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What is ATS Software?

By: Dave Rietsema
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What is ATS Software

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software is recruiting software that can process dozens or even hundreds of applications in a fraction of the time it would take a recruiter or hiring manager to do the same manually. ATS systems use algorithms to automatically find applicants that are the best fit for a job posting.

ATS software can also help hiring teams coordinate with one another, streamlining the hiring process and improving the experience for everyone involved.

How Does an ATS Work?

Each system varies, but most applicant tracking systems utilize keywords to sort and rank applications or resumes. Hiring managers can choose keywords to find matches in submitted applications, helping distinguish most qualified candidates whose work experience is most closely aligned with qualifications in a job posting.

Applicant tracking systems are known for their ability to import resumes and weed out unqualified applicants. However, applicant tracking systems can also be used in every aspect of the recruiting process, including posting jobs, creating email marketing, and tracking potential candidates. 

An ATS works as a filter for applications and resumes. If a company receives dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of applications, an ATS can sort through them all to find the ones those most relevant to certain filters applied by a hiring manager. It does this by dividing the resume or application into parts, such as education, work experience, and skills. It then scans those sections and selects the ones with the highest amount of keyword or filter matches. Once an application is approved by an ATS, it is recommended to the hiring manager. 

But that’s not where an ATS stops being useful. A recruiter or hiring manager can use an ATS to reach out to qualified candidates, keep their information organized, and even save the applicants they deem most qualified. Team members can also use the centralized system to offer feedback and notes on interviewees, as well as to schedule follow-up interviews. 

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Why Do I Need an ATS?

ATS software helps companies save time and money by making the recruitment process paperless. An ATS makes it easier to store, recall, or purge applications in just a few clicks. This software also reduces the risk of human error, ensuring critical information is kept secure and organized. The application process also becomes easier for applicants. 

If you’re looking to make your recruitment process more efficient both for your company and for applicants, an ATS system is an ideal solution. Instead of storing resumes and other applicant information manually, an ATS provides you with a way to organize all the information. This can be especially beneficial for companies who get lots of applicants for job postings. 

Another benefit of applicant tracking system software is that it provides everything you need for recruitment in one centralized location. Instead of having multiple applications open, like your email, calendar, and internal messaging systems, an ATS includes all that and more in one spot. This cuts down on time spent switching from application to application, and streamlines the entire process. 

ATS systems are also beneficial for organizing the process of hiring an employee, from initial reception of an application to onboarding. If you interview a candidate and want to bring them back in for a second interview, you can note that in an ATS. It also provides a platform for other team members to provide feedback on an interviewee, so you’re not communicating in person or over email, where it could easily be lost.

Reduced Time to Hire with ATS

Time to hire is a critical consideration for any company.

Vacancies can impact customer service and potentially company image. Labor hours spent reviewing applications and working through the hiring process are labor hours not available for more lucrative endeavors. ATS software may help companies reduce time to hire, restoring some labor hours and filling vacancies more quickly.

Improved Applicant Experience

ATS software can help to improve the candidate experience. Careers pages can be fitted with links to applications, making it very easy for candidates to apply. Candidates can also find out about company origins, values, and the next steps in the hiring process, which can help garner excitement about working for the company and make the hiring process seem smooth and painless.

A smooth hiring process speaks well for the company. This may prompt top talent to apply, as well as making current candidates feel good about working for the company if they are hired on.

More Coordinated Hiring Efforts

Hiring managers, recruiters, and other hiring team members may not always be on the same page. Motivations and schedules may be different, causing one hiring team member to be more “in the know” when it comes to certain candidates or certain hiring phases.

ATS software can be updated with notes and hiring status of candidates, used for messaging between peers, and equipped with a schedule for interviews to keep everyone working together. This can keep the behind the scenes work humming along so that candidates only see a well coordinated team as they move through the hiring process.

How Does ATS Software Rank Applications?

Applicant tracking systems may vary slightly depending on the vendor, but most applicant tracking systems utilize keywords to sort and rank applications or resumes.

The keywords that are used may be controlled by the hiring manager or may be synced up to job postings and historical job description information. In some cases, programs may also highlight applications for certain “unique” keywords that may distinguish one applicant from the rest.

Interview Guidelines and Scoring

After the initial application phase, ATS software continues to help hiring managers. The interview phase is often seen as the most important step of the hiring process. ATS software often comes equipped with video interviewing features and guidelines for interview questions that can help to shape interview methods and structure.

Additionally, some ATS software comes with scoring systems for interviews. This assigns numerical values for interview responses that can then be used later on to distinguish one candidate from the rest. While the numerical values shouldn’t be a leading factor in hiring, they can be helpful when candidates are similarly qualified for a position.

Integrating ATS and HR Software (HRIS)

Some HR software packages come with applicant tracking systems, making it convenient to store and view all applicant and employee information in one place and move information seamlessly around as needed. Even applicant tracking systems that are purchased separately from other HR software can usually be integrated smoothly with other systems. It may be necessary to check with the chosen vendor to ensure integration capabilities.

The Importance of Selecting the Right Applicant Tracking System

With the right ATS software, companies can easily post new job ads, sort through applications quickly, and hire employees that are more likely to fit and stay in the position for a reasonable amount of time.

However, a system that is difficult to use or that does not sync well with other systems may waste time as hiring managers struggle to transfer information from one place to another. Some systems may also use application sorting criteria that rejects qualified candidates’ resumes.

Selecting an Applicant Tracking System

When selecting an applicant tracking system, it’s important for companies to establish expectations and budget, then work to find a system that meets these needs and is compatible with the company culture.

After these important points have been decided upon, companies should research applicant tracking software vendors thoroughly until the most compatible system is clear. Vendor matching companies and charts comparing vendors side by side may help with selection.

After establishing criteria and narrowing the vendor list down to a few top picks, it is important to meet with a vendor representative and review the software first hand. You should be able to review the job posting process and see what job ads look like afterward, see what an applicant will have to do to submit an application, determine what hiring managers will see, and get a realistic feel for how easy the software will be to use.

This type of demo will allow you to truly get a feel for how useful the chosen system will be before committing. Demos and even free trials can be scheduled directly with a vendor or through a vendor matching service that will be more likely to provide unbiased information about several vendors.

Get Matched With ATS Software Vendors

Ready to find the perfect ATS software for your organization? Simply visit our ATS vendor match page now to find the right applicant tracking system for your company!

Applicant Tracking Systems for Your Specific Industry

Finding the right applicant tracking system for your industry means understand your direct needs. Take a look at these industry specific ATS software articles.

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Applicant Tracking Systems

Let us help you find the solution to optimize your recruitment processes. Better recruitment processes can help your company to attract top talent, move employees from candidate status to actionable positions faster, and improve employee satisfaction – all while saving you time and stress. Paperless recruitment solutions also mean better organization and less work to meet compliance requirements.

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