What is an Applicant Tracking System, and When do You Need One?
An Applicant Tracking System (or ATS) is specialised recruiting software used by companies to assist with human resources, recruitment, and hiring needs. While each ATS offers a different suite of features, they are all generally used to help those doing the hiring organize and navigate large numbers of applicants.
Job seekers who submit their resumes and job application through an online form are interacting with an ATS of some kind.
But does your organization need one? Simply, yes.
Yes, you do.
The longer answer, along with how to go about choosing an ATS that best suits your business needs below.
Why do companies use Applicant Tracking Systems?
The relative ease of submitting an online job application has created a challenge for hiring companies. Online job postings can garner hundreds of applications, many of which are from unqualified job seekers. Instead of sorting through a stack of paper resumes or a crowded email inbox, recruiters and hiring managers use ATS to keep themselves organized and efficient. This solution is especially critical for larger companies that are hiring for multiple positions and departments simultaneously. However, they’re increasingly being adopted successfully by smaller businesses looking to improve their hiring from the start, setting themselves up for success as they scale.
And while applicant tracking systems have historically been cumbersome and clunky, the new generation of these tools are focused on bringing together end-user experiences that improve candidate experiences while still benefiting employers.
This new focus on employer and candidate user experiences makes the ATS a fundamental tool in any hiring team’s arsenal.
So do you need an ATS?
Think of your favourite business tools and how much time they save you. Now think about how much time (and general pain) you could’ve saved, had you discovered them sooner.
The same is true for hiring and an ATS system.
5 Signs you need an ATS stat
1. Your time to hire is too long
Time to hire is an important metric to keep in mind when evaluating your need for an ATS. If it’s taking too long, your ATS should assist you with automating admin tasks to increase ROI. If it’s doing these tasks correctly you should have an efficient end-to-end hiring process.
Not only should it help with automation but it should generate a large candidate pool from a variety of sources to push through a customisable workflow.
2. You’re posting the same job to different job boards and it’s a massive time suck
You want to cast the net wide when looking for tricky to fill positions and this involves getting your job ad on a variety of the best job posting sites. Sounds like a good idea, but all of them have different posting mechanisms and even with a heavy copy paste hand this takes time. The better ATS and candidate management systems enable you to post to multiple job sites with a single submission. When you need a handful of job boards this is a cute time-saver but when you’re posting to 15+ job boards, it’s a lifesaver.
3. Your team is awash in a sea of candidate emails
The advent of online job boards has helped spread the word that you’re hiring and that’s cool. The problem is that the message is often received and misunderstood by people who aren’t even close to being qualified for the job you’re hiring for. Without an ATS, your team might spend precious time sifting through as they’re sometimes called and can help in two ways. Firstly, the best applicant tracking system options have customizable application forms where you can include screening questions that focus on your core requirements. If you need a relevant degree and related work experience you can add a screener and avoid a large percentage of the unwanted applications. Secondly, a best-in-class ATS is built to deliver structured information about all applicants making it quick and simple to disqualify applicants who aren’t going to be considered.
4. Your hiring team is growing
Awesome, that’s great news! That also means you need an advanced ATS that can help them to have access to:
- Screening candidates
- Posting roles
- Emailing candidates
- Scheduling interviews
If your team has become quite large or you’re continuously growing we’d recommend looking for an ATS that doesn’t charge per user to keep costs down.
5. You want a better careers site but you can’t find the resources to get one made or you’re not sure how to maintain it
Two-thirds of all job seekers will go straight to your careers page when they’re interested in working for you. It makes good business sense to have an up-to-date and attractive careers page, it’s also the foundation of your employer brand. However, building and maintaining an effective careers page in-house just isn’t an option for all companies who may not have the time or resources.
One huge applicant tracking system benefit is that it’s easy to create a branded careers page with no coding required. Hiring tools, like Workable (whom we love and use), offer an online editor that gives you the tools you need to create a flexible design that’s always up to date with a list of your latest positions.
Pro tip! Make sure that you include as much info about your company culture as possible. Team pics, benefits, anything that gives someone a good idea of what your company values and culture is.
How to choose the right ATS for you
There is a huge variety of ATS’ to choose from, however, and only you will have the kind of insight into what will work best for you. However, it’s worth keeping these factors in mind when selecting a system that meets your business needs.
The right ATS will:
- Help you communicate easily within recruiting and hiring teams: There are a lot of people involved in each open position, and an ATS gives you the ability to send messages, create workflows, adjust statuses, and assign tasks to different people.
- Centralize applicant and open position information: Having all relevant information in one place prevents the risk of duplicate tasks, and gives everyone on your team an up-to-date view of all workflows.
- Generate actionable reports: ATS systems are great for automation, but you need to know exactly how your efforts are benefitting the recruitment process and areas where you can improve. Modern ATS systems provide insight into your KPIs, such as time to hire, to help you pinpoint areas for improvement.
Here’s a guide to several open-source, freeware and trial versions of different ATS’, along with tips on what they’re most useful for.
An ATS can never truly replace the human element, and we wouldn’t want it to. However, it is a vital tool for any time hiring. They’ll benefit your employer brand- since you’ll be known as a company that responds to all applicants. Most importantly, your hiring or HR team will have more time to focus on truly connecting with individuals and building a lasting, cohesive company culture.
As Tim Sackett says, “It’s such an exciting time to be in talent acquisition, the availability of world-class technology is transforming how we all recruit on a daily basis.”
Hiring and feeling swamped? Book a quick audit call with one of our Move team members here. We’re always happy to chat about your hiring needs, and how you can streamline your hiring process.