Why Applicant Tracking Systems Need a Human Touch

“Thank you for submitting your application. If your qualifications meet our needs, we’ll contact you. Otherwise, we’ll keep your resume on file for 12 months.”

If your company has an online application system, every applicant receives an email like the above. Likewise, when someone applies to a specific job you’re sourcing, you get a notice. In theory, online application systems are great — the candidate is notified when her resume is received and your human resources team doesn’t have to engage with the candidate unless you want to conduct an actual interview. Applicant tracking systems allow HR professionals to keep on top of numerous requisitions, sort through stacks of resumes without touching a single sheet of paper and run reports to understand the level of interest in any job posting.

But if these systems make the entire hiring process easier, why do job candidates hate them so much? Because they take the “human” out of the process.

To keep reading, click here: Why Applicant Tracking Systems Need a Human Touch

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8 thoughts on “Why Applicant Tracking Systems Need a Human Touch

  1. I hate that everyone uses Taleo. But, I have to fill in 20 years of work history in tiny boxes for everyone’s Taleo system. Hey you guys at Taleo – how about letting me have 1 account and use it for all these different employers?

    1. YES!

      I hate Taleo to the point that during my last job search, I refused to apply at any employer that used it. (Or at least refused to apply using that system–I got a couple resumes in front of people via my network, and after I had interviewed they asked me to drop my info into Taleo.)

      It’s bad enough to have to take a carefully formatted resume and copy-paste parts of it into a plaintext upload system. It’s worse that you have to duplicate all the information step-by-step in their “Work History” forms. It’s terrible how intrusive, non-custom (“Can you lift 40+ Lbs for your desk job?” [Yes]/[No]) the questions can be.

      But to waste an hour on jumping through a hoop, only to have the SAME system and the SAME prompts and the SAME username/password … but a whole new request for information? Nope. Not doing it.

      Taleo could be a helpful service. Instead they are the bane of any job-hunter’s existence.

      1. Yep, during my recent job search as soon as I saw the word Taleo I moved on. I will not spend hours using that system unless I am flat out desperate for employment.

  2. Today I filled out a Taleo form to apply for a position. I naively thought that with my PhD I might be able to outsmart the system. Rather than try to type essays into the 1/4″ x 2″ boxes I figured I’d type it in Word then copy-paste the text in. When I did so Taleo deleted all my blank lines and just mashed everything together. I then figured I’d delete all the text in the box and simply insert the first paragraph, then hit enter twice and paste the second, etc.

    As soon as I pasted that first paragraph then hit enter that first time the screen went blank and a message popped up thanking me for my submission.

    There was no way to retract, edit, etc. It was just gone. Grrrrrrr.

  3. I would rather screen resumes and interview in person. It might not save me time, but nothing beats that first impression of a person. Even just reading a resume and cover letter can let me know if the person pays attention to detail, if they took the time to research the company before applying, if they are articulate, if they bothered to proofread/edit before applying, etc.

    I have seen some resumes that show extensive experience, yet, in person the candidate is not a ‘good fit’ for the company or current staff. I know what I’m looking for, and so far it seems to work:)

  4. “But if these systems make the entire hiring process easier, why do job candidates hate them so much? Because they take the “human” out of the process.”

    Exactly, they might make the hiring process EASIER; but the computer system does NOT guarantee that it is BETTER.

    I know there are many job opportunities that I have missed out on because their application system is a joke. Asking, no make that requiring, questions that have no real relevance to the specific position; usually it is just a standard question that HR feels the need to ask of everyone is kind of stupid. And it is a major turn off as it tells me you don’t know much about how to hire for this position. What can it be like to work for you? Are you stupid then too?

    Or filling in a form for 30 minutes that is replicating everything on my resume. I usually stop after 5 minutes – any longer isn’t worth my time. While it might be my loss, I figure any company willing to waste my time before they even see my resume is going to be more wasteful of my time later. I consider it respectful to value someone else’s time. I consider it rude to waste someone else’s time.

    And, don’t even get me started on that what is/was your salary nonsense! I recently applied for a position for which one of the required questions was “What is your asking salary?” Since this can at the end of a short application process I was willing to enter “open to discussion after interviewing” thinking: well, I’ll never hear from them. I was surprised when the very next day I received an email stating that they were interested in my resume but would really like to know what my asking salary was. I replied that I answered honestly in that I was open but could not give a response until I knew more about the position; but, since they were so keen on discussing salary up front they could tell me what the budgeted range was for this position. That was 6 weeks ago – I haven’t heard back.

    Yep, in short – respect my time and respect me by making your application process easy, rational, and seemingly fair and I will consider working for your company. But, be the opposite and I’m not interested. And when the economy turns around in the employees favor (and it will one day!) then more and more folks will not be so willing to jump through stupid application processes; so, companies get with it or lose out on getting the best.

  5. And many of the systems just don’t work very well. One local hospital has an online app that won’t accept anything but whole dollars in the salary boxes even though they have 2 decimal places. I asked one of their HR reps what a candidate who made $15.40 was supposed to do. She replied they could just round up or down! The app from Lawson Software (used by another hospital that is the largest employer in the county) doesn’t work if it’s access through 3rd party sites like indeed. Lawson knows about the problem; the hospital knows about the problem, but there is no warning on the web site advising applicants to go directly to the hospital’s web site if they have issues.

    One of my clients was filling out an app recently that had the Zip+4 as a required field (do you know yours? I don’t) and required month, DAY and year for every date on the form, including graduation dates. No wonder job seekers pissed off!

  6. I hate to ask this question, but why did we let our HR department get so busy with so many tasks that they can’t take time to handle each resume? Can you imagine a carpenter worth his salt to not evaluate each board for a piece of fine furniture? Can you imagine an artist not selecting each paint color and mixing them by hand to achieve the objective in the piece? I’ve always thought HR was the skill of choosing the right people to match the firm’s personality as well as the firm’s technical requirements. If HR solely is matching the firm’s technical requirements, they are missing the opportunity to create a high performing organization (the reason HR Lobbied for so many years to be moved into the C Suite).

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