Friday Rant: ATS Providers, You Stink.

Jessica Lee Bad HR, HR Technology, HR Vendors, Jessica Lee, Recruiting

So here’s an idea I’m stuck on these days – creating solutions with the user in mind first and foremost, not technology. User first. Always. And in our case, that means job seekers.

Case in point – a lot of applicant tracking systems stink. And frankly, I’m tired of trying to re-engineer process(es) just to work within the confines of what my ATS can or can’t do. Let’s get detailed, yeah?

For example, a certain-you-shall-remain-unnamed-ATS-that-so-many-large-companies-are-beholden-to… your drop down fields to drill down and find jobs in a particular location/category/fill-in-the-blank-with-a-search-criteria and only sometimes-functioning-keyword search? NO ONE LIKES navigating to find jobs that way. It’s frustrating. And beyond your tough to use search and filtering capabilities, the application user experience you have? It’s resulted in you having a pretty bad rap on the street. Not among HR and recruiting folks. We’ve somehow come to accept you. Your bad rap is among job seekers. That’s right. To the point that I’ve actually heard from talent who say that they choose to not apply for jobs at companies when they realize that this mammoth ATS is the technology provider for those companies. That’s bad. And as a result, we’re having to create work arounds to solve for the ugliness of your search/filter options.

Or that we should have to create a massive “instructions” documents, cheat sheets, quick tips or aids to help people understand how to navigate an ATS as a job seeker. That ain’t right. But it’s not just that ATS. It’s a lot of them.

The job search and application experience should be so intuitive, and simple, and straight forward, that when handed over from a technology provider to a company, the solution as is should make sense. It shouldn’t need supplemental technology to make it effective. And instructions shouldn’t be needed. You buy it as company, and it should work for your end users. Intuitively.

Like an iPad.

Think about that. Really. Look at how kids have picked them up and based on intuition alone, they are masters of Angry Birds. And at age 3 or 4, they are watching their favorite shows on their iPads, streaming on Netflix. Without your help. Right? Which is the awe-inspiring and amazing thing about iPads and a lot of other new technology. Which is an analogy that came up recently among teammates as we were discussing how simple and intuitive the job search and application experience should be.

But it isn’t. And funny enough, that whole conversation prompted me to go to Apple’s website to take a look at how their job search and application process is. You would think that they – of anyone – should have a streamlined, simple user experience for job seekers. Yet they don’t. They’re just as impacted by a challenging ATS and recruiting technology that does nothing for the job seeking end user. Nothing.

Searching and applying for jobs isn’t easy. In this economic climate it isn’t easy. And it’s a pity our technology makes the whole process even worse. And I know – absolutely, there are things we all could be doing, technology aside, to make the candidate experience better. It’s in the communication, it’s in the follow up, it’s in a lot of different factors… but I can’t help but to wonder when some of our recruiting technology providers are going to start designing with the job seeking user in mind first.

Is anyone listening?

Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee is a VP of TA at Marriott International where she leads a team that enables the company to think big, broad and boldly about all things talent acquisition and in effect, keeps them relevant and ahead of the curve in how they attract and acquire top talent. Don’t be fooled by that fancy pants title and description though, she’s still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade and a half into trench HR life… she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat.

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