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Applicant Tracking Systems and How They Help with Hiring and Recruiting Efficiently

How applicant tracking systems work
Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Hiring is a stressful, time-consuming task that can swallow up whole workdays. The amount of research, planning and interviewing it requires can be taxing. Trying to rush the hiring process can lead to missteps and hiring someone who isn't right for the position. However, you can't spend your days poring through resumes and cover letters when you have other responsibilities that need attention.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) alleviate the time required to carefully examine resumes by sorting the best resumes and letting you know which ones aren't worth your time. These solutions are a type of specialized recruiting software that organizes candidates and keeps a profile on them. Like a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that stores and organizes profiles of clients, an ATS acts like a database for all potential job candidates. However, they are more than just a database.

According to a blog post from Jobscan, ATS solutions were traditionally used by large corporations that receive thousands of applications; however, now small businesses have found them useful as well.

A common mistake that employers look for on cover letters and resumes are spelling and grammar mistakes. If you're an employer who thinks these errors reflect poorly on candidates, the ATS can identify and categorize applications as such, letting you know immediately what applications have errors.

With an ATS, you can set certain criteria for each applicant, and it will sort and rank candidates, so you can spend your time reviewing the most promising ones.

Most ATS solutions rely on certain keywords you designate to organize the influx of documents. If you're looking for candidates who are knowledgeable in certain skills or possess specific certifications or degrees, you can program your ATS to scan the applications, CVs and resumes for those keywords. If the position you need to fill requires a bachelor's degree in marketing or advertising, the ATS will pick up on those keywords and rank the application higher.

It's important you set up your ATS system filters to get as many qualified candidates as possible. Note too that ATS solutions are designed to support and streamline the applicant screening process – they're not a replacement for due diligence and ensuring you follow good and ethical hiring practices.

ATS solutions have added several new capabilities as the hiring process has changed over the years. Social media has become an important factor that employers look at, and now many ATS solutions integrate with social media platforms, the most common being LinkedIn, which has partnerships with several major ATS providers. For example, you can view a candidate's LinkedIn profile in the application. They also integrate with several online job boards such as Indeed and Monster.

To ensure you get maximum value from an ATS, communicate to potential candidates who apply for positions at your company that they submit their resume or CV in a compatible format that your ATS can read.

Many ATS solutions also offer helpful reporting tools designed to help you make better recruiting decisions. Collecting certain pieces of information, like finding out where an applicant heard about the job, can give you insight into your recruiting process.

Other features you should look for in an ATS solution include:

  • Collaboration features that allow team members to leave feedback and comments on applications
  • A comprehensive history that notifies you if a rejected candidate applies again
  • An interface that allows you to easily view applicants for multiple job listings
  • Scheduling features to set up and organize interviews
  • The ability to organize applicants by position in the hiring process, such as phone screening, interview and follow-ups
Andreas Rivera

Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a staff writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.