#AskAnRPOExpert: Accolo's Mike Tastle Discusses Common ATS Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Brent G Trotter


Applicant tracking systems (ATS) can play an integral part in the recruiting process. They can increase efficiency, move qualified candidates through the recruiting process and help companies manage large volumes of applicants. But if the wrong software is being used, it’s managed properly, or implemented poorly, it can do more harm than good.

In this edition of our #AskAnRPOExpert series, we talk to Mike Tastle, Senior Vice President of Accolo, a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) company based in the U.S. We discuss the role an RPO plays regarding ATS’s, common mistakes clients make when implementing them, and the level an RPO should be involved in managing them.

RPOA What would you say are some of the general advantages of using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System)?

Tastle: By definition, an ATS is designed to track applicants. Regardless of company size and volume of hiring, that in and of itself provides some level of value -- I’m speaking to you AAP, EEOC, OFCCP and all other acronyms for compliance folks. There are hundreds of different ATS’s available today, and all of them intend to provide some of the same benefits: posting positions, moving candidates through the hiring stages, social media sharing, basic reporting, etc.

What are some of the benefits of having an RPO provider bring an ATS along with them?

At Accolo, we’ve always believed that unless an RPO provider is bringing the full solution (People, Process and Technology - aka an ATS) to the table, all they are ultimately doing is providing recruiters. It’s typically a “your mess for less” situation which reduces the true value that RPO partnerships provide. RPO providers that bring their technology also bring a set of proven processes that have been vetted across hundreds of clients and industries. Having an RPO provider that only brings their recruiters to the table is akin to simply engaging contract recruiters. Without managing all aspects of talent acquisition for their customers and becoming a fully accountable partner, wouldn’t that dilute the value of using an RPO provider in the first place?

What specific services are we talking about?

RPO providers not only supply the team of recruiters, but also job marketing campaigns, employment branding, candidate screening and communication, reporting and metrics, careers page job search portals, and overall thought leadership. None of those can be done effectively without the technology platform. Let’s face it, without the right tech in place, companies are forced to have other agreements and contracts with a technology provider, job boards, resume databases, networking and social media sites. Doesn’t the single source for all things talent acquisition (sometimes referred to as the “One-Throat-to-Choke”) just make the most sense?

Are there any cases in which the RPO Provider should not have any say in which ATS you’re using?

If you partner with an RPO, you shouldn’t need an ATS as they should already supply one.

What are some of the primary mistakes you see clients making with their ATS?

1. They implement the system without first taking time for due-diligence to review future state process. I’ve seen more times than I care to admit of companies building processes around the technology instead of vice-versa. Doing so ends up with a process laden with band-aids.

2. They focus more on compliance and less on candidate experience.

3. They neglect to identify the data points that they want to be able to report on. Part of any implementation and training plan should have the reporting objectives identified, as it’s practically impossible to report on data that is not entered or captured.

4. The [job] “application” can take an hour just to initially apply for an open position. In today’s candidate experience-focused world, having an easy to navigate and engaging experience is not only desired, but required to hire top talent.

5. Candidate communication throughout the process is non-existent.

6. It’s entirely too complicated for the people who matter most in the hiring process: the hiring manager and the candidate.

7. They [companies] depended on the implementation folks with the ATS company to implement best practices however, as we all know, best practices are not a one size fits all. Instead, they are implementing their own technology around how it’s intended to work, not how it could work to benefit the company.

What are the most efficient ways that an RPO provider helps clients get more out of the candidates in their database?

If the client has their own ATS, the RPO provider should have access to it. If they are going to control the process, they should have full access. Without it, the company needs to have internal resources assisting in the recruiting process, which reduces the value of an RPO. At Accolo, candidate ownership is a concept that we don’t buy into. After all, isn’t the ultimate goal to fill client’s jobs with the best candidates available, regardless of the source? Let the RPO provider do what they do best so you can focus on other areas of value.

Do you think that an RPO provider be involved in a client’s career site development?

Absolutely, why shouldn’t they? They have experience with employment branding, so leverage it! They also have experience across hundreds of clients and industries, so they can bring that experience to the table.

Are there any other final thoughts on the subject that you’d like to like to share?

All this being said, I must confess that I am actually not a fan of traditional ATS’s. Many are complicated, misconfigured, and do not drive the automation and simplicity necessary for all parties involved in the hiring process. To compound the matter even further, we’ve seen ATS’s that actually cause more harm than good.

Yes, you need a system in place to facilitate the hiring process and compliance. Partner with an RPO provider that supplies their own, and then get out of the way and let them do what they’re there to do.

Suggested article: RPO Implementation – Technology is Recruitment’s Best Friend


Accolo is an award winning Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider based in Dallas, Taxes. Companies engage Accolo as their turn-key internal recruiting department, an extension of their existing recruiting team or as their On-Demand recruitment capacity partner. Accolo’s unique application of the “art” of recruiting within a highly elastic and automated framework, along with an expansive professional network of trained and certified hiring consultants (recruiters), delivers quantifiable improvements in recruiting elasticity, quality, efficiency and cost.

guide to understanding recruitment process outsourcing

No Items Found!

Become an RPOA Member
rpoa annual conference 2024

RPO Academy

Search and access free RPO ebooks, webinars, research reports and more

Browse Content
Blog Template Academy Image

RPO Leadership Forum

Browse and access RPO webinars by top industry leaders on-demand

Browse Webinars

iCoCo Marketplace

Find and connect with technology and service providers that are part of the iCoCo partner community.

Find Providers