Applicant Tracking System(ATS)
Table Of Contents:
What is recruitment software?
An ‘applicant tracking system (ATS)’ is a software that is used by in-house recruitment and ‘recruiting and staffing’ agencies as a tool to streamline the entire recruitment and onboarding process. An end-to-end ATS platform assists HR professionals by implementing efficiency, compliance, and collaboration, which in turn saves the company money by heavily reducing the resources and time needed to hire.
Also commonly referred to as ‘requisition’, HR professionals custom build their workflow process and submit requests online and on-the-go with their smartphones. Once the request is submitted, the appropriate stakeholders whose approval is required (managers, executives) are instantly notified. From their mobile, the approver can approve/disapprove the request, which auto-triggers the next action in the workflow.
ATS software eases the manual labour required from HR professionals by introducing automation and the benefits of modern-day technology. HR professionals custom create job advertisements that suit the company’s branding, and can post the advertisement to 100s of free and paid job boards/social sites with a single click!
Additionally, if the job-listing needs an update, the changes are made within the ATS platform, which immediately updates the job ad on every site it is published to. This reduces the time and effort needed from HR professionals, whilst also increasing the job-advertisements reach.
ATS software empowers users to search through hundreds of applications to spotlight the most suitable candidates. In-house recruitment custom-create screening questions for candidates to answer upon application. The screening questions can be in any form, whether it be drop-down lists, text, multiple-choice, and so on. Then, the user can search through applications based on critical keywords (ie; department, experience, soft skills, etc) they believe are best matched with their ideal candidate. These screening capabilities quickly refine the candidate selection whilst adhering to appropriate and reliable screening tactics.
Candidate segmentation is critical for HR professionals as it reduces the time and stress of retrieving appropriate applicants. This functionality permits HR professionals to tag candidates with relevant keywords and segment applicants into appropriate groups.
Compliance/ Pre-employment checks
Native pre-employment checks such as reference checks, police checks, and psychometric talent assessments ensure HR professionals behave compliantly throughout the entire recruitment process. The use of modern technology and automation empowers users to achieve ultimate compliance in every module, and therefore abide by internal and external regulations. After custom building your compliance process, the technology makes it impossible for a candidate to miss a step!
Custom-build and choose automation’s that occur in your requisition, recruitment, offer approval, and onboarding module. By taking advantage of an ATS’s automation capabilities, you enhance collaboration and reduce time-delays that are commonly incurred in manual-dependent processes.
By adopting an ATS software, you optimise efficiencies, compliance, and collaboration amongst HR, Executives, and Hiring Managers. This is accounted to automation and share capabilities that are natively built into the platform.
By introducing greater structure and productivity, you reduce bottlenecks and time-delays, therefore reducing the time-to-hire and increasing the output of your employees. Thus, increasing your ROI.
What are the benefits of using an ATS?
In-house recruitment has the ability to broaden their candidate reach with the functionality of an ATS system. The multi-post feature enables users to post to 100s of free and paid job boards, and social sites, in a few clicks!
Due to the simplicity of job-posting and live-editing, posting to a large variety of job boards is no longer an issue, resulting in the same ad in more locations and a larger variety of applicants.
Screens large pool of candidates
Screening capabilities of an ATS software enable HR professionals to refine their candidate selection based on important criteria such as; years of experience, location, previous job position, etc. This reduces the time previously spent refining the candidate selection.
Together the screening capabilities and sourcing capabilities enable in-house recruitment to broaden their reach whilst simultaneously reducing the time needed to spotlight quality candidates.
Reduces costs by improving efficiency
Through implementing automation and adopting a full end-to-end ATS software, users are able to slash their time-to-hire. This is achievable by improved communication and collaborations amongst all stakeholders. A benefit of this improvement is the elimination of time-delays, therefore the reduced time-to-hire.
Features of ATS enable HR professionals to reduce their costs by segmenting and saving candidates. For example, let’s look at talent pools. Talent pools enable the in-house recruiter to tag candidates with relevant, searchable keywords (ie; #marketing, #senior) so when new vacancies surface they can search for suitable candidates in their database. This reduces the cost of advertising, and reduces the time-to-hire as the tagged candidates are already screened!
Improves collaboration between stakeholders
Within your ATS platform, you should have the ability to create digital notes on a candidate’s profile...such as “really like her experience, could be very beneficial!”. This note is viewable by all users with authority, resulting in better collaboration and open discussion. This isn’t all, you can take collaboration one step further! HR professionals can share a candidate’s resume and pre-recorded video interview with other stakeholders for discussion. This efficiency increases the communication between stakeholders and heightens the chance of making the right hiring decision.
Now let’s consider request-to-recruits. Requesting for approval can be a tedious process…waiting for one approver to acknowledge the request to simply then have to wait for the next. This is where your ATS platform comes in as a saviour. Your ATS platform is mobile-enabled, so when a request-for-approval is initiated the first approver in your customised workflow is instantly notified on their smartphone… and the next and the next! This reduces the time needed for approval by increasing efficiency and collaboration.
Improves candidate & new employee experience
Your candidates are real people, and like everyone, are always on the go! Using an ATS software that is mobile-enabled enhances their experience as they can apply to your vacancy on their phone, without having to create an account, and can review their application on any device!
Now let’s consider the candidate’s entire experience….from applying to the position to being successful/unsuccessful. Within your applicant tracking system software, there is a fully-fledged and automated SMS/email system. This empowers HR professionals to schedule messages with branded communication templates to keep the candidate engaged and informed of any updates to their employment. Communication from the employer makes all the difference when considering a candidate/ new employee’s experience. You show you value their time, and demonstrate your company is caring towards applicants regardless of the outcome of their application.
Advice For Buying The Best ATS
Source better quality candidates
Tip #1: Make sure the ATS platform is true SaaS, meaning you can access the ATS platform on any device at any time...without having to download or install software!
Tip #2: Confirm there are no setup costs or hidden costs. Make sure you know the full TCO, and what services you’re entitled too, before signing a contract.
Tip #3: Ensure the ATS has a mobile-first approach. If not for the HR professionals, at least for the entire candidate journey (applying, reviewing their application etc) as this creates beautiful candidate experiences and elevates your employer branding.
Tip #4: A modern ATS has an IOS/Android application for critical user functions, so make sure the vendor you’re considering signing with offers this.
Tip #5: Ensure the ATS offers a free-plan tier for you to test the functionality and features before paying anything. If it doesn’t offer a free-plan tier, make sure it has something equivalent so you can play with the platform before investing!
Tip #6: Your HR ecosystem must be seamless, for this reason, make sure your ATS platform is pro-integration and partner-agnostic to avoid bottlenecks and manual admin.
ATS ROI Calculator
In order to calculate your ROI on your ATS platform, let’s look at the functions of an end-to-end Applicant Tracking System that reduces the demand for company resources:
Within your ATS you can implement automation on every module and feature. This ensures the entire requisition, recruitment, offer approval, and onboarding process runs seamlessly, therefore reducing the time-to-hire. The use of automation also eliminates the need for HR professionals to chase up other stakeholders and re-direct their time to various other tasks on their to-do list. For example, once a candidate has been moved into the reference check module, the process is instantly activated! The automated email is sent to the candidate to nominate their references, and then the referee is automatically sent your custom-built template of questions. HR professionals don’t have to misspend their time chasing up the candidate or referee, instead, they simply set the module in action and let the technology do all the work!
As well as automation, the use of modern tech features can reduce the number of resources and time required to hire. For example, the use of pre-recorded video interviews reduces the candidate selection by half. How? By providing the candidate the opportunity to present themselves on camera, which can be watched at any time by the in-house recruiter, and in the form of small digestible videos (1-2 minutes). Therefore, reducing the number of live interviews required and the need to phone screen (you’ve already seen them communicate and answer screening questions!).
Talent on tap
How much do you spend every time you want to advertise for a vacancy? Consider this, the cheapest job advertisement on Seek is $275 AUD.
Every time you advertise for a vacancy you’ll receive a flood of applicants, especially since the unemployment rate has risen due to the global pandemic. Although you may receive a ton of suitable candidates, you only have one vacancy. With your ATS software, you can custom create talent pools based on searchable keywords, such as #3yrsexperience, #greatexperience, #finance, etc. This builds your personal database and enables you to contact candidates for the next vacancy without having to advertise again!
Not only do you reduce the budget for recruitment, but you also reduce the time-to-hire as you’ve already screened the candidates you’re contacting!
Branded career site
The first thing any candidate does when they’re considering applying for your position is research your company. They want to know what kind of culture they might be joining, the perks, and the value of your business to the greater community. This is where your career site becomes critical. If your candidate can’t find the information they need to assure themselves they’d be comfortable working for you, in the simplest terms - you’ve lost them as an applicant.
Your branded & custom-built career site is nothing short of a necessity. You want to be in complete control of what your potential employee sees. Through creating your career site you outline the information you want your candidate to see and therefore ensure they don’t go to other websites to find their answers, which may lead to a negative impression on your business. You also make their job easy for them which elevates your company’s branding and value from their perspective.
This is a double-edged sword, not only do you correctly inform the candidates of your business operations and heighten your EVP, but you also reduce advertising costs! Your career site operates as a job board, and by using HTML/SEO links you’re able to gain organic visibility.
Collaboration / Communication
If you provide your in-house recruitment team with the appropriate tools, they turn into an army of hiring managers. Tools that encourage and amplify collaboration weaponise your in-house recruitment team. The use of an ATS platform reduces bottlenecks in the recruitment and onboarding process and allows appropriate stakeholders to work efficiently.
Thus, the time-to-hire is slashed, and the investment of your employee’s time is utilised effectively. Not only have you reduced the time-to-hire, therefore enhancing the output of your company by quickly filling vacancies, but you’ve also reduced the workload of your employees which enables them to complete other tasks that previously weren’t receiving enough attention or time.
End-to-end data flow
A modern ATS has seamless data flow! Data collected in requisition flow into recruitment, which flows into offer-approval, and so forth. This eliminates the risk of data inaccuracies by only having to input data once.
The data flow reduces the manual load as admin aren’t required to input data collected from documents and contracts because your ATS collects the data and pushes it into the appropriate places. For example, the data collected from a candidate’s onboarding documents is automatically saved and pushed into your Payroll system!
ATS Pricing Models
Purchase & Install
Up until the early 2000s, most ATS pricing models consisted of three components:
- A huge upfront investment to purchase the software
- A one-off significant setup & implementation cost
- A yearly fee for ongoing support and software upgrades, which typically amounted to about 20% of the original purchase cost.
For example, an ATS for a 1,000 people company would cost about $250,000 to purchase and would also require a $50,000 / year for access to support, bug fixes, and new releases of the product.
Annual / Monthly Subscription
As the CLOUD and SaaS business models started to emerge the concept of ‘purchasing the software’ became redundant and was replaced with the concept of a ‘yearly subscription model’. So instead of purchasing the software, you’re paying for your right to use the software for a defined period of time such as a month, 3 months, 6 months, or a year.
TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
This should cover the entire organisation’s cost for acquiring an ATS for the first 3 years (you can calculate it for any period of time that you wish - some organisations base it on the first 5 years).
So this is very important to get right and so make sure you cover the following costs:
- Initial purchase(for non-SaaS systems)
- Setup cost
- Implementation costfor any customisations that were part of your requirements
- Ongoing support(phone, email, live chat… etc. depending on your requirements)
- Initial training
- Ongoing trainingfor new users if you require the vendor to provide the training
- Trainingon new features
- Ongoing bug fixes
- Ongoing access to new features
This has traditionally been by far the biggest barrier to entry for most organisations in terms of why they haven’t been able to acquire and adopt an ATS
It used to be somewhat understandable in the 80s and 90s why ATS vendors used to charge huge setup & implementation fees… but to be frank, these days there’s no excuse for that. A modern ATS should allow for a quick and very affordable (if not free) setup cost.
Support & Training Cost
Buyers should be aware of this hidden cost - so many companies find themselves in a difficult position, where after investing 100s of thousands of dollars into acquiring a new ATS, they found it unaffordable to have access to adequate support and training. Because the cost was too prohibitive and because this hidden cost wasn’t clearly disclosed during the sales process (hidden cost).
Buyers be very aware of these hidden costs as they can really hinder a successful adoption of the ATS you’re trying to acquire. You must make sure you’re 100% clear about every single cost that could arise in the first 3 years (or 5 years) of adopting it. Hence why it’s super important to get an accurate 3-year TCO as per the above TCO section.
Key Applicant Tracking Features
The features of an ATS will vary depending on the vendor, however, the following features are critical to a modern and end-to-end ATS:
- Customisable workflow
- Mobile application for recruiting on the go
- Intelligent & customisable e-form builder
- Multi-job posting
- Branded & customisable Career site
- Candidate management and segmentation
- Pre-recorded video interviews
- Psychometric talent assessment
- Custom-built talent pools
- ACIC certified Police check
- Automated reference check module
- Automated SMS/ Emails
- Automated notifications to stakeholders
- Data flow from requisition & recruitment auto-fills offer-approvals with up-to-date information (ie; salary, employment type, etc)
- Auto-generated documents and contracts
- Customisable & branded e-form system
- Digital singing
- Induction and training videos
- Countdown timer to create urgency
- Automated SMS/Email system
- Automated notifications to stakeholders
- Integration with your HRMS payroll system
- Data from onboarding is automatically pushed into Payroll
What are the 2021 trends of ATS?
People are always on the go, we live incredibly busy lives...so it should be no surprise that candidates and corporate HR professionals are leaning towards mobile-friendly recruitment!
In 2021, candidates are applying to companies that have adopted a mobile-first approach, meaning they can apply on any device, including their mobile, and from any location (ie on the train).
From the perspective of HR professionals, recruiters and in-house HR are adopting ATS platforms that enable them to recruit on the go, meaning they can review and approve candidates from their mobile, and complete workflows from any device (ie request-to-recruits).
Onboarding & induction functionalities
Modern ATS’s encompass onboarding & induction functionalities, and whilst this has always been an additional bonus, in 2021 this is seen as a necessity! This includes the ability to custom create documents and e-forms that can be signed digitally, and induction and training videos.
Video interviews as a necessity for screening
This trend should be no surprise! With a remote workforce comes remote recruiting.
In 2021 HR professionals are seeking their in-house ATS platform to provide pre-recorded video interviews functionality. With this feature, in-house recruiters request candidates to record video answers to screening questions during the application process, and empowers candidates to present themselves from the comfort of their home… and on their phone!
Pre-recorded video interviews:
- Reduce the number of live interviews (which can be face-to-face or via Zoom)
- Better invest the recruiter and candidates time
- Screens large pools of candidates
- Spotlights quality candidates
- Improve collaboration amongst stakeholders
Native compliance embedded in the platform
Compliance is always the toughest gig for in-house recruitment! With internal and external pressures to abide by regulations and requirements, 2021 is showing that HR professionals are turning to their ATS software for assistance!
Corporate recruitment is seeking ATS to have native pre-employment checks, such as;
- Reference Checks
- Psychometric Talent Assessment
- National Police Checks
The ability to store uploaded documents and certifications to the candidate’s profile is vital for in-house recruitment, and a determining factor when considering which ATS tool to use.
Psychometric talent assessment
COVID-19 exacerbated unemployment rates globally, which in consequence has increased the number of applicants per job vacancy- even if they aren’t suitable for the position. In order to counteract the rise of applicants, AI screening tools are increasing in popularity… such as AI psychometric talent assessment.
This tool combines the power of AI technology and pre-recorded video interviews. The algorithm is based on behavioural and industrial science, and analyses the visual and audio cues which are displayed by the candidate in the video interview they submit upon application. This pre-employment check outlines the candidates:
- Soft skills (emotional intelligence, behaviour, communication)
- Personality traits (BIG-5 Personality Framework)
The result? HR professionals have a greater understanding of the abilities of the candidate and can determine whether they’re suited to the company culture and role responsibilities. No wonder this tool is trending in 2021!!
AI matching candidates to appropriate jobs!
Determining which candidate is best suited for the listed vacancy is always a difficult task for HR professions. This is where machine learning assistance is incredibly powerful.
Through years of research, user behaviour, and data history, AI technology is now able to predict which applicants will be best suited for the role based on their skills and experience, and the requirements outlined in the role description. It’s like e-harmony but for workplaces!
This technology is a game-changer, and certainly something in-house recruitment is excited for in 2021.
Questions To Ask ATS Vendors On Demos
Before you make any commitments to an ATS vendor, here are questions you must ask in order to be completely comfortable with your decision:
Q1 : What is the total cost of ownership? Do you have setup costs or any hidden costs I should be made aware of?
- Some vendors may quote you a price for the adoption of their ATS, however, once you’ve agreed you start seeing invoices for setup, training, etc! Make sure you know the total amount you’re expected to pay BEFORE signing a contract!
Q2: What processes do you undertake to ensure the optimum security of your platform?
- You must ensure your ATS vendor maximises security to eliminate any data breaches to your account by external parties!
Q3: Is my data private and owned purely by me or do you sell it?
- Within your ATS platform, the details of your candidates and employers will be stored, therefore it’s critical you know you will have complete control over your data and that it will be kept safe!
Q4: What are your integration capabilities and who do you integrate with?
- Your HR ecosystem must operate seamlessly in order to achieve optimum efficiency and compliance, so before you sign up with any ATS vendor you must know who & what HRMS systems they integrate with!
Q5: What is your customer support like? How regularly can I request assistance and by what means? Do I have to pay extra for support?
- You’re always going to need support! The truth is technology can be confusing, so make sure your needs are taken care of. You want to know how often you can receive support, with who (a team on the phone or a robot on the computer, etc) and if it comes at an additional cost.
Q6: Do you offer ongoing support for new features, and is this complementary?
- For you to discover the functionality of new features on your own would be unfeasible. You need someone to show you how to use the feature and what the value of using the feature is! However, you certainly don’t want to be charged every time.
Q7: Is your ATS platform mobile-enabled? From the perspective of the candidate and HR professional?
- Modern recruitment requires modern technology! To overcome bottlenecks in your recruitment and onboarding process you must have the ability to complete actions on your mobile.
Q8: Does your ATS offer enterprise-grade customisation and flexibility? Or is the layout of the platform set in stone?
- No two businesses are the same, and your ATS platform must recognise this. You require the ability to custom create processes, workflows, e-forms, documents, etc. The structure of the ATS platform must be flexible so you can mold the software to your processes. Modern & enterprise-grade ATS platforms will even let you test the platform for free to determine whether the flexibility and customisation are suitable to your needs.
Q9: Is there an existing client of yours I can chat to? Or see client testimonies?
- Of course, every vendor is going to rate themselves 5 stars. It’s important you speak to existing clients to gather insights into how the vendor operates and if there are any issues you should be made aware of prior to signing a contract. If the business has nothing to hide, they’ll be more than happy to get you in contact with a happy client!