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Job Boards, Candidates, Clients and ATSs - some truths & some agro (courtesy of Ri5)

posted by Alex Hens
23 October 2015

This has been brewing in my angry draw for a little while now, but today saw the opportunity to lance that particular boil of frustration about the whole thing thanks to an article and a response on Ri5.co.uk titled: Candidates Abandoning Applications due to poor ATS integration

I'll paste it all here as it may make an interesting read (or not), but primarily because it would appear that the comment posting capability on the ri5 site doesn't accomodate line or para breaks - to that end my expansive response is pretty hard work to get through (or at least even harder work than it would be anyway because it's just a single block of text). 

Initial post:

A lack of integration between job boards and applicant tracking systems (ATSs) means the needs of employers and candidates are not being sufficiently met, with candidates more likely to abandon applications before they have been completed.

A global survey of job board operators commissioned by US firm reThinkData found just 12% were able to track completed online job applications after redirecting candidates to employers’ applicant tracking systems (ATSs).

In addition, 91% of respondents said they don’t receive crucial performance information regarding the candidates they deliver to ATSs.

A total of 113 job board operators took part in the survey, which gathered data about their ability to work effectively with ATSs in serving the needs of employers and job seekers.

John Bell, reThinkData president and CEO, said the disconnect is, in large part, responsible for the soaring rate at which job candidates abandon online applications before completing them. He pointed out that researchers have estimated the candidate abandonment rate to be as high as 90%.

Bell said: “The results of the survey are very clear. Job board operators around the world feel they need to be much better integrated with ATSs.

“The widespread lack of integration between the two groups undermines everyone’s ability to serve employers and job seekers with the quality and efficiency they deserve. It also keeps most job board operators from providing accurate reports to their client organisations or even measuring their own performance and the value they deliver.”

 

Coment from Daniel Heath:

As a job board provider I would hardly expect clients to be openly forthcoming in regards to their data, in a world where everything is negotiated it would be naive to think they would be willing to show their hand so openly. Unfortunately. 

 

My response: 

As an ATS provider that offers comprehensive tracking of application source with an integrity distinction between tracked and candidate selected I can say quite categorically that the greatest reason for drop off's in our experience is the increasing prevalence of JobBoards insisting on blocking an applicants progression to the ATS to complete their application without having first captured their data, which to the candidate experience seems exactly like they've applied.

The reason? "Cake & eat it" springs to mind - Job Boards charging for the job post in the first instance and then ensuring they capture the data of traffic so that they can punt, re-punt more competing opportunities to that applicant. Really helpful for clients and their retention that too :-/

Would integration improve things? Suppose it would, but only in as much as it's a partial solution to a problem that has been Job Board created (although I also get there are a whole bunch of ATS systems out there that offer a truly shocking candidate experience and don't do tracking of any substance (if at all) - however job boards pointing the finger at that as the reason for drop off's is, IMO, pretty disingenuous). Reality is also that integration work takes time and effort and so has to cost someone, and each job board (or job board group) would come up with their own way of doing it - and it won't capture everything a client needs anyway, so there's still the probable confusion of the "I've just submitted details and a CV, so I've applied - yes?!" (based on candidates not reading small print / in some instances being bothered to carry on (insert debate about "bothered or not sift" vs "ease of application")).

So is it right to load further charges on recruiting clients for a problem that's not of their making (use Indeed or Gumtree (to name but two) and it's still a straight click to the job / application form on the client site - as it used to be before on the lions share of Job Boards). By taking the choices Job Boards are you may be swelling your short term coffers (reduced as they are from having to discount job slot charges in an increasingly competitive market), but you're making your offer more and more niche, and whilst your job slot costs may continue to come down, you're overall cost per application is increasing - particularly if you're offering a ropey candidate experience that sends applicants more to submitting CVs straight off to recruitment consultants / they pulling them from the Job Board DB who then charge c15% for the administrative task of submitting the applicant directly into the ATS.

So from day 1 of job boards in the UK when JobServe required registration and JobSite didn't, the drop off issue of the "register first" approach has been pretty obvious to anyone working direct recruiting client side in the market, but of late with Indeed & LinkedIn's entry to the market (as well as other factors of course - significantly reduced cost barriers to entry and "the long tail" and the like) JobBoards have been less able to charge large (relative) job post fees and therefore turn to any way to try and squeeze revenue out of what they have i.e. capturing traffic data and re-monetizing and re-monetizing and re-monetizing candidate data.

In my experience clients can find 10's, sometimes significantly more, applicants in their "job board inbox" who the JobBoard will say have applied, but who never converted on the ATS, so aren't, in the client's perspective, applicants at all.

So are they holding back data for reasons of negotiation? Again, not in my experience. On quite a few occasions we've worked with clients who have job boards professing large "application" rates and we've shared openly actual application rates together with other traffic stats to display the real scale of arrival and drop off (pre and mid-application).

Reality is - a job board "application" is still an indicator not a definite, it's a click thru and nothing more. Be an interesting debate - but as it looks right now this approach seems to be lose-lose to most of the parties involved, but particularly the applicant and the paying client.