Leader Summit Series Applicant Tracking Systems

By Staff Report

Apr. 1, 2005

Operational efficiency. It’s a common buzzphrase, but it really defines what every major corporation is searching for—bottom-line results using systems with a proven track record of substantial results. A demanding request, considering some of the major human resource challenges are occurring in the recruitment and staffing sector.

These are extraordinary times, requiring extraordinary solutions. Embracing innovative and proactive methodology is the required approach to successful recruitment. Finding that perfect fit ensures matching great employees to great positions, as the entire workforce stands behind and participates in the hiring philosophy. It’s about building relationships, and commitment to the process.

Technology, like that offered by, is the link, offering valuable flexibility in an unpredictable climate. The company firmly stands behind integrating a well-planned, strategic and proactive pursuit of quality talent. Incorporating a recruitment plan that includes technology and tracking saves time and money, and provides greater control over hiring processes and better relationships at every level.

Recruiting systems help corporations to achieve significant operational effectiveness by enabling managers to easily form and maintain relationships and fill positions right—the first time. Here, one of the country’s most optimistic and accomplished executives gives a glimpse at what it takes to excel in today’s ever-changing staffing culture.

Given the economic climate of the past year, how will the workforce management industry need to change its approach in the way they recruit and retain employees over the coming months?

First, companies must put a proactive talent strategy into place. A plan with the vision to recruit and deliver candidates ahead of demand in a highly competitive market. It’s a bi-directional selling process that brings people together, headed up by a seasoned recruiter who’s not afraid of innovation. Embrace technology. Blend recruitment skills with technology for talent relationship management success. And the relentless pursuit of great talent must be a part of the company culture—it’s everybody’s job.

What methods should human resources employ to evaluate return on investment of recruitment products and services?

You’ve conquered the efficiencies with technology. Now it’s time to focus on effectiveness. Start with sourcing. That means a series of check points throughout the recruitment process to assess the quality of candidate attracted by various sourcing initiatives. What do the hiring managers think of the talent pool? How do the successful candidates perform after six months? A year? Those results need to track back to the hiring source. Close the loop.

How important is candidate screening and background checking in the scope of the recruiting cycle?

Use technology for pre-screening, recruiters for qualification and vendors for background checks. Candidates tend to apply online in high volume, so companies have to prescreen on the front end, and that’s where technology really provides benefit. Let recruiters do what they do best—build relationships with qualified applicants. Background checking is vital, but best outsourced.

There are a lot of options available to recruitment and staffing managers by way of candidate testing and assessment today. What advice do you have for recruiters looking to address this need for their organizations?

Give great candidates a chance to get into your talent community. Don’t ask for test-and-assess too early in the process. The result? Marginal candidates with time on their hands fill your pipeline. The best will go elsewhere. Use a handful of specific pre-screening questions, just like a phone screen. Detailed testing and assessment kicks in when you know your candidate meets minimal qualifications.

How, and to what extent, can the integration of a “recruitment management system” address the fundamental needs in today’s competitive hiring environment?

You need Applicant Tracking Systems for compliance, reporting and process efficiency. But they don’t help with the first important step—sourcing and enticing top talent to your company. When you think in terms of “Talent Relationship Management,” think talent, not résumés. Your ATS should engage the best but graciously eliminate unqualified applicants. Let recruiters focus on only the qualified talent.

What are some of the potential pitfalls or dangers to avoid when implementing a recruitment management system?

Price can’t drive your decision. You’ll get what you pay for and your recruitment “engine” will spend too much time in the shop with a mechanic. Buy for the future, not just your immediate need. Don’t get fixated on process efficiency. It’s all about effectiveness as the talent wars heat up. Building relationships is sourcing ahead of demand.

What specific questions should recruitment and staffing managers ask of online recruitment vendors during their research and evaluation?

  • What are the elements of your strategic sourcing solutions?
  • Do you offer specialized candidate portals branded for candidates with specific skills or areas of expertise?
  • Describe your candidate sourcing capabilities using technologies such as blogs, RSS feeds and micro sites.
  • Do you offer consulting services to help us determine how and where to source in order to fulfill our workforce needs?

In your opinion, what changes regarding recruitment and staffing issues over the course of the coming year will have the greatest effect on HR’s ability to problem-solve for their organizations?

Recruiting and staffing must be tightly coupled to the business plan to develop an effective talent sourcing strategy. Implement the strategy ahead of demand. Remember it’s a dialogue. Provide a compelling candidate experience to attract both passive and active candidates. And don’t let up in your pursuit of the best possible people for your business.

What can staffing organizations do to be viewed as valued business partners within the company?

Run the organization like a P&L. Stop reporting outdated metrics like Cost Per Hire and Time To Fill. Line executives don’t care about that. They want to know which sources deliver the best quality talent. If another $100,000 is spent on staffing this quarter, what’s the revenue impact? What’s the cost of turnover?

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