How to use your ATS for collaborative hiring

Last updated:
June 30, 2021
August 30, 2022
min read
Brendan McConnell
how to use your ATS for collaborative hiring
Table of contents

There’s a popular song lyric you’ve likely heard at some point in your life by a little band called The Beatles. It goes “I get by with a little help from my friends.” This lyric nicely applies to the recruitment landscape today, which increasingly leans on collaborative hires and team-oriented processes to beat the talent competition. The tools of choice for these collaborative hires? The trusty Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Collaborative hiring is a growing trend in recruitment, and the success of this work style relies heavily on buy-in from your team, and a solid understanding of your core tech stack. If you don’t understand the benefits of collaborative hiring, and the tools that go with it, then it’s very difficult to convince your team to participate.

This article will serve as a cheat sheet to help get you and your team onboarded with both collaborative hiring, and the ATS as a tool for success.

What is collaborative hiring?

Collaborative hiring is a team-based hiring method that decentralizes the recruitment process and incorporates more team members within the organization. Its goal is to get other colleagues from different parts of the organization involved in the sourcing, screening, and decision-making phases on hiring a new team member.

The collaborative hire technique is most prominent in the interviewing phases. Other recruiters and HR personnel, the hiring manager, and potential teammates are looped into this screening phase, and input is collected from all stakeholders.

Using collaborative tools like a modern ATS, this collaborative hiring team can exchange notes on what they think of each candidates. The end result is a hiring decision by committee, instead of a single recruiter and hiring manager making the decision within a relative vacuum.

Benefits of collaborative hires

Collaborative hiring offers numerous benefits to recruitment teams due to its ability to crowdsource input from different people in the organization. Some of these benefits include:

  • Less stress on a specific recruiter. The important job of choosing the right person is decentralized and crowdsourced to more people.
  • Better chance of hiring cultural fits. Collaboratively assessing a candidate enables many people to judge whether that person will be a cultural fit. Culture is an inherently collaborative phenomenon, so looping in multiple people is essential.
  • Improved candidate experience. Allowing candidates to talk to more of the people they would be working with gives them a better and more complete picture of the job and work life.
  • Increased buy-in to your talent acquisition strategy. Regularly looping in people from across the organization will enable a free flow of information about what’s working and what isn’t. When people are engaged in a process, they’re more likely to give their commitment to it.
  • Better employee retention. Collaborative hires are usually vetted much more carefully than ones that are centralized to one or two people. Because of this, the chosen applicant is more likely to be a good long-term fit.
  • Limits bias. Subjectivity in recruitment can lead to issues with choosing the wrong candidates for the wrong reasons. Opening the process up to more people helps to remove this subjectivity, enabling a more unbiased decision.

Of course, to achieve true collaborative hiring, you need the proper tools. That’s where your trusty ATS comes into the picture.

ATS for collaborative hiring

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is the central tool your team should have in place if you’re going to adopt a collaborative hiring process. This will serve as your central database of candidate profiles, and enable real-time communication and collaboration on tasks.

Let’s have a quick refresher on what an ATS is, and how it works.

What is an ATS?

An ATS is a software application that enables the electronic and automatic handling of a variety of different recruitment needs, with the goal of making the process more effective for the recruiter and candidates. Generally, these modern ATS platforms are cloud-based SaaS solutions that can be accessed anywhere, and at any time.

ATS platforms can be used to collect and store candidate information, and can be used collaboratively for:

Many modern ATS tools, such as Recruitee, also support task management, notes, and change of status notifications. These features enable deeper team collaboration by allowing recruiters to assign specific tasks to teammates and notify them when changes are made to a candidate profile. Additionally, your team is able to make notes and comments on candidates to enable two-way communication and decision-making.

How does an ATS work?

ATS platforms work by automating the collection and storage of candidate information in the form of resumes, social media information, cover letters, and applications. They provide long-term, searchable storage of candidate information that can be used for ongoing hiring initiatives.

Recruiters can search this database at any time for qualified people, and re-activate passive candidates who may be qualified for an open requisition.

Modern ATS platforms enable real-time collaboration by streamlining core recruitment activities like:

  • Viewing applications and resumes
  • Automating candidate ranking, sorting, and short listing
  • Enabling advanced keyword and Boolean searches
  • Enabling real-time communication about candidates
  • Collaboration on interviews and evaluations
  • Assigning tasks and assignments to the collaborative hiring team
  • Sending progress alerts to the team

On the right ATS platform, your team will have access to a treasure trove of historical candidate information, and be able to instantaneously communicate about open requisitions and potential hires. As you can guess, the benefits of this type of collaborative hiring are numerous.

Benefits of an ATS for collaborative hiring

The overarching benefits of an ATS for collaborative hires in that they give your team a single platform on which to work, and one that contains a wealth of useful information about your candidates.

An ATS can benefit your collaborative hiring process in a variety of specific ways, including:

  • The easy sharing of documents, candidates profiles, and contact logs with any member of your team. This cuts down on time spent manually transferring information via email.
  • Collaborative reviewing of interviews, resumes, and candidate profiles to collectively come to a conclusion of who would be the best fit for a given position.
  • Open communication between team members is enhanced thanks to the centralized portal. Everyone is empowered and encouraged to offer their opinions about specific candidates.
  • Unlocks valuable data about candidates that can be used to inform collaborative hiring discussions and decisions.
  • Ensures easy hand off of tasks for different stages of the screening process. Collaborative hires are only successful when everyone knows what they have to do, and when they have to do it.
  • Enables transparency into how the recruitment process is managed. This demonstrates to your colleagues outside of recruitment that your process is well strategized, and is aligned with the overall goals of the company.

It’s hard to overstate the benefits that an ATS can have for your collaborative hiring process. These tools act as the central platform to unlock the full potential of a collaborative hire within your organization.

Getting your team on board with collaborative hiring

Now that we’ve talked about what collaborative hiring and ATS platforms are, and the benefits of both, let’s finish off with a cheat sheet on how to onboard your team to collaboratively hire successfully:

  • Make sure they understand why collaborative hiring is important. Taking the time to clearly explain how this process benefits the organization (and them personally) is critical to success. Clearly explain the process, and why it’s important to your company.
  • Onboard them onto your ATS platform. Ensure that all stakeholders have regular access to your ATS. Onboard them to your ATS, and give them thorough training into how it works, and how they will use it. Don’t be shy to reach out to your ATS vendor for support on training and onboarding.
  • Explain the process, and get input. Once they’ve bought into the why, and are onboard with your ATS, gather your team together to explain the collaborative hiring process in detail.
  • Ensure that everyone feels confident. Take a round table of everyone’s thoughts on the process and platform to ensure that your team is feeling confident that they will succeed. Address any doubts before your launch into a collaborative hire.
  • Test the waters. Choose a new requisition, and implement your collaborative hiring process. Watch how the process goes, and gather feedback from the key stakeholders involved.
  • Make changes as you go. Tweak your collaborative hiring process as needed, and continue to encourage open communication from the team.

Recruiter workloads are expected to increase in the coming years due to stronger and stronger competition for talent. The best way to combat this is to spread the work and decision-making across your team. With the right tools, collaborative hires can and should become a central component of your recruitment strategy.

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