Why International organizations implement their recruitment system at HQ only?

Why must so many country offices still use e-mail to manage their recruitments?

When it comes to the use of a recruitment system or (hereinafter referred to as) Applicant Tracking System (ATS) it is a surprisingly low coverage at International Organizations.

You may not agree. You may work at an organization having an ATS.

When asking an international organization if they have an ATS, the vast majority respond YES.

But if you follow up that question by asking if all their recruitments are handled in their ATS you often get a completely different answer including a long list of exceptions, below are a few common ones:

  • Our ATS is only used for International Recruitment, Local jobs are not handled in the tool

  • Our ATS is only used for recruitments handled by the recruiters at our HQ

  • The ATS is only for jobs that fall under Human Resources, other recruitments such as consultancies, and short-term assignments fall under procurement

  • Our organization has too many different grades, so we only use the ATS for core staff functions

  • Assignments that have no budget allocation linked to the job Id it can't be advertised in the ATS, examples are Internships, which are not recruited in the ATS.

So why is this?

In fact, most recruitments in any international organization are temporary assignments, consultancies, and similar. Core recruitments are fewer. Hence efficiency gains would be higher and the admin costs lower if the ATS instead were used for non-core recruitments.

So what is used instead of ATS?

Many organizations still use e-mail recruitment, which means that on the job description, under the "how to apply" section, there is a group e-mail to which the applicant just e-mails their application. Some organizations use a google-form/Typeform type of setup that the candidate fills out and then they screen candidates on an excel sheet.

Human Resources does not choose their ATS themselves

Often, it is not the Human Resources department that chooses the recruitment system for the organization. That is one reason for the existence of so many mediocre systems out there. The decisions sit higher up. To streamline operations, organizations aim to have integrated systems, an ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning).

And the ERP vendor is primarily chosen for the Finance operation. The more known ERP systems (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Epicor, Infor, Sage) are much better for finance than for Human Resources.

The Human Resources modules are often offering rigid workflows that are simplified and one-dimensional, and this should make the warning bells ring. Because, one thing that recruitment in international organizations is not, is one-dimensional.

Although these systems' purpose is to streamline business processes, it is often a very limited integration between the applicant tracking module (ATS) and the staff administration module.

Organizations that envision being able to transfer the whole candidate's resume with technical skills, languages, education, and work experiences into their core HR module will quickly be disappointed.

In most (all?) ERPs you can't transfer anything, apart from the candidate's name and address. Which anyway in most cases is manually entered to cater for maiden name changes and address changes.

Why is the ATS often only used at HQ and not spread to the country offices?

It is a common approach to release the Applicant tracking module in the Headquarters first. Learn from the implementation, adjust, and roll it out to the whole organization in a second phase.

As the headquarters is the first user, the ATS will also be procured by HQ. The HQ recruiters are therefore often involved and in charge of the service specification.

Most organizations are having recruitment KPIs, and time-to-hire is common. These KPIs are primarily tracked and reported on core positions, hence many specifications are primarily produced to cater to the workflows for the recruitment of core positions (as they are tracked and monitored) and hence other recruitment workflows/types are neglected.

However, during the course of the HQ implementation journey, you will face several problems that slow down or stop the implementation.

Primarily these are linked to the idea of using a large ERP tool with a one-dimensional (often local workflow) to cater to a mix of different workflows:

  • Local recruitments

  • International recruitments and

  • Cross-Local International recruitments

The early roadblock used to be the view access issue. When all recruitments during the first phase were carried out in HQ, HR didn't have to worry so much about view access. The recruiters in the team had access, and that was it. But now when you scale, you will need to control the view access.

In a larger organization, from a legal and compliance point of view, every recruiter in the organization should not see every recruitment, every assessment report, every comment, every personality assessment, and so on. You must start to control who sees what.

From a usability perspective, a recruiter neither wants to see all jobs in the whole organization in their own Recruiter dashboard.

As an example, imagen an organization with 100 offices, each office advertises five local positions per year. A local position is only open for nationals of that specific country office, hence if every recruiter sees all jobs in their recruitment dashboard. Each recruiter would see 495 irrelevant recruitments and only 5 pertain to their own office.

So how do these ERP providers solve this view access issue in the private sector where ERPs are more commonly used?

As each country has its own local labor laws and regulations, very few companies recruit globally. Hence the view access issue is only a real problem for international organizations.

The average company recruits staff locally and it is also for that scenario these ERP systems are designed.

One could say that the above view access issue should be easily solvable, and it is, at Impactpool we have a solution in our ATS

But for larger organizations using an ERP, there is no solution. The UN secretariat, using Oracle, started with their view access project in 2011, and it is still ongoing, and not solved. The same goes for every other organization using any of the larger ERPs.

The consequences of the view access issues are that most organization never continues with the second phase of the implementation.

Only those organizations that are willing to invest huge amounts in system customizations continue to the second phase.

Hence in most organizations, HQ uses the ERP ATS and the local offices continue with e-mail.

Unclear project objective - what recruitment-related problem do you want to solve?

I sometimes hear a comment from recruiters: "We have just implemented an ATS but we don't get better candidates".

Very few who buy a new pair of running shoes will return complaining to the seller that the shoes don't make them run faster. Normally you buy a new pair of running shoes because your old ones are broken or because you need a pair with better comfort.

The same applies to an ATS. The ATS helps you make the recruitment process more effective for recruiters and candidates. Implementing an ATS with a cv parser will ease the application process and the candidate experience will be more positive.

If your main objective however is to receive higher quality candidates, you need to primarily focus on other areas to reach your objectives, below are four focus areas to start with:

  1. Enhance your employer brand: Make sure that your current employers like you and speaks well of you. Then establish a strong online presence by showcasing your company culture, values, and achievements;

  2. Expand your outreach. Be inspired by what ICRC is doing to expand its talent outreach and sourcing.

  3. Improve your job description: Be clear and specific about the job requirements, responsibilities, and qualifications.

  4. Offer competitive compensation and benefits;

Too large project scope slows down - From zero to a hundred

Another reason why organizations still collect applications with e-mail is that they try to find one ATS that solves all their problems in one. That system does not exist...

We have compiled a white paper - A guide to buying a recruitment system for an International Organization. It includes the questions you should ask when you decide to plan to implement an ATS, below are a few samples.

  • Does the ATS have a workflow that matches your organization?

  • Does the ATS offer customized questions in the application form so that you can continue using a digital version of your application form?

  • Does the ATS offer the ability to build talent rosters?

  • Does the ATS comply with the highest standard of data protection and complies with GDPR?

  • Does the ATS offer a comprehensive audit trail?

  • Does the ATS have features that help you to effectively reach out to a diverse pool of relevant candidates for your jobs?

Although they only use e-mail, many organizations I meet get stuck in the planning phase. Organizations still live with a perception that ATS' are expensive and take months/years to implement. If you go with an ERP, that is still the case although their cloud systems have shortened that timeframe significantly.

Impactpool Recruit - A recruitment system designed for the Impact sector and International organization

Impactpool offers an ATS tailored for Internationals organizations that comes delivered with workflows that allow Local, International, and Cross-Local International recruitments.

Impactpool Recruit offers integrated roster and pool management systems tailored to the sourcing needs of International organizations. Also, when using Impactpool Recruit, your job ads will be matched to Impactpool's huge talent pool. Matched candidates will get an alert.

Impactpool recruit has an innovative solution that solves the issue with the view access described above.

The Impactpool Recruit comes delivered with a CV parser that makes it easy for applicants to apply, they just upload their CV and the ATS understands the CV and populates the application fields automatically.

The Impactpool Recruit comes with a large library of applicant questions. In other recruitment tools, additional questions come with an extra cost.

The Impactpool Recruit is cost-effective and offers unlimited access to recruiters, screeners are hiring managers. This makes it cost-effective for organizations to grant access to all recruiters and offices.

Would you like to discuss your current recruitment process, or are you considering buying an ATS? We are happy to set up a call and support you. Please fill in the contact form below and we are happy to set up a call.