An over-supply of candidates, driven by staffing cut-backs and unhappy employees seeking new roles because of wage freezes, are continuing to cause hiring managers grief when it comes to screening applications.
Many small to medium size New Zealand companies do not have the luxury of a dedicated HR team to help them through the ‘resu-mess’ (an aphorism for a mountain of resumes/CVs). It’s impossible for busy managers to effectively screen out unsuitable candidates when the daily grind of keeping the business afloat over-rules concentration on good selection processes.
The ‘resu-mess’ is not only common with SMEs. HR departments in large organisations are finding increased pressure to handle the ever mounting flood of job applications. Many companies have been forced to increase support for their dedicated recruitment team – more cost increases!
As in many other business processes, technology has come to the rescue. The ability to screen candidates via an Applicant Processing System (APS) is not new technology. However, the problem with the original players in this space was (and in many cases, still is) the complexity of the systems and the huge cost of entry.
On top of this, most early adopters could not integrate psychometric assessments into the platform and those that later did, had done so through third party suppliers, once again, adding to the cost of an all-encompassing system. Not only through the publishers’ cost of the assessment, but also the computer software programming needed to marry the two together.
This was a natural occurrence as most of the APS market leaders were technology companies, not psychometric publishers. However, due to the power of psychometric assessments, and their ability to quickly screen out applicants with poor ‘job fit’, companies were thirsting for a simple, totally integrated approach.
The most powerful APS I have reviewed of late are the ones launched by assessment publishers. Because they own their code for the psychometric tests, they are able to fully link the results and benchmark scores to applicant records and imbed these into the APS dashboard for rapid screening out and mass emailing capability.
Like the cost of any new technology, as time progresses, the benefits and costs become irresistible and the return on investment is almost immediate. There are five key areas that an efficient APS can address to make the recruitment processes in SMEs and large companies more cost effective, not to mention the ability to deliver better hires.
It may be helpful to explain the difference between Applicant Tracking Systems and Recruitment Software. The former is used by organisations to gather information from candidates in respect to their knowledge, skill, experience and innate abilities to perform the job (what I call the whole person approach). The latter is used mainly by recruitment agencies that act as a database to track clients (sales opportunities), store potential and current ‘live’ candidates, and track jobs and advertising.
Let’s get back to the top five requirements of a good APS:
1. A well designed dashboard. The hiring manager should be able to log into a single page to view all candidates for specific jobs. Then at a glance, sort and rank via customised screening questions and assessment benchmark scores.
2. A customised application form. Many systems have the ability to ask questions, but the real power comes from being able to rank and disqualify candidates based on answers to those ‘job specific’ questions. This allows managers to narrow down candidates, via their knowledge, skill and experience and instantly mass email those who are declined.
3. Inbuilt employee assessments. Having the assessments built into the system enable managers to gather the information that is ‘below the waterline’, either at the point of application, or by mass email invitation following initial selecting-out via the above (point two). This is the icing on the cake and enables managers to not only understand if the candidate CAN do the job (gathered in point two), but, HOW will they do the job – their innate personality, problem solving, attitudes, motivation and interests.
4. Status and notes. A powerful system must be able to flag candidates to a customised status. In other words, the ability to put candidates into customised ’boxes’ based on a company’s specific hiring process. For example – application under review by manager, awaiting completion of assessment, moved to reference checking, declined, hired etc. This allows you to sort quickly and also make notes on individual candidates.
5. Applicant communication. This area is the most time consuming for managers. An efficient APS will have mass email capability to keep candidates in the loop with the status of their application. Customised templates allow the hiring manager, with a simple click of a radio button, to mass email candidates with any message in respect of their status. It’s important for the company’s PR to communicate efficiently with candidates promptly.
Apart from the above five core areas, there are many more helpful features a system may require, one of our early requests was the desire to allow hiring managers into different levels of the system. Some HR departments screen out first before passing on to the hiring manager. It’s helpful to allow those managers to login at will and evaluate those applicants that already ‘fit’ the job.
Some companies allow managers to do their own screening and hiring, so having a multi levelled access system cuts a lot of work and potential bad hires.
I think it is also very valuable to consider a system that has powerful social media capability. The likes of Facebook and LinkedIn have huge recruitment possibilities so the ability to post and collect information about your position in this space is going to be increasingly important. Not to mention the ability to upload your jobs to both paid and free job boards.
Finally, a powerful customisable reporting and tracking feature can be immensely helpful to understand what recruitment advertising and media is working, where your candidates are coming from and the keywords that are driving applicants to your career page.
In today’s social media world, technology has made it easy for candidates to apply for a job from anywhere in the world. This leads to a greater influx of unsuitable applications. Companies small and large need an efficient online process to screen out unsuitable candidates quickly and cost effectively. An APS turns the frustration of recruitment into a routine, productive and easily managed event for about the cost of your daily cup of coffee!
Rob McKay is Director of Auckland based AssessAdvantage Aust/NZ Ltd – Organisational Psychologists. He is the author of newly released, ‘No More Square Pegs: How to Hire Winners for Your Business’ and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 414 6030