RecruitmentTechnologyIconsWe love to hate our applicant tracking systems, don’t we? Tell me you don’t have a huge resume folder in your email inbox, chock full of fresh candidate resumes that were supposed to be parsed into the company’s system. You’re holding back because you’re less than satisfied with the way your ATS handles new resumes, or you’re not confident in your searching skills, so you’re afraid you’ll never be able to locate those candidates once you add them to the database.

Before we get into ways to overcome frustrations and make friends with your company’s system, let’s take a moment to remember why we use these tools.

Before recruitment software came on the scene, we basically had two ways to store candidate resumes and interview notes:

  • Candidates filed by name
  • Candidates filed by skill set

The Pros and Cons of Paper Systems

Those who remember the paper days with fondness will tell you they could lay their hands on an applicant’s resume in nine seconds flat. Probably true. The downside is that you had to remember everyone’s name. Recruiters who interview regularly will have difficulty remembering a candidate they interviewed 18 months ago who expressed an interest in working at the company you began servicing just this week. It’s infuriating to know that you have met candidates who might be a fit yet you just can’t pull their names out of your head. A few exceptional people might be able to do this, however, there’s still a downside. Only one person knows who that candidate is and where the resume can be found.

Filing by skill set does offer rapid retrieval. Need a receptionist? Boom! 18 files sitting on your desk. But what do you do about the receptionist candidates who also have some A/P experience? Or worse yet, receptionists with A/P experience who are also bilingual? The situation is even more severe when we work with talented IT candidates with multiple certifications. How many cross-files are you going to create for each candidate?

Recruitment Technology Puts It All At Your Fingertips

In a digital system, you can find applicants by name, by skill set, by date interviewed, by companies they’ve expressed interest in… You get the picture. There’s almost no limit to the ways you can tag and locate talent in your database. If these systems are such a boon, why do we spend so much time detesting them?

“The System Doesn’t Work”

Nine times out of ten, when people tell me they hate their current tool, they say the system doesn’t work. Corporate trainers love this complaint. It gives them a golden opportunity to demonstrate the particular function of the tool that’s causing consternation. It’s usually we — the users — who are not functioning properly. We all run through crazy days with multiple interviews, meetings, mining resumes, talking with clients… Who has time to figure out how to do a proper search in the company’s resume database?

Take On One Thing At A Time To Overcome The Monster

What’s your #1 pet peeve with your current software? Write it down. Be specific. Set a goal to understand fully just that one item. Be determined in your quest to figure out what’s going wrong and don’t give up until you get that one thing down pat. It could be understanding how to pull all the relevant skill sets you need, or perhaps you need help understanding how to parse resumes quickly. Don’t give up – and don’t take on a second frustration – until you’ve licked this one. If you pick just one per week, in no time you’ll be getting full value out of your system and you will have reduced your irritation level.

So what’s your pet peeve? What do you want to learn to do better in your system? Most recruitment software tools have a blog, a forum, or a resource page containing hundreds of valuable hints and usually a good search tool for their knowledge base. I hope you have fun killing your software monsters.

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