Applicant Tracking System Integration – Tim Richards, Managing Director of Bond UK
With agencies currently accepting job orders from many different external sources – including competitor agencies in some cases – the race is permanently on to be the agency that fills the position and therefore secures the fee. Indeed, in the high volume temp recruitment world, it isn't unusual for a vacancy to come in at 6.30am for a shift an hour later. The recruiter who can react to the vacancy the quickest, and therefore begin the business of recruiting, is likely to be the winner.
The above scenario depicts what is happening all of the time in the increasingly active vendor management system (VMS) managed service space. The problem many agencies face is that their front office recruitment system cannot integrate with the applicant tracking system (ATS) or VMS system used by those sending out the job order. Notification is often sent by email and valuable time is lost from vacancy details having to be retyped and entered into the agency's system before the recruiter can start sourcing candidates. Similarly, the same problem is faced in reverse when the agency wants to submit a candidate for the vacancy.
Moreover, the sheer volume of job orders coming in, coupled with the delay sometimes experienced when receiving the notification email, makes it an inherently difficult process for the recruiter to manage. In some cases they could be working on a vacancy that has already been filled and the randomness of the process means they have no way of knowing how many job orders they are missing out on. It isn't unusual, therefore, to find an agency with a room full of people waiting for these job orders to come in and then re-keying them into a front office system. In an era of direct input and integration, this represents a scandalous waste of resource.
Automate for success
Clearly the solution is to find a way of automating this stage of the process and intelligent software is now emerging which can fulfill this role. As well as intercepting emails with vacancy notifications, the software can also login to the ATS system at set intervals and take action based on the content of the data it has received. Job specifications are extracted and a job order automatically created so the recruiter can start sourcing candidates within minutes of the vacancy being made available to the recruiter. This will save valuable time and resource but is only part of the solution.
If an email is received from a tiered supplier, it will often instruct the recruiter to follow a link and log on to its system to get details of the job. But further developments and advances in parsing technology mean the software can also be trained to look for these links, follow them, log on to the system and intelligently navigate through it to find the vacancies. When it does, it grabs all of the key details, such as start date, location and job description, parses it and populates the recruiter's front office system with this information. The software is also designed to perform the function in reverse so candidates can be submitted and their details automatically entered into the ATS/VMS of the organisation which sent out the job order. The upshot is that the recruiter never has to leave their front office system and can therefore focus on the core business of recruiting. Even if vacancy notifications are not received, the software can automatically access the VMS systems at set intervals in time, again navigating to the area of the system where the job details can be found.
Heed the warning signs
Some system providers hard code such a facility into their software and while it delivers the required functionality, it won't allow recruiters the flexibility to link into the range of different systems in use, which they need to do if they want to be able to respond to the maximum amount of vacancies out there. So it is important to find a supplier who has designed this facility as an external engine. This also means the recruiter can be far more responsive to any changes in format made by the organisation or agency sending out the job order.
There are predictions that over the course of the next five years, we will see a swing to agencies deriving the bulk of their revenue from VMS tiered vendor relationships as opposed to directly from corporates. Anyone who ignores this model does so at their peril and up until now it has been difficult for recruiters to take full advantage of the business opportunities it offers. Advances in software, however, mean that they can now grasp these opportunities with both hands and the winners will be those who ensure they have the system in place to give them the job vacancy in the fastest time-scale and therefore for the longest period of time.