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Your Guide to Choosing the Right Recruiting Software

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley

Learn what features to look for when choosing recruiting software for your business.

  • Recruiting software provides the tools you need to stay organized and streamline the hiring process.
  • Common recruiting software features include prescreening, applicant tracking, and data analytics and reporting.
  • Find a software package that not only fits your current recruiting needs but will accommodate your team as it expands.
  • This article is for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to know what to look for when choosing a recruiting software solution to help them find new team members.

Finding good talent to join your small business is one of the most important and difficult tasks you face. Because your employees are the greatest asset to your company, it is crucial to find candidates who are both highly capable and fit within your company culture. Fortunately, recruiting software can help you organize and streamline your hiring process.

We've written this guide to help you choose the right recruiting software for your business. If you already know what you're looking for, visit our best picks page to see which applications we recommend.

What is recruiting software?

Hiring the right people is one of the toughest challenges for small business owners. Recruiting software is an all-in-one solution designed to simplify the hiring process, even if your company doesn't have a human resources department. It can save you time and money by helping you find the best candidates in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Most recruiting programs provide a variety of automated functions: job posting, candidate sourcing, applicant tracking, third-party integration and employee onboarding. The best recruiting software, though, also has analytics and reporting capabilities to further streamline your recruiting process.

Key takeaway: Recruiting software is an automated solution designed to streamline your hiring process.

Types of recruiting software

The various types of recruiting software offer different functions, some of which may be better suited to your business than others. Some focus more on the recruiting process and attracting talent, while others streamline the hiring process. Depending on your business's needs, you may use one type of software or a combination of types. The three most common types of recruiting software are applicant tracking software (ATS), candidate relationship management (CRM) and interviewing software.

Applicant tracking software

Because of the high volume of applications online job postings receive, ATS has become the recruiting software standard. An ATS acts at the center for your job application process. It can organize and post job listings, and track and schedule interviews. Additionally, the software can be programmed to automate screening resumes so your team doesn't have to spend time sifting through bad ones. The downside to this is that an ATS could screen a candidate as a false positive because of keyword stuffing in their resume – or screen out candidates with strong qualifications if they do not match the keyword filters.

Candidate relationship management

A CRM allows recruiters to actively source candidates by creating talent pools through recruitment marketing. CRMs target candidates via analytics, multichannel use and specified messaging to attract their interest in a company. The recruiter can then encourage them to apply to a job listing. While an ATS focuses on the hiring process and managing those who have already applied to a listing, CRM systems focus on attracting top-talent candidates who have not applied to a job.

Interviewing software

Online interviewing software allows recruiters to conduct interviews in real time or send the candidate the interview questions so they can record their answers on their own time. This allows the recruiter the flexibility of not having to schedule interviews and the ability to watch their answers at their convenience. They can also compare different candidates' responses to each other, since they are all being asked the same questions. Future artificial intelligence innovations will allow this software to assess candidates based on their word choice, speech patterns and facial expressions.

The downside of using interviewing software is that the recruiter does not get the benefits and cues of in-person interaction. While this software can be helpful to screen candidates, it could also penalize qualified and experienced candidates who are not good on camera or do not have high-quality means of recording.

Key takeaway: There are three main types of recruiting software, which you can choose based on whether you want your software primarily for tracking applicants, managing your company's relationships with candidates, or conducting online interviews.

How recruiting software works

Recruiting software provides the tools you need to stay organized and streamline the hiring process, from creating a job posting to onboarding new employees. With a recruiting solution, you can publish job postings across multiple platforms, accept applications, establish workflows, maintain schedules and more, all in one place. The software is often intuitive and mobile friendly, and some solutions are customizable – you tailor the workflow to suit your needs.

Key takeaway: Recruiting software acts as a single platform for you to post jobs, find candidates, accept applications, schedule interviews, track applicants, and communicate with candidates and team members.

How much does recruiting software cost?

Most small businesses have infrequent or short-term hiring needs. Recruiting software can cost as little as $25 a month per job posting or thousands of dollars per month, depending on the scale and features you need. Recruiting software is typically scalable, so pricing is often flexible – typically charging on a month-to-month basis – and some software vendors offer demos and free trials.

Several factors affect the cost of the software, such as which features you need, how many jobs you are filling, and how many people on your recruiting team need access to the software. It's also common for software providers to charge additional fees for premium features, licensing, setup and installation, etc., so you should ask vendors about this as you evaluate different solutions.

There are free recruiting software plans; however, their features are often very limited.

Key takeaway: The cost of recruiting software varies. Look for scalable software solutions with demos and free trials.

Benefits of recruiting software

A wide range of benefits comes from using recruiting software in your hiring process. These are the main things you can accomplish with the use of good recruiting software.

Improve productivity

Recruiting software can screen resumes and schedule interviews for you, leaving you more time to focus on other work. Many software options are hosted in the cloud, so you can review applicants on your mobile device. It also puts a candidate's resume, cover letter, portfolio and references all in one place, so you don't have to dig through your files to do all your research on an applicant.

Streamline data

The software can collect data about your applicants, such as who has viewed your posting and how many have applied for the role. You can use this data to improve your recruitment process for future postings.

Find better candidates

Since recruiting software allows you to screen candidates based on your specific needs, you can find better-suited candidates in a search tailored to your job opening and not waste time with nonstarters.

Improve sourcing

Businesses often don't know where to look for top talent. Using recruitment software, you can analyze your sourcing strategy and get suggestions on how to improve it, such as the best places to look for qualified candidates.

Create engaging job posts

Your recruitment software can write interesting and eye-catching job listings that appeal to the specific types of candidates you want.

Key takeaway: Quality recruiting software can boost the effectiveness and efficiency of your hiring process, giving you a central hub for all your recruiting efforts and candidate information.

Recruiting software features

The best platforms offer automated features that streamline the recruiting process and reduce the time it takes to fill a job opening. These are some specific functions to look for in any recruiting software you're considering.

Automated job listings

The software should let you post job listings to multiple websites (including your own) and social media. Most target the popular job sites, but it's equally important that you have the ability to post ads to niche job sites, particularly if you're looking for designers or tech professionals.

Online resume submission

Recruiting solutions should allow you to accept resumes online and populate candidate data automatically to save you time.

Prescreening questionnaires and candidate filters

Your software should generate prescreening questionnaires to eliminate unqualified candidates. You should also be able to quickly and easily search for qualified candidates based on your specific criteria, such as the required skills and experience.

Recruitment organization and analytics

The best recruiting software helps you stay organized throughout the entire hiring process. Look for features like the ability to break down the hiring process by stage and project management tools like to-do lists, contact management, and scheduling capabilities. The software should also have an easy-to-use analytics dashboard to collect and measure your recruiting data.

Key takeaway: Recruiting software can have many convenient features to assist in your hiring process, including automated functions for posting your job openings, filtering out unqualified applicants, and collecting relevant data on your applicants.

Other key capabilities of recruiting software

The best recruiting software offers additional capabilities beyond the essentials so you get the most out of your investment. Liz D'Aloia, founder of mobile recruiting software company HR Virtuoso, said businesses should look for the following functions and qualities in their software:

  • Flexibility to post openings on the specific job boards you want to use
  • Mobile-friendly interface (for both candidates and recruiters)
  • Fast application process that lets candidates apply in minutes
  • A quick training and implementation period
  • Flexible pricing (i.e., doesn't make you pay for features you don't understand or need)
  • Scalability to grow with your business
  • Ability to ensure and manage your compliance with hiring laws (e.g., Equal Employment Opportunity regulations)

These are some other features to look for that signify quality recruiting software:

  • HR tools like onboarding and benefits administration
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Email integration
  • Recruitment CRM capabilities
  • Alternative contact methods, such as the ability to text candidates
  • Customization and branding options
  • Third-party integrations, such as payroll and HR management solutions

How to determine the type of recruiting software your company needs

Choosing the right recruitment software simply entails looking for something that aligns with your business's needs, said Dean Iacovetti, president and founder of Vanta Partners. Besides evaluating the usefulness of the features a program offers, he added, you should consider whether you'll use the software primarily to maintain a database of candidates or as a means of finding candidates based on values, such as those that match your company culture.

Next, you must consider the real-world application of the software. Your business is unique, and so are your recruiting needs.

"The best recruiting software is going to depend on the size of the company, the industry and the specific recruiting strategy it is pursuing," said Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory.

This includes considerations like whether you want to conduct video interviews or focus on social recruiting, Eubanks explained. Some platforms are built for these specific approaches, while others completely lack those features.

Finally, recruiting software should be simple and easy to use. A large corporation or recruiting firm with an advanced team of HR professionals might want an intricate HR software and recruiting solution, but small businesses often don't have the time or resources to spend on complex systems.

"When you're a small business considering purchasing a recruiting software program, it's important to remember that the system you decide on should make things easier for your hiring team," said Andre Lavoie, CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany. "You don't want a system that will overcomplicate the recruiting and hiring process, or your team won't get anything out of it."

Key takeaway: Recruiting experts recommend making sure that a recruiting software solution matches your specific needs and is easy for your team to use before you buy it.

Sean Peek and Sara Angeles contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Image Credit: Ridofranz / Getty Images
Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley,
Business News Daily Writer
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Skye Schooley is an Arizona native, based in New York City. She received a business communication degree from Arizona State University and spent a few years traveling internationally, before finally settling down in the greater New York City area. She currently writes for business.com and Business News Daily, primarily contributing articles about business technology and the workplace, and reviewing categories such as remote PC access software, collection agencies, background check services, web hosting, reputation management services, cloud storage, and website design software and services.