “They’re pretty awful for nearly everything except being a database.”
Yet, as he notes, that database is “a gold mine of candidates that could become a valuable competitive advantage. Most companies won’t leverage this resource. Not because it’s impossible, but because it’s difficult.”
Fortunately, today’s applicant tracking software now has artificial intelligence designed in. Instead of being limited to searching by titles, years of experience or keywords, AI enabled systems can extract all candidates matching a job description. If interview scheduling and reporting are part of the applicant tracking software – a feature most systems now include – finding your runners up is easier than ever before.
Search Your Applicant Tracking Software
There are also third-party AI tools that will search the entire web and your ATS, compiling profiles on the candidates they source and scoring each.
As powerful as these tools are, they’re only as accurate as the information they find. If the resumes of your silver and bronze runners-up haven’t been updated, they may get missed in a search. This is why Scott and Jennifer Roeslmeier, senior digital marketing and brands manager at Automated Business Designs, say staying in touch with the best candidates is so critical.
Talent acquisition professionals agree that building pipelines of candidates should be something every company does. Segment them by skills or job function so you know which pipeline to tap when an opening arises. Keep them engaged by regularly sending newsletters of useful company and industry news and periodically having them update their resume.
Candidate relationship management (CRM) software allows you to automate the workflow and will schedule mailings into the future. Applicant tracking software can do some of this, though a CRM makes the process simpler and more automatic.
Developing pipelines and staying engaged with your best candidates, especially those who almost got the job, gives you a competitive advantage. This talent rediscovery helps you win the war for passive talent.
Says Bennett Sung, a recruitment technologist and marketer, “You are sitting on a metaphorical goldmine. Without a strategy for candidate rediscovery, segmentation, and engagement, you will never know its full worth. In today’s tight talent market, employers can’t afford to lose out on any candidates — especially not those already in their pipelines.
“By combining the right technology with a curated content strategy that accounts for candidate segments, you’ll be able to keep the pipeline flowing.”
Written by John Zappe