5 minute read. Updated November 20, 2020.
What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?
Why is 2021 hiring hopeless without one?
Let’s talk about it.
Acquiring talent for a small or medium size business has never been easy. Even before 2020 when everything got harder. Before the pandemic, recruiters complained of a lack of candidates due to low unemployment and talent shortages. Companies that could move applicants quickly through their process had the advantage. Of course, they needed a good evaluation process to find best-fit candidates.
In 2020, the pandemic upended recruiting. Essential businesses started hiring at scale. Companies that pivoted suddenly needed to fill new job roles. Employers in shrinking industries were inundated with applicants for the few openings they had. Because many started working from home, hiring processes had to be adapted so they could be conducted virtually.
Regardless of the unrecognizable hiring landscape, an ATS is still the answer. Are you doing high volume hiring in 2021? An ATS is essential for managing multiple job openings simultaneously.
Are you recovering in 2021? You probably have a shorthanded hiring team. ATS automation will allow a small team to meet your hiring needs while you are getting back on your feet.
11 Undeniable Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems
1. An Applicant Tracking System Saves You Lots of Money
Companies using applicant tracking system reap the rewards. New-hire turnover is 40% less on average, and they can fill vacancies 20% more quickly.
New Hires Generate Revenue More Quickly
ATS help you fill positions faster. This shortens the time it takes for the new hire to generate revenue. ATS with onboarding tools further shorten the time-to-productivity.
2. Hire Top Performing Candidates Before Your Competition
An ATS help you identify top candidates and present an offer before the applicant is hired by a competitor. These high-demand employees drive productivity and innovation.
3. Track Hundreds of Resumes With Ease
When it comes to administration, ATS automation is truly impressive. Systems can handle hundreds (even thousands!) of applications, resumes, and other workflows.
Not only do you save on the cost of labor for the hiring team, but you also free up their time.
They can use that time on improving hiring strategies. Improved hiring strategies can then help your business grow even faster
With the strategic use of an ATS, you can become the budget hero in your company.
4. An ATS Creates a Dynamite First Impression
During the recruitment process, your goal is to attract top people to your company. You aren’t just recruiting; you’re marketing. Shockingly, 69% of unemployed people wouldn’t take a job if the company had a bad reputation—they would rather stay unemployed!
Applicant tracking systems help you put your best foot forward. Automate communication with candidates, so no one falls through the cracks. Get your job listed on prestigious job boards across the internet. Brand your application portal so it’s unique to your company. This is how you communicate a professional image of your company to job seekers.
5. Your Competitors Are Using An ATS
If you haven’t implemented an ATS, take note. 98% of Fortune 500 companies and at least 66% of large companies use it. The adoption rate for small companies is lower, but growing quickly. Last year, it was estimated that 35% of small organizations use ATS.
Keep in mind that you are also competing with talent sourcing agencies. The ATS adoption rate for professional recruiters is nearly 100%.
6. Recruitment Texting is a Must in 2020
Many companies are using recruiting texting in their hiring operations. The open rates for marketing texts are legendary. Some studies put the text open rate above 90%! Compare that with around 45% for emails.
Consider this: if a person has set up texting notifications, they can see a preview without opening the message. If the text is short, they can probably see the whole message in the notification window.
If you aren’t engaging with your candidates through texting, you are falling behind. ATS texting helps you leverage the power of many candidates’ preferred method of communication.
7. Quickly Narrow Down The Application Pool
First, you create a job posting. Your ATS posts it to multiple online sites (of your choosing). The applications start coming in. The system collects and organizes them in a central database. It creates a profile for each applicant.
As you know, job seekers format their resumes in a variety of ways. The ATS extracts the information and organizes it in the same format for each candidate profile. In the profile template, there is a field for each relevant piece of data.
For example, there is a field for each degree earned, each previous job title, and each skill.
This type of organization gives you searching superpowers. You can analyze and compare by work experience, education, or previous employers. Or job titles, skills, or demographic variables.
Let’s talk about resume filtering. The software uses keywords from the job posting. It matches the keywords with those found in the resumes. Consider how long it takes you to read one resume. An ATS can parse thousands of resumes in seconds.
This process weeds out the candidates who don’t have the necessary qualifications and it delivers a pool of qualified candidates before you need to read a single resume!
8. Screening Questions Help You Find Better Candidates
When you’re reviewing resumes, you’re going to choose quality over quantity every time. No one wants to waste time going through dozens of unqualified applicants. An applicant tracking system allows you to add screening questions to your application to ensure applicants meet basic qualifications like education level or years of experience. Some applicant tracking systems let you create scoring rules that weigh certain questions more heavily, so better applicants automatically rise in your review queue.
9. ATS Can Post To Multiple Online Job Boards
With an ATS, your job posting gets maximum online exposure. Most will post to LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and Monster (just to name a few) with one click. While you’re at it, post it to your social media sites and careers page.
You create the job posting in the ATS, and the software takes care of the posting. This is a huge timesaver for busy hiring managers.
10. Applicant Tracking Systems Improve Collaboration
You are more likely to find high quality candidates if multiple stakeholders can weigh in.
But if expanding the hiring team slows down the process, the top candidates will lose interest. They will seek out firms that move faster.
ATS databases enable effective collaboration. Each decision maker can enter notes and applicant ratings. (The rating system is customizable, by the way.) Mobile apps allow recruiters to access the ATS from any internet-enabled device. Some systems include video interviews that team members can watch at their convenience.
11. Applicant Tracking Systems Help You Comply With Labor Laws
To say that recruitment compliance is complicated is an understatement.
The laws are always in flux and they vary by location, industry, and business size. Small companies have fewer resources to ensure that processes are compliant.
ATS help you comply with regulations related to hiring. Vendors update SaaS systems to stay current with hiring regulations.
In addition, ATS generate reports to protect you in case of a legal challenge.
For example, suppose a rejected candidate alleges discrimination. Don’t worry. Your ATS has the documentation to validate your legal hiring criteria.
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.
We’ve touched on a few ATS functions. Let’s take a deeper dive into the inner workings of applicant tracking systems.
What Does an Applicant Tracking System Do?
ATS 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.
There are incredible people out there just waiting to fill your positions – but if they never see the job posting, they won’t apply. A 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 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.
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 allow you to create prescreening 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 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.
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 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.
Once you’ve found the best candidates, an applicant tracking system can streamline 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 offer additional abilities so you can onboard the new hire.
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.
The right ATS is your hiring manager’s best friend. Try ApplicantStack for free today. It will help your hiring team succeed in 2021 and beyond.
- Why 2021 Hiring is Hopeless Without an Applicant Tracking System - November 20, 2020
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