What Factors Matter When Selecting an Applicant Tracking System

By OrangeHRM | Published on Mar 7, 2024 | minute read

Finding and attracting top talent is essential for the success of any organization. However, the traditional methods of recruiting and managing applicants can be time-consuming, inefficient, and prone to errors. This is where an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) comes into play. Whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise, choosing the right software can have a significant impact on your recruitment efforts and overall business success. We'll explore what exactly Applicant Tracking Software is, the benefits it offers, how these systems work, and most importantly, the key factors you should consider when evaluating different options.

What is Applicant Tracking Software?

We have all heard Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) so what is an ATS? It is a specialized tool designed to streamline and automate the recruitment process for organizations of all sizes. It serves as a centralized platform for managing job postings, receiving and tracking job applications, screening candidates, scheduling interviews, and ultimately hiring new employees and helps you avoid costly mistakes in your recruitment processes.

At its core, applicant tracking software acts as a digital database that stores all applicant information, including resumes, cover letters, and other relevant documents. This allows recruiters and hiring managers to easily access and review candidate profiles, streamlining the screening and selection process and leading to effective recruitment

One of the primary functions of the software is to facilitate communication and collaboration among hiring team members. Through features such as shared candidate notes, status updates, and messaging capabilities, these platforms enable seamless collaboration between recruiters, hiring managers, and other stakeholders involved in the hiring process.

Moreover, applicant tracking software often integrates with other HR systems and tools, such as HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems), HRMS (Human Resource Management Systems) and onboarding software, creating a cohesive ecosystem for managing the entire employee lifecycle. This integration eliminates the need for manual data entry and ensures consistency and accuracy across all HR processes.

Another key aspect is its ability to provide valuable insights and analytics into recruitment performance. By tracking metrics such as time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, and applicant sources, these platforms empower organizations to optimize their recruitment strategies, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions to improve overall hiring efficiency.

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work

An applicant tracking system functions through a series of interconnected processes designed to streamline and automate various aspects of the recruitment workflow. At its core, it works by centralizing all recruitment-related activities into a single, accessible platform, facilitating efficient management of job postings, candidate applications, and hiring decisions.

  • Job Posting and Distribution - The first step in applicant tracking programs involves the creation and posting of job openings. Recruiters or hiring managers input job descriptions, including required qualifications, responsibilities, and other relevant details, into the software. The system then publishes these job postings to various online job boards, career websites, and social media platforms to attract potential candidates.

  • Application Collection and Parsing - Once job postings are live, applicant tracking programs begin to collect and organize incoming applications from job seekers. Candidates submit their resumes, cover letters, and other supporting documents directly through their portal or via email. The system automatically parses and extracts relevant information from these documents, populating candidate profiles within its database.

  • Candidate Screening and Filtering - As applications are received, applicant tracking programs categorize and filter candidates based on predefined criteria, such as skills, experience, and education. Recruiters can set up customized workflows and screening criteria to efficiently evaluate candidates and identify those who meet the requirements for further consideration.

  • Collaboration and Communication - Throughout the recruitment process, applicant tracking software facilitates communication and collaboration among hiring team members. Recruiters can share candidate profiles, notes, and feedback within the system, enabling seamless collaboration and decision-making. Additionally, ATS systems often include scheduling tools that allow recruiters to coordinate interviews and assessments with candidates directly through the platform.
  • Candidate Progress Tracking - As candidates progress through the hiring pipeline, applicant tracking programs track their status and update their profiles accordingly. Recruiters can monitor the progress of each candidate, review interview feedback, and make informed decisions about moving candidates forward in the recruitment process.

  • Analytics and Reporting - Ultimately, they also provide valuable reporting and analytics capabilities that enable organizations to assess the effectiveness of their recruitment efforts. By tracking metrics such as time-to-hire, source of hire, and candidate conversion rates, ATS systems empower organizations to optimize their recruitment strategies and improve overall hiring outcomes.

Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems

Recruiting software offers a multitude of benefits that extend far beyond simply streamlining the recruitment process. These platforms serve as powerful tools for organizations to optimize their hiring strategies, improve candidate experiences, and drive long-term success. Here's a more detailed exploration of the key benefits:

Enhanced Efficiency and Time Savings

These platforms significantly enhance recruitment efficiency by automating manual tasks and streamlining workflows. Stakeholders like recruiters can leverage features such as automated resume parsing, candidate screening, and interview scheduling to expedite the hiring process and reduce time-to-fill. With time-consuming administrative tasks offloaded to the system, recruiters can focus their efforts on building relationships with candidates, conducting thorough assessments, and making informed hiring decisions. This increased efficiency not only accelerates the recruitment cycle but also ensures that organizations can secure top talent before their competitors.

Improved Quality of Hires

By leveraging advanced filtering and matching algorithms, it enables recruiters to identify and prioritize candidates who best fit the requirements of the job. Recruiters can define specific criteria and keywords to screen applicants, ensuring that only the most qualified candidates progress to the next stage of the hiring process. This targeted approach to candidate selection leads to higher-quality hires who are better aligned with the organization's culture, values, and objectives. Additionally, they provide recruiters with access to comprehensive candidate profiles, including detailed resumes, cover letters, and interview feedback, enabling them to make more informed hiring decisions and mitigate the risk of hiring mistakes.

Centralized Data Management and Reporting

Another significant benefit is their ability to centralize recruitment-related data and provide robust reporting capabilities. By storing all applicant information, job postings, and hiring decisions in a single, accessible platform, they ensure data consistency, accuracy, and security. Recruiters and hiring managers can easily track the progress of candidates, monitor recruitment metrics, and generate customized reports to assess the effectiveness of their hiring strategies. This data-driven approach enables organizations to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement in their recruitment processes, ultimately leading to more informed decision-making and better hiring outcomes.

Enhanced Candidate Experience and Employer Branding

These programs play a crucial role in enhancing the candidate experience throughout the recruitment journey. From the initial application submission to the final hiring decision, candidates benefit from streamlined communication, transparent status updates, and personalized interactions with recruiters. ATS systems provide candidates with user-friendly application portals, mobile-friendly interfaces, and self-service options, making it easy for them to engage with the organization and stay informed about their application status. By providing a positive candidate experience, organizations can strengthen their employer brand, attract top talent, and cultivate a talent pipeline for future hiring needs.

Compliance and Diversity Management

In today's complex regulatory environment, compliance with equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws and regulations is paramount for organizations. They help organizations maintain compliance by capturing and storing essential recruitment data, including applicant demographics, EEOC information, and hiring decisions. Additionally, ATS systems provide built-in compliance features, such as customizable application forms, automated compliance checks, and audit trails, to ensure that organizations adhere to legal requirements and internal policies. 

Cost Savings and Return on Investment (ROI)

While the initial investment may seem significant, the long-term cost savings and ROI can be substantial for organizations. By streamlining recruitment processes, reducing time-to-fill, and improving the quality of hires, they help organizations optimize their hiring resources and minimize recruitment costs. Recruiters can allocate their time and efforts more effectively, focusing on strategic activities that drive business growth and innovation. Additionally, it enables organizations to scale their recruitment efforts without significantly increasing overhead costs, making them a cost-effective solution for organizations of all sizes.

Scalability and Flexibility for Growth

As organizations grow and evolve, their recruitment needs and priorities may change. These platforms are designed to scale with the growing needs of organizations, accommodating fluctuations in hiring volume, complexity, and geographic locations. Whether hiring for a single position or managing large-scale recruitment campaigns, ATS systems provide the flexibility and scalability to adapt to changing business requirements and objectives. Organizations can customize their platform to align with their unique recruitment processes, preferences, and branding guidelines, ensuring a seamless and consistent candidate experience across the entire organization.

Competitive Advantage and Industry Leadership

In today's competitive talent market, having access to advanced recruitment technology can provide organizations with a significant competitive advantage. They enable organizations to attract, engage, and hire top talent more effectively, positioning them as employers of choice in their industry. By leveraging innovative features such as AI-powered candidate matching, predictive analytics, and personalized communication tools, organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and build a reputation for excellence in recruitment. Furthermore, they empower organizations to stay ahead of industry trends, adapt to emerging technologies, and drive innovation in their recruitment strategies, solidifying their position as industry leaders and driving long-term success and growth.

In summary, applicant tracking systems offer a wide range of benefits that extend far beyond simply streamlining the recruitment process. From enhanced efficiency and improved quality of hires to centralized data management and compliance, they play a pivotal role in optimizing recruitment strategies, enhancing candidate experiences, and driving organizational success. By leveraging the advanced features and capabilities, organizations can gain a competitive advantage, strengthen their employer brand, and position themselves as industry leaders in talent acquisition.

Key Factors to Consider When Selecting an ATS

Selecting the right system is a critical decision for any organization looking to streamline their recruitment processes and attract top talent. With a multitude of options available in the market, it's essential to consider several key factors to ensure that the chosen program aligns with the organization's unique needs, goals, and budgetary constraints. Here are some key factors to consider:

Ease of Use and User Interface

One of the primary considerations when selecting a software is its ease of use and user interface. The platform should feature an intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows recruiters and hiring managers to navigate the system effortlessly. Look for platforms with customizable dashboards, drag-and-drop functionality, and straightforward navigation menus to streamline the recruitment process and minimize training time for users.

Customization and Flexibility

Every organization has unique recruitment processes, workflows, and requirements. Therefore, it's essential to choose a software that offers customization and flexibility to adapt to the organization's specific needs. Look for platforms that allow for customizable job templates, workflow automation, and configurable settings to tailor the system to fit the organization's recruiting practices and branding guidelines.

Integration Capabilities

Integration with other HR systems and third-party tools is crucial for maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment process. Consider its integration capabilities with other HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems), payroll systems, background check providers, and job boards. Choose a platform that offers seamless integration options and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to ensure data consistency and workflow efficiency across all HR functions.

Candidate Experience Features

The candidate experience is a critical aspect of the recruitment process and can significantly impact an organization's employer brand and reputation. Look for platforms that offer candidate experience features such as mobile-friendly application portals, automated status updates, and personalized communication tools. A positive candidate experience not only enhances the organization's brand image but also attracts top talent and improves candidate engagement and retention.

Advanced Search and Filtering

Effective candidate sourcing and screening are essential for identifying and hiring the best talent. Choose a platform that offers robust search and filtering capabilities, allowing recruiters to quickly and easily identify candidates who match the requirements of the job. Look for features such as Boolean search, keyword tagging, and customizable filters to streamline the candidate selection process and improve the quality of hires.

Reporting and Analytics

Data-driven decision-making is critical for optimizing recruitment strategies and measuring the effectiveness of hiring efforts. Select a software that offers comprehensive reporting and analytics features, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to track key metrics such as time-to-fill, source of hire, and candidate conversion rates. Look for platforms that provide customizable dashboards, real-time analytics, and ad-hoc reporting capabilities to gain valuable insights into recruitment performance and make informed decisions.

Scalability and Pricing

As organizations grow and evolve, their recruitment needs may change, requiring scalable solutions that can adapt to increasing hiring volumes and complexity. When selecting a program, consider its scalability and pricing structure to ensure that it can accommodate the organization's current and future needs. Look for software that offer flexible pricing plans, transparent pricing models, and scalable features to support organizational growth without incurring excessive costs.

Customer Support and Training

Effective customer support and training are essential for maximizing the value and usability of a platform. Choose a provider that offers responsive customer support, comprehensive training resources, and ongoing assistance to help users navigate the system and resolve any issues or challenges that may arise. Look for vendors that provide multiple support channels, including phone, email, and live chat support, as well as online tutorials, user guides, and training webinars to ensure a positive user experience.

Security and Compliance

Data security and compliance are paramount considerations, particularly for organizations that handle sensitive candidate information. Ensure that the software adheres to industry standards and regulations, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2), to protect candidate data from unauthorized access, breaches, and misuse. Choose a vendor that employs robust security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and regular security audits, to safeguard sensitive information and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.

Vendor Reputation and Reviews

Finally, consider the reputation and reviews of the vendor when making your selection. Research the vendor's track record, customer testimonials, and reviews from other organizations to gauge their reliability, reputation, and customer satisfaction. Look for providers with a proven track record of delivering high-quality products and excellent customer service to ensure a positive experience throughout the implementation and usage of the platform.

Why OrangeHRM?

OrangeHRM emerges as your top choice for recruiting software, offering a comprehensive suite of features designed to streamline your recruitment process and enhance the candidate experience. With OrangeHRM, you can effortlessly publish and manage job postings in one centralized platform, customizing workflows for each vacancy and tracking candidate progress seamlessly. Create new hiring templates for future hires and evaluate candidate responses and performance to pinpoint the perfect fit for your team.

Moreover, OrangeHRM integrates seamlessly with your company website, allowing job postings to live on your site and enabling candidates to learn more about your organization with ease. Simplify the recruitment process further by enabling E-signature functionality, eliminating manual signature collection and providing candidates with a seamless onboarding experience. With customizable application forms and questions, you can maintain consistency and gather relevant information from applicants efficiently. Additionally, leverage the Interview Assistant feature to automate interviews, saving time and ensuring a fair and objective selection process for all candidates. With OrangeHRM, you can attract top talent, streamline recruitment processes, and elevate your employer brand effortlessly. See OrangeHRM in action book your FREE demo today!