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Applicant Tracking System

The Evolution of Applicant Tracking Systems & Expert ATS Predictions

November 11, 2021
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is one of the most powerful tools available to recruiters, candidate sourcers, hiring managers, and HR professionals. An ATS enables a more efficient recruiting process and more refined talent acquisition strategies. Companies use ATSs to get their open positions in front of higher numbers of qualified candidates. The software creates a streamlined application process and simplifies candidate management. Ultimately, an ATS helps organizations hire the best possible person for every role.

Their effectiveness as a recruiting tool and applicant database is certain. That’s why we’re taking a look back at the first ATS solutions, how they’ve evolved, and where they’re headed in 2022.

Take a look back at the first #ATS solutions, how they’ve evolved, and where they’re headed in 2022 in @ClearCompany’s latest post:

Applicant Tracking Systems: Then vs. Now

The purpose of an ATS has always been to help recruiters bring in as many qualified candidates as possible. Applicant tracking systems have been around since the late 1990s. They started as a tool to process and store resumes automatically. ATSs were mainly used for compliance, according to SHRM, reducing lawsuits by establishing greater consistency in companies’ hiring practices.

Over time, ATSs grew to include features like resume parsing, job board posting, and recruiting analytics. They began storing more detailed applicant data and enabled recruiters to identify the most reliable candidate sources. They saved time, resources, and gave companies the ability to make data-informed recruiting and hiring decisions.

It’s clear why ATSs soon became an integral part of a successful talent acquisition strategy. Now, about 75% of recruiters use an ATS, and 94% say that their ATS has a positive impact on hiring.

Did you know? 75% of recruiters use an ATS, and 94% say that their ATS has a positive impact on hiring.

They’ve become even more necessary in today’s competitive labor market where candidate experience has taken center stage in the fight for top talent. 50% of candidates have turned down a job offer due to a poor candidate experience. Your ATS also contributes to how potential candidates view your employer brand. 54% of Gen Z job seekers won’t even apply if they feel a company’s hiring methods are outdated.

ATSs have evolved into all-encompassing recruiting platforms. They are equipped with tons of recruiting and hiring tools that enable an improved candidate experience: 

  •  Mobile capabilities including mobile applications and text applications
  • Branded career sites to strengthen employer branding 
  • Candidate texting for fast, clear communication with candidates
  • Employee referral program management (referrals tend to be higher performers and stay with the company longer)
  • Interview tools include video interviewing, scheduling, and scorecards for a consistent, effective interview process
  • Compliance and record-keeping tools like One-click Background Checks and Offer Letter Management 
  • Recruiting analytics and reporting for enhanced planning, evaluating new hire performance, and demonstrating the value of recruiting and sourcing positions to the organization
  • Cloud-based data storage so HR teams can access accurate applicant information

Many ATSs now even include digital onboarding features so individuals can easily go from candidate to new employee. Digital onboarding tools include new hire portals, electronic forms, and integrations with payroll providers, all of which enable faster, totally paperless onboarding. When done well, onboarding can increase employee retention by up to 82% and productivity by up to 70%. So, it makes sense that companies would choose an ATS with custom onboarding options. 

The immense benefits of these virtual recruiting and digital onboarding tools became all too apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when people and processes suddenly were forced remote. Now, the remote workforce is here to stay. Gartner predicted that more than half of knowledge workers will be fully remote by the end of 2021. Job seekers expect video interviews, a paperless onboarding process, and remote work options. These massive shifts in the way we work have also changed the way we find, engage, and retain employees.

ATS software has mastered the automation of many recruiting processes and enabled targeted recruiting strategies. They offer tools that make recruiters’ jobs easier and provide an outstanding candidate experience. Recruiters and HR teams can easily reach more applicants, foster their talent pipeline, and spend more time finding the best candidates. Many ATSs also offer an onboarding platform for the most efficient, streamlined recruiting and hiring process possible.

Today’s ATS solutions provide more tools and data than ever before. But, they’re still evolving as the world of work evolves. Next, we’ll look at what experts predict for the future of ATS technology and how it will impact HR strategies.  

The Future Of The ATS

In the just over two decades since applicant tracking systems emerged, they’ve become central to recruitment and hiring. 78% of hiring professionals say candidates they find with their ATS are higher-quality employees. Hybrid and remote work is trending toward permanence, according to Gallup. The ATS software market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2021-2026, at which time its estimated value will reach nearly $1.5 billion.

Given the positive attitude of recruiters and positive market growth predictions, it’s unlikely that organizations using ATS technology will stop using it. More and more companies adopting the software will continue to drive its innovation. All that to say, recruiting software is only going to continue to improve. Tools to help recruiters find the best candidates will continue to be refined. 

Here’s what the experts predict for ATS software in 2022 and beyond:

What can you expect from the #ApplicantTrackingSystems of the future? Check out @ClearCompany’s latest post to see how #ATS software has evolved and where it’s heading:

ATSs Will Mimic Social Media

As features like resume parsing have improved, ATSs have been able to create much more detailed candidate profiles. Many ATSs even integrate with social media sites like LinkedIn to bring in more information about each candidate. As a result, candidate profiles have begun to look more like portfolios than resumes in an effective ATS.

These comprehensive profiles mean that recruiters get a more complete picture of each applicant and can easily compare information like years of experience and skillsets. As ATS software continues advancing, it’s likely that the familiar elements of social media profiles will become more commonplace.

ATSs Will Match Rejected Candidates To New Positions

Often, recruiters encounter great candidates who aren’t the best fit for the position for which they applied. But, that doesn’t mean they’re a bad candidate. ATSs already enable recruiters to focus their efforts on the best candidates. It’s highly likely that most recruiters can spot a candidate whose skills are more suited to another open position. 

But over time, it’s inevitable that some great candidates have been lost in the shuffle. In the future, ATSs’ AI capabilities mean the system will be able to identify and resurface past applicants whose profile matches a new requisition. ATSs’ ability to identify growth and promotional opportunities for current employees will become more refined. That is a powerful tool for any organization — employee development can improve retention up to 34% and engagement by 15%.

ATS UX Will Continue Improving For Applicants And Admins

If you’ve been in recruiting or HR for a few years, you’ve seen major enhancements to the ATS user experience (UX) for both applicants and daily users of the software. As we use software in more areas of our work, candidate, employee, and user experience were already becoming a top priority. With the pandemic demanding digital-first workplaces, the need for effective UX was solidified.

As Josh Bersin puts it, the “experience layer” of HR software is a main focus for HR technology providers. According to Bersin’s 2021 HR Tech Guide, HR technology is moving into its next phase of evolution. At this point, HR tech effectively manages talent acquisition strategy, performance, and engagement. Now, says Bersin, HR tech, including ATSs,  will enable productivity and optimize performance while offering the most intuitive UX possible.

Between their current capabilities and what’s to come, you don’t want to miss out on what an applicant tracking system can do for your recruiting and hiring strategies. You need an ATS solution that can grow with your company. It should power recruiting and hiring strategies that enable your HR team to find, engage, and retain best-fit employees.

ClearCompany’s award-winning ATS and Onboarding platform can do just that. In ClearCompany, you’ll find customized tools that fit your company’s needs. You’ll also get a true ATS partner committed to helping you achieve your recruiting goals. Get in touch with the ClearCompany experts today to see our ATS platform in action.

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