An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a workflow-oriented tool that helps organizations manage and track applicants in the recruiting process. Top companies have been relying on ATS to streamline their hiring tasks via a single software. However, a recent study by Harvard revealed the system has been mistakenly rejecting millions of viable candidates. The report shocked most recruiters in the US since 75 percent of them are actively using the system (rising to 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies). The irony is the same recruiters have also been busy bemoaning their inability to find talent amidst the millions of talent pool.
The problem lays on ATS’ overly-simplistic criteria of what makes a candidate viable or not. Candidates with gaps of longer than six months in their employment history are most likely to be labelled as “bad” candidates by the system whereas employment gap is rarely a one dimensional situation. It might be due to a pregnancy, taking care of an ill family member, or landing a job during the times of pandemic is just simply hard to accomplish.
The “mismatch” keywords has also become the biggest factor behind the rejection of so many viable applicants. For example, an employer cites “computer programming” as one of the must-have skills when the job only requires a person to enter patient data into a computer.
Nearly 9 out of 10 executives are aware of this problem, yet they still haven’t acquired the solution at hand, considering any substantial change would cause fundamental alteration to the existing hiring system. To this, Harvard Business School recommends two approaches to solve this crisis. First, employers are expected to reform their approach to talent acquisition. This means refreshing job descriptions by shifting from “negative” to “affirmative” filters in an ATS or RMS. This also could be done by establishing a new metric for evaluating candidates by emphasizing on human asset maximization.
Second is to develop a customized approach to hiring hidden talents. The approach involves shifting the justification for hiring these hidden talents from CSR to ROI and adopting a customer-experience mindset in designing recruitment and onboarding processes under the close supervision of a senior leader.