Career & Jobs

The 4 Stages of a Relationship Between a Recruiter and Their ATS

Relationships are never easy. If you’ve been in one for a few years, you understand better than anyone that disagreements, mistakes, and mishaps are inevitable. While those issues are difficult enough to deal with on their own, public awareness of these problems creates further complications.

Over the past decade, one relationship in particular has had its fair share of public spats. You may not see it on TMZ, but it’s all over the internet. Just search “my applicant tracking system stinks” and you’ll find detailed articles, posts, and tweets by recruiters discussing this complicated relationship.

In almost every case, the recruiter is telling their applicant tracking system (ATS), “It’s not me, it’s you.” Frankly, we don’t blame them for feeling that way. Often, they’re talking about an ATS that fits the textbook definition of a “legacy system,” inflexibility and all. Not to mention, by 2021 standards, a lot of ATSs are not the most data- or internet-friendly.

At Hiretual, we’ve seen these complications going on for too long, and we want to do something about it. Before we provide insight into how one can amend this relationship with recruitment technology, there are two questions we have to answer.

  1. What went wrong?
  2. Why is it so hard for recruiting teams to do anything about it?

To answer these questions, we’re breaking down the complicated relationship between the ATS and recruiters in the hopes that 2021 will be the year we get the once happy couple to a better place.

The Honeymoon Phase

Ah, the honeymoon phase. A time when everything feels fresh, new, and exciting, and you remain oblivious to each other’s flaws.

During the early 2000s, the recruitment world looked completely different. Most of the technologies we are now accustomed to were either nonexistent or in their early stages. There was no Twitter. LinkedIn did not have the membership or recruitment pull it has today. Resumes were stacks of paper, not bytes of storage.

In this hiring landscape, the ATS was the perfect partner to bring about the dawn of centralized technology and recruitment automation. It posted jobs. It tracked candidate profiles. It automated engagement. That was enough to meet recruitment teams’ needs at the time, but what happened when the recruitment space evolved?

Early Attachment and Emerging Doubts

By the 2010s, the honeymoon phase was over. Social media recruitment became much more prominent, and a major shift occurred in the way recruitment teams looked for candidates. Job posts started to lose their magic, and the recruitment technology market boomed with vendors who used artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing to cultivate ideal employer-job seeker relationships.

And so it began. The hidden cracks in the recruiter-ATS relationship became apparent. As recruitment became more complex, so did the ATS — but it felt like jamming in a puzzle piece that didn’t fit. In a new world that prioritized data accessibility and workflow flexibility, the heavy infrastructure of the traditional ATS simply couldn’t keep up.

You might be thinking, “If things were going poorly, why didn’t recruitment teams just break up with their ATSs?” In the same way public divorces can get pricey, cost was a major reason why recruiters stuck with their ATSs. It’s not cheap to overhaul an entire system and move on to something new. But like any relationship without a solid foundation, all it takes is a couple of shakes to make that foundation crumble.

Relationship Crisis

In 2020, the shakes came in the form of COVID-19. In a remote workforce, long-distance relationships took a toll on recruiters. Teams who could make sense of candidate-information overload had tech stacks driven by data intelligence, customizable workflows, and real-time collaboration. On the flip side, the traditional ATS struggled to give teams the three things they needed:

  1. Easy navigation
  2. Fresh and consistent data
  3. More time in their days

What does this mean for the recruiter-ATS relationship?

Finding Lost Love

With hope seemingly lost for a relationship repair, the 2020s will have recruiters working with their ATSs a little differently. Technology vendors and their flexible integrations will redefine the rigid ATS experience that many recruiters are so used to.

As part of Hiretual’s mission to make the internet recruiter-friendly, we predicted the need for AI technology not only to help with talent sourcing, but also to transform how we integrate with ATS partners. The pandemic accelerated the urgency of that need, with over 97 percent of recruiters looking to source internally within their ATSs in 2021.

We were able to accelerate our own timeline and launched Hiretual Talent Fusion last year to simplify ATS data management for a faster and more organized approach to talent rediscovery. By integrating your ATS with solutions like ours, you can rekindle that lost love in many ways:

  1. Using AI to automate data deduplication for a cleaner database.
  2. Applying contextual searches to source within your internal talent pool.
  3. Rank the relevancy of existing profiles against new ones being sourced on the open web.
  4. Refresh outdated profiles with the latest information found on online profiles.
  5. Save money doing all of this with your existing ATS, not a new one.

Does love always get a fairy tale ending? No. But consistent communication, transparency, and mutual respect give you something close to it. By treating your recruitment technology vendors like partners and not just a service, you can even broaden the impact of these solutions and customize them to fit how your organization works with its ATS.

As a recruitment software provider, we know how complicated your relationship with your ATS may be. But we also know that every relationship is different. Your solution to finding lost love won’t look like your competitor’s, but technology today gives you more than enough room to explore your options.

To learn more about how Hiretual’s Talent Fusion can save your ATS relationship, click here. regularly features reviews, articles, and press releases from leading businesses. This featured article may include paid promotion or affiliate links. Please make every effort to perform due diligence when selecting products and services for your business or investment needs and compare information from a variety of sources. Use this article for general and informational purposes only.


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