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Applicant Tracking Systems: Why Your Business Needs One

Why are applicant tracking systems important to growing companies? This HR software saves time...

Alicia Castro
Senior Manager, Content & Communications at Personal Capital
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With automation at the forefront, the applicant tracking system can serve as the cornerstone for effective talent acquisition. Why are applicant tracking systems important to growing companies? This software makes hiring simpler, less expensive, and more efficient.

But not all ATS technology is created equal. There are hundreds of ATS providers offering varying capabilities to meet business needs based on a company’s size and industry. Research can be overwhelming, so we compiled a definitive buyers guide of the best ATS software with reviews, pricing models, and important features.

For those still on the fence, we’re going to cover the most valuable attributes of the ATS. From automation to actionable data, applicant tracking software is designed for people — from candidates to hiring managers and recruiters to members of the C-suite. However, it didn’t start out that way.

Benefits of applicant tracking systems

Improved efficiency, collaboration, and user experience are among the top benefits of an ATS. With powerful automation, this solution can help companies save both time and money in finding their next best employees. Let’s dive into a handful of the most potent advantages of the ATS.

  1. Drive recruiter efficiency

Recruiters are busy. For every listed job, they need to connect with hiring managers to understand the role, post to various job sites, track applicants, and ensure a quality candidate experience throughout the hiring process. With open roles receiving hundreds of online applicants, recruiters lose valuable time combing through unqualified candidates.

Enter the ATS — a tool that enables recruiters to identify essential skills and pre-screen candidates by selecting keywords that must appear on an applicant’s resume. Because it’s now so simple to apply to jobs, many people submit their candidacy just to see what may happen. The ATS weeds through these applications, and recruiters now need to read only 25% of submitted resumes.

Once an applicant passes through basic filters, an ATS provides process management tools like email templates, auto capture of applicant responses, and integrated calendaring. With basic tasks taken care of, recruiters can focus their time on higher impact responsibilities, like maintaining the human element in recruiting.

  1. Enable employee collaboration

In order to choose the best candidate for a role, recruiters and hiring managers need to be able to communicate effectively. An ATS centralizes information — from detailed search criteria to applicant profiles to interview notes. This way, valuable information won’t fall through the cracks.

Noviopus ATS dashboard
Source: https://noviopus.com/smart-applicant-tracking/

The best ATS solutions also allow employees to recommend their peers to the company. Consistently, employee referrals rank as the best source of candidates in terms of quality, speed, cost, and retention. With an ATS, hiring managers and other employees can also easily share jobs with their social networks — widening recruiters’ reach with a personal touch.

  1. Elevate the candidate experience

Although today’s job seekers apply to many roles, they still expect a simple, straightforward, and warm application process.

Let’s start with ease. Applicants will drop the process if it’s too cumbersome, but a few ATS-enabled measures can help. Candidates should be able to:

  • Apply with social profiles like LinkedIn or GitHub
  • Go through a simple mobile application process
  • Apply to a specific job or join a talent pool

Many of today’s ATS solutions integrate with popular job sites like LinkedIn. With the click of a button, applicants can import data from their online accounts.

The ATS also allows for automated email communications, such as notifying candidates that their application was received, scheduling interviews, and following up with unsuccessful candidates.

It’s important to keep in mind that applicants will remember how they were treated — regardless of the eventual hiring outcome. If their expectation is clear and prompt communication, then an ATS can help by automating simple emails and organizing the rest.

  1. Leverage actionable data

A solid ATS provides customizable dashboards that showcase a wide variety of key performance indicators. From hiring manager activity to recruiter productivity, an ATS can help leadership teams make informed decisions related to talent acquisition.

Avature ATS dashboard
Source: https://www.avature.net/applicant-tracking-system/

Of note, applicant tracking solutions can also ensure compliance with workplace discrimination laws while capturing and storing confidential information.

  1. Lean on continued ATS software support

Choosing an ATS provider is only the beginning. Today’s systems can be tailored to support unique recruiting workflows or changes in hiring processes.

From the onset, the ATS should also be able to migrate data and integrate existing tools, such as corporate email and website solutions, as well as talent pool databases and onboarding software. In those instances when technology does not sync, the system provider should be available to offer support. It’s vital to vet potential vendors, not only for their functionality but also for their customer service.

Choosing your ATS vendor

When it comes time for the ATS demos, our 300 questions to ask vendors can help drill down to the finer points of each system. We recommend taking the time to identify a handful of must-haves in applicant tracking software.

Remember, vendors serve as ongoing partners in talent acquisition. Be sure to do due diligence by:

  • Researching top picks on review sites and across social media
  • Asking to review financial statements
  • Reading case studies and following up with current customers

Within a recruitment technology stack, an ATS can be the linchpin for recruiting programs. These solutions are only improving with refined capabilities in sourcing, talent re-discovery, and analytics.

If a new ATS isn’t in your budget, we compiled reviews of the top free applicant tracking systems.

Alicia Castro
Senior Manager, Content & Communications at Personal Capital
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Alicia Castro was previously on the content team for Avature, one of the best applicant tracking systems per SSR's research (even long before we met Alicia!). After leaving Avature, Alicia was kind enough to share her recruiting and HR Tech insights with the SSR readership via various blogs and reviews on recruiting tools. She is currently the senior manager of content and communications at Personal Capital and has been a multimedia journalist and tech researcher for ten years.

Featured in: Personal Capital

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