Can your ATS deliver a great candidate experience?

Candidate experience is more than just your ATS

Late last year we were appointed by Penguin Random House to redesign and rebuild their UK careers site as part of a global rebuild of their entire online digital corporate website portfolio, and as any of you who have done any form of candidate experience integration with an ATS (“Applicant Tracking System”) you’ll appreciate how challenging this can be at times.

In all likelihood you’ll be stuck with your client’s system. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, arguably the hardest challenge is not working with the ATS but with convincing your UX team that they need to stop whinging about it and get on with the job in hand. One ATS is invariably just like any other – designed a lifetime ago by software engineers with an eye on functionality over design. It’s painful, but you need to accept it for what it is. Shouting at the rain won’t help.

Once you accept that you can start to move on.

If you were a candidate what would a great candidate experience look and feel like to you?

Would it all be about the ATS? or would your interaction with the company count for more?

Our research showed that candidates would be willing to accept a sub-par ATS experience IF they were first convinced that it was worth putting up with and were then responded to quickly by actual people…

Common sense really.

So if you accept you can’t change what you can’t change (which reminds me of that old adage about only worrying about the things you can change) then start to target the things you can impact on. First and foremost is the part of the site a candidate encounters before they go anywhere near the ATS. Front load this with incentives to proceed (the feel good factor) with good supporting images and messaging and you’ll be amazed how much of a poor experience those candidates will put up with when they hit your ATS.

And once they’re in your ATS? Be “people” as quickly as you can with them. Respond, engage, deliver (bad news and good news) and do it in a way that shows you care. That’s really the secret to providing a great candidate experience with your organisation.

Do that, and none of them will remember that horrible ATS thing you made them submit a CV to.

candidate experience


Written by Rob Harrison

Rob is a digital engagement specialist for Goodman Fox with over 15 years experience in building successful online experiences for the healthcare, technology, and property sectors.

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