Wherever the best candidates are, today’s applicant tracking systems are equipped to find them.
By Katie Kuehner-Hebert
Social media sites have been a hot source for recruiting in recent years, and now applicant tracking systems (ATS) are integrating with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to make it even easier to fill that position. So how does it work? It’s no surprise that job listings can be posted on these sites via an ATS, but the technology can also be used to find that elusive passive candidate and increase brand identity.
While most ATS have some type of capability to share job postings on social media sites, a handful of vendors have more robust social media strategies, says Derek Bluestone, vice president of product marketing for Kenexa. The reason: Buyers are increasingly asking how social media can make their jobs easier Bluestone says.
“The number one trend right now in terms of buyers’ priorities is creating an attraction model for candidates for talent, as opposed to the traditional post and pull model, where you create a requisition and post it on a job board and wait for the inevitable 30 to 100 resumes to come in,” he says. “What we’re hearing from our customers is, help me target my talent more precisely through channels like social media, where the talent lives and breathes everyday.”
Kenexa has developed a customer relationship management (CRM) system that enables recruiters to locate potential high-performing candidates by tapping into their profiles on social media sites, matching particular qualifications, skills, and experience with specific job opportunities. The information that is collected can be constantly refreshed as candidates update their profiles with new skills, a move in jobs, or if they post something on a blog that might be of interest to a recruiter.
“Our customers are asking us to get to these folks because they are absolutely overwhelmed with resumes,” Bluestone says. “They are looking how to get the best talent pool for the least cost with the least effort.”
So as recruiters develop a talent pool from social media profiles, they can contact prospective candidates once a position opens, marketing the position with a company-branded campaign, including a tailored message. The beauty of a talent pool derived this way, Bluestone says, is that it can include people who might not be actively looking for a new job, but who might be attracted to recruiters actively seeking them out—particularly if they are not as engaged or empowered in their current position.
“This gives recruiters opportunities to talk to these potential candidates about their company and possibly cherry-pick good candidates from other companies,” he says. “As business line managers are asking HR managers to find the right people in growth markets, that puts pressure on HR to go beyond automation and efficiency—they have to be more strategic in how they go about finding people.”
SilkRoad Technology employs the use of social media in its portal studio offering. A customized website is branded by the client, containing not only job listings, but also information about the company presented in an engaging way, says Thomas Boyle, director of product strategies. An organization can feature videos about its culture, or interactive blogs that allow applicants to ask questions about the company or an area where they might be relocating in real time.
“If an applicant goes to a job posting site and there is nothing about that company, or what it’s like to work there, or what’s involved in relocating—anything that strengthens the decision-making process—then chances are they will leave the page,” Boyle says.
Applicants can use social media within the portal studio to either learn if they know anyone currently working at the company via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Applicants can also choose to share particular job listings with others using social media, particularly if the job might not be a right fit for them, but a better fit for a colleague.
Taleo also has technology for clients to collect a pool of talented prospective candidates from imported social media information, says Shail Khiyara, chief marketing officer. The company also delivers the capability to its large retail chain customers to “auto-pool” candidates, i.e. sharing top candidates between stores in different markets.
“Many candidates are seasonal, and a store in Los Angeles that hired them for the Christmas holidays can share their information with a store in San Francisco who may want to rehire them for the summer,” Khiyara says.
Susan Van Klink, VP of product sales and strategy, SuccessFactors, says the software company partners with Jobvite.com for its social sourcing activities, which also allows recruiters and existing employees to refer job posts to their friends and colleagues on social media sites. Van Klink says this a smart way of doing business because 70 to 80 percent of people find their jobs through someone they know. What’s more, employee referrals on average are hired at a rate of 10 to 1 compared to general applicants, and average one fifth the cost of a direct hire and an eighth of the cost of an agency hire.
More, More, More
Other new functionalities that buyers are seeking include greater usability for both the client and applicants, and deeper integration of ATS software with on-boarding, performance tracking, and talent management solutions.
Kenexa’s Bluestone said that on-boarding solutions are a “really hot subset” of acquisition, as more than 70 percent of clients is asking for the solutions to be linked.
As well as delivering basic materials that a new hire would complete before starting work (legal and regulatory documents) and the provisioning of materials (computer, desk, cell phone, and business cards), clients are using their ATS to on-board in a branded way. More and more organizations are using videos from executives and employees to describe the company’s culture and express other tidbits about working there.
“This is presented to candidates in an engaging and informative manner, and the whole process is intended to shrink the time it takes for those employees to be productive,” Bluestone says.
Analytics are also a hot commodity. Taleo has developed an algorithm that analyzes information on recruitment activities in a company to produce metrics including time to hire and quality of hire. Such analytics can be integrated into Taleo’s performance management solution, further tying the recruiting function to employee performance, Khiyara says. The next trend in ATS integration will be measuring those metrics against industry benchmarks.
SuccessFactors integrates its recruitment solution called business execution recruiting, with some its other business execution software, including its solutions for performance management and succession management, Van Klink says.
“Companies need to focus on getting a better outcome from recruiting, so we really think about it holistically,” she says. “If a company knows who its star performers are, they can create requisitions around those employee’s attributes listed in our performance management and succession management solutions, so they can replicate those employees.”
Such integration also makes it easier for companies to hire from within, Van Klink says.
Internal communication helps usher this through the use of CubeTree, which allows recruiters and hiring managers to share comments about particular applicants and resumes in the system, as well as broadcast hiring needs to company groups.
Julia Friemering, marketing specialist at MyStaffingPro, says that clients are asking for vendors to up the ante in terms of the candidate experience.
“A big trend is focusing on improving the functionality of the applicant experience,” Friemering says. “With the economic downturn, everybody was in a reactive mode, trying to manage this huge mass of incoming resumes from applicants. For the applicants, it was like a black hole engine. There were constant complaints from applicants doing all this work on a job site, but then they did not hear anything back from the company.”
MyStaffingPro responded to this by creating several touch points in its ATS offering, so applicants know where they stand in the hiring process. “This is going to be a big theme for the industry in 2011. To really evolve the applicant experience and make it better by communicating more, providing more information about where they stand in the hiring process—really cleaning up the application process,” she says.
Friemering says streamlining the application process and segmenting the questions into different sessions will help both the client and potential employee.
“Honestly, there are a lot of bad application processes out there. It can take an applicant a good hour and a half to complete applications,” she says. “The bad part is that the applicant might have been eliminated on one of the first questions, but the company forces them to go through the entire process.”
MyStaffingPro is now encouraging clients to break their application process into multiple steps, with an initial session of 10 to 15 prescreening questions and resume collection. The hiring manager can then review the information to decide if the client should move forward to the next steps.
Making application processes easier for the applicants can particularly benefit retail companies, Friemering says.
“The person who is applying might also very well be a customer,” she says. “If applicant becomes angry, they aren’t going to buy anything from you. So the lesson is, treat your applicants like you would treat your customers.”