What Is an Applicant Tracking System?

ATSs can streamline your recruiting process and help you stay in compliance.

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Use these key ATS features to attract top talent

Used by over 98% of Fortune 500 companies, applicant tracking systems (ATS) support human resources by streamlining the recruiting process. The purpose of an ATS is essentially to weed out the least qualified applicants for a job, so recruiters can spend time reviewing and interviewing the best potential candidates. But ATSs offer a lot more than resume ranking. Serving as a central repository for all candidate information, ATSs make it easy to access resumes and correspond with candidates, as well as write job posts and push postings to various sites.

Much like selecting any piece of software, choosing an ATS can be overwhelming. Here are the key features of the best ATSs, and what you should look for.

Key features of an ATS

Automation

At the core of their functionality to human resources, ATSs relieve recruiters of the burden of manually handling the application process. By using an ATS, recruiters can write a single job post and push it to multiple job boards and social media sites. The ATS pulls all of the applications from various sources into a single, easy-to-access place, and then ranks them. Consistent and timely communication with candidates is simplified through email templates and automated prompts for recruiters.

By using an ATS, recruiters can write a single job post and push it to multiple job boards and social media sites. The ATS pulls all of the applications from various sources into a single, easy-to-access place, and then ranks them.

Mobile accessibility

On-the-go access makes everyone’s life easier, and helps organizations tap into a wider talent pool. According to Glassdoor, 58% of its users are searching for jobs from their smartphones.

With a mobile-friendly ATS, applicants can search for jobs and apply directly from their smartphones, whether job hunting through the careers page on your website or using a search platform like Glassdoor or LinkedIn Careers. And recruiters can schedule interviews, pull resumes, and access messaging from anywhere. Since clear and consistent communication is an essential part of a great candidate experience, enabling your recruiters to communicate with candidates will help you reach the best possible talent.

Reporting

You want an ATS that reflects the data-driven reality of HR today with robust reporting tools and capabilities. The cold hard numbers generated by an ATS will give you the information you need to make impactful recruiting decisions.

For example, with talent source reports, you can identify which source, e.g., employee referrals, social media sites, job search platforms, or direct application through your careers page, is yielding the best recruits and hires. HR can then adjust their recruiting strategies and manage resources accordingly, like investing in paid job ads or improving employer branding. Similarly, recruiting process reports will help teams identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks in their recruiting process, like delays in time-to-hire — a notoriously costly occurrence.

Integrations

Part of the power of an ATS lies in its ability to integrate with other systems, sites, and services. When you’re considering an ATS for your business, look for these integrations.

  • Job search boards: Integrations with job search boards allow you to publish job postings and collect and organize applications directly from sites like Monster, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn Jobs.
  • Social media: In recent years, social media platforms have become a boon for recruiters, especially in creative industries like copywriting, branding, and design. With social media integrations, recruiters can publish job postings directly to social media sites through the ATS to reach the widest and most targeted audience.
  • Email: Even if you’re primarily corresponding with candidates through your ATS’ messaging feature, you’ll want email integration so you can access messages through your inbox and sent folders.
  • HRIS: Help your HR team avoid the frustrations of siloed information and repetitive data entry with an ATS that integrates with your company HRIS.

Clean UX

Select an ATS that offers a clean and intuitive UX, for both the candidates and the employees who will be using the software.
Attract and engage future employees with a stellar user experience (UX) from their first interaction with your company — the application. Consumer-grade experiences are the standard across all technologies and services today, whether for personal or professional use. Users don’t have the patience for a clunky and cumbersome online experience, and if candidates are forced to go through superfluous steps like having to create a user profile or enter redundant information, they are more likely to abandon their application.

A seamless UX on the backend for employees who are using the system will encourage recruiters to take advantage of all the powerful features the ATS has to offer. Select an ATS that offers a clean and intuitive UX, for both the candidates and the employees who will be using the software.

Strong search

ATSs are a powerful tool for HR and recruiting teams as they serve as a centralized place from which to manage the hiring process and access applicant information. But without sophisticated search capabilities, employees won’t be able to find what they need when they need it.

Boolean search is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords with modifiers for highly tailored results.

Select an ATS with strong search capabilities that allow you to quickly and easily screen and filter through all the applications your company receives and stores. The best ATSs make it easy to filter by many different criteria, like name, applicant location, and education level, and include options for Boolean search. Boolean search is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords with modifiers for highly tailored results. For example, with Boolean search, recruiters could search resumes for “administrative assistant AND payroll operator.”

Compliance

Protect yourself against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) violations by selecting an ATS that helps remove bias from the recruiting process with features like minimum application requirements, reason for non-selection, and post-interview scorecards.

Recruiters can also help protect the company from claims of hiring discrimination by keeping meticulous notes throughout the application process and storing these in candidate profiles. If your business has government contracts or subcontracts, an ATS can also help with OFCCP compliance and help you avoid costly fines.

Benefits for candidates and recruiters

The right ATS will net your company great recruits, plus a whole lot more. Candidates benefit from a simplified application process, while recruiters benefit from a streamlined recruiting process at every step of the way.

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