Skip to content

Is your ATS stuck in the past? Here’s how an outdated ATS negatively impacts hiring

Is your ATS stuck in the past? Here’s how an outdated ATS negatively impacts hiring

The right applicant tracking system (ATS) can be a game-changer for recruiters. An applicant tracking system is a software solution that allows you to manage your recruitment processes. Ideally, your ATS hiring system will offer a full service from the pipeline to the start of your onboarding process, but this isn’t always the case.

A good ATS helps relieve some of the burdens on hiring managers, which is a welcome change for many who are deeply overworked. An ATS provides organization, allowing you to keep all of the information and applications you receive in one place and easily accessible.

An ATS can also help with the arduous task of sorting through resumes. It can filter and reorder applications, allowing you to focus your time and attention on the most promising candidates.

All of this can speed up your recruitment process, which is better for you, your company, and your potential new hires.

➡️ How to tell if your ATS is stuck in the past

An ATS can offer a lifeline to overworked recruitment managers, but things don’t always work out that way. It can be helpful to look at some of the more common difficulties recruitment managers encounter with their ATS and how they can actively harm your recruitment efforts.

5 signs that your ATS isn’t meeting your hiring needs 

1. You need to use additional tools to carry out your full range of tasks

If you’re working with an older ATS, you will probably find that it only meets a small selection of your needs. Older and less sophisticated systems may streamline some processes, but they offer little or no support for others. Typically, the areas that are missing are often the more time-consuming tasks.

These absences can easily convince hiring managers that an ATS brings little value and discourages investment in better systems. The opposite is true. A simple ATS might not make the difference you need, but a modern, sophisticated one genuinely can.

A good ATS is designed with your needs in mind. It is flexible enough to extract relevant information from applications and resumes, review and rank candidates, automate communication with candidates (including personalization of emails where necessary), and much, much more.

2. You receive poor customer support

No ATS will save the kind of time and effort you need it to if you have to struggle through software glitches, an unstable system, or problems with connectivity.

All software customer support is essential, but recruitment needs can be incredibly time-sensitive. If your application system is down, you risk losing high-quality talent. Early talent, in particular, will view problems with your ATS as a red flag for your future working relationship.

Recruitment has been picking up the pace for years now, and current candidates expect to hear back from prospective employers quickly. In 2018, the average time to hire was 38 days. But with the demand caused by the Great Resignation, that’s way too slow. If your ATS is slowing you down even more with slow customer support or other issues, you’ll lose out on great candidates.

None of this is an inherent problem with applicant tracking systems. Instead, it highlights the need to work with an ATS supplier who understands your needs and is committed to helping you find the perfect new hire. 

3. Perfectly good candidates are falling through the net

Every recruiter’s nightmare is that your ideal candidate applies… and their application is somehow overlooked. If your ATS allows great candidates to slip through your fingers, it’s time to find one that better fits your needs.

An ATS can only rank, sort, and discard resumes based on the criteria you provide. If great candidates are being discarded, those criteria need to change.

In some cases, you’ll miss out on great talent because you have included unnecessary criteria or excluded important ones. This is why it’s a good idea to form a partnership with your ATS supplier. You need a firm that can devote the time and attention you need to help you refine the system.

Choosing the right criteria is also essential for creating a fair and equitable recruitment process.

An older ATS might not be sufficiently customizable to allow you to filter precisely according to your needs. If this is the case, it’s time to look for one that will.

🗯️ If your ATS allows great candidates to slip through your fingers, it’s time to find one that better fits your needs.

4. You dread having to use it

If your ATS is going to handle your whole recruitment process, it needs to be user-friendly. There are two aspects to consider here. 

First, hiring managers will be spending a lot of their time using this software, so it must be streamlined and easy to use. Anything less will cost time and money.

We’ve already alluded to the second part. Your ATS should make life easier for your applicants, not place additional burdens. 

Recruitment at the moment is incredibly competitive, and there’s no sign that this is going to change any time soon. Hard-to-use software could be enough to turn potential new hires off and allow you to lose out on outstanding talent.

5. Your ATS ignores the human aspect

Even the best ATS is only a supplement to your work as a recruiter or hiring manager with a deep understanding of your company’s needs and a nuanced approach to potential talent. Your ATS should work with your expertise, not against it.

An overly prescriptive ATS, with little capacity for human oversight and correction, can increase the amount of bias and discrimination within your recruitment pipeline. Nobody wants that.

If your ATS automatically rejects candidates based on the grades they earned or where they studied, you’re introducing more bias into your hiring process. A modern, nuanced ATS should actively support your DEI efforts. The very best can use AI and machine learning to identify the underlying skills a candidate displays across their entire experience, not just in their previous professional roles or formal education.

Your ATS can, and should, also put a candidate’s achievements into context. Different groups have radically different life experiences and opportunities, and your ATS should reflect that. This is essential if you want to hire for potential, which has enormous benefits for your company and your talent.

➡️ Step into the future with Fairscreen

If the kind of ATS we’ve described above sounds like a fairytale, we understand. Too many companies are stuck with software that simply doesn’t meet their needs and harms their recruitment efforts.

We understand that changing your ATS can be a huge undertaking, and we want you to have the benefits of a great ATS as soon as possible. This is why Headstart has created Fairscreen.

Fairscreen is an add-on for your current ATS, which gives you the data-driven, nuanced screening you need without any upheaval. 

Contact us today to find out how Fairscreen can help you find the best candidates, improve your diversity, and even have a little more time to breathe.

Get HR Insights In Your Inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter for original insights and bias-busting resources, every month.

What is conscious leadership, and how can it help make recruitment more equitable?

Hard as you might try, it’s very difficult to build an inclusive organization without switched-on leaders who are committed to…

Why creating a DEI team is only half the battle

You know that focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion is important for your company. You’ve probably seen the stats a…