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How to Choose an ATS that’s Right for Your Company

shutterstock_415618867By now, most human resource professionals know that applicant tracking systems (or ATSs) are a great way to manage the influx of resumes sent each day. With the average single job opening attracting 250 applicants, scanning through CVs to narrow down a pool of qualified candidates isn’t just impractical—it’s darn near impossible—especially for recruiters at the reins of big companies. In fact, without a recruitment system to field emails and filter data recruiters spend just 18% of their time actually doing their primary job.

If your HR department is feeling overwhelmed by vetting candidates, or is left unimpressed with your current ATS, then it might be time to invest in an automated recruiting program.

In the past, having an ATS sometimes presented more of a headache than help for both candidates and recruiters, alike. While today’s recruitment systems certainly aren’t perfect, they’ve gotten a lot better at natural keyword recognition, integrating with job boards and social channels, and data analytics to effectively streamline the recruiting process. At least 75% of large companies are using ATS, and studies show these systems rapidly gaining in popularity.

Yet, with so many features and vendors on the horizon, it’s hard to know which ATS is right for your business. We talked to HR experts to help determine what businesses should expect out of an automated recruiting program, and what should be included in the RFP to an ATS retailer.  

Weighing ATS Features and Benefits

When it comes to recruiting technology, there is no shortage of tools to enhance your workflow. But Tom Smith, a marketing and strategist and research analyst at Insights From Analytics, says it’s important for companies to immediately separate their business’ “needs” from their “wants” in a recruiting program.

“What’s important to your company now and in the future? Companies need to look at the business objectives they are trying to meet with an ATS. You want to ensure that the ATSs you are evaluating can deliver.”

Smith suggests taking advantage of a 30-day trial to closely assess a vendor. During the trial, HR professionals should not only get a feel for the program’s features and ease of use, but also talk to the retailer’s account manager to outline expectations.

Gather Your ATS Stakeholders

Before your company makes an ATS purchase, it’s important to gather team members who will be involved in using the software program and evaluate their needs. While the departments involved will vary depending on your company’s size, there are some general departments who should be involved, according to Bruce Harpham, founder of ProjectManagementHacks.com, a project management advice website.

  • Procurement: The procurement department ensures corporate policies on purchasing are honored.
  • Hiring Managers: These are the people who will be using the program on a day-to-day basis.
  • IT: The IT department is usually responsible for maintaining and customizing software.
  • Finance/Payroll: The best ATSs allow hiring managers to transition an applicant profile into the company’s payroll system, Harpham says. They may also have financial input.
  • Legal: The legal team will need to comment on the ATSs fulfillment of HR laws and ensure the contract has the clauses to protect the company.
  • Project Management: The buyer of an ATS will need a project manager to bring the system online. Bringing the project manager into the process early will increase the chance of successful implementation, adds Harpham.

Before Investing in Automated Recruiting Ask Questions

Discovering the right program takes some research, but Smith says it’s a necessary step when considering a program’s cost, which can include everything from start-up and integration, to add-ons and customer service.

There are a few questions every business should answer when considering an ATS:

  • Employment Laws: Does the program meet legal compliance?
  • Scalability: How many applications are received? Can the ATS handle 10x more?
  • Integration: Does the technology integrate with CRM, ERP, HR, MA? What about job boards and social media channels? Referral tracking?
  • Analytics: Does the system offer dashboards to show KPIs to the owners?
  • Content Management: Does the ATS have a CMS so recruiters aren’t wasting time re-entering information?
  • Search: How strong is the search and capabilities matching? Does it have machine learning and neural language components?
  • Support: Who owns the data if the vendor can’t scale? Who’s responsible for updates or system repairs?

If possible, it may also suit HR departments to reach out to existing customers to get their take on the program, Smith adds. Implementing an ATS can save HR managers time and money so they can spend more time doing what they do best—recruiting. If you’re an HR professional who is searching for a better way to find the best, most qualified talent, an ATS is a great way to go. Just be sure to take your time finding the right vendor. After all, an effective ATS can only help you get closer to the right candidate.


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