7 Underutilized Ways To Extract Maximum Value From Your ATS

extract maximum value from your ATS
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Did you choose an ATS because of one or two outstanding features? Great! Now you’ve tamed a couple processes.

Increase ATS ROI

Are you using all the other tools as well? If not, you are leaving ROI on the table.

Here are 7 commonly overlooked ATS (applicant tracking system) features. Are you taking advantage of each one?

7 Underutilized ATS Tools

  1. Prescreening Questionnaires With Knockout Questions
  2. Stage Change Auto-Emails
  3. Recruitment KPI Reports
  4. Manual Links For Niche Job Boards
  5. Targeted Job Descriptions
  6. Process Checklists
  7. Structured Interview Scripts

1. Prescreening Questionnaires

Unfortunately, recruiting has become a race against time. If you want to shorten time-to-fill, this is your answer.

Here’s how pre-screening questionnaires work. Identify the skills and experience required for the job description. Write a question for each must-have qualification. These are aptly named ‘knockout’ questions. For example, ‘Are you proficient in Quark Xpress?’ If the applicant answers ‘No’ the ATS ‘knocks’ them out. Now they are in the ‘Do Not Pursue’ pool.

If you’ve invested in an ATS, there is no reason to review every application you receive. For an entry-level position, 50 percent may be unqualified. For a highly technical position, that number could increase.

Spend your time on the pool of applicants that make it past first-round prescreening.

2. Stage Change Emails

Let automation do its thing. An ATS is a labor-saving device. Trigger an email each time you do a hiring stage change.

For effective auto-emails, use templates and merge fields. These tools allow you to personalize the emails. Create your template using emails you’ve already sent manually.

Merge fields import information you’ve entered elsewhere. For example, your ATS can insert the applicant name, application date, application source, and job description into an email.

Here are examples of auto-emails linked to hiring stage changes:

  • Application Received Stage (‘Thank you for applying. We’ve received your application.’)
  • Do Not Pursue Stage (‘We are moving forward with other candidates. Thank you for your interest in our company.’)
  • Interview Stage (‘We would like to schedule your interview.’)
  • Background and Reference Check Stage (‘We are contacting your references.’)
  • Job Offer Stage (‘Congratulations! We want you to join our team! Your starting date is…’)

An effective applicant journey requires constant personalized communications. Set up stage change emails and never lose a candidate by forgetting to send an email.

Auto-emails aren’t the only thing linked to stage changes. They are just the most common. A stage change can trigger a process like a background or reference check.

3. Hiring KPI Reports

Do you know if your hiring efforts are effective? Do you know if they are improving? Use ATS reports to figure it out.

Here are metrics to track:

  • Time-to-fill
  • Cost-per-hire
  • Job board performance
  • Quality-of-hire
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Diversity hiring
  • Hires to goal
  • Qualified candidates (number who move past phone screen)
  • Retention rate

4. Manual Links for Non-Supported Job Boards

ATSs automatically post to the most popular job boards. But you may use niche job boards that aren’t supported by your software. Because of this, you may keep those applicants segregated. (Craigslist is a frequent example.)

ATSs have a slick workaround using manual links. When posting your job description to the niche site, insert a link to your ATS. That way, the niche board applicants flow into your database. You won’t have to manually enter them. They will be scored using the same criteria and processed like the applicants from the linked boards.

Save time when posting to non-supported sites. And don’t hesitant to start using additional niche sites.

5. Targeted Job Descriptions

If you are trying to diversify your workforce, create customized job descriptions. Don’t confuse this with job descriptions customized for the position. We’re talking about descriptions customized for a candidate demographic.

Minority groups are underrepresented in many workplaces. Plus there are less-obvious talent pools that can also yield quality hires. What about people who need a flexible schedule? College students? Customers? Retirees re-entering the workforce? Independent contractors seeking a traditional job with health benefits?

While you’re at it, consider where your target demographic hangs out online. For example, LinkedIn attracts a different type of candidate than college job boards. Strategize accordingly.

6. Process Checklists

Ask any Six Sigma expert and they will tell you that process optimization is the key to business success. This applies to hiring processes as well. ATS allow you to make custom workflow checklists. Checklists ensure that; 1. Everything gets done, 2. Each hiring team member can check the status in real time, and, 3. You have a record of when tasks were checked off. Checklists also make it easier to assign tasks to members of your hiring team.

7. Structured Interview Questions

Don’t ignore ATS interview scripts. If you are struggling to find quality candidates, improve your interviewing techniques. Structured interviews are an industry best practice that every hiring team should adopt. With structured interviewing questions, all interviewers ask the same questions (in the same order) for every candidate. This prevents unconscious bias and puts all applicants on equal footing. It also allows you to efficiently manage interview scripts for multiple job positions. When your interview questions are stored in your ATS, they are easy to update as needed.

ATS Value: Squeeze Every Last Drop

Your ATS can help you reach your hiring goals—but only if you extract the maximum value from your software.

By Liz Strikwerda

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