How Important Are Applicant Tracking Systems to Agency Success?

Applicant tracking systems (ATSes) are no longer a luxury –they’re an integral part of agency success. According to our 2014 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, 89% of recruiting professionals consider recruiting technology such as applicant tracking systems to be important or very important to their firms’ success this year, a higher percentage than in 2013 (87%) or in 2012 (86%).


Firms across all sizes consider recruiting technology important to success, but small firm are on the lower end of the findings, at 86% versus 93% for lower-midsize firms, 94% for upper-midsize firms, and 93% for large firms. This isn’t much of a shock given that sole proprietorships and small agencies might opt for less formal candidate database solutions. Notably, 75% of respondents from large firms considered recruiting technology very important.


By recruitment type, the findings are quite different. It appears that the longer the placement cycle, the less that respondents rely on applicant tracking systems. For a high volume placements business, like contract staffing, temp staffing, and RPO, recruiting technology like applicant tracking systems is crucial. For longer-lead or lower-volume business like executive search, recruiting technology is still perceived as important, but not to the same level as more time-sensitive types of staffing.


Also noteworthy is the perception of recruiting technology importance by respondent role. 100% of IT managers consider recruiting technology to be very important to agency success. This finding makes sense given that IT professionals appreciate the value and security that a high-quality applicant tracking system provides. Social media and marketing managers, however, find recruiting technology to be less important, with 10% deeming it “very unimportant.” Since people in these roles rarely use recruiting technology and seldom have to assist when such technology is not used (for instance, managing Excel spreadsheets), it’s no surprise that they don’t find it important.


We also examined importance of applicant tracking systems at split desk and full desk firms. Respondents at full desk firms generally found recruiting technology less important than those at full desk firms. It’s difficult to determine an exact cause here, but it is worth noting that many full desk firms, in which recruiters wear many hats, as it were, are often smaller in size. And the smaller the business, the easier it is to temporarily cope with rudimentary candidate management techniques.


What’s interesting to note is that firms of all sizes and types perceive applicant tracking systems as largely important to their success. The margins of disparity are very small when viewed in aggregate. There is no firm size or recruiting agency team/function that considers recruiting technology to be mostly unimportant, or even mostly neutral. Applicant tracking systems are truly becoming ubiquitous not only in usage, but also in contributions to recruiting agency success.

If you’re interested in learning more about what the Bullhorn ATS/CRM can do for your business, please let us know.

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