Demo'ing 4 ATS systems tomorrow, what questions should I be asking?

Ok all of my recruiter friends out there. From a staff aug recruiting perspective if you are looking at a new ATS systems what features and/or functionality is going to be most important to you? What big questions would you have.

Tomorrow I will be looking at 4 ATS systems the are: Bond Adapt, iCIMS,
Bullhorn and MaxHire.

Any thoughts on any of these would also be appreciated.

Thanks

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Peter,
Most of the automated features that you mentioned is available in TargetRecruit. If needed to have more automated workflows, it can be configured in minutes by the users themselves instead of calling the support. Each email template can be based on the different type of events and can be triggered automatically or manually based on the requirements.

Not only you can achieve Marketing to Candidates but also use their references and experiences to mine business for yourself. Some of the clients have customized the application in a manner that they mine business from the companies where the candidates (who they are just interviewing only also) have worked.

Reena


Peter Clayton said:
Can the ATS...
automatically respond to each applicant, thanking them for their submission.
notify each applicant of other openings they may be qualified for, based on keyword matching
after an initial screen, notify each applicant if she/he is still being considered
if still being considered, follow-up with a reasonable estimate of when they might be contacted
notify all applicants once the position has been filled

yes, I've been talking to Gerry Crispin - a job opening is also a marketing opportunity. It doesn't take much to create a positive experience for job seekers. The typical ATS black hole does just the opposite. So, while assessing all of the time saving, cool features and capabilities to eliminate 98% of the resumes instantly, see what they can do to humanize the process.
Peter do think it's a bit ironic that you think sending some automated email humanizes a recruiting process ?

Reena do you think this forum is best used as a direct sales tool ?

That's not to say that you would not earn a bit of branding from offering useful information to others, but does that indirect benefit share the same space as a tiresome listing of the features and benefits of your product?






Reena Gupta said:
Peter,
Most of the automated features that you mentioned is available in TargetRecruit. If needed to have more automated workflows, it can be configured in minutes by the users themselves instead of calling the support. Each email template can be based on the different type of events and can be triggered automatically or manually based on the requirements.

Not only you can achieve Marketing to Candidates but also use their references and experiences to mine business for yourself. Some of the clients have customized the application in a manner that they mine business from the companies where the candidates (who they are just interviewing only also) have worked.

Reena


Peter Clayton said:
Can the ATS...
automatically respond to each applicant, thanking them for their submission.
notify each applicant of other openings they may be qualified for, based on keyword matching
after an initial screen, notify each applicant if she/he is still being considered
if still being considered, follow-up with a reasonable estimate of when they might be contacted
notify all applicants once the position has been filled

yes, I've been talking to Gerry Crispin - a job opening is also a marketing opportunity. It doesn't take much to create a positive experience for job seekers. The typical ATS black hole does just the opposite. So, while assessing all of the time saving, cool features and capabilities to eliminate 98% of the resumes instantly, see what they can do to humanize the process.
Not a problem. More than happy to not make it sound like sales.

Just couldn't stop myself from listing out the things that is being mentioned when evaluating ATS and address the issues that most of the ATS have.



Martin H.Snyder said:
Peter do think it's a bit ironic that you think sending some automated email humanizes a recruiting process ?

Reena do you think this forum is best used as a direct sales tool ?

That's not to say that you would not earn a bit of branding from offering useful information to others, but does that indirect benefit share the same space as a tiresome listing of the features and benefits of your product?






Reena Gupta said:
Peter,
Most of the automated features that you mentioned is available in TargetRecruit. If needed to have more automated workflows, it can be configured in minutes by the users themselves instead of calling the support. Each email template can be based on the different type of events and can be triggered automatically or manually based on the requirements.

Not only you can achieve Marketing to Candidates but also use their references and experiences to mine business for yourself. Some of the clients have customized the application in a manner that they mine business from the companies where the candidates (who they are just interviewing only also) have worked.

Reena


Peter Clayton said:
Can the ATS...
automatically respond to each applicant, thanking them for their submission.
notify each applicant of other openings they may be qualified for, based on keyword matching
after an initial screen, notify each applicant if she/he is still being considered
if still being considered, follow-up with a reasonable estimate of when they might be contacted
notify all applicants once the position has been filled

yes, I've been talking to Gerry Crispin - a job opening is also a marketing opportunity. It doesn't take much to create a positive experience for job seekers. The typical ATS black hole does just the opposite. So, while assessing all of the time saving, cool features and capabilities to eliminate 98% of the resumes instantly, see what they can do to humanize the process.
Martin - I think most search firms would love to have a system that does do both. You need one part to be a marketing/sales/CRM tool and the other side to track applicants, resumes, etc. Are there any out there that do both well for small shop? Or is that asking too much?
And I agree with Martin - please don't use this forum and string to "sell" your product - I want to hear from users, the pluses, minuses, the things to think about and the suggestions.
Peter - I do think a resume response is a good idea and do provide one. It does allow for some marketing, the kindness and professionalism of letting a person know you received their document and it stops me from receiving a phone call for follow up.
Martin, I agree that an ATS purchase is a relationship decision. As an ATS vendor, we often find that our client’s hiring process and perceptions vary widely from each other. I would strongly suggest that anyone purchasing an ATS consider the relationship as the most important feature in the hiring process. It is extremely important to know that help is readily available, and that you have a system that can be flexible to your needs.

Martin H.Snyder said:
Ahhh this thread is a real beauty- it captures so much of what drives the "ATS" business thru illustrative comments. I'm gonna throw some ideas out here- take them for what they are worth, but they are coming from a person who has been involved with over 3000 "ATS" projects in 11 years with every kind of organization.


1) In the first place "ATS" stands for Applicant Tracking System. Clearly, many if not most people who recruiters work with (and need to "track") are not applicants.

2) People who wear the "recruiter" title can range from hardcore salespeople to order-taking clerks. Clerks work with applicants, usually generated by job-board posts.

2) All four of the named offerings are mature, offered by reliable firms, and have large numbers of satisfied customers.

3) All four of the named offerings have numbers of dissatisfied customers.

4) All four could easily consume 8 hours by themselves for a complete demonstration.

5) Doing 4 demos in one day and expecting to derive a non-superficial understanding with which to differentiate products is asking for trouble.

6) Some products "demo" much better than others.

7) Some products "work" much better than others.

8) Different Stakeholders on the Buy-side have different needs and success definitions.

9) Generally but not always, Recruiters and Clerks are interested in Tactical issues, owners and managers are interested in Strategic issues.

10) Tactical stuff; "Look and Feel", number of clicks, automation of admin functions, personal productivity metrics, "ease of use", fit with current practices (e.g. does this mean I have to stop using Outlook).

11) Strategic stuff; How is the vendor capitalized?, What happens if/when there is a change of ownership? What are the technical and security aspects?, what is the lifecycle costs? How do the costs change/scale up or down? What is involved with changes to the system? what is involved with wanted / needed integrations ?, management reports, legal compliance for hiring.

12) Vendors sell every single day, Buyers buy just once every number of years. There is information asymetry as to what is really important on both sides.

13) Computer "Matching" of candidates to roles is overrated because nothing can beat the brain of a skilled recruiter, and Clerks dont do matching (the Applicants match themselves)

14) Day to day click counts and the general area of email transaction and tracking is underrated (because end-users spend a great deal of time working with and around email)

15) Versatility is a key aspect of successful ATS/Recruiting software projects because people, business cycles, and methods change more often than realized.

16) Price and vendor cost structure are not always connected in the beginning, but they are always connected in the end. The lower the vendor's cost structure, the lower the lifecycle cost CAN be. Too low is naturally not good either.

17) People take this choice seriously and there is a real loyalty and self-identification with vendors in many cases- why ? Because the most important idea of all:

18) THIS DECISION IS NOT A PRODUCT DECISION: ITS A RELATIONSHIP DECISION ! These applications answer to sometimes complex needs, and to get the best out of any of them requires a good working relationship with the vendor. Yes, with some projects its a set it and forget it deal, but even that level requires a certain understanding between the parties. Sometimes its daily or weekly interactions with the vendor basically forever- nothing wrong or unexpected about that outcome either because success (and failure) occur both ways and everywhere in the middle.

19) Its not the last system any ongoing enterprise is going to select. ITs an evolving market. Find out how much and how easy it is to decommission and move along with any given choice.

and finally

20) Many times, there simply is NOT a "better" or "worse" choice- only questions of differences and focus that in the end will give about the same ROI to the buyer if they hold their end up and vice-versa. If you set out to buy a BMW and drive home in a Benz, or even a Chevy, it still all depends on how well the choice fits your exact situation, and that choice would hold for nobody else in specific, but hundreds of thousands of others in general.
Thanks Geri for the good word. From my experience most search firms (both contigency and retained) combine marketing and recruiting directly- recruiters are expected to do both. Sometimes the firm principals are the most active in making rain (like a law firm model) but many times all of the recruiters wear both hats and are expected to be strong on both sides. On the other hand, many consulting firms, RPO firms, and contracting firms do clearly seperate the sales side from the recruiting side- im not exactly sure why things have evolved that way but it may be because the decision makers on the customer side are different for the different offerings. Also as firms scale, there seems to be a natural specialization sometimes toward sales or recruiting.

The interesting aspect of things is that we are at a technical moment between one idea and another. The idea on the way out is a single "system" to handle these business needs. The idea on the way in is a portfolio of choices that work together thru webservices and tools that combine seperate data sources into specialized views for each end-user. There is still a need for a master records system which serves as a kind of center-point, but even that model may include two or more seperate but equal data stores.

In 10 years, most firms will have a collection of assessment, background, sourcing, biz dev, social networking, workflow, communications, and analytics tools feeding stakeholders what they need when they need it. Those of us in the business today who best adapt to that fact will be the ones to prosper; others may survive but they will not be influential.

I would not be afraid to consider multiple systems nor would I avoid using a single system if it met the major needs reasonably for the next few years. I would plan on changing gears, no matter what is selected, sooner than expected because the pace is certainly picking up toward the new idea.







Geri Kleeman said:
Martin - I think most search firms would love to have a system that does do both. You need one part to be a marketing/sales/CRM tool and the other side to track applicants, resumes, etc. Are there any out there that do both well for small shop? Or is that asking too much?
And I agree with Martin - please don't use this forum and string to "sell" your product - I want to hear from users, the pluses, minuses, the things to think about and the suggestions.
Peter - I do think a resume response is a good idea and do provide one. It does allow for some marketing, the kindness and professionalism of letting a person know you received their document and it stops me from receiving a phone call for follow up.
Reply to Martin: I think any response helps to "humanize" the process. Let's face it, so many job seekers get no response to a job submission, that even an automated "thank you" is better than nothing. At the very least, that individual knows their application was received.
True Dat Peter, just looking at the irony of it. Personally I dont mind being handled by a bot if its a well designed one...Asimov's rules in effect, of course ;-)

Peter Clayton said:
Reply to Martin: I think any response helps to "humanize" the process. Let's face it, so many job seekers get no response to a job submission, that even an automated "thank you" is better than nothing. At the very least, that individual knows their application was received.
I tried Bullhorn and found that it limited my ability to maneuver through the data with only having one 'screen' open at a time. I tried Sendouts and the heavy dark horizontal blue lines hurt my eyes. I have used Encore (www.cluen.com) for almost ten years and it's a great program and manages my data in a logical format. Most of their clients are retained search firms. But most of my training and consulting clients use PC Recruiter. I've been through a demo of their program and I would give it high marks.

Scott Love
www.recruitingmastery.com
Late on this but

major problem with Bullhorn is that you have to use their email tool it is not outlook and does not operate like out look no matter what they tell you it will do
I would recommend trying to guide the demos yourself and dont be afraid to interrupt the presentation..I just went through this a few months ago with my firm, the single most important thing to me was "What functionality is built into your software that will help automate my sales and recruiting process?" Many of these reps will blow a ton of sunshine and have no certainty regarding how the sales and recruiting are "tied" together, so they are just guessing when they say "yep it does that"..I would give them a resume of your own and have them break it down to its individual components, there should be an effortless and automated way to pull leads out of every resume that is loaded or passes through the program, I mean the program should be able to search the web for ops, constantly cross-reference resume text and notes to present opportunities....
Greg - great points - what did you end up going with?

Greg Kost said:
I would recommend trying to guide the demos yourself and dont be afraid to interrupt the presentation..I just went through this a few months ago with my firm, the single most important thing to me was "What functionality is built into your software that will help automate my sales and recruiting process?" Many of these reps will blow a ton of sunshine and have no certainty regarding how the sales and recruiting are "tied" together, so they are just guessing when they say "yep it does that"..I would give them a resume of your own and have them break it down to its individual components, there should be an effortless and automated way to pull leads out of every resume that is loaded or passes through the program, I mean the program should be able to search the web for ops, constantly cross-reference resume text and notes to present opportunities....

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