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Digital Human Resources Tools a Bust

April 7, 2014 General 0 Comments

Digital Human Resources Tools a BustOne of the most common technologies used by human resources staff may not be helping companies at all, and could actually be hurting job seekers. This is leading to calls for better business practices that take a more human approach to recruitment.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are high-tech products that let HR managers compile resumes, CVs, applications and other documents in a digital space rather than dealing with mountains of paper. When they were first introduced, ATS was touted as an extremely efficient innovation for overburdened offices sifting through stacks of paper documents. And while they still offer some advantages, HR experts are now calling ATS products as outdated or even downright harmful to the hiring process.

A Sticky Gate: ATS Access Issues

One of the major problems with the average ATS is access. These technologies rely on automated screening processes, so they can shut many applicants out of an open job. In fact, critics argue that an ATS can reject the majority of applicants out of hand. According to data presented in a FlexJobs report, almost 75 percent of applicants can't get past some systems. Those applicants who do get through often have to run the gauntlet of a multi-page digital nightmare, entering a variety of unwieldy data before receiving word from a human being.

How to Beat an ATS

Job seekers now receive assistance from HR experts and others who know how to "game" an ATS, which typically involves stuffing resumes with keywords. Those who don't play the game often aren't considered, which is certainly bad for them, but a whole host of sub par applicants can easily con their way to the top of the potential hires list, which is bad for the company.

The Wall Street Journal cites Mark Mehler, co-founder of consulting firm Career Xroads, as saying, "Tracking software has its pitfalls. It may miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn't game the system by larding his or her resume with keywords from the job description."

Your "Useless" Past

If you're familiar with the business world, you know that HR staff are more interested in your skills and practical experience than how you got there. As companies focus on results, past education and work history become details.

Along with the other very real criticisms of ATS, another primary point is that many of them are simply outdated and not aligned with modern HR goals. Like an ancient machine left plugged in for years, the ATS can keep grinding away at irrelevant and wasteful tasks, continuing to put the human user through the wringer.

Gregg Dourgarian at Staffing Talk explains how many good applicants will give up when faced with these systems that ask them to grind away by rote. They'll get other jobs; or they'll start to migrate toward those few remaining jobs that don't require as intensive a process.

To many companies, it's not so much a question of what's fair to applicants as it is a question of whether the results of an IT tool support the goals of a business. If not, it may be time to get a little more humanity into human resources.

Photo credit: MorgueFile

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