An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a type of HR software that helps an organization manage a streamlined recruitment and new employee onboarding process. ATS systems come in many shapes, sizes, and price points.

Who uses Applicant Tracking Software?

If you receive applications, you need an applicant tracking system. ATS software clients include:

  • Independent recruiters
  • Staffing agencies
  • Executive search firms
  • Large enterprises
  • Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB)

Typically, the applicant tracking software is managed by the human resources department or a hiring manager.

What Does an Applicant Tracking System Do?

ATS systems perform a wide variety of functions to make the recruiting and onboarding process easier for managers as well as new employees. Any applicant tracking software should perform the following five functions.

Post Jobs

What is an Applicant Tracking System researching and applying for jobs online is nearly universalThere are incredible people out there just waiting to fill your positions – but if they never see the job posting, they won’t apply. A 2015 Pew Research study found that “researching and applying for jobs online is nearly universal” for job applicants. When selecting an ATS software, look for one that gives you access to critical job posting boards like Monster and Indeed.

In 2015, almost 60% of younger job seekers used their smartphones to search for job openings, and half of that population used a smartphone to fill out a job application. Those numbers are only expected to increase. Any of the ATS systems you look into should be mobile-friendly, creating job listings that allow applicants to submit documents via mobile phone and to bookmark jobs for later.

As any amateur job seeker will tell you, networking is the best way to find a job. Your applicant tracking system needs to sync with the most popular social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You don’t have to worry about unqualified applicants when you use applicant tracking software because they’ll be weeded out. You just want to get your posting in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Track

Inc. reports that for every job posting, companies receive an average of 250 applications. Larger companies will be flooded with applications for each job they offer, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. ATS software should allow you to quickly and painlessly sift through applicants, bringing the best-qualified people to your attention and automatically rejecting unqualified candidates.

Most ATS systems allow you to create pre-screening questionnaires. Applicants are required to answer certain questions, and ‘wrong’ responses will remove them from the candidate pool (while automatically sending a thoughtfully worded e-mail thanking them for the application). Some ATS systems go a step further, assigning value points to each question so you can sort candidates by score.

The best applicant tracking software integrates and automates resume parsing, resume storing, and reference checking. If it doesn’t have to be done by a human, why not automate it? The HR department or hiring manager shouldn’t have to sort through dozens of easily eliminated candidates. An applicant tracking system performs the menial tasks of analyzing dozens of candidates, so the hiring manager can focus on the few who really stand out from the crowd.

Communicate

Communication is key in every aspect of life, and that includes the hiring process. The way you communicate with a potential new hire says a lot about your company’s values, and knowing where they stand in the application process is essential for applicants.

ATS systems let you automatically update candidates with news about the job posting. Give stragglers a gentle nudge to complete an application, or let someone know that you’d love to conduct an interview. Past applicants will appreciate knowing if the job has been filled, and may opt to receive job updates from your company in the future.

Once you’ve narrowed down your applicant pool, applicant tracking software eliminates the back-and-forth of trying to schedule an interview by creating a calendar with open slots for preliminary phone or in-person interviews. Out-of-state jobs may require video interviews so you can analyze behavioral tendencies; some kinds of applicant training software offer this integration as part of the package. The hiring manager enters the times he or she is available, and the interviewee selects the option that works best. No more complicated weeks-long games of email tag to find a time that works for everyone!

Applicants want to know how they are doing throughout the process. One study shows that the key pain points are right after submitting the application, when 49% would like feedback; if not selected for an interview, when 39% would like feedback; and after the interview if they weren’t selected, when 43% would like feedback. Each of these is an opportunity for the HR department or hiring manager to show that the company truly cares about its potential employees. ATS software makes this easy to do.

Hire

Once you’ve found the best candidates, the applicant tracking system can streamlines the hiring process, particularly if you’re using collaborative hiring. Many jobs require input from multiple decision-makers. The ATS software consolidates reviews and reports from every stakeholder, so hiring managers can take in everyone’s opinions at a glance.

Candidates can be scored and rated separately, and a good applicant tracking software includes collaborative tools and reports so everyone is on the same page. Want a background screening? Your applicant tracking system should be able to provide that, too. After you’ve extended an offer to your prospective employee, many ATS systems offer additional abilities so you can onboard the new hire.

Onboard

The application process may be over, but onboarding is just beginning. Your new hire has documents to fill out, resources to review, and forms to e-sign. ATS software should have an onboarding portal where you can consolidate documents. Your new hire can sign in, review and securely sign necessary paperwork, and use the portal as a resource to check back on onboarding documentation and company guidelines whenever he or she chooses.

Your applicant tracking system may even sync with payroll, so you can quickly get your new hire into the system and properly compensated. Tasks can be created, edited, and managed for both the new hire and the hiring manager. And all of your documentation is secure and accessible in cloud storage.

So, what is an applicant tracking system? It’s an all-in-one system to streamline the hiring process and ensure you reach, locate, and hire the best fit for your job. The right ATS software is your hiring manager’s best friend. Try ApplicantStack for free today. You’ll wonder how you ever did without it.