When most people talk about their “recruitment software ecosystems,” they basically just mean their applicant tracking systems (ATSs).

In the best situations, the ATS is just the beginning, and it is integrated with further layers of smart technology to make the recruiter’s life easier. Often, however, that ecosystem is just a black box that magically spits out resumes based on a hiring manager’s search parameters.

You can imagine how an recruitment software ecosystem can have a huge impact — for better or worse — on your hiring strategy in general and recruitment marketing in particular. Let’s take a look at the specific effects your ATS can have on particular key hiring metrics. This way, you can gain a sense of the role it plays in recruitment marketing and the steps you can take to ensure your ATS is as effective as possible.

Time to Fill

Time to fill can be influenced by any number of factors, from your overall employer brand gravity to the speed of your interviewing process. Crucially for our purposes, time to fill can also be affected by the strength of your talent pipeline and the speed at which you identify open positions and take steps to source candidates for them. When it comes to your ability to identify an open position, craft an ad, set a budget, and roll out that ad on the channels through which your ideal applicants are mostly likely to encounter it, your level of ATS integration can make or break your efforts.

If, for instance, your recruitment marketing infrastructure automatically receives updates from your ATS, such that each new job post and description is made available almost instantaneously to recruitment marketers, you can roll out new campaigns with virtually no lag time. Similarly, if the same recruitment marketing infrastructure can send applicant information back to the ATS, such that hiring managers can access it as it comes in, then you can eliminate unnecessary lag on that end as well. Each team member gains visibility into what is happening at every stage in the process, and this enables everyone to move with increased speed and certainty.

Unfortunately, not every ATS is implemented with this level of connectivity. The result in these cases is often slower hiring. The people who are responsible for getting the word out about new job openings don’t know about those job openings right away, and candidates can get lost in the ATS black hole for long stretches of time — during which they could field other job offers, slowing down your process even further.

Pipeline Nurturing

In theory, a modern ATS is the ideal tool for building and nurturing a strong talent pipeline. It centralizes all of your applications, which means it should be a treasure trove of people who have expressed explicit interest in your company. In some cases, these are people who weren’t right for a particular position they applied for but might be a good fit for future openings. These candidates may also talk to friends who will develop their own interests in your organization, provided you give those candidates positive applicant experiences.

Since you have their information at your fingertips, it should be easy to follow up with these past and (hopefully) future applicants. As new jobs open up, you should be able to share this information with your talent pipeline, along with other useful information about the company. All this really requires is that the applicant information stored in the ATS be accessible to recruitment marketers.

Unfortunately, many ATSs are implemented in such a way as to make this kind of pipeline nurturing difficult or impossible. In many instances, candidate information is hard to access for anyone who isn’t directly responsible for picking out potential interview candidates. It can be difficult to figure out where any given candidate is in the process, which makes providing the right information to the right contact at the right time nearly impossible. As such, your pipeline suffers, leading to a dampening effect on other hiring metrics.

Cost Per Hire

Cost per hire includes the administrative time and costs that go into sourcing candidates and making hiring decisions, as well as the ad budgets for any recruitment campaigns you run. How can your ATS impact these factors? As noted above, your ATS can either speed up or slow down the candidate attraction process depending on how well it is integrated with other hiring activities. The more time spent on the hiring process, the costlier the process is by necessity.

But surely your ATS can’t impact your ad budget too much, right? On the contrary! A well-integrated ATS means that everyone on your team will have access to a large cache of candidate data. Using that data, savvy recruiters can create much more accurate ideal candidate personas and, in turn, they can tailor their employer branding campaigns more effectively to those personas. This isn’t likely to be something that makes or breaks your recruitment ROI, but the better you can understand and articulate what you’re looking for in a new hire, the more efficiently you can go after it.

Adrian Cernat is CEO and cofounder of SmartDreamers.

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