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Recruitment Tech 101: What is an Applicant Tracking System? (ATS)

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Welcome to Recruitment Tech 101. In this series, we’ll capture some frequently asked questions about recruitment technology and its benefits for agency’s. First up: What is an Applicant Tracking System? 

If you work in recruitment, you’ve probably heard of the term applicant tracking system (ATS). But what does it mean? And why are they integral to recruitment success? Read on for the basics or check out the ATS Buyer’s Guide for a more in-depth look at the wonderful world of applicant tracking systems.

What’s an ATS?

An applicant tracking system automates an organisation’s recruiting and recruitment operations, and provides a central repository for candidate data—including résumés and applications. An ATS is built to help you better manage every stage in the recruiting process, from application to hire, while delivering greater overall efficiency.

Why Should I Use an ATS?

A good ATS has the power to overhaul your entire recruitment operation into the most productive, profitable and efficient business it can be. With proper implementation, they increase recruiter productivity, save time, and provide organisation and structure for your recruiting operations.

Specifically, agencies that use an ATS report:

  • 75% less time wasted time
  • 70% faster report creation
  • 15% less time to fill
  • 10% more placements per month
Why Use an ATS

Recruitment agencies that use an applicant tracking system report more placements and less unproductive time than firms that don’t. Ninety-four percent of recruiting professionals say their ATS has positively impacted their hiring process.

What’s the Difference Between an ATS and a CRM? 

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is traditionally used to manage client-facing relationships while an ATS system is used to manage the candidate-side of your business. The two solutions don’t have to be separate, however.

Agencies can usually purchase a recruitment CRM with their ATS to gain full visibility into client activity. Recruitment CRM capabilities make it easier to manage all aspects of the client relationship, helping to generate and close job orders more efficiently. Capabilities will vary with each ATS, but to streamline your business, seek a single system that combines ATS and CRM functions so your team has everything they need in one place.

How Do I Find the Right ATS for Me?

How can you ensure that you choose the right ATS for your agency needs? Follow these steps to determine what you need in an applicant tracking system.

  • Review your recruiting process
    • Document your recruiting workflow steps, taking note of the activities necessary for a recruiter to do their job.
    • How often are you doing each of these steps?
    • What does your agency do really well?
    • Do you use any third-party tools like job boards or social media?
  • Determine what your current solutions are lacking
    • What are your biggest pain points?
    • Where do your recruiters spend the most time?
    • What features are you missing that would provide the most value to you?
  • Make an ATS wishlist
    • What would your perfect ATS look like?
    • Which features are must-haves and which ones are just nice-to-haves?

Share this list with prospective providers so they can address your specific needs.

What Should I Ask an ATS Provider Before I Buy?

Towards the end of your ATS journey, you’ll be scheduling demos with a shortlist of your top ATS choices. We put together a list of 50 questions you may want to ask. Here are ten questions you’ll want answered before you make this important investment.

  1. Does your ATS specialise in the specific needs of third-party recruitment agencies?
  2. How many recruitment agencies use your product?
  3. Does your ATS have a native mobile app?
  4. Do you have an open ecosystem with partner solutions that integrate with you ATS?
  5. Are you investing in improvements to your product?
  6. Does your ATS have any unique features that other systems don’t?
  7. Does your ATS offer a front-to-back experience—capabilities for the front office, middle office, and back office?
  8. Are there ongoing resources for using and learning about the ATS?
  9. Is it possible to customise fields and workflows?
  10. Do you provide live or on-demand training support?

Ready to take a deeper dive into the world of applicant tracking systems? Check out the ATS Buyer’s Guide for everything you need to know to make a worthwhile investment in your recruitment agency’s future.