Applicant Tracking System

How to Improve When Current Recruitment Results Are Not Getting It Done

It starts with focus!

Today most organizations focus on a recruiting strategy that is no longer sufficient for acquiring the best talent available in the candidate marketplace. The focus has been on applicants for the past several years. The name of the system most organizations use to monitor recruitment bears the name of their focus...Applicant Tracking System (aka ATS). Rarely do organizations have a process that involves a similar focus on both applicants (active) and non-applicants (passive). This is why 99.99% of the time when someone gets a call from a recruiter on a job they didn’t apply for, it was from an agency and not an internal or corporate recruiter.

How did we get here?

In the past, organizations built relationships within the talent marketplace and developed a network of candidates waiting to be considered for certain jobs as they became available. However as the practice of posting jobs online has increased, so have the number of applicants. Once the Great Recession took hold and the number of available jobs shrunk, candidate pools expanded and the number of applicants skyrocketed. This resulted in a much larger number of applicants to consider, which precipitated the need for applicant tracking systems to help manage the job requisitions and corresponding applicants.

Due to the challenging economic situation of the times, organizations no longer had the time and resources to fully consider each applicant. Later, keywords were utilized in order to help recruiters view the most qualified applicants much faster. With social media and a greater awareness of recruitment technology, the number of applicants continues to grow.

Although the economy has since recovered from several years ago, it still no longer seems necessary to continue to recruit passive candidates that don’t apply. So the result we see today is that prospective talent are expected to self-qualify when applying for open positions, and organizations do their best to sift through the hundreds of resumes that result from this. This method of active recruitment by focusing on applicants certainly has its place within the recruitment process, and it is also appears to be the easiest form of recruitment since it is less labor-intensive than the other models or strategies. However, it is not the most effective recruitment strategy nor is it the least expensive approach.

Why is active not as effective as it once was?

Before we proceed, let’s make sure that we are all on the same page when we use the term “active”. The term “active” refers to recruitment strategy of posting job requisitions and completely relying on the individual candidate to initially self-qualify and apply for the position. Candidates who apply in this way are considered “active”, while all other candidates are considered "passive”.

Due to the widespread over-reliance on the job boards and job aggregators, the market for such mediums has expanded the active recruitment marketplace while driving the overall price of job advertising to unprecedented levels.

Several years ago an organization could rely on one, or perhaps two, job boards (typically CareerBuilder and Monster) to reach most of their active candidate talent pool. Later, job aggregators like Indeed and Simply Hired came along. Heavy utilization of the leading job boards or aggregators can be cost-prohibitive while still missing a large portion of active candidates who either do not utilize the advertising medium chosen, or check it infrequently. In short, today’s recruiters often find it necessary to subscribe to five or more job boards, in addition to social media outlets like Linkedin, in order to reach a similar amount of active qualified candidates as they did previously.

What is so important about the focus?

Active recruitment completely misses about 85% of the talent pool altogether. This is because active candidates (potential applicants) only represent about 10-15% of the talent pool. According to one study published by LinkedIn, passive candidates represent roughly 60- to- 65% of the candidate talent pool that could potentially be interested in hearing about opportunities. The remaining 15% are completely engaged and are not recruitable at the time of the search. Therefore, a strategy that only engages and tracks ‘applicants’ or active candidates ignores most of the available talent pool.

Another beneficial, yet unintended consequence, is that as the organization begins to open conversations with additional passive candidates, it will gather important intelligence on whether it is offering their current staff a competitive package that will make them less susceptible to other companies successfully recruiting their existing talent away. So this strategy can also potentially help in the retention area as well.

If the organization’s focus is to recruit the most available candidates, active is the most effective way to recruit. However if the focus is to find the best talent available, recruiting should include both active and passive recruitment strategies.

Allocating Resources

Since active recruitment currently accounts for almost 100% of most organization's recruitment strategy, it is recommended that this form of recruitment should have a less proportionate share of the organization's focus, efforts and share of the recruitment budget in today’s marketplace. It stands to reason that it should never represent more than 50% of the talent acquisition resources and/or budget to reach the best available talent.

Now is the time to add passive recruitment to the talent acquisition process. Passive recruitment involves the organization qualifying and initially contacting the candidate without relying on the candidate to apply first. Passive candidates could include those who come in as referrals, those found through internet searches, as well as candidates found on job boards that were identified by the organization (or a company contracted to assist like Ascend's HR Maximizer).

If already recruiting passive candidates, then the organization should take another look at its usage and proportion of resources. Passive recruitment should make up at least 50% of the budget. There is an argument to be made that it should make up 70% or more of overall talent acquisition resources and budget since more than 70% of the available talent pool qualified for the position is passive.

What is involved in improving both the active and passive recruiting process?

  1. Define - It is important to define the current recruitment process
  2. Identify - what resources are being used and how much is Active vs. Passive
  3. Assess - Determine which resources have been the most fruitful in sourcing the best candidates
  4. Discard - Stop utilizing resources that are less effective in order to free up budget
  5. Revitalize - Re-apply the resources or budget recovered from the above toward passive recruitment
  6. Brainstorm - Continue to brainstorm on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as the organization’s recruitment landscape changes
  7. Improve - Commit to implementing what is presented in the brainstorming session by assigning to team members

When outside help is desired

Most companies will find having an outside perspective is beneficial, especially in the steps mentioned above. Some organizations prefer to use a comprehensive approach that includes design, implementation and execution from an external source. Others have sufficient internal resources in one or two areas, and use outside resources for remainder. In the end, most organizations could benefit from partnering with external companies (i.e. Ascend HR Corp) to ensure their sourcing is focused, thereby giving them the best candidates in the shortest time.

Introduction to Ascend HR Corp Services from Ascend HR Corp on Vimeo.

Rollis Fontenot IIIRollis Fontenot IIIPresident and Business Development Executive for Ascend HR Corp. Rollis recruited healthcare clinicians, professionals, managers and executives since 2004. Some examples titles include: CEO, Director, Nurse Manager, RN, nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant and more. Rollis has also recruited many other functions within healthcare as well as escrow officers and assistants within the title insurance industry.

Ascend HR Corp offers recruitment services on a monthly subscription. We specialize in recruitment process enhancement from finding qualified and interested candidates all the way to full life-cycle recruitment for our clients. We specialize in fixing the most difficult recruitment issues/challenges. No problem is too large. We can help turn around the results of any recruitment department that wants to improve. Please download a sample of Rollis' book "Winning the Talent Acquisition Game with Recruitment Process Enhancement"