Marie Kondō your cluttered ATS in 3 steps

Last updated:
December 1, 2020
October 11, 2022
min read
Adrie Smith
Table of contents

You’ve probably seen the KonMari cleaning craze, if you haven’t already binge-watched (or been pressured to binge-watch) Tidying up with Marie Kondō on Netflix. There’s something about watching Marie enter a complete stranger’s family home, root through their life, and single-handedly transform the place from dirty, cluttered, and chaotic to freakishly neat and minimalist.

While the TV show may have most watchers wondering if the snowglobe their aunt gifted them over Christmas “sparks joy”, it got us here at Recruitee thinking a little differently.

Whether we realize it or not, many of us are digital hoarders. When was the last time you checked how many screenshots you have on your desktop? Or, dare I say it, tidied up your cloud or hard drive?

For most of us, the consequences are few. Marie Kondō won’t show up at your workplace, sift through your emails, and ask if that spammy newsletter from two years ago “sparks joy”. But if you’re a recruiter working with an ATS, she probably should.

Marie Kondo saying "I'm so excited because I love mess"
Credit: Netflix

While you may not feel nearly as excited as Marie Kondō at the prospect of sorting out your ATS, it’s a necessary practice from time to time. Why?

An organized ATS is your best ATS

The purpose of an ATS is to help facilitate the recruitment process, streamline your hiring workflow, and generally keep things organized. Inevitably, as you use the ATS, you’ll be filling it with tons of data: candidates, jobs, talent pools, and users. At some point, most of that data will expire in its practical use to you. Jobs are filled, candidates’ CVs become outdated, and users may leave the company.

All of this data, both the current and expired, becomes cluttered if not well maintained. You may miss a great candidate coming through your careers page if your talent pipeline is full of candidates you can’t bear to reject (because what if the requirements change, right?). And your reports might not reflect the realities of your current hiring if you’re not keeping your pipelines up to date.

So what should you do about it? Let’s ask Marie.

Step 1: Get rid of outdated data

The first step of any cleaning process is discarding what you no longer need. Marie Kondō writes in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:

“I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.”

The same can be said of your ATS data. We recommend looking closely at the following areas:

  • Jobs. You will have inevitably filled some of your jobs (hopefully!). Make sure to archive the vacancies that have already been filled.
  • Templates. If you’re using recruitment email templates in your ATS, make sure that you’re not automating responses with old ones. Double check them for old addresses, numbers, and information. Delete what’s no longer necessary!
  • Candidates. Under GDPR, it can be risky to keep candidate data for longer than necessary. Consult with your legal department or an external firm to determine when you should be removing candidate records. Alternatively, with a platform like Recruitee, built in GDPR features can help you stay compliant.
  • Users. Review user access to your ATS and remove any access that is no longer necessary- like hiring managers who are no longer hiring or users who have left the company. This will help you keep information safe and avoid any confusion when it comes to access.

The first step is often the hardest part. If you’re struggling to part with old talent pools or candidates that almost made the cut, just remember:

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

And don’t worry…

Step 2: Update existing records & organize your pipelines

You’ve sifted through your records and gotten rid of the outdated and excess. The next step is to update the records that you have decided to keep and make sure that they truly do, in the words of Marie Kondō, “spark joy”.

We suggest you review and update the following:

  • Candidate profiles. This should be a habit, but having a complete candidate profile will help your team in the decision-making process when it comes to an offer. Update your candidate profiles with recent evaluations, meetings, and documents to streamline your process.
  • Talent pools. Your talent pools are only effective when they are updated with candidates who are qualified and engaged with your brand. Take the time to remove any candidates you now know are unsuitable or have moved on. And update the records of candidates who may still be available or passive candidates potentially open to vacancies.
  • Job descriptions. As your company changes, so do the roles. An ATS spring cleaning is a good opportunity to revamp your job description templates, especially if you include information on your company, team, and culture.
  • Role access. Organizationally, things may have changed in your company. If you started as a small business and have grown significantly, you may have needed more users to access more information. Make sure you review this and ensure users only have access to the information that they need.
  • Pipeline structure. Always consider the structure of your recruitment process and ask yourself whether or not certain stages are still required. If you have implemented video screening, you may no longer need a phone screening.

Step 3: Keep it clean

When you’ve devoted the time and effort to clean up your ATS, there’s no way you’d be happy for it to return to its prior state of disarray with a new round of hiring. Marie Kondō, as always, delivers some wisdom when it comes to keeping things tidy:

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”

This is the time to develop your own systems to keep your ATS cleanliness in check. Here are a few of our tips:

  • Develop a tagging system. A tagging system for your favorite candidates and jobs will help you and your team access the right pieces of data if and when you need them.
  • Align with key team members using the ATS. Anyone who’s ever shared a kitchen will know the struggles of keeping it clean. Come up with some ground rules around creating new records and deleting the old ones regularly.

We won’t promise that cleaning your ATS Marie Kondō-style will help you “examine your inner self” or even crescendo in “a rite of passage to a new life”. But it will probably keep your recruitment tech up to snuff and actually streamlining your hiring. With any luck, the time spent in your ATS afterward might come closer to “sparking joy” and may at least give you a small sense of professional fulfillment.

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