Does the data in your ATS have “the right stuff?”

Topics: HR tools, talent pipeline, ATS

Posted by Eric Brill on Feb 13, 2020 11:51:09 AM

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If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: for recruitment success, you need to optimize the candidate experience. But have you ever considered how the data in your ATS can positively or negatively impact the job-search experience? You can make a few relatively easy adjustments to ensure job seekers get what they want and need.

Job categorization
The job categorization in your ATS needs to be candidate-centric. Some organizations categorize in a way that fits the internal needs of their hiring or charge-back process and not the needs of job seekers.

  • Don’t make your categorization overly complex; it needs to represent the way your candidates are most likely to search.
  • Employ job families, then sub-categories to help candidates drill down.
  • Find the right balance: you can err in making categories too broad or too specific.

Think like a candidate. Your ATS job categorization should not be self-serving, but rather candidate-serving.

Job titling
Since candidates are searching for specific job titles in your ATS, it’s important to get the titles aligned with what they expect. We’ve covered this topic in a prior post on job titling, but the key points to remember are:

  • Use the most commonly searched version of the job title (not internal jargon or “creative” titles)
  • Stick to just the title itself, not shifts, locations, job levels or bonus information
  • Remove all internal codes from the titles – these mean nothing to candidates
  • Check for proper spelling before you post the job to your ATS

Location search
When it comes to searching by location, accuracy is essential. The physical address, city, state, facility name and country (if applicable) should be specific, complete and error-free. Larger organizations may have multiple locations in a single city. Make it easy for applicants to pinpoint the specific location that they prefer.

Be specific as possible. It’s likely that your jobs are going to be distributed to lots of external media, many of which offer candidates tools to search by location. The more accurate your location data, the more likely you’re going to appear in these kinds of searches and target your desired audience.

ATS job descriptions
One final item to consider is your ATS job descriptions. These should be well formatted, well written and in a structure that is compatible with job boards. Job descriptions should be in HTML format.

Some organizations simply use Word documents pasted into their ATS, which can negatively impact their appearance on job boards. The result can be embedded styling, fonts and line breaks that translate into a haphazard appearance on job boards with misaligned bullets and a confusing layout. A sloppy-looking job description on job boards will reflect poorly on the professionalism of the hiring organization.

Some final thoughts
It’s not glamorous, but following these simple, behind-the-scenes practices in your ATS can make a big difference to your recruiting. It might take a little reworking and some education for the people who have access to your ATS, but the ultimate results will be worth the time spent.

One final thought: you might consider a recruitment marketing platform to bring the jobs out of your ATS (where they are hidden from search engines) into the light where they can be found by any candidate doing a Google search. That’s where NAS ACTIVATE™ comes in. But that’s a topic for another day.

Eric Brill

Eric Brill is the Director of IT at NAS. With the company for 23 years, he oversees all technology initiatives, including our ACTIVATE™ platform.