How Your ATS Can Help (or Hurt) Your Recruitment Marketing

When most people talk about their recruitment software ecosystem, they're basically just talking about their ATS. Sometimes, the ATS is just the beginning, and there are integrated layers of smart technology connected to it that make recruiters’ (and job candidates’) lives easier. Other times, the “ecosystem” is a black box that magically spits out resumes based on hiring managers’ search parameters. So, you can imagine how this technology might have a huge impact—for better or worse—on your hiring strategy in general and recruitment marketing in particular.

We’ve spoken a little in the past about the impact that your ATS can have on applicant experience, but today we’re going to give a rundown on the specific effects that your applicant tracking technology can have on particular key hiring metrics. This way, you can gain a sense of the role that it plays in recruitment marketing and the steps you can take to ensure that it’s playing that role effectively. Let’s dive in!

Time to Fill

Time to fill is a metric that can be influenced by any number of factors, from your overall employer brand gravity to the velocity of your actual interviewing and job offering processes. Crucially for our purposes, it can also be affected by the strength of your talent pipeline and the speed at which you actually identify open positions and begin taking steps to source candidates for them. We’ll talk more about the pipeline effect in the next section, but when it comes to your ability to identify an open position, craft an ad, set a budget, and roll out that ad using the channels on which your ideal applicants are mostly likely to encounter it, your level of ATS integration can make or break your efforts.

If, for instance, your recruitment marketing infrastructure is automatically receiving updates from your ATS, such that each new job post and description is made available almost instantaneously to recruitment marketers, you can roll out new campaigns with virtually no lag time. Similarly, if the same recruitment marketing infrastructure can send applicant info back to the ATS, such that hiring managers can access them as they come in, then you can similarly eliminate any unnecessary lag on that end. Each team member gains visibility into what’s happening at every stage in the process, and this enables everyone to move with increased speed and certainty.

Unfortunately, not every ATS is implemented with this level of connectivity. The result in these cases can actually be slower hiring. Why? Because the people who are responsible for getting the word out about new job openings don’t know about those job openings right away. Meanwhile, candidates get lost in the “ATS black hole,” and their applications might languish unread for long stretches of time—during which they could field other job offers, slowing down your process even further.      

Pipeline Nurturing

In theory, a modern ATS is the ideal tool for building and nurturing a strong talent pipeline. It centralizes all of your applications, which means that it’s a virtual treasure trove of people who have expressed an explicit interest in your company. In some cases, these are people who weren’t right for the particular position they were applying for, but they might be a good fit for future openings—and they might talk to friends who will develop an interest if you provide them with a good applicant experience. Since you have their information at your fingertips, it should be easy to follow up with these past and (hopefully) future applicants, providing them new information on job openings as they come up and generally keeping in touch and providing them with value in the form of useful information about your company.

All this really requires is that the applicant information stored in the ATS be accessible to recruitment marketers who can leverage it into a stronger talent pipeline. This, in turn, can help speed up time to fill and time to hire. Why? Because you don’t have to start the employer branding process over each time you have a new position to fill. Unfortunately, many applicant tracking systems are implemented in such a way as to make this kind of pipeline nurturing difficult or impossible. In too many instances, candidate information is hard to access for anyone who isn’t directly responsible for picking out potential interview candidates. It can be difficult to figure out where in the process any given candidate is, and as such providing the right information to the right contact at the right time becomes a near-insurmountable challenge. As such, your pipeline suffers, leading to a dampening effect on other hiring metrics. 

Cost per Hire

Okay, this is the big one: the all important “cost per hire.” Cost per hire can include the administrative time and costs that go into sourcing candidates and making hiring decisions, as well as the ad budgets for any recruitment campaigns you run. How can your ATS impact these factors? Well, like we saw above in the “Time to Fill” section, your ATS can either speed up or slow down the candidate attraction process depending on how well its integrated into hiring activities as a whole. This has a fairly direct impact on the time and resources that it takes to hire someone, and thus a direct effect on how costly any given hire can be.

And what about your ad budget? Surely your ATS can’t impact them too much, right? On the contrary! While this isn’t necessarily one of the most important facets of ATS integration that we’ve discussed in this post, a well-integrated ATS does mean that everyone on your team will have access to a large cache of candidate data. Using that data, savvy recruiters can create much more accurate candidate personas (i.e. fictional representations of your ideal hire), and, in turn, they can tailor their employer branding campaigns more effectively to those personas, both in terms of messaging and ad targeting. Like we said, this isn’t likely to be something that makes or breaks your recruitment ROI, but the better you can understand and articulate what you’re looking for in a new hire, the more efficiently you can go after it.

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