How AI Solves the ATS Black Hole Problem for Recruiters

The ATS black hole: where a candidate goes into the system but never seems to find a way back out. No matter how an applicant fits the culture or how outstanding the skillset, the candidate just can’t seem to find their way from the depths of the ATS.

Unfortunately, there are many applicant tracking technologies that fail to meet the needs of hiring teams and the candidates they’re trying to attract. Some inadequately parse resumes, complicating the application process for the candidate or eliminating the candidate from consideration because of a keyword mismatch. Others simply lack enough integrations or functionality to ensure candidates are carried through the entire process correctly.

In a test conducted last year, Bersin & Associates created the perfect resume of an ideal candidate for a highly technical role. When the team entered the resume into the ATS, it was reported as only 43% relevant to the job. With 75% of talent acquisition professionals using a recruiting or applicant tracking system, this disconnect needs a solution.

AI in Recruiting isn’t a Buzzword or Automation

While artificial intelligence has gathered a lot of buzz, it isn’t a passing phase. As with any new technology, AI has its critics, especially among those who don’t understand its capabilities or intentions. Many have fallen under the impression it’s a more advanced form of automation. They are right and wrong. Right because AI does automate processes. Wrong because it isn’t a formulaic response. In fact, the whole purpose of AI is to provide a more human touch with the intelligence to understand a situation before responding.

That’s where the black hole problem finds its solution. AI technology has the ability to work alongside humans, easing their daily work and administrative duties. With a more intuitive approach to hiring, recruiters are given more opportunities to nurture the candidate experience that keeps talent pipelines healthy. In other words, a smoother process means no applicants are left within the ATS black hole.

How does AI solve the ATS black hole?

AI Understands the Job Opening

Whether you use Netflix, Amazon or Facebook, you’ve received ads targeted to you and your lifestyle. These programs understand your habits and preferences, then suggest things you might be interested in based on your online activities. AI in recruiting is similar. It learns the needs of your company, the way you work and the intricacies of the job opening. When a candidate makes it into the system, the technology immediately begins looking for information about the person behind the resume. Often, recruiting AI uses chatbots to chat with the applicant in real-time, gathering more clues about the tendencies and capabilities of the individual.

How this bridges the black hole: There is no time spared between an applicant’s submission and the first response to the candidate. Some organizations rely on their ATS to thank an applicant through email. With AI, the conversation begins immediately and not from a “do not reply” email address. If the candidate has a question, the chatbot has a response. Meanwhile, recruiters can focus their attention on the information being submitted.

AI is an Assistant to the Candidate

Speaking of chatbots and conversation, 60% of candidates say they want better communication during and after the application process. With AI technology, there’s not only a support system for the recruiter, the candidate also has the ability to ask questions and discuss problems. There’s no waiting for a recruiter or hiring manager to be available and there’s no possibility of a spam filter leaving great talent on the ATS floor.

How this bridges the black hole: Lack of communication is the beginning of the black hole. When the candidate receives no response from a company, he or she either believes they are being ignored or didn’t make the cut and if the application even went through. With AI chatbots, the candidate is in constant communication with a representative of the employer, easing doubts and helping the candidate to feel comfortable in following up with an application.  

AI Provides Quality, Easily Read Data

As the candidate completes their application and as they chat with the program, the technology is gathering information about the individual. Because the AI understands the company and the specifics of the position, the AI can build shortlists of applicant who are most qualified. For instance, Karen, our cognitive recruiting assistant, can rapidly assess candidates for experience through keywords and concepts while matching the employer’s culture to the personality and values of the applicant.

How this bridges the black hole: The black hole exists because there simply aren’t enough hours in a day for recruiters to get everything accomplished. The ATS was the answer to some of those administrative tasks.. Unfortunately, the ATS isn’t without its faults. While many are automated, they still require the hiring team to ensure communication and processes are maintained. With AI assistants, the process is always moving, always communicating and always providing feedback. And, the best part is that AI integrates with already established ATS tools.

If you think your hiring process is exempt from the ATS black hole phenomenon, understand that 64% of employers were unaware of how many qualified candidates were in their own ATS. There’s a severe lack of communication and even more lack of time for recruiters to address this problem. Embracing AI in recruiting isn’t embracing a complete shift in process, it’s finding a way to enhance the process you already have to make it a rewarding experience for you and your candidates.


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