The thought of shopping for ATS software probably fills you with dread, and understandably so. Over the last three decades, these systems have done little to earn any love among buyers and users. But that is changing quickly, especially for small-to-medium businesses.
What started in the 1990s as a bulky solution designed almost exclusively to address operational challenges within the HR function has evolved to present everyone from hiring managers to jobseekers with a much more usable, affordable, and lightweight technology.
Thanks to advances in cloud computing and the onslaught of new vendors that came with it, today’s ATS software is vastly more powerful and richer in features, thus enabling SMB’s to perform high-end activities such as recruitment marketing, candidate-job ad relevancy matching, social campaigns, and omnichannelling.
On the other hand, the proliferation of ATS software suppliers also presents decision-makers with a challenging predicament: understanding which applicant tracking system is best for business.
Choosing Your ATS Software: What’s Best for My Business
Just like buying a car, it is critical to do your homework before ever stepping onto the lot and getting pressured to close the deal. Knowing precisely what you want will help you evaluate ATS software vendors and solutions quickly, and determine whether to walk away or engage further.
At a minimum you should be clear on your budget, the problem you need solved, the online experience you want, and the features you must have. But to really do your due diligence, you need to apply the same level of care to evaluating different technologies that you do to wooing top talent to your organization. Here are three steps to assure that your discernment skills are sharp:
Step 1: Determine what your pain points are, specifically.
Resist the urge to create a gripe list panning anything and everything that has ever gone wrong with your current system. Instead, be specific about which mechanisms are not working, and especially the ones that consistently make life difficult and demand disproportionate amounts of your attention. Here are a few common pain points, and many organizations are likely to have unique ones in addition to these.
Common pain points in hiring and recruiting
- Not enough high-quality candidates
- Too many unqualified candidates
- Good candidates getting hired out from underneath you
- Excessive time to fill open positions
- Too many good candidates withdrawing or accepting other offers
- Candidate pool too small
- Applications from high-quality candidates get lost in the system and are never seen by recruiters or hiring managers
- High volume of seasonal or temporary job openings; system maxed out on what it can handle, and next wave is imminent
- Excessive time spent on administrative tasks, busy work, or pushing papers; cutting into face time with candidates
- Searching, screening, and communicating with candidates is handled manually
- Receiving more resumes than existing system can handle; cannot manage volume efficiently
- Multiple touches with candidates but unable to keep records from all of them in one place
- Posting to multiple job boards manually
- Difficulty communicating with candidates concisely, promptly, and effectively
- Need to track and report compliance activities regularly
- Need to measure the effectiveness of the recruiting and hiring process
- Poor internal communication / collaboration between stakeholders, especially hiring managers and recruiters
- Nobody owns the recruiting or hiring process
- Reinventing the wheel for each hire, or each hiring cycle
Step 2: Map your pain points to your entire hiring funnel, not just your hiring process.
In other words, map out your steps for moving candidates from the periphery into your organization’s core. What is your structure for finding them, enticing them to apply, selecting those with whom to speak in person, interviewing them, clearing them for employment, and finally onboarding them? Keep in mind you don’t really have a successful hire until both feet are in the door.
Now is the time for your organization to be brutally honest with itself about what and how it is doing along each step in the funnel, and which areas most need attention. Look at your funnel holistically. Do your pain points affect multiple areas of your hiring funnel? Can one ATS software solution address multiple pain points, or is another kind of software needed entirely? And are there problems that cannot be addressed by any kind of software?
Step 3: Determine the needle you really want to move.
That will be one of the first questions you will be asked by those who have an interest in your ATS software decisions. But it will have taken quite a bit of reflection on your pain points and hiring funnel before you can translate your biggest pain points into one or two measurements. Look especially for measurements likely to be associated with tangible improvements that everyone in your organization would recognize.
Making the Business Case for Your Executives
HR no longer needs to defer to IT in making a business case to senior management. That’s a good thing, but it puts HR squarely on the hook for building a business case to invest in ATS software. HR often struggles with this, frequently adducing HR metrics rather than business metrics by which executives make many of their investment decisions.
To make an effective case, you need to think in terms of enabling the company to execute on its strategy and create business value through the acquisition and sourcing of talented candidates. Here are some suggestions on what to include when persuading your executives to invest in ATS software:
- Improve efficiency: reduce time to hire, reduce time to proficiency, eliminate unnecessary or redundant processes throughout the hiring funnel, automate manual processes
- Reduce costs: reduce hiring costs, reduce lost / forgone productivity, reduce turnover / increase retention
- Reduce risk: bad hires, compliance, key staff departure, project failure due to insufficient staffing
- Improve recruiting / hiring performance: higher yield, higher bench strength, improved succession plans, reduced number of unfilled key roles
- Improve reporting (compliance, internal accountability, corporate governance): greater transparency of hiring performance to key stakeholders; greater managerial control over the HR business function
- Enhance the company and employer brand: improve online reputation, improve online brand advocacy campaigns, become an employer of choice, increase candidate quality
- Contribute to strategic goals: adequate staffing and sourcing to execute on revenue, market, product, investment initiatives
ATS software has improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Sophisticated recruiting and hiring tools once affordable only to Fortune 500 companies are now readily available to SMB’s, enabling them to compete for the same talent.
Both jobseekers and business users enjoy a much more pleasant online experience. And HR and recruiters can now decide for themselves what technology is most suitable. Doing so for your organization requires solid pain point analysis and cost-benefit analysis.
Start sizing up MightyRecruiter today, the free ATS software that helps you quickly and easily post jobs to multiple job boards, source and manage candidates, screen out poor fit applicants, and stay EEO compliant throughout the recruiting process.