There are currently 7 million job openings in the US, and 1.6 million unemployed people actively looking for jobs, plus approximately 71 percent of currently employed people looking for new jobs. With the unemployment rate currently at the lowest it has been in 70 years, this means there are a lot of openings and not enough of the right kind of talent to fill them.
This has to do with supply and demand: while there are plenty of jobs available for the number of people out there, only a few people actually are able to get jobs. While this is partly due to a mismatch in skills of the applicants (ie, a hairdresser can't become a lawyer without the right credentials), increasingly, people are pointing to a new culprit: the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
Theoretically, it should be easy to find a job. A hiring manager determines what role they need to fill, and then they post that job to their network and any relevant job boards. Applicants come through, and then you interview the candidates that you deem appropriate until you find a match. Everyone will receive a thank you note, and they will get feedback in a timely manner.
However, in the age of the internet, those job boards are global. The hiring manager finds that for a job that used to only have five to ten applicants, they'll receive thousands -- or tens of thousands -- of applications. In order to sort through the noise, they'll need to have some sort of filtering system, which is where the ATS comes in. It will use the words within the job posting, which encompass the requirements, and any additional hidden keywords that the Hiring Manager felt were appropriate, to filter out the majority of resumes on the first pass. Any resumes that did not come through the ATS are automatically discarded, and only a small percentage will make it to an interview process.
With this many people in the system, there's no ability to give personal feedback. Everything is automated -- even the rejection notice. Unfortunately, there's no way to find an applicant that may be slightly out of the original mold, which will eliminate many candidates who may have been the right person for the position, but their resume didn't fit the posting. Additionally, once you've discarded the resume, your ATS will often blacklist people from applying for anything else, even if they were a perfect fit for another position.
Enter companies like Beamery, who seek to reinvent this process. Says Abakar Saidov, Beamery CEO, "Most companies treat HR like a cost center. Proper talent recruitment is the first line of defense for your company success."
Regardless of whether you are using an ATS or hiring the old-fashioned way, here are some key pitfalls to look out for to hire the right candidate the first time:
1. Find the most qualified candidate.
When you're hiring for a position, you should make sure to put down in the key requirements exactly what you need, and in the optional column the things that would be nice to have. If your candidate doesn't fulfill the actual requirements, don't hire them or they will only let you down.
2. Don't compromise on external attributes.
If they fit all your base skill requirements, but they don't match the temperament you need (for example, if it is a front desk position and you want someone outgoing, yet the person is a quiet and introverted), then you may need to pass.
3. Pay attention to their personality.
You may have someone who is the perfect candidate on paper, but when you meet them they are an entirely different person. This is almost always a bad thing, as an employer should expect consistency in their employees -- not discord.
4. Mind the culture.
This is the toughest one of all, because if everything else is perfect, but the prospective employee simply doesn't get along or fit in with the other people on the team, then there will be expected tension in the work environment. While this can be an intended thing, over time, this can become toxic, and someone may leave your company -- requiring you to go through the hiring process all over again.
However, if you are going to be doing hiring, remember that you are dealing with real people with feelings on the other end of a job posting. The more personalized you can get -- even if it is an automatic rejection -- the better you'll make the process.