It’s easy for recruiters to see the tremendous value a well-designed applicant tracking system (ATS) brings to their work given their reliance on the technology to continually identify, nurture and convert exceptional talent into new hires. Recruiters are immersed in the technology, and they experience firsthand the significant role their talent platforms play in delivering a great candidate experience while supporting all aspects of the hiring process. This is also why recruiters may overlook the fact that hiring managers have a much different relationship with the ATS—one largely defined by intermittent usage. Which means that all the robust features and functions recruiters appreciate aren’t always evident to hiring managers.
At the same time, ensuring hiring manager engagement throughout the recruiting process is good for everyone involved, especially your candidates. As our Chief Customer Officer Pat Amaral notes, an effective ATS implementation is instrumental to ensuring “widespread adoption and proper use long after the switch is flipped.” While the implementation experience is critical to long-term success, there are communication strategies that recruiters can use once the system is up and running that will also help hiring managers become enthusiastic ATS users.
Adapt Your Communications to Address Their Perspectives
First, keep in mind that communicating with your hiring managers early and often is essential to their engagement. It’s also important to remember that it’s not always what you say but how you say it. Communications should acknowledge that you respect their influence on the organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. More specifically, consider the following from the hiring manager perspective:
• Are you delegating tasks or treating them like a partner? We’re all guilty of procrastinating on tasks that might appear trivial on the surface in order to focus on projects we believe will deliver greater value to the organization. Rather than framing a hiring manager request as merely a task, emphasize the partnership aspect of your work together. For example, don’t simply remind them to review resumes (a task) when you can encourage them to “Access the system to view resumes of your next team member, as well as all the helpful details and information I can see about the search status.”
• Are you acknowledging their stake in the process? For hiring managers, completing a search is about much more than closing a job. Don’t lose sight of this as you work to move candidates through the pipeline as quickly as possible. Weave references regarding the impact this hire will have—such as the hiring manager’s ability to launch a huge new corporate initiative or assist the company in expanding into a new market—into your communications. Articulating the bigger picture conveys that you are looking at the search from their perspective, which can further your credibility and, thereby, keep hiring managers invested in the process and in using the technology that supports it.
• Are you nagging hiring managers when you could be “nudging” them? As most recruiters will attest, one of the most common delays is waiting for the stakeholder feedback needed to get to the next step. Take advantage of automatic notifications within your ATS that are triggered when feedback is delayed. Make sure that the tone of the notifications emphasize partnership while providing clarity regarding next steps and a reminder that overall search success requires timely responses. Ideally, you’re communicating the WIIFM as opposed to hounding them that they’re late in completing a task.
It’s understandable that busy recruiters aren’t automatically programmed to think about the ATS experience from the hiring manager perspective. The good news about the approaches outlined above is that they do not require additional time on your part. Rather, it’s a matter of shifting your strategy to develop communications that clearly express your commitment to a valued partnership throughout the process.