The modern applicant tracking system (ATS) as we know it did not appear until the 1990s. Prior to that time, companies would advertise jobs in the local newspaper, receiving resumes via fax machine and entering new candidates into a rolodex. If a company chose to hire a recruitment agency to help with the process, the candidate would put on their power suit, (complete with shoulder pads, of course!) and meet with the recruiter to complete an intensive paper-based registration process. HR departments were forever stalled by mountains of paper work. Paper-based applications, post-it notes with candidate information, newspaper clippings of open jobs as well as endless new hire forms made HR workers true experts in filing. To say HR engaged in some environmentally “un”-friendly paper heavy practices would be an understatement.
Later in the 1990s as more businesses began to use computers and the internet, the ATS as we now know it emerged. While the internet of that time pales in comparison to the speed and connection that we’re used to, candidates began to create resumes in word documents and email them to be considered for jobs. According to SHRM, “The applicant tracking system revolutionized recruiting by automating the storing and processing of resumes”. Following this, businesses began to create websites to advertise their services as well as any open jobs. Over time job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster emerged, changing the industry forever. In 2002 LinkedIn was created, providing a place for candidates to create a permanent profile for themselves focused only on their careers.
Today’s ATS allows recruiters and HR professionals to digitally store and process candidate information. Applicant tracking systems have evolved to focus on compliance issues, resume parsing, social media monitoring and robust reporting metrics, greatly affecting the amount of paper that HR departments are producing. So how have these changes affected the amount of paper that HR departments are producing? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Despite the advancements made in this industry, this is still a staggering number and one that should be addressed.
Because of this and the desire to cut cost, many companies have converted their recruiting process to be completely paperless with the use of the ATS. Not only is there an environmental benefit associated to reducing paper, there is a great benefit for the recruiters. The ATS allows recruiters to spend less time filing and shredding paper and more time finding the best candidate for the job. The ATS also has great cost-saving potential. IDC research has estimated that the typical company with 1,000 employees wastes $2.5 to $3.5 million per year searching for information and re-creating lost documents. By implementing the right system involving recruiting and employee onboarding, your chance for human error in reviewing paperwork decreases.
This year as your company recognizes Arbor Day, think about the amount of paper you’re using in your own recruiting efforts and if there is room for improvement. Does your company utilize solar power or donate to charitable organizations with an environmental focus? Is your office trying to go paperless? Not only does this help the environment but it saves money, space and makes information sharing easier. Today’s candidates want to work for a company that aligns with their own values and is progressive in their business practices. Be sure to highlight your environmental efforts on your career site.
Take it a step further and look at your actions on a whole. Do you really need to print out that calendar invite for your next meeting or can you just jot down a few notes before you go? Check to see if your office is using recycled paper in the printers and copiers or make your own and reuse paper that you’ve only printed on one side. Recycled paper takes less water and energy to produce. The idea is to make little changes that are sustainable for you and to share the success you’ve had to encourage others to participate. Operating your business with the environment in mind not only cuts down on waste and resources but it also saves money. Start small but think big!