What the heck is an API and what does it do?
The answer to this can be very complicated and full of developer-speak, but for the average person, the simple answer is that an API is a way for two pieces of software to talk to each other.
HR Bartender posted an interview with Chris Lennon of SilkRoad to explain what an API is and how it works in HR software.
Here’s a summary of the main points:
- An API (as far as an HR practitioner needs to know) helps connect different vendor’s software together. For example, an API is used to connect a talent management module to an HRMS.
Case in point, at HireGround we use our API to integrate our ATS with a client’s payroll or HRIS system.
- Most modern software uses APIs, especially mobile apps which allow data to transfer from the device to the vendor.
- “Releasing an API” (an announcement you may hear from Apple or Faceboook) means that they are making it public so that developers can tie into the API using their software product.
For example, HireGround makes use of Twitter’s public API to post jobs as tweets.
- APIs are not inherently secure. It depends on the software provider how seriously security is taken and how well it is built into the API.
Read the full article here.
Risks of losing data
Anyone who has used a computer for any amount of time has likely experienced data loss after an unexpected crash. You know firsthand how painful it is to lose that project you were working on, the document you were almost finished or even photos you just uploaded. On a personal level, missing a backup can be a minor aggravation, but on a company level, losing valuable data can have huge consequences.
Remember that your data is really only as good as your last backup. Without a backup and storage system in place, any system runs the risk of losing its information and becoming useless in the event of hardware failure or downtime. Continue reading Backing up Your Data: Why & How
It turns out that most HR technology users are fairly satisfied with their software, or at least agree “it isn’t crummy”. This is great to hear, as most of us software providers try very hard to make good products and keep users happy! Of course, there remain a good number of people and companies whose current software just isn’t making the grade. The good news is changing software providers is easier and faster than ever with current technologies.
Why make the switch?
- Your current system isn’t robust enough. Your company has outgrown your software and has a different list of needs: maybe onboarding, in-depth metrics or support for more users has become critical. There’s nothing wrong with your current tech, but it’s time to upgrade to a bigger system.
- Your current system is too complex. The opposite of the first problem: everyone wants more and more features, but sometimes simple is best. If your current technology is bloated, slow, and confusingly full of options you never use, it could be time to switch to a lighter software that better suits your hiring process.
- Your current system just isn’t meeting your company’s needs. Whether these are requirements unique to your industry, budget issues, or a transition to a fully mobile candidate experience, there’s no one-size-fits-all ATS. It’s time to find one that can handle your company’s quirks.
What makes switching easy?
- Most leading ATS providers are cloud-based. This software is faster to install and more flexible than a product installed and maintained on your company’s own servers. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), is basically a subscription software, instead of something you need to download and install. For these flexible and changing times, SaaS is best.
- Modern and up-to-date providers have written their software with code that is much more versatile than older systems. Customizations, implementation and updates are all simpler to manage and faster to complete.
A warning if you are switching to an older platform: it might not be a fast or simple process at all!
What do you need from your current provider?
- Check your agreement and see if you own your data (resumes & candidate information). If it belongs to the software provider, they can use that data and your company may not get to keep it.
- If yes – and you wish to store that data in your new system – request for it in a non-proprietary format.
Consider how much data you really need to store. Instead of all existing data, limit to recent applicants, or a shorter date range. This will make the data file smaller, and easier to integrate into the new system.
What should you ask a new vendor?
- What is their implementation process like? Look carefully at what type of materials they are asking from your company, and what their timeline is for a typical installation.
- Can they import your existing data? How long might this take, and what fees are involved? This is likely to be an extra service, because every ATS system stores different sets of data, and does it in different ways.
Let’s take a look at what some HR professionals have revealed about their company’s outlook on software. Results from a survey, conducted by Software Advice, an online resource for HR & recruiting software buyers, shows a glimpse of where HR software is headed.
What we’ve learned:
Most users are generally happy with their software products!
Manual methods, such as spreadsheets are still commonly used, by over two thirds of respondents.
It appears that most companies with under 500 employees are looking to decrease their payroll spending in the next year.
Human resources professionals are slowly adopting mobile technology in their work, with 16% using tablets and 12% using smartphones to access their software. We expect this number to increase over the next year, as more software vendors make their products mobile-friendly and the trend of flexible workplaces continues.
iFrames used to be a common way for ATS systems to display job listings on an employer’s career page. While newer technologies are slowly being introduced, iFrames are still widely used, often simply because of a long term relationship with a vendor who hasn’t updated their product. For a long time, iFrames were an easy solution to integrate a job search and job application within a website.
Unfortunately, this is no longer a good solution, and is a very bad practice for a number of reasons: Continue reading 4 Reasons You Need to Stop Using iFrames
I saw an article recently in HRD magazine about how the ATS is a dying system. The author had some valid points, but unfortunately none of those points were actually about applicant tracking systems. His beef was really with unreliable parsing technology.
Let’s set the record straight: applicant tracking software is separate from parsing software. The two frequently work hand in hand with each other, but they are separate systems, almost always designed by different companies.
Parsing is here to stay
Resume parsing software is incredibly complex: it scans the document, converts the text and finds meaning in words to categorize the different resume sections. All while trying to maximize speed and minimize errors. What makes this task particularly difficult is that each resume is unique, using that person’s terminology, formatting and industry jargon. What’s more, word processing software brings its own distinct code into the mix. Not only does parsing technology have to make meaning of what the author has written, but it must sift through Microsoft Word’s language as well.
Technology this complex is always evolving, progressing and innovating. Parsing has not yet been perfected, and therefore we can only expect these systems to improve as our own knowledge and resources grow.
What can parsing do for me?
The reasons why applicant tracking providers are embracing parsing, and basing a lot of functionality on parsing technology are because the benefits far outweigh the occasional inconsistency. Here are a few examples:
- Searchable data: When resume information is parsed it is indexed, meaning different sections are categorized in the ATS. Instead of a simple Boolean or keyword search, you can search within specific sections and for more specific details, faster. An example is searching through everyone in the database who has a Masters degree and experience in chemical engineering in Alberta.
- Keeps everything in one system: For ATS providers like HireGround, one of the main reasons we use parsing technology is to keep resumes within our system. Instead of switching between Word, Acrobat and your ATS, parsing allows you to read through resumes within the system, making it easier to write notes and share with a hiring team.
- Easier to compare between candidates: Recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a resume before determining whether to go ahead with an applicant or move on. In such a short time frame, it can be difficult to compare between uniquely formatted resumes. Perhaps one applicant has their skills listed at the top, while another inserts them below their work experience. One applicant may use a chronological format, and another a functional resume. Parsing can help by grouping information together into consistent categories. Within an ATS, recruiters can easily switch between profiles, viewing the sections that are most relevant without sorting through the entire resume.
- Ranking opportunities: Parsing gives a system the opportunity to rank candidates based on their resume. With parsed information from a high quality provider, an ATS system will be able to see which candidate has the most years of relevant experience, the highest level of education, and the most applicable skills. These are items that used to have to be done manually, by someone who understands the industry, but as parsing and semantic technologies become more robust, software will be able to make meaning out of resumes and determine who’s to give more weight.
Looking ahead at big data and recruiting
I’ve given some concrete examples of how parsed data can benefit ATS users today – but this is only a thin slice of the possible uses, now and in upcoming years. Applicant data can be tracked, stored and measured in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. Assessment companies are looking at social media and gps data, while other teams are researching and predicting job and applicant patterns across the country and the world. What will all this data reveal next?