OkRecruiter or plenty of candidates: should applicant tracking systems be more like dating apps?

Image of a dog next to a light-box that says Will you be my date

4 mins, 20 secs read time

How many times have you heard the “recruiting is like dating” analogy? If you’ve been in the Talent world for longer than a week or two, you’ve probably lost count. But there’s a reason for the persistence of this comparison. There are obvious parallels between the two worlds: Both involve communicating with strangers, reviewing their credentials, trying to get a sense of compatibility, and finally introducing them to your wider circle.

We certainly weren’t the first ones to come up with this analogy, but we figured we’d have a little fun with it and ask some talent pros: Which dating app features would you like to see in your ATS? While the question itself may be a little silly, the answers we got give some serious insights into where the world of recruiting may be headed.

Traditional keyword searches can be a little heartbreaking

It would probably be the matching. – Neil Frye, Global Head of Recruiting, Dropbox

For many recruiters, keyword searches can be a little heartbreaking—you may think you’ve found some great candidates, yet it turns out they’ve learned how to game the system and stuff their résumé with keywords. Or, you’ve unintentionally left qualified candidates out simply because of the way they’ve chosen to describe themselves. Entelo found, for example, that men tend to have 16% more keywords in their résumés than women, which gives them an unfair advantage when recruiters use a keyword search approach.

Broken heart

So it’s not too surprising that talent pros like Neil Frye would like to see better matching capabilities in their ATS, and a number of companies like Ideal and Entelo are stepping up to say that their solutions will find better matches while also opening up opportunities to a broader range of candidates. Insert heart-eyes emoji!

The industry’s infatuation with AI

I think it would be common interests. Being able to see on a personal level what someone might do outside of the workplace to understand the candidate a bit better. – LT Taylor, Senior Manager of PR & Events, Poppin

The talent industry is beginning to see a lot of potential with AI—a Talent Tech Labs survey found that 73% of respondents are using some form of AI and 22% expect to implement it in the next two years.

There are a number of ways AI can help recruiters get a better understanding of candidates to view them in a more well-rounded manner as LT Taylor mentions. AI technology can:

  • Identify bias in job descriptions, helping recruiters to reword and become more inclusive in their hiring process
  • Sort through résumés to find soft skills that candidates haven’t even listed
  • Assist with candidate sourcing, screening, and matching so recruiters can focus their efforts on candidates who most closely fit their requirements
  • Sort through past applicants to find “silver medalist” candidates from previous rounds and see if they fit any of your open roles

According to Josh Bersin’s Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and Execution (Bersin by Deloitte), high-performing talent acquisition functions are four times more likely to make use of advanced technology like AI. With the type of anticipation we normally only reserve for the next season of The Bachelorette, we’ll continue to watch this trend to see how it changes our industry.

What's one dating app feature you wish were in your ATS? from Greenhouse on Vimeo.

In-person “chemistry” still matters

Who’s most nearby. Oh, they’re only a half a mile away, let me go get coffee with them and see if they’re interested in interviewing! – Andy Lutz, Technical Recruiter, Segment

We have yet to hear about any recruiting technology that will allow you to identify a candidate’s precise location in this exact moment, but Andy Lutz does bring up a good point. Meeting in person is still an important part of the recruiting process—and the candidate’s experience.

Several bottles of chemistry formulas

Companies may be turning to unconventional ways to assess candidates like escape rooms and capture the flag tournaments, but these are still in-person interactions. A ManpowerGroup study found that 26% of candidates still select in-person interviews as their top choice of ways to interact with employers.

Keep in mind that no matter how you do engage with them, candidates don’t want to feel like they’re just a number. HR Dive recently reported that personalization matters to candidates: “Employers who can make applicants feel as though they're getting personalized, one-on-one treatment will have an edge over competitors.”

For many obvious reasons, Applicant Tracking Systems do not function the same way as dating apps. But it is a fun thought experiment to explore how these technologies may overlap and influence each other.

What are some of the ways you’d like to see recruiting technology and practices evolve? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.