What is recruitment software and why would you use it?

John Dennehy
John Dennehy

I was hiring people in startups for over 15 years before I ever used any recruitment software. Most of my experience was in startups so I didn’t have exposure to the tools large enterprises use. In fact, the first recruitment software I ever used was HireHive. Most founders and small business owners don’t have a lot of recruitment experience and are often unaware of how and when to use recruitment software.

One thing an applicant tracking system (ATS) won’t do is magically find unicorns. Some positions are best filled through headhunting or referrals. No matter how good your ATS it won’t conjure up those incredibly rare candidates out of thin air. So why would you bother using one?

One of the things every good ATS does is free up your inbox. When candidates apply for a role their cover letter and resume/CV gets stored in the ATS. There’s usually an autoresponder setup to thank them for applying. In the ATS you can usually send and receive messages to the candidates inviting them to interview, giving them feedback etc. Doing all of this from your regular inbox is nuts and does not scale.

Almost all applicant tracking systems make it easy to create job ads that get posted to the careers section of your website and are simultaneously published to multiple job boards like indeed.com with a single click. This is a great time saver and takes a bucket load of admin work out of the process. The end result should be more qualified candidates applying for your roles.

Collaboration is an essential part of any good recruitment process. An ATS should facilitate better teamwork by providing multiple hiring managers with access to candidate details, allowing them to review notes from other stakeholders and share notes of their own. You could do this through email but it’s like using Word to manage your company accounts. Better collaboration results in better hiring decisions and ultimately a better company.

An ATS helps companies with regulatory compliance. For example, in Europe GDPR mandates that companies can only keep candidate details for specified periods of time. In the US, OFCCP imposes its own compliance regulations on any company working with the Federal government. It would be almost impossible not to fall foul of these laws without an ATS.

Somewhere between compliance and good housekeeping is the fact that your company will have a single place of record for all things recruitment related. If you run recruitment through regular email and the owner of the email account leaves the company, it will be impossible to find details of candidates after they’ve left.

One of our clients recently told me that when she started a new recruitment role she saw stacks of paper CVs and rejection letters that were being posted to candidates. She justified the cost of HireHive purely on the savings made from eliminating paper and stamps. With an ATS there’s no reason for any paper in recruitment. Saving trees is a positive side effect.

Finally, deciding when to use what recruitment software is important. There’s a multibillion-dollar industry in recruitment software so it’s important to get the right product that’s fit for purpose. Large enterprises are typically stuck with outdated software that frustrates candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters in equal measure. Companies hiring more than 20 people a month typically select expensive but best of breed solutions like Greenhouse, Lever, and Jobvite. Companies that want an easy-to-use and low-cost solution usually go with something like HireHive.

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