When a job candidate is redirected from a recruitment website to an employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS) website during the online application process, he often abandons the process before completing the application. Frequently, this is due to a complete lack of or extremely poor integration between recruiting sites and ATSs.

Kari Steele, Technology and Data Director at HERCJobs.org, says this disconnect is one of the top complaints she gets from HERC job seekers. “Why can’t I use my HERC profile data to fill out online application forms,” they ask her. “Typing in the same information over and over is very frustrating.”

This disconnect between recruiting sites and ATSs is hurting everyone—employers, job candidates, recruitment websites and ATSs—but it’s not unique to the online employment sector. Almost every industry has a similar data integration issue. In the legal Industry, for example, many law firms use Law Practice Management Software (LPMS), and there are a host of specialty software vendor solutions that, once integrated with the LPMS platforms, can provide a better user experience than the standalone LPMS. But as with other industries, integration problems are eroding the user experience, causing widespread frustration and costing everyone a lot of money. The situation in the insurance industry is much the same. Just imagine what it’s like in the fields of education and healthcare with hundreds of vendors and databases-of-record trying to “talk” to one another—not to mention the rampant disconnects among government systems.

Let’s be clear: there are no bad people to blame for this disconnect mess.

In our industry, the integration and abandonment problems arose because of the way online employment resources grew and developed over the years. These problems were practically inevitable. But this does raise a question: Why have these problems persisted for so long?

Communication and technology are the culprits.

  • Communication — There is and always has been a basic lack of communication between recruiting sites and ATSs. However, once we started communicating with ATSs on behalf of recruiting sites and explained the disconnect issues candidates faced when redirected during the application process, ATSs understood immediately. While the disconnect mess isn’t the only issue causing abandonment, it’s a huge factor. Candidates get fed up with having to retype the same information into application forms over and over. A frightening percentage (up to 90%) simply bail out.
  • Technology — This is really about the “technology roadmap” that most ATS providers have in place. A senior-level ATS manager shared this thought with me: “Even if it was easy to solve the disconnect problem, I couldn’t take action until 2017 because our 2016 roadmap is already set in stone.” For good or bad, this tends to be the way most corporate organizations operate. I’ve also heard from other ATS folks that they understand the disconnect problem and their company technology roadmaps actually are addressing it. But both have limited capacity to effect change.

In fact, individual organizations have a limited capacity to effect the industry-wide change we all need. As I said, communication and technology have brought us to this point—and a meaningful solution is beyond the means of any one company or even a small group. But the cool thing is … that’s about to change.

SimpleAPI is in the midst of implementing an ecosystem solution—one that encompasses everyone’s best interest and makes integration a one-and-done proposition for each stakeholder.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, several major recruiting sites have spent lots of money and energy on proprietary solutions to solve their disconnect problems. Now, with a one-off solution available, these recruiting sites are telling their customers to lean on their ATS providers—to convince ATSs that they need to get connected. And this tactic is working. It’s working for these recruiting sites and their customers, but not for anybody else, at least not yet. But the horse is out of the barn and change is on the horizon.

Some in the industry have painted ATSs as arrogant and uncooperative. But put yourself in their shoes for a minute. What would you do if you were confronted with a problem that, until very recently, hadn’t registered on your paying customers’ radar? You’d have likely done nothing, and rightfully so because you have plenty of other pressing challenges that tie directly to revenue—responsive design to engage mobile users, integrations with applicant processing vendors for assessments, background checking, learning management systems, and on and on.

So … there are no bad people to blame for where we stand. We got here together. And that’s exactly how we’ll solve this disconnect problem. Together.

If you’re a recruitment site operator and you haven’t already done so, reach out to your customers and encourage them to ask their ATS providers to fix the disconnect problem. If you work for an ATS, bring attention to the candidate redirect problem. And consider joining The Connection Alliance, a growing crowd of like-minded organizations and business leaders. After all, there’s strength in numbers.

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