HR Tech Update: Applicant tracking software explained

HR TECHNOLOGY: Almost anyone who has ever looked for a job has done this before. They may not necessarily meet the specified requirements of an advertised position, but they willl slip their resume in anyway, just to try their luck.

Applying for jobs now is easier than ever before and many organisations will often hire multiple roles at the same time. This leaves top employers with a never-ending mountain of resumes to continuously sift through across the year.


Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are an all-in-one HR software solution that help to automate the hiring process, allowing HR managers and recruiters to manage the whole hiring process from job posting to onboarding easily. Even major job posting sites like Indeed and LinkedIn have their own inbuilt ATS solutions.


The best candidates for a given role will be pushed to the top, weeding out unqualified candidates and saving hiring teams hours of work. These systems will also store all relevant candidate information in one easy to navigate dashboard, and track a candidate’s application status throughout the entire process.


A credible ATS will also automate interview invitations and send notifications and emails to both the potential employers and the candidates. So no more inadvertant ghosting of candidates who didn't make the cut this time around! As a further benefit, an employer is less likely to lose a potentially top candidate due to slow response times, interview scheduling troubles, or having them simply falling through the cracks.


Careful calibration required


An ATS may seem like an expensive choice on the outset, but over time the lower cost-to-hire and shortened hiring times translate to overall savings, while still providing best possible talent to the organisation. That is at least if the HR teams using the technology understand the limitations.


A 2020 report from Harvard Business School found that candidates with gaps in their work histories or who did not have the most common credentials required, were often automatically disqualified from jobs that they were otherwise qualified for.


These biases and outdated assumptions can easily filter into an ATS' programming and calibrations. For example, gaps in a candidate’s resume have been known to “mean” that a candidate doesn’t have a good work ethic. Quite often however, a gap can be explained if given the opportunity, and can even add to a candidates value.


High-value candidates may also fall through the cracks for simply using different terminology than the keywords set by the ATS or hiring team.


System errors are another issue to think about, as systems may disqualify a brilliant talent simply because it misread their resumes in a PDF format. These systems may not read any images or incorrectly or can’t categorise data from differently formatted resumes.


ATS solutions have become more commonplace in the increasingly digital workplaces of today, and candidates will eventually catch up to current hiring standards and update their resumes accordingly. The eternal drive to improve existing systems and more egalitarian hiring practices will slowly close these gaps over time.


For example, since most ATS solutions allow an organisation to set their own hiring parameters, HR users can adjust these to ensure they don't knock out a candidate based on degrees or employment gaps. An organisation mindful of these current limitations can absolutely work around them, perhaps integrating both manual and automatic filtering to create a more efficient, yet mindful hiring process.


If an ATS sounds like the right fit for your organisation, there are plenty of companies and platforms offering this technology in Southeast Asia. Some of them include Manatal, which is highly reviewed, as well as PeopleStrong, QuickHR, and ServiceDott.



HR Tech Update, by Chief of Staff Asia's Technology Editor Ellia Pikri, appears every Thursday from 6:00am.

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