Applicant Tracking Basics - What to Consider When Selecting an ATS

Published on 1/7/2015 by Heidi Green

Categories: Recruiting Software Blog

Tags: applicant trackingapplicant tracking basicsapplicant tracking systemATSbuyers guidesystem requirements

*Be sure to check out last week's article Why You Need an ATS

You've come to the realization that your organization needs an Applicant Tracking System, but where do you begin in deciding which system is best for your company? Simplicant breaks down each point of consideration to help find the most strategic, efficient and cost-effective option.

Your Company's Unique Business Requirements
Don't sign on to the first applicant tracking system you come across, or choose one based on what your competitor uses. Companies have varying needs that can be met by different features provided by each ATS. Many systems have online tutorials or quick 15 minute presentations available to better understand their unique features and uses. Prior to meeting with vendors, be sure to list out the top criteria you are looking for (and why) in order to select the right match for your organization.

Quality and Ease of Communication
Depending on the size of your organization and HR department, the ability to collaborate with multiple users may or may not be important. If there is only one recruiter at your small company, a massive, high-tech platform with a hefty price tag is not what you need. However, if you have multiple recruiters and managers working together to fill positions, the way an ATS allows you to communicate internally and externally can be a deal-breaker. Ask the right questions about how system administrators work, how the ATS will integrate with employee calendars and email and the ways information from the ATS can be shared.

Candidate Experience, Career Site and Employer Branding
This is a crucial consideration. For every step in the recruitment process, a certain portion of applicants take themselves out of the running. Do you have a 10-page online application? Don't expect an abundance of job seekers to answer all the tedious questions you require. Be sure to select a tracking system that allows a candidate to easily flow through the application. A proper ATS should also have the ability to integrate or align itself with your company website and branding. It's not just a hiring process for you, it's a candidate experience for them.

Social Media Recruiting
If you are unable to harness the power of social media through your ATS, you should think about looking elsewhere. Social media is the single-most important tool in recruiting most positions in today's world. If there is not an effective integration of social media, shop elsewhere for an ATS.

Employee Referrals
The advantage of sourcing through employee referrals is nothing new. The theory goes that great employees associate with great potentials, therefore when your A-Player employee recommends someone, you take note. Sourcing and hiring through employee referrals is a critical component to talent management. You should definitely understand the capabilities of employee referral components for the ATS system you choose. The process to refer someone should be as seamless (and painless) as possible. 

Quick and Accurate Candidate Search
This may seem basic, but the search functions of an ATS can make or break the overall usability for your organization. If you specifically look for candidates with competitor experience, you need a way to search for that criteria throughout the system. Pay attention during the presentation or free trial to how applications are searched and what options are available in this area.

Ease of Integration
Current records and employee information will most likely already be in an existing system. Integrating the right information from one system to the other is important to consider. 

Increased Task and Workflow Automation
Automated processes is the whole point of implementing an ATS, but how automated it is may make a difference. If everything flows but there are no notifications, reminders, or the ability to fully track the hiring process, the platform won't do you much good. The ATS should not just automate process, but also improve workflow.

Data Migration
So you think you've found the best solution for your needs. How do you get all your current applicants and records into the system? If you are using a current ATS, can you migrate the information from one system with the other? Finding the right ATS solution is key, but don't forget to ask about migration. It won't do you much good if it will take you years to merge your records or if you are forced to keep up two systems instead of one.

Better Quality of Hires
"A SaaS based and comprehensive recruiting software platform provides companies with the ability to drive multiple recruitment initiatives from one platform - with centralized applicant and resume tracking. The ability to leverage multiple sources to tap high quality talent and to collaboratively review applications provides an opportunity for valuable analysis and improvements. A good applicant tracking system not only makes it easier for all stakeholders to store, organize, and access critical information at any time, but also offers insights into those candidate qualities that your company is seeking. This information and the organized process around can help your company develop and implement a targeted recruiting and hiring strategy. It not only helps improve the quality of hires but can also cut down on the cost-per-hire, resulting in a better, faster and cost-effective hiring process."

Finding and implementing an ATS is tedious, but in the end it is a crucial decision that will affect the future hiring process. Step one is to do your research. So take your time, ask the right questions and get ready to make some quality hires!


Traci Kingery, PHR is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in immigration and talent management. When she's not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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