Choosing an applicant tracking system (or ATS) is no walk down the cereal aisle. It’s the dashboard of the recruiter’s day-to-day tracking and communication, and it can be downright tough to pick one applicant tracking system over another.
I caught up with 9 leaders who hire to clarify what should go into the decision making of choosing an ATS. Here’s what they had to say.
ATS Buying Decision Makers
“The biggest factors in choosing an ATS are related to the size and growth plans of your company, how your company recruits candidates, and cost. ATSs vary widely in function and scope; some are designed for companies going through hypergrowth, while others are designed for companies undergoing more stable rates of growth. In addition, some ATSs assume that most of your candidate pool is derived from passive candidates, while others assume you rely mostly on inbound candidates and employee referrals. Ultimately, it’s important to match your use case with right ATS solution, at the price point that makes sense for your organization.” Sarah Dabby, Head of Talent at ClickTime
“With the forthcoming launch of our full website and a new online application system (obviously a huge piece of what we do — managing a large network of social media Influencers), this has been a major consideration for us. Companies in similar positions must determine if their needs can be met by a mainstream ATS, or if they should make the investment in developing a custom platform. While this can be a big commitment, it substantially outweighs the negative impact on their internal processes of investing in the wrong applicant software.” Dexter Tarbox, CEO of SocianSelect.
“There are four distinct stages to the applicant lifecycle—recruiting, managing the applicant workflow and interview process, hiring and onboarding, and then the human resources information system once they are an employee. Not all applicant tracking systems manage all four phases, and most only specialize in one or two stages, so it’s critical to understand your needs in each phase and how they match up, as well as how easy it is to integrate with any other systems you’re using for the things they don’t do. The goal of an ATS is to streamline your hiring process as much as possible, but that can’t happen if it doesn’t easily connect with your other software tools. Find out if they have an open API or what integrations are already built in so you can think about your employee management process holistically, rather than ending up with a fragmented system that doesn’t actually make your life easier.” – Roi Stone, Executive Vice President of TazWorks.
“About a year ago I invested a lot of time in choosing an ATS. After a lot of research and investment in setting up trials, I settled on a popular ATS SaaS product. As we went through implementation, it quickly became apparent that everything the ATS did could be hacked together with free tools. Retrospectively, the decision that we needed an ATS was a lazy one — what we really needed was to put some real thought into what kind of process made sense for our company!” – Skot Carruth CEO of Philosophie.
“I want something that is easy to use, or it just will not end up being used. I want it to be easy to maintain and modify as necessary, or we won’t continue it, it won’t work as well. The bottom line is I look for a solution that I feel will be used long term and is scalable to our growth.” Bradley Shaw, CEO of SEO Expert Brad Inc.
HR Tech Influencers
“Choosing an ATS is important based on a few factors. First, what level of recruiting are you doing? If you are doing 10+ years experience recruiting or technical recruiting, you probably don’t need an ATS that also posts to job boards; you instead need one that integrates with LinkedIn and other ways to attract passive candidates. Next, you need to determine its purpose. Will it be active open positions, replacing current people, or creating a pipeline for future talent? If you need it for active positions, you will also want an ATS that posts to job boards and includes a customized careers website.” – Christy Hopkins PHR, is a Human Resources consultant and writer at Fit Small Business
“The two most critical requirements they [all ATSs] almost all agree upon are communication workflows and automation.” – Michael Shearer Marketing Operations Director at SelectHub, the technology selection platform.
“In most cases a great candidate experience boils down to communicating to candidates regularly about the selection process and where they stand in the process. ATSs should provide an easy and automated method for managing candidates in the hiring process. It should be not only a great experience for recruiters, but for the candidates as well. An ATS with poorly created process steps can create the proverbial black hole of recruiting that irritates so many candidates. There are numerous elements to the candidate experience, but if you can get the communication piece right, it solves many of the issues with a poor experience. Companies who are leading in this area are even creating talent networks to keep HiPo (high potential) candidates engaged with the company as they wait for the perfect role to open just for them.” – Kyle Bruss, Director of Talent Acquisition for Talent Plus, Inc., a candidate assessment provider, integrates with a number of applicant tracking systems.
“With current technology, most ATSs will have the essential functions of retaining files, reporting, and candidate email communication. I focus on the candidate experience and the hiring manager experience in making my decision – you can’t afford to lose time and interest on either end of that process so a good user experience will increase both your pipeline and manager involvement. For high-volume recruiting (call centers, technicians, customer service), I look for a mobile application functionality to drive more traffic to the company.” – Dorris Hollingsworth President of Evergreen HR Group, who has implemented several ATS into companies in the last 15 years.