A Source of Semi-Truths?
It’s no secret that a huge portion of the value every agency provides to their clients is stored in their ATS; how many candidates they can give clients access to, and how fast. It’s the lifeblood of the business.
While intended to be the default where consultants go to find suitable candidates as new job orders come in, the primary function they actually use the database for is simply tracking each job until it’s filled. It turns out it’s not so effective for stockpiling usable data for future opportunities, not due to a design fault with the system, but how it’s used: tracking and closing live jobs takes precedence over logging fully accurate information. As it should. Consultants have short-term targets to hit. They’re not incentivised to keep records in good nick.
This is how the game works. But the reality is that candidate data DOES suffer in the long term, meaning the Applicant Tracking System doesn’t function as the intended ‘source of truth’. And if you think it’s just your business that suffers from this, worry not, this is the case for most agencies globally, no matter the industry or type of recruitment.
When companies request services from a recruitment firm, unless you’re an exclusive supplier, speed is the priority, so you can lock out the competition. It’s no doubt frustrating when you’ve designed a recruitment process with the right tools to make it run like clockwork at double tempo only for individual contributors to go outside of the process because it’s easier to find the right candidates elsewhere. On one hand, you’re paying for Bullhorn, Salesforce or another Applicant Tracking System, with hundreds of thousands of “candidate records”, and your consultants are using LinkedIn Recruiter to find people 90% of the time. This is a shame, not to mention the wasted relationships you’ve already built up with previous candidates.
More Searchable Data = Speed
Being objective, why would anyone default to an Applicant Tracking System where more than half of candidate records are half-empty or full of indecipherable notes? Working with unsearchable data is a pet peeve for anyone, especially if you’re working against the clock.
Recruitment firms who ensure the data captured from candidate interactions are recorded in the Applicant Tracking System every time report having much better usage of their database, and as a result, consultants can find great people much faster, and get them sent to the client quicker than other suppliers.
What Candidate Shortage?
For every job order filled, a consultant can speak to anywhere between 5 to 20 candidates. Yet most of the time, only those who are put forward for a position make it into the Applicant Tracking System. In the immediate term, logging unsuitable candidates into a database is certainly not a good use of time, but losing all of that incredibly valuable information generated from YOUR OWN recruiters’ interactions with candidates seems terribly wasteful and quite an oversight of the value they could add for future opportunities. Imagine how many candidates your team would have access to if all of those who just missed the cut 3, 6, or 9 months ago were readily searchable in your Applicant Tracking System?
Business Development Opportunities
If you think about the source of your best leads, if not from in-person introductions or serendipitous meetings, they come from the next most personal interactions – conversations you have on the phone with your clients and candidates. It’s no secret that every single screening or sales call has a wealth of information that is not only useful in filling a role or closing a new client, but has hints, tips or outright explicit leads, so many of which go unexplored due to the short term view of a recruiter who is (quite rightly) single-mindedly thinking about filling the job they’re working.
For example, when a candidate who’s being interviewed gives away some juicy insight in passing, like: “I’m looking for a change because I like to work in small startup environments and my current employer is expanding which is great but the culture is changing”, how often are those golden nuggets mined for all they’re worth? Rarely, because it’s not going to help you close the active job faster. But exploring ways to passively capture that data could be the most influential event in your team’s growth trajectory.
Where do we go from here?
There are 4 possible ways to deal with this:
- Don’t… Keep things going as they are and run the risk of having a deteriorating Applicant Tracking System that is more of a drag for your consultants than a supporting tool.
- Encourage better data management. This is the most time-consuming option; highly diligent consultants report spending 1 hour per day updating candidate records. In all likelihood, this won’t work across the board because it’s not going to help them hit their placement/revenue targets in the short term.
- Hire a data administrator for each team. These non-revenue producing support staff have been used by some agencies with good effect once a team reaches a certain size, with the goal of helping consultants be more effective, rather than hiring another producer. They obviously require management, career planning, ongoing support etc…
- Use Squire, designed for recruitment to help you capture all of the right information in your Applicant Tracking System in one click. You’ll know that the relevant data from every interaction is going into your database, and is complete & searchable.