What is an applicant tracking system?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software that simplifies the recruitment process by helping HR sort through job applicants and selects the most suitable candidate. This sophisticated filing system organizes and stores applicants’ information in a centralized database, managing the entire recruitment process in one system.

An ATS functions like a co-pilot to HR and performs these important tasks:

  • Screens applicants
  • Manages applicants during the recruitment process
  • Schedules interviews
  • Sources candidates
  • Tracks candidates through the hiring process
  • Sends automated, customized emails 
  • Organizes paperwork for new hires

Why should HR leaders care about an ATS?

With large applicant pools sometimes overflowing with hundreds of applicants, an ATS can save a company time and money, executing routine tasks which HR would otherwise have to hire people to do. 

Filtering– When an applicant applies for a job online, the ATS saves the applicant’s resume and relevant information in a standard format. Using keyword searches, an ATS can zero in on the qualified applicants with the most relevant job experience.

Tracking and Selecting — As a candidate progresses through the hiring process, their information moves with them through the system. Also known as a talent management system, an ATS is designed to select the most appropriate candidate for each job.

Central Organization–The conveniently centralized information in an ATS allows employees in different departments of a company to easily access relevant candidate information if necessary. Additionally, if a candidate is not hired for a position, but the recruiter decides later on that the candidate may fit another role within the company, the candidate’s information is saved in the ATS system for easy-access. 

What can HR do to seamlessly implement an ATS?

With hundreds of ATS softwares on the market, it’s mind boggling to decide which ATS is right for your company. You can start out with a free one at the beginning, but it’s best to narrow in on exactly what features you think your company will need. HR leaders can get the best results from an ATS by carrying out these steps :

  • Discuss with the ATS vendor. During this initial meeting with HR leaders, the ATS vendor will go over the process of the system implementation, while building a comprehensive picture of the company’s requirements and concerns.  
  • Meet with HR team members. Update HR professionals about the new ATS system, and let them ask questions and make suggestions which could improve the implementation of the ATS.
  • Establish the ATS. During this stage the vendor should be in contact with the HR leader as they build and incorporate the system into the company. The vendor will also need to ask questions and confer with the HR leader regarding any issues that come up.  
  • Try out the system. The vendor will test out the new system remotely. It’s best if HR professionals also try out the system, bring up any issues that they come across, and report feedback.
  • Train the HR team. HR leaders can run a training session to teach the rest of the HR team the ins and outs of the ATS. Integrating an ATS system is a big change, so allow for a learning curve for your team to get comfortable with the new software.

Though HR professionals may have to invest time at the beginning to learn how to use and understand the ATS, it’s a worthwhile investment, as it will ultimately save a significant amount of time and money for your company.

How can a well-implemented ATS improve company culture?

An effective ATS allows HR professionals to focus on cultivating a nurturing company culture. The ATS takes care of the busywork involved within the hiring process, filtering applicants and narrowing down the applicant pool for hiring managers. This saves hiring managers countless hours, and allows them to concentrate their efforts on what the mechanized ATS can’t do– interview and vibe out candidates based on their personalities, and decide who is most in alignment with the company culture.