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Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

All you need to know about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

I. What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An applicant tracking system is a software used by companies to find and recruit employees

An applicant tracking system, also known as ATS, is an innovative software that enables companies to find and recruit the best candidates for job openings. With the help of an ATS, recruiters can spend less time reading through piles of resumes. An applicant tracking system is designed to scan for certain keywords/criteria, ensuring that only the best candidates are selected. As a result, candidates who don’t use the right keywords are filtered out of the hiring process. This blog post will later cover how job seekers can “beat” applicant tracking systems, improving their chances of getting an interview.

A neat aspect of applicant tracking systems is that they are not all created equal. Companies and businesses can purchase applicant tracking systems based on certain features that will optimize their specific recruitment process. An ATS allows companies and business to stay organized and efficient in terms of human resource tasks. You can demo applicant tracking systems before purchasing so that you’re certain which ATS will benefit your company.

In short, an ATS is designed to better control every step of a company’s recruiting and hiring process. From application and interviewing, to hiring and onboarding, these systems are sure to enhance your business or organization. ATS significantly cuts off the time recruiters and hiring managers spend tracking job seekers, identifying quality candidates, and hiring the right person for the job.

II. How do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Applicant tracking systems use algorithms to find candidates based on keywords and phrases

As you probably know, companies of all industries and sizes get tons of resumes sent to them for available jobs. These jobs are often posted on third party job boards as well. For instance, because applying for a job is as simple as making “one click,” people can take advantage of that one click button. This makes it hard for recruiters to look for candidates who are actually qualified for a job posting because anyone and everyone is applying to the same position. Applicant tracking system were created to help sift through some of the noise in any given application.

When job seekers fill out a job applications online, their resume and cover letter typically is not going straight to the hiring manager or recruiter. An applicant tracking system scans resumes, cover letters and job applications and collects candidate information such as contact info, employment history, job skills, etc. More importantly, the ATS is looking for key words and phrases that match the job description.

III. Applicant Tracking System Features

There are a plethora of companies developing ATS software to assist with human resources and each system offers different features. One example of an ATS is Nextal, a collaborative recruiting platform that helps businesses quickly hire the top candidates. 

To get a better understanding of what applicant tracking systems offer, read through the ATS features included in the Nextal software.

1. Sourcing

With this feature, you can easily find and source candidates applying to your job posting from different sources such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, etc

2. Communication

This feature allows hiring managers and recruiters to send emails about the status of a job and request interviews from the application. 

3. Customized Process

You can customize and streamline your hiring process from application to hire. For example, you could customize a job application to include a specific set of questions to find quality candidates. 

4. Advanced Analytics

Another feature, Advanced Analytics, gives you real time insights about your entire hiring strategy.

5. Custom Job Site

With this feature, you can make sure your company’s branding is consistent.

6. Knowledge Management

In contrast, knowledge management allows recruiters and hiring managers to keep the entire history of each application in one place.

7. Notifications

With this applicant tracking system feature, you can set up notifications to engage your interviewers and get their feedback on your company’s hiring process.

8. Candidate Nurturing

Every business or company should build relationships with potential candidates and customers at any time. Most noteworthy, engaging with customers can close sales and increase revenue for your business.

9. Job Syndication

This applicant tracking system feature is makes it easy to publish job listings on different web platforms.

10. Cloud Hosting

Finally, all your data will be managed on the cloud. All you need to do is create an account!

IV. How Applicant Tracking Systems Benefit Job Seekers?

What is an ATS compliant resume and how can it help you land a job?

As you know by now, applicant tracking systems are searching for keywords and specific skills in order to rank candidates for job postings. If your resume does not score among the top percentage of candidates, it will not pass the initial step of the hiring process and will not be seen by a human recruiter.

According to Jobscan, 98% percent of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems. Therefore, it’s important for job seekers to optimize their resumes so they have a chance of getting past the system.

Study the job posting and include terms mentioned in the description on your resume and in your application.

Job seekers should also be aware of what applicant tracking systems are unable to read. Here are some helpful tips for getting your resume through the initial automated hiring process.

1. Formatting

Make sure your resume has a simple format that highlights your work history chronologically. If you decide to download a resume template from a website, make sure the resume is ATS compliant. Sometimes creative, elaborate or colorful resumes cannot be scanned by applicant tracking systems, so it is best to use a template that is simple. 

2. Font

Have you ever read a text that had a random characters or symbols in it? Applicant tracking system can’t read elaborate font. Sometimes a recruiter will see these odd characters in your resume and you don’t even know it. It is best to use a plain, simple font like Verdana, a sans-serif font. Be sure to use black text as well.

3. Templates

Don’t use fancy downloaded templates from the internet. While it may be appealing to a human recruiter, the applicant tracking system will not appreciate it and your info could get scrambled. Stick to using a clean and simple design for your resume or make sure your template is ATS complaint.

4. Missing Keywords

The recruiter or hiring manager of a company creates job descriptions with certain qualifications, skills and experiences that they believe are a match for the job. The job description you see posted online is full of keywords that ultimately determines if your resume will be chosen for further consideration. No matter how perfect or qualified you are for the job, if you do not have a certain amount of the right keywords, your resume will not be showcased to the hiring manager.

5. Charts, Graphs and Images

Although it may be eye catching, most applicant tracking systems will not be able to decipher resumes and job applications with graphs, charts and images.

If you are curious to learn more about how to beat applicant tracking systems, CIO posted the secrets to beating an applicant tracking system earlier this year.

V. How Applicant Tracking Systems Benefit Recruiters?

An applicant tracking system can overhaul a company’s entire hiring process.

Switching from a manual recruiting process to an automated one has many benefits for recruiters and hiring managers. Saving time is a huge benefit because employees don’t need to sift through hundreds of resumes to decipher which candidates should move along in the hiring process.

Recruiters also save time because they can access previous successful applications for new jobs instead of beginning the search for candidates all over again. Therefore, they will have a superior quality talent pool to choose from.

Applicant tracking systems allow for a standardized hiring process that easy and efficient and speeds up the human resources process. ATS allows recruiters and hiring managers to be more productive.

They can reduce employee turnover rate because employers hire qualified and better screened job seekers with the help of applicant tracking systems.

Applicant tracking systems weed out bad and unqualified candidates so that hiring managers and recruiters do not have to waste time reading through unfit job applications.

ATS can keep recruiters compliant with hiring laws by eliminating biases whether the biases be conscious or unconscious.

Applicant tracking systems allow hiring managers and recruiters to get back to candidates about job posting quicker with automated messaging and responses. ATS can also send out interview reminders.

An ATS can greatly impact your company by providing structure and overhauling your entire hiring process. Consequently, your hiring process becomes cheaper, more efficient and more productive.

VI. What’s the Best Applicant Tracking System for Your Business?

The best applicant tracking system works for your budget, employees, and business needs.

There are so many applicant tracking systems to choose from. Here are some things to keep in mind before choosing an applicant tracking system.

1. How many people do you plan to hire?

How many candidates is your company hiring? If you are only hire a few employees, think about purchasing a stand alone applicant tracking system.

2. Is the applicant tracking system easy to use?

You might find that some applicant tracking systems are easier to use than others. Try a demo of various types of applicant tracking systems to get a feel for which system works for you or your hiring team.

  3. Will the applicant tracking system you purchase fit the needs of your business a few years down the road?

If your company or business plans to expand, be sure to buy an applicant tracking system that you will not outgrow. 

4. What is your budget?

The costs of applicant tracking systems vary. We’ll cover pricing models in the next section. 

5. What features do you need?

Features like social media and automated emails may come in handy. Are you a hiring manager that needs to send automated emails to save the human resources department time? Want to check out your future candidates on Facebook or Twitter? There are a lot of unique features that may be of use to you.

VII. Drawbacks of Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant tracking systems are very choosy and can pass over quality job candidates

While applicant tracking systems provide an easy and efficient way to hire top candidates, there are a few disadvantages.

Maybe not every job seeker is aware of applicant tracking systems. An ATS could overlook a highly capable and intelligent candidate just because his resume is lacking a few keywords. Meanwhile, this stellar candidate is completely unaware. Because ATS use algorithms, great candidates could get left out. 

In contrast, some job seekers try to cheat the system by stuffing their resumes with all the right keywords. Even if they aren’t qualified for a job, they’re aware of what the ATS wants to read. 

Some ATS tend to be picky, so be sure to avoid minor “mistakes” on your resume. Things like pictures, charts, graphs and even wrong type font can be misread by applicant tracking systems. 

People desiring to switch careers could run into a few issues when applying for jobs. For example, if you’re a teacher wanting to enter the marketing field, your resume probably won’t have a bunch of keywords related to marketing. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t excel in marketing, it just means that you might have a harder time getting your resume reviews by a recruiter. 

Similarly, college students and recent grads can run into the same issue. Their resumes tend to have a slimmer work experience category, which is what the ATS likes to scan and pull info from.

VIII. How Much Does An Applicant Tracking System Cost?

The cost of applicant tracking systems can range from free to $100,000+

Pay per recruiter  

The most common pricing model for ATS is pay per recruiter. With this model, companies pay a fee each month per recruiter and hiring manager. Depending on the software, the fee may be different for recruiters and hiring managers, but your can have as many uses as you want.  

Pay per employee

Another common pricing model for applicant tracking systems is pay per employee. Obviously, larger companies will pay more for applicant tracking systems than smaller and mid sized companies. This is different from the pricing model pay per recruiter. This model charges for the total amount of company employees, not how many employees will actually use the ATS. Luckily, if your company is a large enterprise, the cost may decrease per employee.

Pay per job opening

This applicant tracking system pricing model charges companies based on how many jobs are open within company. This pricing model may also charge your business based on how many resumes or job applications you receive in the system.

Flat fees

In contrast, you can purchase some applicant tracking systems for a flat fee. This can be a one-time flat fee or an annual or monthly flat fee.

There is some budgeting to keep in mind such a one-time setup fees, onboarding fees, and ATS add on fees. These also vary depending on which applicant tracking system you purchase.

There are several softwares related to applicant tracking systems that can also help your company’s staffing and human resource needs.

So, here are some types of software that you can do research on that may also help with your human resources and candidate management needs:

  • Human Resource Management System
  • Talent Management System
  • Human Capital Management
  • Onboarding Software
  • Recruiting Agency Software
  • Staffing and Temp Staffing Agency Software
  • HR Apps

Finally, this wraps up what we think you should know about applicant tracking systems, from how they work to how much they cost. We hope you use the information we have provided to you to score that awesome job and hire outstanding employees!

Want to know more about turning your recruitment and hiring process into a competitive advantage? Schedule a demo with Nextal today!