5 Signs you Need a New Applicant Tracking System | Toggl Blog
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5 Signs you Need a New Applicant Tracking System

Mile Zivkovic Mile Zivkovic Last Updated:
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Hiring is a fairly complex process, with many elements that go wrong. In their desire to speed up and automate the hiring process as much as possible, many employers opt for an applicant tracking system (ATS). Designed as a way to save time and resources on sorting large volumes of candidates, an ATS can truly be an HR manager’s dream come true.

However, what if your applicant tracking system is precisely the reason why you’re struggling with your hiring process?

There’s a range of ATS applications out there, each with a different set of properties and tools for hiring new talent. However, not all of them work equally well. Whether it takes too much time or money, it gives you the wrong candidates, puts off the right candidates or simply takes too much work, sometimes you and your applicant tracking system need to go on a break, Friends-style.

However, like any tool, parting ways with an applicant tracking system can be hard once you get used to it. In fact – 47% of companies have HR software that is over 7 years old. You definitely don’t want to be one of those companies. So, let’s dive in to whether you need to break up with your ATS.

1. You sort applicants manually

One of the reasons why applicant tracking systems were invented was to save time. Figures vary between industries and positions, but the average time to hire someone is about 37 days. Needless to say, every day with an unfilled position costs companies enormous amounts of money.

A good ATS has all the features to do all of the legwork for the HR team. It should automatically score candidates according to their application so that the bulk of bad applicants are discarded at the very start. In this way, you have more time to devote to those people who are most likely to come in for an interview.

If your ATS does not automatically sort your best applicants, it’s wasting time and resources. The weight of the work will fall down to the HR team – who can do the same thing even without an ATS in place.

2. It makes applying for a job hard for candidates

From an employer standpoint, the benefits of a SaaS product such as an applicant tracking system are clear. You spend less time and money on finding new people to hire, period. However, in attempts to make the process more efficient for themselves, employers make it needlessly complicated to apply for the job.

In this case, less is more. If your candidate has to go through multiple steps to apply for a job, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

If applying means creating a profile and an account and setting up a password they’ll immediately forget (or some other type of HR gymnastics), candidates won’t be too interested in completing their application. K.I.S.S. is the name of the game – keep it stupid simple.

For 42% of people applying for jobs, the main reason they don’t finish their application is that it takes too long. While it is necessary to have a multitude of questions to set proper filters in your ATS, don’t go overboard – it will do more harm than good.

3. You’re still relying on resume keywords

One of the ways an applicant tracking system is able to wade its way through thousands of resumes in a matter of minutes is artificial intelligence. Namely, most apps of this type are designed to search through resumes by keywords, set by the HR team.

For example, if you were looking for a developer, you would list HTML5 as a keyword and enter it into the ATS. The app then pulls up only those applications containing this phrase.

Simple and effective – yep. Fair – not so much. This system relies on the fact that your applicants use exactly the keywords you’re looking for, not the skills. As we’ve written before, we’re not fans of resumes as a hiring tool, and this is just one of the many reasons.

The problem with this approach to applicant selection is twofold. One, you’re missing out on candidates who have the skills but don’t use the words you’re aiming for. Two, there’s a possibility of applicants trying to rig the system by using your desired keywords.

In scenario one, you’ll lose precious talent right off the bat. In scenario two, bad hires will slip through the hiring process. Even though they will be spotted eventually, you are wasting your time and resources on unqualified people.

At the end of the day, your candidates no longer have to fight just against the competition. They also have to combat a robot that can discard them because they’re not using the right words. It may be efficient, but it’s highly discouraging.

4. Your applicants aren’t really that great

No matter the walk of life, in the battle of quality and quantity, the former wins most of the time. When your company’s future is at stake, you’re most definitely looking for quality. In that sense, getting 5 highly qualified applicants beats 500 applicants that would make a horrible fit.

Depending on the industry, position, and company, the average corporate job opening gets about 250 applicants. That’s a number that would make any HR manager happy, right? Consider that many employers state that 75% of all applicants aren’t actually qualified to do the job they applied for.

What’s more, only 2% of applicants are invited for an interview. If your applicant tracking system doesn’t ensure that you cut down on unqualified candidates – it needs to go.

5. You don’t know where your quality applicants are coming from

You cannot learn from your mistakes unless you know where you make them.

Many applicant tracking systems fall short in this department. They can tell you how many applicants there are, their education, years of experience, as well as other random bits of data. However, they do not tell you where your candidates come from.

A tool that we built and use at Toggl, Toggl Hire, solves this issue. You can track if your candidates come from job boards, social media or an agency. By analyzing where you get the best people, you will know how to delegate resources for the future. Additionally, you immediately know which channels don’t provide adequate ROI.

In the case of Toggl, we realized that job boards simply don’t work for finding the kind of talent we want. Moreover, it turned out that they are not that great for sourcing passive candidates. For this reason, all of our openings are now promoted on social media.

Finding an applicant tracking system that helps you hire based on actual skills, not keywords

An applicant tracking system helps with getting more candidates, but it doesn’t solve another key problem – hiring for skills. We had a problem like this at Toggl, especially with hiring developers. Lots of applications come in, they look great, but the candidates lack basic skills for the job.

This is why we came up with Toggl Hire, a tool specifically designed to hire for skills. Ever since we started using it, we look forward to hiring, instead of fearing it. In the course of two years, we’ve hired 68 new people using this app.

Toggl Track saved 1,496 hours on hiring with Toggl Hire. That’s close to 9 months of working time. No matter how you slice it, that is an impressive number.

Over to you

At the end of the day, an applicant tracking system is there to make your life easier.

For us, Toggl Hire is a no-brainer because instead of relying on algorithms, keywords, and resumes, it deals with what really matters – your applicants’ skills. We’ve hired some amazing people at Toggl using nothing but Toggl Hire and we don’t intend on using another app any time soon. In fact, the very person writing this article is here thanks to Toggl Hire.

If you feel like Toggl Hire might be helpful for your company, too, give it a try.

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