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Applicant Tracking System Recruiting & Hiring HR Resources

How to Find the Best Applicant Tracking System in 2024

June 13, 2024
14 min read
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The 2024 Recruiting Trends Shaping ATS Software

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Human resources and talent acquisition teams know all too well that finding and hiring new employees is a lot more complicated than it sounds. You have to post and advertise open roles, attract and source talent, review resumes, screen and stay in touch with candidates, schedule interviews, and manage hiring teams. On top of that, you’re responsible for developing the strategies behind your recruiting and hiring processes and designing an engaging candidate experience.

The number of moving parts, combined with the need for a strategic approach, means that many recruiters and HR teams are using an applicant tracking system (ATS).

An ATS is a powerful software tool equipped with features to help teams execute their recruiting and hiring processes and strategies. Using an ATS attracts a greater volume of high-quality candidates, streamlines recruiting, and reduces time-to-hire. It also enables HR teams to save hours of time each week, simplify communication and collaboration, and learn from their people data.

It’s clear why most companies use an ATS to manage recruitment and hiring. The technology gives your team the tools they need to successfully navigate challenging labor markets and uncertain economic conditions.

But how do you choose the best ATS solution for your business? Let’s find out.

🔍 Looking for the best ATS for your business? 🛠️ Discover features to look for, tips for vetting ATS providers, then download ClearCompany’s ATS Buyer’s Guide:

What Makes the Best Applicant Tracking System?

Think of a few things you would consider “the best,” for example, the best restaurants in your city or the best route to take to work. When we name something “the best,” our preference is subjective but our criteria for comparison remain inside parameters. You may consider a local dive “the best” restaurant in your area — you like their food and the lively atmosphere. However, someone else might choose a high-end new bistro to be “the best” based on their preference for the menu and ambiance.

In some ways, defining what the best applicant tracking systems (ATS) have in common is similar. What one company sees as “the best” ATS may not fit another company’s needs. Luckily, there is a range of ATS options available today that offer solutions for companies whose industries, sizes, requirements, and goals vary widely. These are some of the capabilities that best-in-class ATS solutions will offer, both in the software and as an organization.

Understands Your Business Needs

Whether you’re switching applicant tracking systems or starting from scratch to streamline your recruiting process, vetting software can require a substantial time commitment. For every ATS you consider, you have to reach out for a demo, find a time that works for everyone, attend the demo, and then regroup with your team.

Suffice it to say that the process takes time, so you want to ensure that the ATSs you demo understand what your business is looking for from the very first call. You can make this easier by doing some homework before you begin attending demos. Meet with your team to establish a list of what the ATS needs to offer and features that would be nice to have but aren’t a must.

Provides Client Testimonials

As we mentioned, much of what makes an ATS the “best” is subjective — what works great for a small business won’t always work for a larger company's needs. Top ATS providers know that in order to make an informed decision, you need to hear about the success similar companies have experienced with their systems. As you’re vetting recruiting software, the best solutions will be able to offer case studies and customer testimonials that demonstrate the positive impact of their product on various businesses.

Scales With Your Business

Ensure the ATS can handle the current size of your business and adapt as it grows. You don’t want to go through the demanding process of selecting and utilizing new software only to start the whole process over again in a year or two. Consider questions like:

  • Does the ATS have clients that range in size from small businesses to enterprises?
  • Can I start with a small set of features and add additional tools as my business expands?
  • Will I need to upgrade my ATS right away if the business grows faster than expected?

While those aren’t the only questions to think about, they can get you on the right track toward a best-fit solution.

Fast, Guided Implementation Process

Implementing a new piece of software, especially one that plays such a big role in your organization, can be an intimidating task. Between transferring data to a new system, training employees on how to use it, and the uncertainty in the first few days it’s running, it can be a chaotic process. But it doesn’t have to be.

The best ATS providers will put your implementation fears to rest. Here are a few questions to ask about their process:

  • How long is a typical implementation process, from contract signing to up-and-running?
  • Who is the main point-of-contact implementation?
  • Does the ATS offer training for my HR team on how to use the software?
  • Who do I contact with questions or problems after implementation?

Implementation is a good indicator of whether or not the ATS has great customer support. It should be efficient but not rushed, and your team should know who to contact when they need help. The ATS should also provide training personalized to your company’s needs.

🔍 Ready to elevate your recruitment strategy? Discover the benefits of using an Applicant Tracking System and find out how to choose the best ATS for your business. 🚀

Ongoing, Accessible Support and Training

With a great applicant tracking system, your account manager will provide training opportunities and resources that users can access whenever they need to troubleshoot or learn how to use a new feature. That shouldn’t stop after implementation, either — they’ll also keep you informed of feature updates and new product releases and offer additional training when needed.

The best applicant tracking systems will ensure you have resources like a help center or community portal, and if that isn’t enough, a customer support representative who can answer your questions. During demos, you can ask questions to find out how — and how quickly — you can expect to receive support if needed:

  • Will my organization have a dedicated account manager or customer support team member to contact with questions or problems?
  • How quickly can I expect to receive a response and get my issue resolved?

User-friendly for HR, Candidates, and Hiring Managers

While the best ATS solutions do give you plenty of chances to learn, you still want to choose software that is easy to use for everyone who will interact with it. If it’s a breeze for candidates to use, but your HR team finds it clunky or lacking important tools, the ATS isn’t going to be effective. You also want to be sure that hiring managers can navigate the portions of the software that they will need to use, like candidate profiles and interview scorecards.

During ATS demos, ask to see different user views of the software, run through workflows, and how to submit an application. When comparing ATS solutions, think about how quickly new employees will be able to learn how to use it and how it will impact candidate experience. Make sure that there are recruiters and hiring managers on demos to get their feedback on using the ATS.

Offers Mobile Tools

Today, just about everyone — 97% of U.S. adults — has a phone in their pocket. Think about how often you check your text messages versus your email inbox — chances are, it’s much more often. Your candidates are no different, so the evolution of ATS software has resulted in solutions equipped with mobile tools so you can reach more candidates and hire them faster.

The benefits of text recruiting are too numerous to land on an ATS that doesn’t have those tools. Expand your talent pool, engage with candidates, and keep up with the competition by ensuring your ATS offers mobile and texting tools.

Includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) Capabilities

Few technologies have swept the world like AI. It’s becoming a common feature not just in ATS systems, but in software of all types. In talent acquisition, there are many applications for AI:

  • Accelerated candidate sourcing
  • Simplified interview scheduling and faster hiring processes
  • Faster creation of written content, like emails, job descriptions, and offer letters
  • Hands-off talent pipeline nurturing with automatic recruiting email drip campaigns
  • Time savings for recruiting teams with helpful chatbots

Those are just a few ways to apply AI to your recruiting processes, and its uses are only increasing by the minute. Be sure to look for an ATS provider that is not only investing in AI-powered features, but prioritizes responsible AI development, too.

Seamless Integration With Other HR Software

Your HR team is probably using a variety of software solutions to handle all the moving parts of people management, like payroll, background checks, and more. And while you might be exploring new ATS solutions, you may not want to replace all of the software your team currently uses. As you and your team explore ATS options, keep a list of the software tools the new ATS would need to integrate with so you don’t waste time on demos.

Collects Analytics and Generates Reports

If you’re still thinking, “Why use an applicant tracking system?” — here’s your answer. One of the biggest reasons to use an ATS is because of the deep insight your HR team will gain into your talent acquisition process.

ClearCompany’s ATS provides our users with reports on a variety of important recruiting questions. They can get access to data and analytics that point out inefficiencies and strengths and inform strategic HR decisions in the future. Some questions hiring teams can answer include:

  • What is our time-to-hire? Time-to-fill?
  • How many candidates are submitting applications during a given time frame?
  • Where do most candidates find our job posts?
  • Are we posting to a sufficient number of job boards?
  • Are we attracting qualified candidates?

The knowledge your HR team will gain from an ATS with recruiting analytics can have an extremely positive impact on the whole process. You can reduce blind spots, fix problems, and streamline processes, all the while making decisions informed by your company’s real recruiting data. Then, you can see the results and watch those important metrics improve.

Part of a Comprehensive Talent Management Platform

The top applicant tracking systems on the market offer more than just candidate tracking and recruiting features — they’re part of a connected ecosystem of talent management tools. Once they’re hired, an employee’s journey is only just beginning. They need onboarding, learning and development opportunities, recognition, performance evaluations, and more. Choosing an ATS that seamlessly integrates with other modules to handle these activities ensures your software can keep up as your business needs grow.

A powerful ATS is an extremely useful tool on its own, but its benefits only increase when used in conjunction with a full-platform talent management system:

  • Serves as a single source of truth for an employee’s complete lifecycle
  • Enables greater transparency at every stage of the employee journey
  • Decreases silos and increases access to and accuracy of candidate and employee information
  • Seamlessly connects HR processes that take place throughout the employee lifecycle
  • Increases insights gleaned from people data

As HR tech moves toward integrated software over disjointed point solutions, choosing a comprehensive talent management system is a wise decision.

ClearCompany: The Clear Choice for Clients

Your search for just about anything in life, from new shoes to a new job, includes getting feedback from people who’ve actually worn them or worked there. Choosing new software should include the same process of vetting reviews for real user experiences. Take a look at why ClearCompany ATS is the clear choice for our clients.

  • ClearCompany G2 Review Screenshot
  • ClearCompany G2 Review Screenshot
  • ClearCompany G2 Review Screenshot
  • ClearCompany G2 Review Screenshot
  • ClearCompany G2 Review Screenshot

6 Applicant Tracking System FAQs

Get answers to a few of the most common questions about using an ATS.

1. What are the benefits of using an applicant tracking system?

Wondering why you need an ATS? There are a plethora of benefits you can get from the software. An incredible 86% of companies say using one has significantly reduced their time-to-hire, which gives them a competitive advantage in a market where the average hiring recently rose to 44 days. That helps you snag top talent quickly and reduce the costs of hiring.

Another advantage of an ATS is the ability to consolidate hiring workflow management into one system. No need to manage a separate CRM or repost open roles to a dozen different job boards. Eliminate confusion around a candidate’s hiring status and keep a record of every touchpoint between recruiters and candidates, from emails to text messages. You can even create a structured interview format along with guides and scorecards for the hiring team to use during interviews.

The benefits of an ATS are numerous and only limited by your team’s needs. Get in touch with a ClearCompany expert to discover how a powerful ATS can help you smash your hiring goals.

2. How much do applicant tracking systems cost?

Applicant tracking system costs vary depending on many factors:

  • The size of your business
  • The capabilities of the software
  • The complexity of software implementation
  • The number of optional features or tools you choose

Ask about typical costs — both one-time and recurring — as you demo ATS solutions.

3. How does an ATS simplify the recruitment process?

There are many ways your HR team can use an ATS for simplified recruiting:

  • Post open roles to a wide variety of job boards simultaneously, and manage job posts from a centralized dashboard.
  • Implement an AI chatbot on your career site to help job applicants find the right role, answer screening questions, and even schedule interviews.
  • Use AI to quickly compose and send outreach messages to candidates in bulk and craft personalized responses in seconds.
  • Schedule interviews without days of back-and-forth with multi-interview scheduling tools. You can automatically generate scheduling links that allow candidates to choose an interview time that works best for them and everyone on the hiring team.
  • Work to eliminate bias in hiring with structured interviews and interview scorecards that increase fairness in the process.
  • Sort candidates who aren’t hired into talent communities so you can reach out with future opportunities.
  • Gather hiring data to help your team constantly improve its processes and offer an excellent candidate experience.

4. Can an ATS improve the quality of hires?

If you use your ATS features to the fullest, you can certainly improve the quality of your hires. An ATS with sourcing tools can help you dig up candidates from sources you thought you’d tapped dry and ones you didn’t know existed, ensuring you find employees who are truly the best fit for the role. With engaging, easy-to-read job descriptions and a career site that shows off your employer brand, you’ll appeal to job seekers who identify with your company's values and mission.

Then, you can use your ATS to refine your candidate experience, which doesn’t just help retain candidates during the hiring process — it also helps create brand ambassadors. Even if they’re not hired, brand ambassadors are left with a positive impression of your company, which reinforces your employer brand.

After making your hiring choices, you can consult materials like interview scorecards to determine which traits — including hard and soft skills, work experience, and other characteristics — top performers have in common. If you’re using a comprehensive talent management system, you can draw on data gathered throughout the employee lifecycle to gain an even better understanding of what makes an ideal hire for every role.

5. Is an applicant tracking system difficult to implement?

Implementing new business software certainly isn’t easy, but it can go smoothly when you choose the right provider. Talk to software providers about how the typical implementation experience works to determine how much time it will take and who will need to be involved. If you can speak with other clients, ask about their process to see if it’s in line with expectations.

6. How can an ATS enhance the candidate experience?

An ATS can enhance the candidate experience in many ways. Thanks to texting tools and generative AI content assistance, an ATS makes it far easier for recruiters and candidates to communicate. Automated workflows speed up processes like interview scheduling and even sending rejection messages. Interview guides and scorecards ensure candidates are evaluated fairly against the same criteria.

The best part of using an ATS is learning from your people data. This gives you insight into your unique processes so you can find out what’s working and what you need to improve to create the best possible candidate experience.

How to Choose the Best Applicant Tracking System for You

Let’s take a quick look at the steps to take before you start looking for an ATS, during your search, and after you’ve implemented the software.

Before Choosing the Best ATS

  • State the goals your ideal ATS would achieve.
  • Determine budget and desired implementation date.
  • Consider which features are needs vs. wants.
  • Make the case for an ATS.

During the ATS Vetting Process

  • Ask for proof.
  • Think about future business needs.
  • Refer back to your goals.

After Implementing the New ATS

  • Compare impactful recruiting and hiring metrics.
  • Check in with your account manager and keep up with new features.

Dig into these steps with ClearCompany’s ATS Buyer’s Guide.

Key Features to Look For in an ATS

Depending on your needs, some ATS features are must-haves, and some are just nice to have. Before you start your search for the right ATS vendor, create two lists for your company so you understand where you can compromise and what makes a dealbreaker.

We’re taking a look at ATS features, both those that are standard in most systems and the more unique features that can help you decide which ATS is the best for your business. We’ll also cover some characteristics of excellent ATS providers to consider.

Common ATS Features

  • Centralized Dashboard for Applicant Management
  • Functionality for Different Roles
  • Job Board Management
  • Mobile Apply Accessibility

Unique ATS Functions

  • AI-Assisted Candidate Communications
  • AI-Assisted Candidate Sourcing and Screening
  • Branded Career Sites With AI Chatbot Assistant
  • Compensation Benchmarking
  • Email Drip Campaigns
  • Built-In Background Checks
  • Multilingual Options
  • Video Interview Responses
  • Employee Referral Management
  • Multi-Interview Scheduling
  • Internal Interview Guides & Scorecards
  • Candidate Texting
  • Smart Search
  • Candidate Status Management
  • Analytics & Predictive Performance

Traits of an ATS Provider

  • Security
  • Superior Customer Support
  • Easy Implementation
  • Collaborative Relationships With Clients

Find the Best ATS With Your ATS Buyer’s Guide

Selecting an AT isn’t a decision you can make overnight or on your own — but it’s worth the effort to reap the benefits of a modern hiring platform. If you’re starting the process of searching for the best ATS for your organization, we have the resources you need to make the best decision.

ClearCompany’s ATS Buyer’s Guide helps you choose an ATS that fits your recruiting and hiring needs. Our Guide is packed with tips for finding the right ATS, from presenting a case to executives to making the final decision.

Download our ATS Buyer's Guide and choose the right ATS with confidence.

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