Do I need an Applicant Tracking System?

Didja know? What’s an Applicant Tracking System?  Why Use One?

Written by Mercer PeoplePro guest writer Ruth Baylis

Wikipedia’s definition of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS):

A software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs.
An ATS can be implemented or accessed online on an enterprise or small business
level, depending on the needs of the company.

Basically, there are a multitude of reasons you might want to buy an applicant tracking system.

Some of the top reasons are:

  • You are getting overwhelmed with the amount of time it takes to track your recruiting through spreadsheets
  • You have no real ability to report on the data you have and track successes
  • You now need to be OFCCP compliant (more on this in the next blog – What is OFCCP?)

Whatever your reasons might be, it is hard to know what to expect of a system.The best way to think about what you need is to write down what the goals of the system are. Items that might be important range from:

  • tracking candidates for each position
  • understanding what online posting sites work best
  • making sure the candidate experience is the best it can be by automatically responding to candidates with messages that reflect your culture.

Using an ATS will help with “reuse” and sharing of great candidates, tracking and reporting and will save you valuable time searching through and/or data entering into a spreadsheet. You will no longer need paper applications, candidates can view/change their information as needed, candidates will be able to see where they are in the process and if you choose the right system it can “speak” to other systems such as payroll or finance – eliminating repetitive entry as well as human error.

Things to think about when selecting a system

Most ATS’s offer some standard features in terms of tracking, workflow, storage and search. However, they differ greatly in ease of use, connectability to other systems and cost.

Make sure you are not buying a system that is for organizations with a large employee base and making thousands of hires a year. There are systems that cater to smaller organizations and have the ability to scale as needed.

Lastly, make sure you have the right people in the room when evaluating and choosing a system. A talent acquisition person, HRIS or other appropriate systems person, maybe a manager with a lot of hiring coming up and someone who has implemented an ATS is extremely helpful. Make sure the people using the system are available to ask the right questions and express the real day-to-day needs of the system — now and into the future.

HR Expertise On Demand

If you’re a small or emerging business and would like some expert, on-demand guidance on applicant tracking systems or help as your business grows, we’re here for you. We’ll even give you a one-hour consultation FREE. To set up your free consultation, contact me, Ruth Baylis, or any of our PeoplePro specialists —we’re ready to help so you can focus on your business.


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