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Keep Track of Your Recruiting Efforts editorial staff editorial staff

What does an applicant tracking system do?

  • Applicant tracking systems are a great addition for recruiters to make finding new applicants much easier.
  • There are many different applicant tracking systems, each with their own customizable features.
  • There are both positives and negatives of using an applicant tracking system, but the positives outweigh the negatives.  

According to Jobscan, a general applicant tracking system helps business with the recruitment and hiring processes. Depending on the system, each one offers a different set of features and functionality. However, they all collect and organize applicants and their information. Anytime someone submits an application or resume online, they are typically using an applicant tracking system. Hiring managers can use an applicant tracking system to organize the large volume of applications they receive. It is especially helpful for businesses that have multiple areas in which they want to hire.

Types of applicant tracking systems

There are some major players in the applicant tracking system market. Each one has a little something different to bring to your business. It is important that you find the right applicant tracking system that fits your business needs. 

Taleo is powered by Oracle and it is the most popular applicant tracking application used by companies. It can be completely customized so no two companies may use the same features. These systems have knockout questions which are intended to quickly decide if the applicant meets the basic criteria of the job. It not, they are "knocked out" of the applicant pool. Taleo has the ability to rank these questions. The questions go beyond a yes or no answers. You are able to assign a certain rank to specific answers. Then the applicant is ordered by those who ranked the highest based on the answers. Taleo allows you to assign points to certain words contained within resumes. You enter words into the system and a number. When those words appear in a resume, the applicant gets bonus points. 

Greenhouse is a newer application but has been taking over in its short time. One of the selling features of Greenhouse is that it does not scrape a resume and pull information out of it, then put it into the application based on the parameters you have set up. Instead, it allows you to have some flexibility when formatting the labels and options within the application. You are able to do a keyword search on applications, as well as a frequency indicator of how often the words appear in the resume. 

iCIMS is one of the most customizable applicant tracking systems on the market. It has many features that can be changed to meet the needs of your business. In addition to the typical parsing and filtering, this application is all about transparency so that any time an applicant applies for a job, that information is available to any recruiter looking at information about that applicant. You also may be able to see six months of information about a specific applicant and the jobs for which they apply.

The pros and cons of applicant tracking systems

As with everything, there are positives and negatives of applicant tracking systems. It is important that you have some awareness of both when it comes to these types of systems. 

The benefits of an applicant tracking system is that they provide recruiters with consistent information about an applicant. You receive all the same information about the applicants. This system ranks applicants by experience, education and skills, then matches them to your needs within a specific job posting. This type of tracking system informs applicants that they have been successful in their submission of which document they upload. The hope is that this eliminates their desire to call you and follow up. The system can also alert the applicant if they have been removed from the pool of potential candidates for a specific job. You can also keep prospective candidates for future positions on file for when the proper opportunity appears for that person. 

Now, the downside of applicant tracking systems can be that they are not sophisticated enough for your needs. Their search and filter capabilities do not always return the correct results. As a result, some of the best qualified applicants are missed because their name is not returned appropriately from a search. If the applicant's resume is not formatted in a certain way, the application may not be able to search on it. While one of the benefits is the ability to quickly search through a large amount of information, it may pull it too quickly and not capture all the correct information. 

Applicant tracking comparison chart

It's no secret that business processes are becoming increasingly automated, but hiring managers are arguably the happiest to have the solution of applicant tracking systems. The hiring process can be a grueling task and incredibly time consuming, so ATS solutions soften the burden by posting job openings on your career page or job boards, screens resumes, and generates interview requests to potential candidates. Some other features include pre-screening questions, source tracking and even integrated background checks.

According to research done by human-resources consulting firm Bersin & Associates, the average cost of hiring a new employee is $3,479. Businesses looking to cut down their hiring costs are starting to implement applicant tracking systems. With exception to phone and face-to-face interviews, this software can essentially handle the entire hiring process for your business, saving both precious time and money.

When choosing an ATS for your organization, you need to consider some key factors to ensure that the system fits all your needs. Every business has different hiring process requirements depending on business structure, type and budget.

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images editorial staff editorial staff Member
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