What is an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and Why it Matters

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If you’ve ever manually led a hiring process, you’ll know that posting a job vacancy, sorting through dozens of applications and resumes, and organizing interviews is no mean feat. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get someone – or something – else to do it all for you? 

That’s why more and more companies are adopting an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to manage their hiring processes. From creating a job offer to scanning through applicants’ resumes, an ATS is a piece of software that can be used as a helping hand throughout the whole hiring process. 

To learn more about the features of an ATS and how you can use them to streamline your recruitment workflows, read on. 

What is an ATS?

Think about how much technology has transformed the world of business over the last decade: from transcription AI software to personalized online marketing, there’s hardly any task that can’t be improved by the use of technology. The same is true for HR – especially when it comes to recruitment. 

Specifically, an ATS is a piece of software that helps organizations hire new employees. Its main function comes into play when HR departments start to receive applications: it automatically scans these applications for keywords that you’ve entered into the system. This will screen out the most unsuitable candidates, enabling you to manually review only the best applications. 

The extent of detail that an ATS will go into depends on the specific type of ATS that you use: some systems only use basic keyword matching while others harness a more complex algorithm to compare applications to an ideal candidate. Regardless of the details, however, any ATS will help you order and organize candidates. 

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On top of this, many systems also offer a more holistic set of functions. An ATS can often be used to create and post job adverts on different platforms, manage a database of applicants for future reference, and set up automated responses so that organizing interviews is made much easier. 

Why does ATS matter?

This vast range of functions means that an ATS is becoming an increasingly invaluable part of any HR team’s digital toolkit – just like an HRIS, it’s difficult to imagine life without an ATS once you’ve integrated it into your workflow. 

That’s because they make life much easier for both candidates and recruiters: applicant tracking systems are user-friendly, which helps candidates have a good experience when applying, as well as automating work for the recruiter. Candidates won’t have to worry about emailing their resumes to the right people if the process is all handled by a centralized system. 

However, It’s the recruiters who get the most use out of an ATS. Below we discuss the main benefits of an ATS for employers and HR teams.

1. Automating administrative tasks

As much as you may love your job, no one enjoys having to complete boring administrative tasks such as posting listings across a range of different sites, scanning through resumes, and scheduling meetings and interviews.

These are all important and necessary parts of the hiring process, but aren’t the most efficient use of your time – instead, letting your ATS handle these tasks will let you focus on more productive and complex jobs. You’ll be able to concentrate on the interview itself, for instance, where that human touch is really valuable. 

2. Cutting wasted time on poor candidates

If you want to reduce labour turnover, it’s imperative that you hire only the best possible candidates. This means that rooting out the weaker or irrelevant candidates early in the recruitment process is crucial. 

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Cutting out these candidates early is something that an ATS is designed to do. By automatically scanning resumes for relevant skills or work history, using an ATS will quickly remove applications that are simply not right for the job It can also focus on assessing other factors such as culture fit and soft skills set during interviews and evaluations. This means that you can then focus on choosing the right candidate from a more selective pool of applicants. 

3. Speeding up time-to-hire 

No one wants a hiring process that goes on for months and months. However, this lengthened recruitment cycle is unavoidable if you manually have to organize every aspect of the hiring process. Instead, using an ATS is a great way to remove bottlenecks and speed up your company’s time-to-hire. 

4. Removing hiring bias

Another key reason why ATS is so important is that it removes the unconscious bias that often undermines a recruitment strategy. This ‘hiring bias’ means that certain names or genders are unconsciously seen by some recruiters as more ‘suitable’ for specific jobs. 

Beginning the process with an ATS screening will ensure that every candidate is treated fairly based on their qualifications and experience, as an algorithm will only see these factors. This means that the candidates selected for interview will be the most suitable for the role, regardless of how a human HR agent may have unconsciously reacted at first. 

5. Making scaling up easier 

Every organization should be looking for ways to grow, but the process of scaling up can be difficult. It often involves investing in new systems, such as more comprehensive call center technology, as well as hiring more and more staff. You could soon find yourself having to manage hundreds of applications for your posts. 

The vast amount of changes required for scaling up means that you’ll want to make the hiring process as simple as possible – using an ATS is a great way to attract and screen new recruits in a simple and straightforward pipeline. 

Additionally, integrating a virtual phone system alongside your ATS can further enhance your recruitment efforts, enabling efficient communication with candidates, scheduling interviews, and conducting follow-up calls, all from a centralized and user-friendly platform

This means that applicant tracking systems are great tools for growing businesses. 

How to use an ATS in your organization  

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There’s no doubt that using an ATS is a surefire way to improve your hiring process, streamlining your whole recruitment system, and automating some of the most repetitive tasks. But how can you actually start using an ATS? Here’s what the hiring process may look like with an ATS.

1. Find an ATS that works with your needs

If you don’t already have access to an ATS in your organization, you’ll need to find an ATS vendor. There are literally hundreds to choose from, so you’ll be able to search for the ATS that suits your organization the best. You might want to consider whether you want a stronger HR system, with the capability to streamline all of your HR initiatives including recruiting, or if you want a disconnected vendor that offers only an ATS.

2. Enter a job requisition 

Once you’re set up with an ATS, you can start to use it to create posts for job openings. While you obviously don’t need an ATS to write a job requisition, it’s important that you create your post in the system. This is because the ATS will guide the sort of information that you need to include, such as the desired skills and necessary experience.

Not only does this mean that candidates will have a clearer understanding of the role, but it will also let your ATS know what to check applications for. You can then post your job advert on different platforms, which some systems do automatically.

3. Let the ATS rank candidates 

Once you’ve entered the job requisition, you can more or less put your feet up for a while. The ATS will automatically use the information that you’ve provided to create an ideal profile, against which it will then compare applications. This will lead to each application receiving a suitability score, allowing you to have a clear ranking of candidates. 

4. Use the ATS to assist with interviews 

This ranking system will make it easy for you to find the right candidates to invite for an interview. You’ll be able to review the highest-performing applicants and let your ATS automatically send rejection emails to those who were unsuccessful. 

While you’ll obviously want to conduct interviews yourself, the ATS can still come in useful here. You might want to use it to help schedule interviews: it might organize candidates so that everyone in an area code 726 location, for instance, is invited for an interview on the same day. 

On top of this, you can use the ATS to add notes to candidates after an interview. This will assist you when you’re discussing different candidates and may even come in useful in future rounds of hiring. 

5. Manage offers and onboarding with the ATS 

The ATS will continue to be useful once you’ve selected the preferred candidate. You can use it to automatically send your job offer to the applicant, while some systems have integrated onboarding tools. This means that the process of signing documents and completing integration tasks can be fully automated, streamlining your contract automation as well. 

Additionally, with the rise of remote work and virtual teams, many ATS platforms also offer features for virtual onboarding, ensuring a seamless and efficient onboarding experience for remote hires.

Applicant tracking systems: Automating the hiring process

A bad hire can be disastrous for an organization. That’s why it’s so important that you take every step to ensure that your recruitment is effective – and using an ATS is a great tool to help you reach this goal. 

By automatically scanning through resumes, using an ATS will let you quickly remove unsuitable candidates and ensure that you can focus on choosing the best possible person for the job. This automation is being used by more and more organizations every day – start using an ATS today to ensure that you don’t fall behind!

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