November 9, 2021

First, what is an ATS? At its simplest, it’s an automated tracking system employers use to manage job applications and candidates. But, applicant tracking systems are also packed with recruiting tools, analytics dashboards, and other talent acquisition solutions. 

Finding the best ATS that fits all of your business’s needs — both present and future — is no easy task. A new Applicant Tracking System is a large commitment of time and resources:

  1. First, someone — most likely a human resources professional or recruiter — has to realize the need for a new or updated ATS.
  2. Next, HR managers need to create a convincing business case for investing in an ATS. They’ll also need to present the case to company leadership and obtain a budget.
  3. Then, company executives and HR leaders, recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers, and any other stakeholders can start vetting ATS solutions. 
  4. After considering several options, decision-makers have to agree on which tool is the best ATS for your company’s needs.
  5. Once the ATS is chosen and the contract signed, the implementation and employee training process gets underway.
  6. Finally, hiring teams, including HR, candidate sources, and hiring managers, can take advantage of all the ATS has to offer.

You can be confident that the effort is worth it: 94% of recruiters and hiring professionals say an ATS has had a positive impact on hiring. The list above is far from exhaustive but gives you an idea of what it will take to find the right applicant tracking system. It will help you make the best decision possible so you can use the new ATS for years to come.

Before you get the ball rolling, check out our tips for how to choose the best ATS for your business. We’re not just talking about what to do before you decide on new or updated software. We’ll share what you can do after implementation to feel confident that your ATS is effective.

These tips for choosing the best ATS will help you kickstart the process, cover all your bases, and make an informed decision. But, don’t hesitate to make adjustments and additions. Your specific considerations will vary depending on your industry, organizational structure, and business needs.

Struggling to find the best #ATS for your business? Check out @ClearCompany’s tips for making an informed decision, plus see how you can track your ATS’s effectiveness after implementation:

Before Choosing the Best ATS:

Before you even begin listing your applicant tracking system options, there are a few things the team should discuss.  We’re big believers that setting goals and expectations make processes run much more smoothly, and this process is no different. Whether you’re upgrading or starting from scratch, finding a new ATS is easier with a little bit of planning.

State The Goals Your Ideal ATS Would Achieve

The first step to finding the right ATS seems like an obvious one, but far from unimportant: state what your organization wants to accomplish with the new software. If you’re searching for an ATS solution, you probably already know which problems you need it to solve.

The primary purpose of an ATS is to enable recruiters and HR teams to find and hire the best candidates for every position. An ATS streamlines the recruiting process. It filters through resumes quickly, creates a streamlined candidate experience, and allows recruiters to focus only on best-fit applicants.

Many of an ATS’s primary purposes likely coincide with your goals. Intentional goal-setting keeps your eye on the prize, so to speak. Setting goals makes it much clearer which solution is the best ATS for your organization as you vet your options. Some examples of goals for your new ATS include:

  • Straightforward job applications that appeal to more candidates
  • Mobile tools like Text-to-Apply, which allows candidates to text their applications 
  • Access to a wider range of qualified candidates
  • Reduce the time recruiters spend looking at resumes
  • Create or nurture your talent pipeline
  • Ability to post each open position to multiple job boards 
  • Reduce time-to-fill and time-to-hire

Determine budget and desired implementation date

After you’ve set goals, you’ll be better equipped to determine a budget. An ATS investment can seem expensive, but it’s important to put it in the context of your recruiting budget. This tool will be a huge time-saver for recruiters and candidate sourcers.

In the long run, using the ATS leads to better hiring decisions overall, which has a significant impact on retention. Replacing employees is expensive, so that’s no small consideration.

The ATS evaluation team should also set an ideal timeline for implementation. This will likely be several different deadlines, since purchasing human resources software is a big undertaking. Your timeline could look something like this:

  • Sign contract by the end of Q4 
  • Begin ATS implementation in Q1 
  • Complete software testing mid-Q1
  • Begin employee training in late Q1
  • Launch new ATS into recruiting and hiring workflow in Q2

There are many more steps along the way, but this list gives you an idea of what ATS implementation entails.

Consider which features are needs vs. wants

Today’s applicant tracking systems have a treasure trove of features to enable more efficient recruiting and hiring processes. You should be familiar with what’s available before choosing your ATS options. This makes it less likely that you’ll be sold on a shiny user interface versus what the ATS can actually do.

The features of a well-equipped ATS include:

  • Passive Candidate Sourcing so your brand reaches more top talent
  • Job Board Posting to get open positions in front of a wider, more diverse range of candidates
  • Mobile accessibility, multilingual applications, and branded career sites to create an excellent candidate experience for every applicant and on any device
  • Candidate texting tools, like ClearText, for fast, easy communication with applicants
  • Text-to-Apply, which allows candidates to send an application via text message
  • Interview tools including video interviewing, interview scheduling, guides, and scorecards to easily coordinate interviews and evaluate candidates 
  • Talent Communities to re-engage past candidates and nurture your talent pipeline
  • Offer letter management and easy background checks to speed up candidate screening and hiring
  • Recruiting, hiring, and performance analytics so recruiters and HR professionals can see the efficacy of their processes and demonstrate their value to the business

You’ll also want to consider the services vendors offer their clients to ensure your organization has the proper support:

  • A thorough implementation process
  • A dedicated customer support manager or a responsive customer support team
  • Accessible training materials for every ATS feature

While ATSs will have many features in common, there will still be some variation in extra tools and capabilities. That means it’s essential to decide which features are must-haves and which are optional. You might have the ATS project team vote on features or defer to the HR team to decide, but create the needs versus wants list before getting started.

Did you know? ClearCompany clients that use Text-to-Apply have 3.5x the candidates and a 400% faster time-to-hire.

Make the case for an ATS

An executive team or other leadership will likely need to approve a large recruiting software purchase. When you have clear goals, the desired budget, and know which features you need to have, you can make a strong case for getting an ATS. Include concrete numbers that illustrate the time and money that would be saved and the HR metrics that would be positively impacted. Focus on how an ATS benefits not just HR and recruiters, but the organization as a whole.

Want to learn more about how to make the business case for an ATS? Download our ATS Buyer’s Guide for a more detailed breakdown of what to include in your presentation.

During the ATS Vetting Process

Hooray, the ATS purchase has been approved! You have a timeline, a budget, and a list of must-have features. You’ve compiled a list of prospective applicant tracking systems and scheduled demos. And now, it’s the fun part: software demo time!

While you’re testing technology, don’t get distracted by flashy software or an over-promising salesperson. Here’s what to keep in mind through every demo to end up with the best ATS.

Ask for proof

Don’t take the sales rep’s word when they claim their ATS will cut your time-to-hire down by three-quarters. Ask for proof in the form of customer testimonials, case studies, and reviews. If the sales rep doesn’t have the data to back up their claims, it’s impossible to know if the ATS will meet your needs. On the other hand, you can be more confident in the rep’s claims if they’re happy to supply information to prove what their ATS can accomplish. 

Updating your #recruiting processes with new #ATS software? @ClearCompany has tips to help you find an ATS that will revamp your strategies and supercharge your strategies:

Think about future business needs

During each demo, talk to sales reps about the scalability of their tool and how they handle working with growing businesses. An ATS is meant to be a long-term software solution for your business’s recruiting and hiring needs. Will the ATS still be a good fit if your HR team grows or hiring needs increase? 

Not to mention, it’s a weeks- or months-long process to find and launch an ATS. It’s not feasible or practical to repeat it time and again. The system you choose will ideally be in place for years to come. With that in mind, the team choosing the new ATS will need to carefully consider both present and future business needs.

Refer back to your goals

It’s helpful to keep objectives top-of-mind and refer back to them often. An ATS solution might offer a slew of mobile application tools that are on your nice-to-have lists. But, if it lacks the robust reporting capabilities on your must-have list, it’s unlikely to be the best fit for your company’s needs.

As your team discusses each ATS option, continuously ask if the solution will help achieve the goals that were set from the start. If the answer is a no or a maybe, you can feel more confident as you rank ATS solutions and decide which to cross off the list.

After Implementing the New ATS

What a relief — the team has selected an applicant tracking system, signed the contract, and transferred everything from the old system to the new. Every employee who will use the ATS has completed their training and launch day was a success! But, you shouldn’t stop evaluating the new ATS’s capabilities after launch day.

Continuing to evaluate the ATS means you can measure its effectiveness and ensure your company gets the most from its investment. After recruiters and HR teams begin using the new software, keep a close eye on how it compares to your old ATS or prior processes.

Compare impactful recruiting and hiring metrics

With the new ATS in place, you can begin to track how it affects important hiring metrics. There are many metrics that demonstrate the effectiveness of your new software:

  • Number of applicants per requisition
  • Time-to-fill (length of time it takes to fill an open position)
  • Time-to-hire (length of time from a candidate’s application to their start date)
  • Cost per hire
  • Quality of hire
  • Time to productivity

There are many HR metrics you can track to prove your ATS investment was worth the hard work it took to choose and implement. Monitoring these metrics can also help demonstrate the value of recruiting, sourcing, and HR professionals and what can happen when an organization invests in human resources strategy.

Keep up with new features

One of the best things about applicant tracking software is that new features and updates are a common occurrence. Your ATS will likely have many updates throughout the year, which are smaller changes to the software, and several new feature releases. 

New features and software updates often come with a learning curve, and the best ATS solutions have teams in place to provide training and support in those instances. Ensure your employees are trained on how to use new features to ensure your company takes advantage of all your ATS has to offer.

Though it’s no easy process to select an ATS, the benefits of a modern hiring platform are too many to ignore. 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. Download our guide to choosing an ATS that fits your recruiting and hiring needs.

ClearCompany’s ATS Buyer’s Guide is packed with tips for finding the right ATS, from presenting a case to executives to making the final decision. We’ve even included a handy comparison chart to make evaluating your options that much simpler. Download the guide and start the search for your company’s perfect ATS.

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Melanie Baravik
Melanie Baravik
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As a content connoisseur for ClearCompany, Melanie creates informational content to help HR professionals discover the positive impact of technology and best practices on employee recruitment, engagement, and retention.

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