This is the fourth post in the review series of 2012, addressing the changing face of the ATS. It is an area that attracts a lot of attention and discussion from users. Perhaps the technology buyers in organisations should be taking notice.

I haven’t been to, or held an event this year where someone has turned around and said: “You know what, we love our ATS!”. 2012 has seen a lot of complaining around what are seen as applicant turn-off systems. To be fair to the enterprise vendors, most users get the technology they deserve rather than the technology they need, but users, encouraged by the likes of William Tincup, are getting more demanding. I’ve seen Tincup speak a few times this year about getting much more from your technology suppliers. Tincup’s main point is that you only really hold the power when you are negotiating deals, and you should use this to your advantage to ensure free upgrades, (so you are always working with the latest version), and free support and training for the life time of the contract. Too often recruiters are only using a small part of the capability of their technology because they are uninformed or unsupported. My experience this year is that you should also insist on an open API, and integration with any other technology you choose, Technology suppliers need to learn that you are the client, and that they need to play nicely. I spoke about this at #HRTechEurope, and judging by the feedback it hit a real note.

This year I think we are going to be seeing a lot of change, and hearing a lot more about the social ATS. The stand out company in this area is SmartRecruiters. When I was first introduced to Smart, I liked the product but was skeptical about the viability of the pricing model. The platform is free, looks and feels like Facebook, is fully mobile optimized  and has career site build features and plug-ins, Facebook integration, job posting etc. The revenue is generated from job posting, where commissions are charged to the job boards for jobs posted by SmartRecruiters. They now have over 30,000 users, and lead a new breed of intuitive ATS’ that is easy to use by both recruiters and job seekers. Smart has been largely targeted at smaller companies with no existing ATS, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them announcing enterprise size users in the near future, as the platform continues to gain attention.
Using a similar model, Dutch company Vonq are launching Qandidate mid January. Qandidate has similar features, aimed at the European market. It has already been tested with existing Vonq clients, and is being built around the multilingual and legal requirements of the individual states within Europe. This will give them a bit of an advantage in this territory.
Recruitment platform and middleware provider Tribepad have also launched a social ATS, although this is priced in a more traditional way. Tribepad have enjoyed some big client wins this year including Sodexo Europe and the BBC. They have also launched in to the US during 2012, as G4S extended their use of the platform from Europe, as part of a global roll out. At #truLondon in October, Colin Minto outlined the necessary adjustments they had to make to comply with FCCP regulations. I haven’t seen another platform that is quite as comprehensive in this area, and if the Tribepad team are able to raise their visibility in the US, then more global client wins will follow. The real benefit of Tribepad is that you can wrap all of your recruiting data in one place, and the data flow in one direction. I’ve been impressed by the potential so far, and although I haven’t seen it first hand yet, I understand that they have now built social profiling in to the main platform, as well as making this available as a standalone product.

In response to customer demand, they launched a “light” version of the product for smaller users, available at a low monthly subscription with plug-in integration. What I like about the Tribepad team is that the product is in a constant state of development, almost a permanent beta, driven by user requirement and demand.If the company were in San Francisco rather than Leeds, I’m sure we would have heard a lot more about them already.  Watch this one closely.
Another new launch from the UK in recent months that is targeted around socialising and simplifying the application process is Peter Golds HirePad (No relation to TribePad). HirePad is built as the gateway between the ad (or update), and the ATS, making the job mobile, and creating a portal for a talent network. Talent networks record basic details creating segmenting interested people for updates, jobs and content that match their profiles. In most cases, this is much closer to what most hiring companies need, rather than the high maintenance, over hyped talent communities. Golds view is that the application needs to stay within the corporate ATS, but the process around expressing interest and connecting should be much easier, quicker and possible by mobile.

Gold is not looking to provide the full solution, given that most companies of size already have an ATS solution in place, but to provide easy integration, job posting and job marketing, and a complete mobile/talent network to make attraction and applying simple and effective.

I really like the integration with Google maps, that enables potential candidates to view jobs by location. I’ve seen this type of feature work very well for Pizza Hut using Jobs2Web. This is brilliant for the retail or hospitality sectors, where similar jobs are open at multiple locations close to the candidate. Jobs2Web have built a great business out of their platform, and were acquired by SuccessFactors in 2012.

I know Gold of old, and the real strength of HirePad lies in the job marketing from traditional to social job distribution, SEO, micro-sites by job etc, all  A/B tested to find the best solution.

Dutch company Maddle have had some success in Europe making individual jobs mobile through micro-sites and mobile apply at a low-cost, so the model is there. Maddle mobilise a job within 24 hours by launching a dedicated MSite, making the application process mobile, and providing the opportunity to add video and other content. It’s a brilliant, quick and cheap solution.

My reservation with the mobile half way house solution (as opposed to Maddle) is what happens when a potential candidate moves from a mobile friendly environment to a clunky, non-mobile friendly ATS. This puts a level of extra process in the application process, but is a big improvement on what is available now. In Part 5 tomorrow we will look closer at the mobile space and mobile recruiting.

The other platforms worth looking at when considering the social ATS are Irish company Zartis, and London start-up JobPage. Both offer low cost job distribution, social posting and ATS for the SME market. Zartis in particular is an evolving platform that integrates mobile, referral technology, WordPress plug-ins and other innovation. Zartis founder John Dennehy has a background in on-line gaming, and is integrating gaming thinking in to the platform. Expect to see more of these features in 2013. Dennehy is also involved in a really innovative country branding project with make IT Ireland and make IT Cork. I will be discussing these in more detail later in this review series.

It was HirePad founder Gold who first got me thinking that we should be doing away with the existing application process all together, inviting people to express interest, so that recruiters can get a look at interested people at the top of the funnel, and push only those candidates with a good fit in to the pain of applying in what is mostly a lengthy process, directing others towards a lighter touch talent network. I’m going to be very interested in seeing how this pans out over 2013, and if larger hiring companies can be persuaded to take this candidate centric approach. 2013 must see the applicant and the recruiter put at the heart of the application and candidate management process, and technology needs to reflect this.

Companies need to stop talking and start doing, which means involving recruiters in the recruitment technology buying process. All too often the real users just get given the latest purchase, and get told to get on with it. Is it any wonder that they just replace the old technology, with new technology without changing any of the processes.There is a lot of interesting technology coming in to this space to challenge the enterprise giants. The real innovation is coming from agile start-ups, and the market is calling out for change. 2013 will be the year we finally move from ATS to full recruiting platform, where tracking is only a small part of the functionality, and it is not before time. If the enterprise solutions don’t start changing usability, mobile optimization, ease (and willingness) to integrate with other technology and create easy navigation, then they are going to lose out as contracts come up for renewal. Watch this space!

Bill

Disclaimer: I have supplied paid for content to the TribePad blog this year, and Maddle and Vonq are sponsors of #TruAmsterdam.