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Questions to Ask About an Applicant Tracking System

Jul 13, 2020

Recruiting is a time-consuming process. Staffing agencies determined to find the best-fit candidates for their clients often juggle hundreds of applications, thousands of emails, job listings across multiple platforms, and interview preparation. Managing each piece of the recruiting process across dozens of website programs or physical files can be overwhelming.

In some instances, parts of the hiring process get rushed. At times, applicants fall through the cracks, lost in piles of paperwork and a frenzied schedule. Here are some questions to ask about an applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is designed to coalesce the complexities of a recruiter’s daily activity into a streamlined system. However, it is important to consider these 5 questions to ask about an applicant tracking system before selecting an ATS. In the content below, we provide an in-depth guide to the applicant tracking system tool, including functionality, use, and benefits.

1. What is ATS Technology?

An applicant tracking system services many purposes, from sorting resumes to acting as a scheduler. ATS utilizes keywords and custom filters that help recruiters and business owners narrow down a multitude of applications and identify the most promising.

For example, if you think that spelling errors are condemning on an application, you can set custom filters that allow the ATS to sort and separate applications with grammatical mistakes.

Alternatively, if you want to sort by skill sets, certifications, degrees, etc., the ATS will rank applications according to these specifications.

a hand picking out a binder

Furthermore, applicant tracking systems organizes candidates, keeping every communication on file for easy recollection. Essentially, the ATS is a consolidated database for candidate information, allowing recruiters to easily access emails, interview notes, or resumes as needed without hours of digging.

Due to their simplistic yet powerful nature, a multitude of industries utilize an ATS, from gigantic recruiting corporations to small businesses.

2. How Do Recruiters Use Applicant Tracking Systems?

Many recruiters and business owners utilize applicant tracking systems to streamline every aspect of the hiring and recruiting process, formerly done manually. The ATS saves time and money. Time previously spent sorting and filing paper applications is entirely eliminated. Ultimately, time saved on laborious tasks can be transferred to finding qualified candidates faster, making the ATS a cost-effective system.

Additionally, applicant tracking systems allow recruiters to track candidate process, from application to letter of acceptance or denial. Furthermore, many ATS tools allow recruiting companies or businesses to track where applicants found the job posting. Feedback, such as successful (or unsuccessful) job boards and social media platforms, can inform further position opening advertisement.

Finally, the ATS eliminates mundane, repetitive daily tasks. As mentioned, these tasks may include sorting, organization, posting position openings across job boards and social media, and interview scheduling are taken care of within the software. Some tasks are entirely taken care of by the ATS while others are significantly streamlined within the system.

3. Can an Applicant Tracking System Be “Beat”?

Job applicants and recruiters alike may wonder if an applicant tracking system can be cheated or “beat.” Simply put, not necessarily. An excellent ATS is designed to identify well-written resumes submitted by qualified applicants, often filtering by predetermined credentials. Essentially, crafting a high-quality resume is the best option for job seekers.

a woman typing

Honest Tips for “Beating” an Applicant Tracking System

Although submitting a high-quality resume is the best strategy, job seekers can employ a few tips to increase chances of applicant tracking system success. We explore a few of the best pointers for applicants below:

  • Take the time to tailor your resume to the precise job description. After carefully reading the job posting description, try to include matching keywords. Avoid submitting a generic resume. As mentioned, applicant tracking systems look for best-fit employees for a specific position – standard resumes without mention of relevant keywords may be deprioritized.

However, over-optimizing for a keyword will often be flagged as well. Include job-specific keywords to customize your resume, as appropriate.

  • Avoid abnormal resume section headings and fancy graphs. Instead, utilize standard headings in a simple format. Applicant tracking systems can have difficulty navigating complex headings, fonts, colors, or graphs. To avoid all possibility of confusion within the ATS, standard styling is the best option.

As a rule of thumb, use at least an 11-point font size with standard margins on a plain Word document. Finally, feel free to upload a document larger than the traditional 1-page application, if needed. Applicant tracking systems can quickly sort through longer resumes and produce a summary for recruiters.

  • Include a relevant summary of qualifications or skills section. As an applicant would for any job position, include a qualifications or skills section with items relevant to the position listing. Once again, reading the job posting carefully will aid in selecting the right skills to list,
  • Save your file as a .docx. A simple suggestion, saving your resume as a .docx before submitting assists the applicant tracking system.
  • Avoid using headers or footers. Information included in headers and futures can get lost. Don’t risk losing important info – simply incorporate header/ footer text within the body of the resume or leave it out entirely.
  • Include employment dates. If the ATS is screening for experience within a specific field or job position, employment dates are crucial to include.

Scamming or “Cheating” Applicant Tracking Systems is Not a Good Strategy

Attempting to scam or “cheat” and ATS is never a good strategy. Ultimately, the applicant tracking system is utilized by recruiters for find the best-fit candidates – but the recruiter gets the final say. Thus, even if a keyword-stuffed resume slips past the ATS algorithm, the recruiter will be able to identify an over-optimized resume. In fact, going overboard with critical keywords is fairly obvious.

4. What Are the Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems?

a man interviewing a woman

We outline a few more benefits an applicant tracking system below.

  • Regulation compliance. The ability to track applicant process within a single system helps organizations remain compliant with various rules and regulations. Furthermore, the ATS chosen should be secure, serving as a safe database for applicant information.
  • Shorter hire time. Time-to-hire, or the time spent successfully filling a position, is one of the most critical recruitment metrics. Utilizing an applicant tracking system significantly decreased time-to-hire by streamlining the process in a single tool.

As mentioned, an ATS may even automate certain, redundant tasks preciously accomplished by the recruiter. An applicant tracking system ultimately increases efficiency for recruiting organizations and business owners.

  • Organization. The era of losing applicant emails in spam or sifting through piles of files for a single piece of paperwork is over. An applicant tracking system will manage all job postings, notes, and candidate information in a solidary location, reducing the chance of misplaced applicant information.
  • Reduced cost-per-hire. Recruitment is a monetary investment. Simply put, saving time saves money. The less hours needed to fill a single position equates to less money invested in filling that single position. Recruitment organizations with dozens of positions to fill will intimately feel the benefit of reduced cost-per-hire. 
  • Increased quality of hire. Finding the best-fit candidate for essential positions is of utmost importance for recruitment agencies and businesses. An ATS frees time to focus on quality hires rather than a sheer quantity of candidates.
  • Opportunity for employer branding. Employer branding is the first impression given to a potential candidate! Career pages or portals used to accept applications can give a positive or negative first experience. Great applicant tracking systems include an easy-to-use platform for applicants to submit resumes.
  • Opportunity for collaboration within a recruiting team. Effective collaboration during recruitment can enhance the entire hiring process. An applicant tracking system allows for simple collaboration, inviting the whole team into the recruitment process, as necessary.

5. How Can Recruiters Find the Best ATS?

While it is important to set a realistic budget for your software investment, evaluating the ROI of a high-quality ATS is equally critical. Purchasing a high-quality system pays off in saved time, various pricing model options, and job board discounts.

After performing broad research and narrowing down top options, request a free demo from each ATS, if available. Taking the system for a test drive is one of the best ways to determine if that specific software is best for your organization.

Finally, explore client testimonials and reviews to evaluate success among other organizations. Honest reviews often offer a unique, trustworthy picture into the ATS system.

JobDiva: Top Applicant Tracking System

JobDiva is the world’s top applicant tracking system. A staffing software to suit your needs, JobDiva was designed by the staffing industry’s leading business minds to drive growth.

This fully-featured applicant tracking system offers an award-winning candidate experience and recruiting solutions that drive results. We are proud to offer a free demo upon request, helping organizations become comfortable with the way our software streamlines recruitment.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions! You can reach us via our online contact form!

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