Choosing An Ats

Time to ditch your 'old' online recruitment software, it sucks

Time to ditch your 'old' online recruitment software, it sucks
Alan Gleeson

Alan Gleeson


In this article I outline some of the things your company should look out for when determining which online recruitment software to use.

The majority are legacy systems from a bygone era – and for the most part they frankly stink. While some attempt to demonstrate that they are ‘keeping up with the latest technologies’ using LinkedIn’s API to suck data in, the end-to-end user experience leaves a lot to be desired.

Uninspiring font, small text boxes to type in, endless scrolling, and redundant questions all serve to incentivise the applicant to leave the system. My suspicion is this biases the applicant pool towards those with ‘time on their hands’ and those who ‘value their time’ are more likely to exit without completing. I would have thought facilitating a speedy application process particularly for the time pressed would be in everyone’s interest?

To make matters worse, most of these platforms originated in the US, and localisation is minimal. The US bias of these applications appears in many guises; be it a request for my Zip Code, GPA score, or in questions relating to my parents education level and my military service. A recent submission forced me to select a county in the UK for my address. London was curiously absent. So notification of my successful application is probably en route to Surrey as we speak, as the system would not progress without that field being completed.

To make matters worse, most of these platforms originated in the US, and localisation is minimal.

To make matters worse, I was applying for a senior digital marketing role at a Big 4 consultancy who claimed to be ‘market leaders’ in this space. Really?

Thankfully, I have not sat on the other end of these applications as a hiring manager, as I can only assume that the output is simply awful. On a final review of a recent submission, I caught sight of what can only be described as a content dump. I was left to review a rather long unformatted document (Times New Roman font of course) which had hoovered up all sorts of Linkedin content regardless of it’s relevance, as well as the questions and answers I had submitted. I wearily pressed ‘submit’ - no time to polish the turd.

So for those ‘in the market’ for a Recruiting Software I have some advice.

Tips as to what systems to avoid

  • Check when the company was formed. If it was pre-2010 assume the worst. No one was hiring designers back then, and concepts like UI/UK did not exist. Google ‘feature creep’.
  • Check for screen-shots on the site. If there are no pictures enabling you to peer under the hood assume the worst.
  • Check the pricing page. No pricing on the site? Why is that I wonder? Assume the worst.  Hit your ‘Back’ button as fast as you can.
  • Check the Language. If you see phrases like ‘implementation costs’/ ‘free setup’/’schedule a live demo’ etc – assume the worst.

The good news is that despite the legacy providers best efforts there has been a software-as-a-service (SaaS) revolution.

As a result there are a number of beautifully designed applications that are genuinely easy to use, inexpensive to buy and that are designed to ‘save time’. Some even go a step further and take the candidates perspective into consideration. After-all, there are two sets of users here - the hiring manager, and the candidate.

This new breed of SaaS applications from the like Workable, HireHive (Disclosure: Who I work for) and represent the present, and the future. They are for the most part well designed, are low cost and are built with the users in mind. And with all SaaS applications they evolve with the times, with regular release cycles striving to improve the user experience.

So how can you tell which bucket a system you are evaluating sits in? Well, if you can tick off most of the following you are in the right place:

  • Company Formed Since 2010 ✓
  • Great UI/UX in Evidence ✓
  • Design Led ✓
  • SaaS First ✓
  • Affordable - Pay According to Usage ✓
  • Screenshots Accessible from the HomePage ✓
  • Youthful Looking CEO and Founding Team ✓
  • Jeans and Hoodies ✓
  • Average Age of Board Under 45 ✓
  • Use of the phrase Social Recruiting ✓
  • Active on Social Media ✓
  • Mobile Version ✓
  • No Live In Person Demos ✓

So if you are a company looking to secure the best digital talent out there, maybe it’s time to ditch your legacy Recruiting Software.

A great place to start is to ensure that the customer journey for prospective candidates is a positive one. After all, for many this is their first meaningful engagement with your brand. And if you want to truly demonstrate that you are ‘digital first’, a great place to start is via your recruiting.

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