ATS vs. paper applications for internal transfers - how to persuade the holdouts.

A quick look at my desktop will tell you I'm doing my best to keep up with technology in our industry. I'm posting a discussion on a blog site, my ATS, email, and MS Communicator run all day long (as does my LinkedIn account), and I pop in and out of other social networking sites and online search boards all day long. Perhaps it is hard for me to believe that not everybody is to tech driven because I'm part of the generation that grew up with a mouse in our hands and can hardly remember what a cassette looks like.

Without getting up on a soapbox too much, I truly believe the ATS my company currently uses for all external hires and internal transfers at all but two of our US locations needs to be implemented in our holdout locations. These two sites alone combined for over 100 internal transfers and promotions and averaged 30 applicants per position. This is over 3,000 applications, many of which include several attachments and addendums. To compound matters, I am currently managing the recruiting process for one of the plants (located in Mississippi) from my office in Michigan. This means that the paper apps get shipped to me via FedEx for review, and then shipped back to the hiring managers for the interviews and for storage in the HR area.

Without going any further, I think any recruiter can understand why I'm pushing for the implementation of our ATS, but I am being met with some very heavy resistance. Unfortunately a number of these employees are computer illiterate, and many do not even own computers. In addition, any technicians in the plants do not even have a company email address since they do not use a computer in their daily work. This presents a problem because all of the positions we post internally are salaried positions which require computer skills for the job. Although it seems like an obvious argument to me that a person incapable of applying online will fail to meet qualifications, the managers will simply not buy into it so easily.

I'd like to hear from other recruiters who have dealt with similar issues, and how you were successful. I have already prepared an extensive presentation detailing the improved efficiency, accuracy, and security of an online system compared to paper. I have also created a step-by-step training deck for using the system and will be making sure HR, hiring managers, and the 24/7 support line all understand how to use the system. Despite this preparation, I'm still anticipating pushback, so any and all suggestions are welcome and sincerely appreciated.

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Hi Gino,

I often warn folks that the Uniform Guidlines and some case law seem to suggest that you may not require the use of skills in the application process that are not required for the job, and that may include only accepting applications via computer entry. I suggest that an alternate always be provided (e.g. an admin who will key in a mailed paper app) because in the real world, that avenue ends up be hardly used once online forms are available. So I suggest that in your pitch, allow for the paper to continue to be used, but project that it will be used less and less once a choice is available. Everyone underestimates blue-collar computer use anyway- most of those folks have plenty of access if and when they need it....
Hi Martin -

While I appreciate the points you make, it simply is not feasible to do this any longer (manually enter paper applications). Our current recruiting staff is smaller than in years past which is why we have some people managing multiple locations. We currently have a hiring freeze, so taking on an admin is not an option, and I personally don't have the time to be creating profiles for all these people. Besides, creating profiles on their behalf causes other problems:

1. They will not be using or learning the system themself
2. They will not have access to their profile since they did not create it
3. If they log in at a future time it will create duplicate profiles which cannot be merged
4. The information contained in the system is not as high quality as it should be

The main reason I am pushing so hard for this right now is actually because of the fact that the technology has been available there for a couple of years and they are still refusing to use it. Unfortunately this is exactly the opposite of what you predict would happen. The workers there see the online application as a hassle because it is more work for them (particularly those who do not own computers) so they have resisted the change for a couple years and are continuing to do so.

Martin H.Snyder said:
Hi Gino,

I often warn folks that the Uniform Guidlines and some case law seem to suggest that you may not require the use of skills in the application process that are not required for the job, and that may include only accepting applications via computer entry. I suggest that an alternate always be provided (e.g. an admin who will key in a mailed paper app) because in the real world, that avenue ends up be hardly used once online forms are available. So I suggest that in your pitch, allow for the paper to continue to be used, but project that it will be used less and less once a choice is available. Everyone underestimates blue-collar computer use anyway- most of those folks have plenty of access if and when they need it....

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