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What is an Applicant Tracking System?

Published by Marketing on

Welcome to Recruiting Made Easy. In this series, we review some frequently asked recruitment questions. We cover recruiting processes, technology and regulation. First in the series: What is an Applicant Tracking System? 

If you work in HR or Internal Recruitment, you may have heard of or used an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). But what does an ATS do and why is having one so important to recruiting success? Read on for the basics or check out the free ATS Buyer Guide if you are selecting an applicant tracking system.

So, What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An ATS helps any employer to manage and automate the recruitment process. It provides a secure, central repository for candidate data, including their CVs and applications. It should help you at every stage in the recruiting process, including advertising, shortlisting, interviews, employment offers and on-boarding. An Applicant Tracking System makes recruiting more efficient and more successful.

Who should use an ATS?

Everyone! A good Applicant Tracking System upgrades your entire recruiting operation so it becomes more productive, profitable and efficient. It doesn’t matter whether your organisation is big or small. Benefits vary, but employers using an ATS often mention the following:

  • Automated access to free advertising options
  • An easier, more inclusive application process for jobseekers
  • Higher percentage of relevant job applications
  • Savings of up to 90% on administration time
  • More efficient, more transparent on-boarding
  • Easy recruiting compliance and reducing confidential waste

Employers using an ATS report more placements in less time and at lower cost than employers without one. 

Is an ATS the right choice for recruitment companies?

Recruitment companies recruit for their clients so they need a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). A CRM helps to manage prospects and customer communications, including new job orders.

Recruiting software for recruitment companies combines some ATS and some CRM functions. So, employers should find an ATS made for employers rather than one for recruitment companies. An employer ATS is more focused on internal recruiting requirements, including:

  • Flexible options for applicant data capture including criminal convictions, disability, existing relationship with current staff member, etc.
  • Flexible distribution of Manager vs HR responsibilities.
  • Shortlisting options to support compliance and fair recruitment.
  • Stronger team reporting and management options.

In HR and internal recruitment, you don’t need CRM features, so always choose an ATS for employers.

Find the best Applicant Tracking System for you

Let’s help you work out how you recruit today. Then you’ll be in a better position to choose the best ATS for your organisation.

  • How do you recruit now? Record each recruiting step.
  • How often do you perform each recruiting step?
  • Identify the steps that take most time.
  • Note down what you do well and want to preserve.
  • Think about what you what you would like to do better.
  • Summarise what you want others to do better.
  • Note any critical recruiting or compliance issues to resolve.

Your notes form the basis of an ATS wish list. That puts you in a better position to start looking for the best ATS to meet your requirements. 

Does the ATS make recruiting easy?

Here are some questions you should ask before you select your ATS:

  • Does the ATS specialise with organisations just like yours?
    Applicant Tracking System providers specialising in your market understand recruiting scenarios that you haven’t yet thought of.
  • Is the applicant tracking system genuinely easy to use?
    Getting full value from an ATS means using it. So, the easier it is, the more you’ll get from it. Try to avoid systems that require training for infrequent users like some line managers.
  • Can the ATS post vacancies onto job boards that candidates use?
    Look for MultiPost functions that include free-to-post resources like Indeed, Google for Jobs, GOV Find a Job and Adzuna. Check out other national, local and specialist job board connections too.
  • Can candidates apply for jobs easily?
    You want people to apply for jobs easily, so they require easy access from any device. Applicants can come from job boards, your website, social media and other places, so check out all the routes.
  • Is the system quick and easy to implement?
    Look for an ATS that is simple to implement. Try to avoid an ATS that requires service or system fees when you alter the way you work.
Recruiting functions, compliance and reporting

Here are some of the more complex questions you should ask before you select your ATS:

  • Does the applicant tracking system help with repetitive communication?
    Writing the same response each time takes too much time. Look for an ATS with flexible templates to personalise candidate communication at every recruitment step.
  • Is the ATS application form flexible enough to meet your requirements?
    You may work with just a candidate CV. You require much more information to meet regulatory requirements like safer recruitment. Make sure an ATS can capture what you need from applicants.
  • Will the system help you with fair recruitment and remaining lawful?
    Can the ATS capture and manage protected characteristics to ensure that your organisation can defend against discrimination.
  • Will the ATS provide useful management information?
    You’ll want to know where your candidates have seen your vacancies, how long your shortlisting takes and other information that helps you make better recruiting choices.

Do you want to go a little deeper into the applicant tracking subject? Check out the free ATS Buyer Guide before choosing the best ATS for your organisation.


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