6 Steps to Understanding and Leveraging an Applicant Tracking System

Jamie Fryar
February 10, 2021

When you’re hiring for multiple positions, what happens?

Hiring for a job can be really overwhelming.  After posting your job you receive tons of applications and resumes through various job boards.
There can be a staggering amount of 'paperwork' to go through, and then comes the task of manually screening candidates and scheduling interviews. 

It’s a long, tedious process and can cost businesses a lot of time and money, and with the best candidates getting a lot of job offers within days, you need to make your recruiting process as efficient as possible. 

That’s where an applicant tracking system comes into play. It helps massively in streamlining your human capital management process, especially when your small business is growing. 

And it’s gaining a lot of popularity. 

According to research by Capterra, 75% of recruiters of hiring professionals use a recruiting or applicant tracking system software. 

But what is an applicant tracking system, and why does your small business even need one?
Let’s find out.


1 - What is an applicant tracking system?


Like the name suggests, an applicant tracking system is a tool that helps business owners streamline their hiring and employee data management process.

Instead of manually posting jobs online on various social platforms, going through resumes, screening candidates, cross-checking references, scheduling tests and interviews, and onboarding new employees, you can automate it all by using applicant tracking system software.

In short, an applicant tracking system definition is: software that helps you, or your HR team manage job applications more efficiently and effectively, while saving time, and keeping track of the best hires. 

And we’ve got numbers to back this claim. 94% of recruiters and hiring professionals say their ATS or recruiting software has positively impacted their hiring process.


2 - How do applicant tracking systems work?


When an interested candidate applies for your job through an applicant tracking system, all of their information is stored in the database and can be found under their name. 

This helps you make better hiring decisions, faster. 

This system also keeps candidates in the loop, sending them automated messages when their application is received, scheduling interviews, online tests, and letting them know when they’ve moved on to the next stage of the hiring process.


3 - What should an applicant tracking system do?


The best applicant tracking system software will do a lot more than just screen resumes - they become an essential part of your hiring and employee onboarding process. 

They,

  • Build custom job postings
  • Manage job postings on multiple online job boards 
  • Create an applicant pipeline to track candidates and review applications
  • Screen resumes to filter candidates
  • Allow candidates to view their application status
  • Allow easy and effective communication with all hiring team members
  • Allow video interviewing - this comes in handy especially in these COVID times
  • Store and manage applicant records on each candidate’s account
  • Kick off the onboarding process flawlessly
  • Collect and leverage employee data to better understand employee growth

So basically everything your hiring team does manually, an ATS helps them do it better and more efficiently.


4 - How should I choose an applicant tracking system?


Now the next step is choosing the correct applicant tracking system for your small business. Every business has different requirements and goals, so there’s no one-fit-all solution that can work for everyone. 

With a ton of applicant tracking systems available in the digital sphere, things can get a little confusing, fast. 


Here’s a 3-step process to help you make an informed decision.


Step 1 - Write down your hiring process.

  • What problems do you go through when starting the process and choosing the right candidates? 
  • Do you have high employee turnover and need to regularly look for new employees?
  • Do resumes get lost in your mail? 
  • Do you find it difficult to organize and manage all candidates data? 
  • Do you ultimately lose out on the best candidates?


Step 2 - Track your time.

  • How long does your hiring process take? 
  • Can you speed up the process and make it more efficient? 
  • Can you decrease the screening and resume filtering time? 
  • Would investing in an ATS system help you with the process?


Step 3 - Take it for a test drive.

Most applicant tracking systems offer a trial, otherwise known as a “sandbox” account the potential buyer can use where you can use it for a few days to see if it works for you. I would highly suggest you make use of this option and try it first. 

Get input from your HR team and ask them if working with an ATS has helped them make the hiring process easier and more efficient. 

And then make the decision accordingly.


5 - What features should I consider when choosing an ATS for my business? 


You need to choose an applicant tracking system based on your business's unique requirements. Understanding the goals and needs of your business before signing up for an ATS will help you achieve your goals! 

Every business is different, but these are some of the basic features you should consider when choosing an Applicant Tracking System for your business.


It integrates with existing apps.

Look for ATS software that integrates easily with your existing apps, tools or software suite.

At the very least you may want to consider a website integration so you can easily collect resumes through it. Ideally you select an applicant tracking system that can integrate with your existing software, or HR suite.  This will allow you to seamlessly bring applicants into your system.  Also consider if there are any other indispensable tools that your business uses like an HRIS, job boards, background checks, etc, make sure the ATS you choose integrates with those as well. 


It is easy to use.

The best applicant tracking systems are easy to use. You want your HR team to easily adopt this system and not have to go through a complicated learning curve. 


They provide a great candidate experience.

The last thing you want is for the right candidate to get frustrated with your Application Tracking System and abandon their application process. Unnecessary steps, lots of hoops to jump through, takes up too much of their time - these are all things you don’t want your ATS to do. 

So make sure that the ATS you choose is user-friendly and visually appealing.


It offers excellent customer support.

  • Can you escalate problems to support? 
  • Is their customer service team available when you need them or do they get back to you promptly? 
  • Are they friendly and approachable?

Go through customer reviews and find out if the ATS you’re choosing has fantastic customer support and takes customer criticisms constructively.

It is collaborative.

Look for ATS software that is highly collaborative and allows access to feedback from team members.


6 - How can using an applicant tracking system help my business? 


An applicant tracking system can save you time and money.

Did you know, according to the SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days?

Using an ATS software that automates the hiring process and helps you get the best person for the job massively decreases hiring cost and time. 

An applicant tracking system can get you the best candidates for the job.

Not only does it help you filter the best candidates out of the lot that applies, but also encourages passive candidates to apply for your job. 

How? 

By enabling employee referrals, using social media, online job boards, and making the job application process as easy as possible. 

It allows you to interview for soft skills.

Hiring for soft skills is now more important than ever. 

So instead of spending time and effort screening and filtering resumes, small businesses can focus on reviewing the soft skills of candidates, like leadership, creativity, and work ethic.

It helps you improve communication.

Improving communication between hiring managers and candidates is crucial. After all, unhappy candidates 'tell an average of three people' about their bad recruitment experience. Having an ATS in place ensures clear and effective communication between the hiring team and candidates applying for the job. 


Wrapping up.

If you are looking for an easy to use, integrated and flexible solution, we recommend using software like Push that integrates seamlessly with your HR system, as well as your entire workforce including Payroll!    If you are still on your hiring journey and need some more tips, check out the Ultimate Hiring Guide we created below.

 


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