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How Staffing Agencies Can Avoid the Notorious ATS Black Hole

EclipseThe dreaded ATS black hole. We have all experienced it more than we would like to admit at one point or another. Candidates fear that their resumes and information will get lost among the thousands of entries in the database, and recruiters claim that they can never find anybody with their systems. With thousands and thousands of contacts and talent in the database, the ATS can be a very powerful tool in the hiring process. And that’s just it — an ATS is a tool — its effectiveness lies in the hands and skill of its user.

Why Do Recruiting and Staffing Agencies Need an ATS System?

An ATS system is entirely necessary for managing high volume hiring. It gives recruiters the opportunity to review and process large numbers of applications. A good ATS system is essentially designed to help identify the most qualified applicants.

Most ATS systems have evolved into highly sophisticated search tools. Each system has its own ways of search capabilities. In Ultra-Staff, there are tons of ways to search candidates, including full text or Boolean string search, skill search, profile search on a large number of fields, past job activity, and more.

How to Solve the Case of the ATS Black Hole

The #1 reason for the ATS black hole effect is that recruiters don’t use the system for CRM. A CRM is used for developing real relationships and leveraging communication with candidates.  Many ATS systems have strong CRM tools built into them. There is no need to use an additional totally disjointed system.

CRM is most successful when there is accurate and thorough information about the candidate to correctly match job positions to their skillset. Be detailed with your contact notes, last contact dates, and follow up dates. This enables recruiters to build out a proactive talent resource and initiate continuous communication.

In order to minimize lost business, make sure you can find your candidates when you need them. Combining a sufficient candidate coding system and leveraging full text search on resumes yields the best results. As a forewarning, too many codes can hinder search capabilities. Identify candidates from a broader perspective and then narrow down once they satisfy broad requirements. This will also allow you to focus on the most qualified candidates.

If employees who use the ATS system are not properly trained on it, or have conflicting training, the ATS cannot be effective. Training is not something that should be taken lightly. More often than not employees are thrown into a training room and after an 8 hour day of intense training they are expected to be experts on the program. Follow up training sessions are important to ensure that each employee is not only using the software correctly but also using it to its maximum capability.

Great vendors offer training and support. To achieve increased output and productivity from employees, continuous and thorough staffing software training is vital for businesses.

Flickr photo credit: Luc Viatour

Megan Curth is the Marketing Coordinator of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff staffing software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing software business solution with components for front office, back office and the web. Megan’s email address is or for more information on Ultra-Staff go to

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