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Essential Criteria for Selecting an Applicant Tracking System [Part 1]

Posted by Afton Funk

Jan 22, 2013 11:08:00 AM

criteria for selecting an applicant tracking system

This is part one of a two part series on some of the essential criteria to consider when selecting an applicant tracking system.  Whether you're switching from an existing system or looking to implement a new system from scratch, these criteria will help to ensure that you choose the right system for your needs and ensure the success of the project.


1.) Support & Implementation

While not a "feature" in the strictest sense, support is far from the least important criteria - the support that a vendor provides will either make or break their service offering.  Having quick access to a dedicated team of professionals whose only goal is your success should not be underestimated, especially when compared to a faceless 800 number with bad hold music.

What To Look For: 

  • Tailored, no-fee implementation
  • Dedicated account rep who works with you through implementation & onwards
  • Detailed business & best-practice consulting
  • Fee-free support, i.e. no tiers like "Platinum" support
  • Ongoing, unlimited live support and personalized training
  • Live Chat, Email & Phone Support
  • Searchable wiki-guide with guidelines and best practices


2.) Cloud-Based

Over the past few years many software vendors have begun providing their services online instead of as an installed application, bringing more features, more accessibility and lower price-points.  That said, not all "Cloud" services are the same - the underlying technology can be vastly different from vendor to vendor.  Below are a few technical terms to help in your search.

What To Look For: 

  • Single-Instance
  • True Multi-Tenancy
  • Application Programming Interface (API)
  • Single Sign-On Support
  • SAS 70 Level II Compliant Datacenter
  • Tiered Redundancy
  • Disaster Recovery Protocols
  • Ability to import the database from your old system
  • Ability to integrate with third-party systems, i.e. HRIS, Payroll, etc. 


3.) Easy Manager Engagement

Rolling a new system out to end users who do not use the system on a day-to-day basis (i.e. hiring managers) can be one of the most difficult parts of the implementation process, however it is also one of the most important.  Getting fast and meaningful feedback from hiring managers is critical to an effective recruiting process that gets the best candidates hired quickly.  Be sure any system you choose offers easy, intuitive ways to engage your hiring managers at various points.

What To Look For: 

  • Intuitive Interface that requires minimal training
  • Email-based, one-click feedback on candidates from managers
  • Hiring Manager Allowed Workflow Stage Customization
  • Requisition creation & submission for approval
  • Email-based, mobile-optimized requisition approval process
  • Support for different levels of hiring manager engagement 


4.) Candidate Experience

Providing a fantastic candidate experience not only promotes your employment brand in a positive light, but more importantly gets you higher conversion rates of career site visitors to candidates, and increases the likelihood of passive candidates applying for your positions.  The candidate experience also continues after the initial application, so tools which make it easy to communicate with candidates are essential.

What To Look For: 

  • Elegant career sites that match your company's brand and website's look & feel
  • Facebook career site, to be sure you're recruiting where your candidates are
  • Mobile-optimized career site, for candidates on the road or without a computer
  • Easy application processes, i.e. apply-by-email or apply-by-LinkedIn
  • Configurable applications, with different questions and sections supported for different job types
  • Auto-reply emails thanking candidates for applying
  • Easy-to-use bulk communication tools 

Topics: Applicant Tracking System, Recruiting & Hiring