Does your ATS tick these boxes for Job Posting?

What are the key aspects to look at, while evaluating the job posting capabilities of an Applicant Tracking System? A short overview, including insider tips from an HR Technology practitioner.

Job posting is a multi-channel activity that goes beyond posting to job boards. Illustration by Jiju Vengal.

ou have crafted a requisition with a compelling job description, the necessary approvals are in place and you are rearing to source candidates for this critical position. What happens next? Enter ‘job posting’.

Job posting involves sending out job openings to various candidate sourcing channels. Most organisations tap into multiple channels like generic and niche job boards, company career sites, social media sites, recruitment agencies, talent communities, employee referral sites and even offline sources like industry magazines or job fairs. Yes, job posting and candidate sourcing are operationally complex and you need the right tools to efficiently support it.

ay hello to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). An ATS can be that single platform from which you can send out job openings to multiple sourcing channels.

A good ATS can indeed do much of the heavy lifting around job posting, but it is important to ensure that your ATS is capable of handling all the complexities that job posting brings in.

Yes, the ATS does job posting, but does it do it all? Looking deeper.

You are evaluating vendors for a brand new applicant tracking system. In the RFP, you had asked whether the ATS can send job openings to public job boards. All the vendors responded with an overwhelming “Yes”. Wonderful! But, during product demonstrations, you realised that some of the applicant tracking systems could only integrate to few job boards. To your surprise, during contract discussions, you got to know that a third-party platform was required for the ATS to connect with public job boards. Not so simple, anymore?

While job posting is a key feature of most applicant tracking systems, the process is so nuanced that it is important to look deeper. Let’s dive in!

Understanding Job Posting — Not all sources are the same!

To understand job posting from an ATS, first we need to understand how an ATS treats the various sources. Candidate sources can be broadly divided into Internal and External.

(a) Internal sources include the company’s career sites, employee referral sites, talent communities, etc.

(b) External sources include job boards, social media sites, recruitment agencies, and offline sources.

Start by classifying your candidate sources into those that are supported by ATS and those that are not.

Remember that the ATS treats different sources differently and it is important to understand the nuances. Let’s look at this in more detail:

(a) The ATS will have built-in integration with some sources. Examples include internal career sites, employee referral sites, recruitment agency portals, social media sites and specific job boards. This is the most desirable scenario which will not entail any additional cost or effort.

(b) The ATS might rely on a third-party job distribution partner for certain postings: There are thousands of public job boards globally and an ATS may not want to spend time integrating with all of them. This is where a “job distribution platform” comes in. They specialise in connecting applicant tracking systems with job boards, taking the burden off the ATS to build connections to individual job boards. You need to be aware if a job distribution partner will be involved with your ATS, that might come with additional contracting requirements.

(c)The ATS might not have built-in integrations with some sources, yet, custom integrations could be built. The integration capabilities of the ATS will come into play in such cases. Involve your HRIT team, to evaluate the complexity of such integrations.

(d) There might be certain candidate sources to which an automated integration may not be possible or practical through any means. Specific process interventions will have to be derived to facilitate posting in such cases. A good example is a niche job board that you use for specific job families. The ATS and the job distribution partner may not provide connections to the niche job board and the volume of postings may not justify building an automated integration to it.

Do it right the first time!

As we’ve just seen, an ATS treats different sources differently. It might provide out-of-the-box connections with some, use a job distribution platform for another or build custom integrations for others. You should be concerned about the level of support provided by the ATS for sources that are specific to your organisation.

(a) Start by enumerating all the internal and external candidate sourcing channels that you use. Be specific — mention names of the job boards that you use.

(b) Understand how the ATS integrates to different sources — which all sources have built-in integrations? Which require a job distribution platform? Are any custom integrations required? Will alternate SOPs need to be put in place for some sources?

Going to the detail of specific candidate sourcing channels and understanding how an ATS handles them will be important during your vendor evaluation process.

rom an operational perspective, job posting is indeed a transactional process, while candidate sourcing is strategic. Yet, there are operational advantages to be had by having the right job posting tools to support your talent acquisition function. Applicant Tracking Systems should help deliver that operational efficiency, but a thorough evaluation of the job posting capability should be done. It’s the specifics that matter!

Musings on HR and HR technology. Drawing on decade long experience leading large scale HR Tech. programmes. Ex Oracle consulting leader for Taleo in SE Asia.