Are you using the best tools to recruit? Five ways an Applicant Management System would benefit your NFP

Finding great staff and volunteers might be the most impactful activity your organisation does – because it multiplies the impact of all your other work. But recruiting can be incredibly time consuming – especially when you’re not using the right tools.

Recent research has found that the average time to hire is 68 days – that’s nearly 10 weeks for each new team member! Australian NFPs have reported that their median time to fill a vacant position is slightly less – 6.5 weeks or 50 days – but that’s still a huge amount of time for your managers and recruitment person/team to dedicate to each new hire.

Each step of a recruitment process can add to the time burden, from planning and advertising right through to reference checking and making an offer.

But using the best tools at each stage can shave days or even weeks of work off a recruitment process.

In a survey of over 300 NFPs and social enterprises, EthicalJobs.com.au found that as many as 88% of for-purpose organisations were using email and spreadsheets to receive and sort their job applications. 

That means a significant amount of time across the sector is being spent receiving and sorting applications in email folders, saving (or even printing!) CVs and cover letters, manually copying details into spreadsheets, and emailing back and forth with candidates and colleagues – time that’s potentially being wasted.

Relying on disconnected systems also leaves a lot of room for great candidates to slip through the cracks and increases privacy risks for candidates. 

Email is not a secure way to share private information like home addresses or phone numbers. Many people in your organisation might be able to access seemingly “private” candidate emails through your email system. And since emails are unencrypted and pass through numerous networks or servers before they’re delivered, they can be susceptible to data hacking.

To solve these problems, sophisticated software solutions have sometimes seemed out of reach for cash-strapped NFPs. Applicant Management Systems (AMS) can be expensive and when designed for large, complex organisations, can come with layers of over-complicated functionality many organisations don’t need or want.

But with free and easy-to-use AMS platforms now available, this might be the moment to consider dropping the spreadsheets and email combo and making the move sooner rather than later. 

Here are five ways an AMS could make your life easier, and improve the recruitment process at your NFP:

1. Spend less time on data entry and admin

Sorting, saving, recording and sharing candidate details and application documents can take hours or even days, depending on how many applicants you’re dealing with.

Rather than spending hours of admin time keeping track of emails, sorting and then sharing candidate documents and copying candidate details into spreadsheets, an AMS will store all of your candidates and their data, securely in one place, and allow the people with permission to view the data instant access when they need it.

2. Collaborate easily with colleagues

Wouldn’t it be great if the right people in your organisation could just see the candidate data they needed without any effort?

Rather than preparing ongoing internal updates, an AMS allows you to share the data you want instantly with relevant colleagues – including documents, notes about the candidate, and rankings/ratings recruitment status at a glance and even view (and respond to) ratings, notes and correspondence with individual candidates. 

3. Reduce risks to privacy and data security

The possible downside of easy data-sharing is having insecure data that can be accessed by people who you don’t want to see it.

Most applicants would assume that their email address, home address and other personal details would be kept private by organisations where they apply for a job, but that’s not always the case.

When you save a CV or cover letter on your organisation’s computer system/network, any number of people may have access to it – from other team members to IT staff, to possible hackers. It’s not always possible to know who may have access to that data in the future.

Saving candidate data on insecure internal computer networks that can be accessed by such a variety of people is increasingly seen as an unnecessary risk that should be avoided – and which is easily avoided by using AMS which keeps sensitive data secure, and only allows specific people to access it when they’re given permission.

4. Easily screen out candidates who aren’t a fit

Sorting through a stack of applications from people who don’t meet the basic requirements for a job is the very definition of a waste of your time.

Good AMS platforms allow you to easily require candidates to answer screening questions as part of the the application process, allowing you to instantly see if an applicant has all the key qualifications or experience, so you don’t need to waste time on candidates who don’t.

5. Improve the candidate experience

Employer branding is the art of cultivating a positive reputation for your organisation as an employer, and one key element of this is the experience that candidates – both the successful and the unsuccessful ones – have when they apply to work for you.

It can be a lot of work to respond to unsuccessful candidates in a timely and effective way if you’re having to do it manually by copying and pasting email addresses. And that could mean a poor word-of-mouth reputation or negative association for your organisation.

With a good AMS, replying to unsuccessful candidates can be as easy as a couple of clicks, allowing your to bulk-mail unsuccessful candidates either from your own email address, or if you’d prefer, from a no-reply email address which allows you to avoid time-wasters who might try to start up a discussion or conversation.

Plus for short-listed candidates an AMS lets you centralise your communications, allowing everyone in your organisation who’s working on the recruitment process to quickly see what communications have been sent to which candidates.

Convinced? EthicalJobs.com.au has recently launched our world-class Applicant Management System, which is 100% free – forever – for all of our users. You can log in here to post a job ad and give it a spin.

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