Hiring Success

Why now is the perfect time to invest in a new ATS

Hey everybody. My name is Phil Strazzulla. I’m the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews. It’s a website where we help human resources (HR) and talent acquisition (TA) professionals to find and buy the right software through free online research.

I got into the HR space when I was at Harvard Business School getting my MBA and started an HR software company. Now I do all sorts of stuff. I’m on the board of the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA), which is the largest Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) affiliate in the US, I talk to lots of practitioners, blah blah blah. That’s enough about me. 

In this article, I’d like to address the following question: Why is today a good time to think about a new applicant tracking system (ATS)? With all the craziness going on in the world and all the change— why is right now a good time to think long-term and strategically about your TA function? 

There are a couple of big buckets that I think about when I think about this question.

Time

The first is time. Chances are right now that you’re working from home and you don’t have as many meetings. All of a sudden, if you’re like most people, you have more time to breathe and think long-term about your organization. Sure there was a lot of craziness and uncertainty at the beginning of the situation we’re all in. However, you’ve probably started to settle into a groove that’s allowed you a lot more space to contemplate the future of your organization. This is the perfect time to think about projects with longer-term payoffs.

Return on investment

I always thinks in terms of return on investment (ROI). And I think a lot of people do as well. That’s the second big bucket. And I think that on a day-to-day basis, the ROI of making sure you go to a meeting or making sure that a requisition gets filled is important enough to disrupt all of the longer-term initiatives with greater payoff that continuously sit on the back burner—like a new ATS.

There is no doubt that re-architecting our recruitment process—to be more candidate friendly, to have functionality like candidate relationship management (CRM), to have better sourcing capabilities, better tracking, better analytics—is much more important than hiring that one engineering candidate that we can’t close, or that one director-level role that we can’t close.

However, because of the immediacy, we usually get sucked into this stuff. The ROI is bigger in the short-term for doing that one little thing, and we don’t think about the longer-term initiatives that undoubtedly will have a much larger impact on our overall function. 

Vendor attention

The last key point here is that there aren’t a lot of companies out there who are thinking long-term right now and, therefore, considering a new ATS. This means vendors are much more scrappy these days. They’re willing to do whatever it takes from a customer success standpoint to make you happy as a new customer.

For instance, you’ll potentially be able to spend more time with senior employees from vendors who can help you come to a solution before buying. Simply put, you’re just going to have a better buying experience now than you would have six weeks ago or six months ago when there was a lot more competition for vendor attention. And I’m not saying that vendors don’t do a good job of that anyways, but right now they have much more incentive to make sure that you are going to be happy.

Final thoughts

In terms of the broader “why” around the topic of getting a new ATS: If you’ve got a legacy system and switch over to something more candidate friendly, in my experience your applicant rates are going to go through the roof. Especially if you’re moving from a system like Taleo where you have to click through several different screens, it takes you twenty minutes to complete an application, you have to refill resume fields over and over again, etc.

The whole experience is frustrating, which, unsurprisingly, translates to a very high application drop off rate. After switching systems, I’ve seen companies go from a 5 percent completion rate to completion rates of 70, 80, and upwards of 90 percent.

Additionally, investing in a new ATS will give you the opportunity to acquire must-have functionalities like CRM, which will enable you to keep better track of candidates, build talent pipelines, fill open requisitions more easily and faster, etc. And that’s just scraping the surface.

If you haven’t upgraded to a modern ATS, then the time is now. It’s going to change the way that your TA function functions.

Thanks for your time! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Phil Strazzulla

Phil Strazzulla

Phil Strazzulla is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and TA buy the right software through in-depth, unbiased research. Phil started his career working in venture capital at Bessemer Venture Partners before getting his MBA at Harvard Business School.