3 Top Reasons WHY Relying on your Applicant Tracking System to Develop a Hiring Plan is a Mistake

Talent Acquisition is still trying to catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to leveraging Data Analytics to make better decisions. Unfortunately, most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) platforms lack the analytic build outs to help recruiters make smarter decisions quicker and more efficiently. Here some reasons why relying on your applicant tracking system to develop a long-term hiring plan is a mistake.

The Importance of Getting Recruiting Right

According to a recent study conducted by Visier, an HR Data Analytics platform, the highest impact on revenue growth in HR is delivering on recruiting. The best recruiters know this and have become obsessed with data analytics to help analyze their efforts to scale maximum results. Companies who have acknowledged talent as a key driver for bottom line revenue continue to invest not only in their internal talent acquisition teams but in tools to analyze ways to hack or maximize recruiting results.

Unfortunately, most ATS companies are not keep up with this trend. They tend to focus on candidate experience and ease of use more than the analytics of the candidate funnel and recruiting efforts. Most of the analysis I do for our team is the result of exporting information out of the ATS and into an excel worksheet or Google Data Studio dashboard. Even then, I challenge the data integrity of the information coming from the ATS. I have found the information to be more binary than intuitive.

Applicant Tracking Systems cannot tell you where your best hires come from

This is perhaps the bane of my existence as a recruiting manager. Why can the central system I use to process candidates not provide me analytics to help me know where my hires are sourced?

Not one of the three major ATS platforms I’ve used in the last ten years have included a feature to allow me to analyze candidate sources. If I don’t know where my hires are finding my roles, how can I maximize that channel to find more great candidates? Leaders should be able to leverage their ATS to understand where to spend their budget dollars each year.

Many of the HR analytic firms like Visier have recognized this gap and built talent acquisition platforms to plug into your ATS to help analyze your hiring sources. The Visier Talent Acquisition Model helps me learn more about where our talent acquisition team finds the best talent so we can scale the efforts on that channel and stop wasting time on the others that provide little to no value.

Recruiting managers who want to understand where their best hires are being sourced will fail if they only rely on what the ATS platforms out there can provide.

Your ATS cannot track the Employee Life

Most ATS platforms track the employee life cycle until they say “I do”. Sure, the ATS is most likely plugged into your HRIS and payroll system to onboard but we should see more.

Only tracking the candidate life cycle is a pitfall of many talent acquisition strategies. Without tracking the vital information following the “I do” can create an endless cycle of recruiting for the same position multiple times a year. Not only is this a waste of recruiting resources but also a waste of company investment.

If ATS platforms tracked the entire employee life cycle, recruiters could learn which employees stay and are successful so they can replicate the success.

ATS Platforms cannot tell you where your bottlenecks are

The recruiting process has bottlenecks just like any normal business process. The key to running a lean and efficient talent acquisition strategy is to know where those bottlenecks are and eliminate them.

Last year, I spent a weekend downloading raw data out of our ATS to chart the candidate journey. We had received feedback from managers that the process was taking too long and had candidates who complained about the lag in the process as well. Rather than being able to go to my ATS and clicking on a menu to find the number of days a candidate spent in each part of the journey, I had to download the raw data in excel and write complicated formulas to provide me the answer I needed.

I’m obsessed with the experience our hiring managers and candidates have but unfortunately, I do not know of an ATS that shares this obsession. After spending hours getting the data in a format I could use and creating a dashboard, the bottlenecks jumped right off the dashboard. I learned the feedback loop from managers was one huge bottleneck (average time for feedback was roughly 20 days) and the period of time from when a candidate interviewed with the hiring team to receiving an offer (another 20 days).

This information helped spark the idea for some of the basic tenets of Sprint Recruiting. When we implemented the beta versions of this methodology, I had to continuously go in, download the raw data, and analyze it to see if the Sprint Recruiting process was helping or hurting our efforts to enhance the manager and candidate experience.

It would have been amazing to have an ATS do this for me.


If we compared recruiting to flying a plane, our ATS would be our navigation panel. Could you imagine flying with only the limited information your ATS provides you? Or better yet, could you imagine downloading raw data from your navigation system and manually creating a dashboard to make sure you are going the right way?

The ATS platform company that creates an ATS to provide easy analysis of every major aspect of the recruiting process and employee life cycle would have a command on the market. The Talent Acquisition function is loaded with data that should be readily available to recruiters to help maximize recruiting efforts and shareholder value.

Unfortunately, it may take a while for the ATS industry to catch up! If you find yourself in need of a great analytical platform, you should definitely look into firms like Visier that specialize in making HR data easy.

Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at NakedHR.me to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for NakedHR.me and SprintRecruiting.com. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/trentcotton or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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