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How does your candidate service stack up?

Posted by Colin Kingsbury

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Mar 1, 2006 1:12:00 AM

Here at HRMDirect we speak to a lot of what other vendors refer to as "small" companies, meaning fewer than 1,000 employees. They often ask us how an ATS will help them, since they think they're doing fine now without one. In many cases the true answer is that what they're doing now isn't good, they just don't know it.

This is especially true with what I call "candidate service," which concerns the interactions your company has with each candidate. To understand why this is important, read this post on the O'Reilly blog network arguing that HR is "Your IT Company's Biggest Enemy."

This isn't to say I agree with the details of that post. Like many of the dozen or so commenters who rose to defend the noble profession of Human Resources, I suspect that the author either had a poor resume, or wasn't a good fit for the positions he applied to. But that's beside the point! This person has now added a dozen companies to his personal enemies list, and may have said unflattering things about them to some of his friends. Multiply this by ten or a thousand applicants and you have a pretty substantial negative word-of-mouth campaign going on.

Put yourself in the candidate's shoes: You've spent 30-45 minutes tweaking your resume and writing a cover letter. You go through the registration process to send in your application, and a week later you hear... nothing. The message is clear: you're worthless to the company, undeserving even of the courtesy of a form letter.

Of course you (the recruiter) are juggling too many tasks to dedicate personal time to each and every applicant. That's where an automation system like an ATS comes in handy. In our product, you can create a list of applicants who were turned down at the screening stage and send a polite thank-you note to them with about 4 mouse clicks. Outlook can do this too, but it's a little confusing and takes a good deal more time, so very few recruiters do it.

Likewise, some of our clients actually include their email and phone number with their rejection letters so that candidates who really want to know what happened can talk to them. When a candidate calls, any recruiter can pull up the Notes in our system for that candidate, and quickly explain the decision. It may even "save" a candidate or two who somehow ended up in the wrong bucket. Either way, it shows the candidate respect and professionalism, and will leave a positive impression of the employer.