The process of hiring a new employee has completely transformed over the years. Paper applications are becoming a rarity, much like finding a needle in a haystack; as more and more job applicants look online for opportunities, businesses are turning to applicant tracking systems — which are usually part of talent management systems — to find and sort candidates.
ATS solutions offer numerous benefits to small and medium-sized businesses, making their recruitment and hiring tasks much more efficient. So it comes as no surprise that applicant tracking systems, sometimes referred to as applicant tracking software, have become increasingly popular, with more companies realizing just how easy hiring can become if the right system is put in place. In this article, we explore the top ATS requirements and features to consider when adopting such software.
Where to Start
There are still plenty of challenges when choosing the right ATS solution. Organizations are all different and have their own complexities, so choosing the right applicant tracking system can be quite an overwhelming task. By knowing the key features of ATS software solutions and having your specific ATS system requirements laid out ahead of time, you can make the process of choosing an ATS much less cumbersome.
This article will focus on the most important aspects and features of ATS software. We have also provided a number of questions that you can ask vendors about their applicant tracking systems. Hopefully, the information in this guide will help you make the right decision and find the applicant tracking software that best fits the needs of your business.
If you are going to deploy ATS recruitment, then near the top of your list of requirements should be how well it integrates and what it integrates with. Most systems already integrate with job boards like Monster and Indeed, but you want your system to go further than that.
Background Checks: Is there full integration with reputable background check providers? What about the one that you use?
Office Productivity: How well does the ATS integrate with popular tools such as Zapier and Slack? Will it integrate with the productivity tool that you use?
Employee Retention: Will the ATS screen and qualify candidates?
Google Apps: Does it integrate with Google Apps? Many businesses use Google Apps, if you are one of them consider whether or not your ATS can integrate.
Social Media: How well does the ATS integrate with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter? Are there any other social media platforms that it integrates with?
LinkedIn: Integration with LinkedIn is essential, so the integration should be deep. Can you use your LinkedIn account to log in to the ATS and post job ads to your network? Are you able to connect seamlessly to your LinkedIn Recruiter account and post ads? What about buying a LinkedIn job ad directly? Can you use LinkedIn Cross Awareness so a hiring team can fully view LinkedIn profiles within the ATS?
Range of Analytics
You want to be able to see a complete overview of your recruitment efforts, so it’s important to figure out if the ATS software has the necessary capabilities. Having the right tools is essential to get the most out of your recruitment efforts. All of the steps in your recruitment process need to be visible as well as repeatable.
There is a lot more to recruitment analytics than just having things to measure. The analytics should answer all of the questions that you have about your recruitment process. You need to use it to make changes that improve the way you are recruiting.
Still, different companies will have different ATS requirements for recruiting analytics. Here are some suggestions:
Cost Per Hire: Most organizations will want to know this, while some are outright obsessed with it. The problem with cost per hire is that it can be interpreted differently, so the more specific your ATS can be, the better.
Planning: Time to fill is important, and helps organizations better organize their recruitment.
Efficiency: How long on average does it take your organization to hire? Can the ATS tell you this?
Candidate Sourcing: For each hire, you want your ATS to tell you how many qualified candidates were in the mix. Does your ATS filter and sort candidates based on resume qualifications?
Number of Interviews: Does your ATS record the number of interviews that took place for each hire?
You need to know the degree of flexibility that a potential applicant tracking system will offer when it comes to custom reporting and providing high-level visualizations. A lot of ATS systems allow you to analyze areas such as candidate sources and candidate flow, exporting the data into an Excel spreadsheet.
Then there is compliance with US laws for equal opportunities, such as EEO. Doing this manually can be time-consuming and stressful, and thus an ATS can make your recruiting process much easier if it has EEO reporting built in.
Time to Fill
Time to Hire
Better Candidate Experience
Being on the job hunt is already a tiring and time-consuming ordeal, so you don’t want to turn away quality candidates by adding a lengthy application process. An online application process that exceeds 10 minutes can potentially cause you to miss out on half of the qualified candidates.
Your ATS can also allow for better communication with applicants throughout the entire hiring process. Many applicants, whether it’s after submitting an application or following an interview, are left to sit in limbo as they wait hopefully to hear back from their potential employer. Employers can use ATS to keep candidates updated and allow them to track their status in the hiring process.
Some ATS allow for a self-scheduling process as well. This allows the candidate to enter in their available times and see what matches up with the hiring manager’s schedule, preventing scheduling errors.
Don’t turn away quality candidates due to a sloppy career page. Think about whether or not the ATS provides an intuitive, user-friendly experience for the candidate.
Personal Note Taking
What about when something goes wrong or you get stuck? When issues are experienced, it’s best to deal with them as quickly as possible. A down or faulty site could potentially lead to a number of missed applicants who decided to move on to the next position. Depending on the vendor, the level of customer support and hours of availability may vary. Does the vendor charge extra to provide customer support? Is 24/7 support something you need?
Another thing to think about is whether or not you’ll need your software to be available to you while on the move. Mobile apps can be used to recruit potential employees and can allow users to get small tasks done away from the office or computer.
You can have the most advanced recruitment functions and facilities in the world, but none of that matters if the system is down. All systems are bound to go down from time to time, so you need to be confident that the vendor behind the ATS is responsive and will resolve problems swiftly.
Ask ATS vendors to show you metrics of their uptime and downtime. Does the vendor have scheduled downtime for upgrades and fixes? If so, when does it occur? Many applicant tracking system providers send out notifications ahead of time as to when the system will be down.
Installation & Setup
Just as customer support is important, so too is your ATS’s level of protection. There are some very good cloud-based ATS solutions available, but if these are deployed, then the question of security must be addressed.
Depending on the ATS, the level of security may vary. To ensure that your data is going to be safe, consider asking potential vendors a few questions:
- Does the ATS vendor schedule penetration and security testing by a third party with a good reputation on a regular basis?
- Are there uptime guarantees provided by the ATS vendor in the form of service level agreements (SLAs)?
- In the case of a distributed denial of service attack, does the ATS vendor have an alternative mitigation infrastructure?
- Can the vendor provide historical uptime percentages for their ATS solution?
On-premise ATS solutions are typically much harder to hack, although you’ll need your own IT team capable of maintaining the software and handling support. On-premise servers allow users to access the software even when internet is not available. There are advantages that come with an on-premise server, but depending on the size of your business and capabilities of your IT department, you may prefer to choose a vendor which provides customer support so you don’t have to deal with it.
Data Encryption & Protection
Control User Access Levels
Ownership of Data
So, who owns the data? While it seems obvious that it’s your data, therefore you own it, some ATS vendors may not see that to be the case. For that reason, you need to be abundantly clear on the issue from the beginning. Some vendors put data roadblocks in the way, making it difficult to transfer to another ATS vendor should you decide to do so.
You’ll never be able to benefit fully from your new applicant tracking system if the search facility provided isn’t up to the mark. You want to be able to use your candidate database to the fullest extent, so a powerful and all-embracing search function is a must.
What’s the minimum that you should be able to search for? Well, you have to be able to search for candidates by name, education, skills, work experience (including job description) and headlines. How does the search work? Will it extract data from resumes, summaries and cover letters?
Ask your ATS vendors about their search capabilities, and find out whether universal search, as well as semantic and natural language searches, are part of the package. Many ATS solutions allow employers to filter candidates by searching for keywords or phrases within their resume.
How about the support functionality of the ATS? Does it have a knowledge base that’s easily searchable to find a solution to your problem? Are there prompts available, or an autocomplete facility that brings up relevant support documents so that you can move forward?
Some ATS systems will allow for customization of software features, but be aware that requires you to go in and edit the actual code within your system. Examples include customized employment forms and candidate letter templates as well as reporting. Certain company’s may opt for a customizable ATS solution, but with that comes greater difficulty when it becomes time for upgrades.
When customization isn’t an option, you can choose an ATS with configuration built in. Configuration uses tools already existing within the software to personalize the system to meet a business’s needs. This could include anything from assigning specific users to displaying data using a different method.
You should have the flexibility in your ATS to invite different members of your hiring team that have different levels of authority. For example, you should be able to appoint an administrator, a hiring team manager and normal team members, which all have different privileges and permissions to edit.
How does the proposed ATS solution handle hiring information that’s classified? You want your ATS solution to have hierarchies that are adjustable within a hiring team. Ensure that candidates are unable to see private comments made by team members, and there should be a way to make certain notes only visible to specific team members.
Manage User Access
Create and Save Templates
Manage Notifications & Alerts
The hiring process has changed drastically over the past couple decades. Recruiters who aren’t using an ATS to aid them with the hiring process are not only creating more work for themselves, but they are missing out on qualified candidates as well.
There are many applicant tracking system features that provide benefits for both the employer and the candidate. A better candidate experience paired with a more efficient and structured hiring process is a win-win.
Remember, although many ATS vendors provide some of the same features, there are differences between them all. Knowing your business’s goals and ATS requirements is crucial when considering which solution to implement. Make sure to research and compare vendors in order to make the decision that’s best for your business.
Are there any key features or applicant tracking system requirements we missed? Let us know in the comments!