There are a number of ways one can accept and manage applications. At times, the person in charge of hiring for a certain position can become overwhelmed with the number of applications. In this post I evaluate the options available to small- and midsize- companies looking to fill positions within their company as well as the benefit of outsourcing this process.
Some employers choose to accept applications via email. This can keep things relatively simple. The employer can post an ad or have a careers page on their main site and simply ask the applicant to send a copy of his or her résumé and cover letter via email. This is a very simple act on the part of the applicant.
However, this is oftentimes a very difficult experience for the hiring representative. This is especially true when their inbox is then swamped with hundreds of résumés (which is often the case in this economy). The response to the job opening can become very confusing given the high number of applicants and the responsibility of the hiring rep to download, save, and organize applicants’ résumés and cover letters. Forwarding this information to others in the company to guarantee hiring the right people can also become a hassle.
On the bright side, there is something very simple to this process, and while it can be hectic it can also allow for a more personalized approach to the application process. The applicant isn’t dehumanized and forced to fill out box after box, copying/pasting information from their resume. Rather, they have the opportunity to submit a cover letter and resume which act as an arguably more authentic first impression for their potential employer. The way in which the email is constructed, the format of the resume, and the format of the cover letter all speak to the professionalism of the candidate and his or her ability to interact with others on a professional level.
A growing trend among employers is to accept applications via LinkedIn or to at least attach a LinkedIn account to one’s resume or online application.
LinkedIn gives the candidate a different type of opportunity to display his or her professional connections, skills, education, employment history, and more. There is room for all of this information on a LinkedIn profile. Utilizing LinkedIn is especially important if you are looking to recruit an active, social, and/or tech-savvy candidate. For example, if one is hiring for a social media position, he or she can check out the applicant’s public Twitter feed or blog/portfolio if it’s been shared on LinkedIn for potential employers to browse. This can provide fantastic insight into the candidate.
However, requiring LinkedIn demands that the candidate have a LinkedIn profile, something not everyone has. And if the applicant does not have the LinkedIn profile, the process of putting one together is similar to that of having to copy/paste bits of a résumé into boxes and can be an irritating process and perhaps skip out on pieces the applicant would like to address to the employer.
Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Rather than use email, many employers opt to utilize an ATS or “applicant tracking system.” which in some respects acts similar to a CRM in its more-or-less friendly graphical interface interacting with a database. For a hiring representative or team of HR reps, this type of system can be particularly useful when looking to fill many different positions and dealing with high numbers of applicants, especially on a regular basis.
For a startup or small-size business, such a system could be appealing given the fact that there are opensource and free systems out there which can work to save the employer some money. ANTS, for example, is a web-based platform which allows a hiring representative to organize applicants by the job they applied for, years of experience, specialization, and more. As a result, email inboxes are freed up and representatives have a bit more control over the information submitted to them by the applicant. Other open-source alternatives include OpenApplicant and OpenCats.
However, the downside to the use of these systems is that they require some tech-savvy individual to download and install the system on a company’s web host. Further, it demands a certain level of technical ability on the part of those hiring representatives handling the applicants to adapt to and utilize the system. It can take some learning.
Another downside may be found in the lack of a user-friendly experience for the applicant. Oftentimes applicants will become overwhelmed and frustrated by the excessive amount of questions and boxes to fill out in an application. There are options for applicants to attach a résumé and/or cover letter, and restricting your ATS to this may be a good idea.
Requiring an applicant to copy/paste bits of their résumé can be discouraging, especially for applicants with years of professional experience already under their belt. However, with the appropriate consideration of the system, applicant tracking systems can be customized to the employer’s liking.
There can also be rather embarrassing features found in these systems. For example, many include a feature allowing an individual to upload a résumé to auto-fill the application. These actually very rarely work and are often a pain for the applicant (or the hiring representative looking over the information the applicant may have overlooked).
The use of systems also can have a dehumanizing aspect to them. Oftentimes not even boxes or spaces are provided for an applicant to really get across what he or she wants to address like he or she could in a cover letter and résumé. Indeed, these systems may allow a candidate to upload a résumé and cover letter in addition to the other information, but this is not always the case. A company has to make sure that they are interviewing and hiring a qualified candidate.
Human Resource Information System (HRIS)
Larger enterprises may utilize fully-fledged HRIS (Human Resource Information System). These are not really the best option for a small- or mid-sized company, however as they include features far beyond the most basic human resource operations and often require rather qualified individuals to operate them.
Such systems involve administration of all current and potential employee information (such as PTO, pay history, etc.), information related to company policy and programs (i.e. handbook, safety guidelines), and integration with payroll.
As with ATS, there are free and open source options for HRIS. An example of one is OrangeHRM. This platform offers leave, time and attendance, benefits, recruitment, and employee performance tracking and management.
While such sophisticated systems would be great for a larger-sized business, much of this information can be managed without such a system. With regard to just dealing with applications, using an HRIS would be an excessive approach, especially for a small- or midsize- company with outsourced HR.
A Final Word on Outsourcing
Outsourcing the hiring process can yield fantastic benefits and a company should consider what HR services they’d like to outsource with companies such as Xenium. Is the employer comfortable with someone else doing the reference checks? How does the employer want to handle the in-person interview process? Does the employer want all résumés first screened only by the outsourced company or do they want to look at them as well? How much screening does the employer want done? Etc. etc. Outsourcing provides a lot of flexibility for a company, and often at a great price (compared to the time it would take away from other company operations).
Further, outsourcing your hiring process can give you access to professionally crafted job posts, can free up your inbox, can give you the opportunity to have someone else screen out the clearly unqualified candidates, and more, clearly saving your company time and energy.