5-questions-for-ATSThere are so many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) on the market that you could easily feel overwhelmed when confronted with all of the options. Some ATS platforms are used to post jobs online and pre-screen candidates, while others are used primarily for tracking applicant as they move through the hiring process.

A simple system may be enough for a small company’s hiring process, but larger companies often require the use of complex systems to track the high volume of candidates coming through the pipeline. Here are some considerations that can help you select the right ATS for your particular business needs.

What purpose does the ATS serve?

ATS are typically used to lighten the workload of recruitment by digitizing many administrative functions. There are numerous levels of ATS between basic and complex, so it may be helpful to make a list of the functions you need your ATS to be able to accomplish.

Do you simply need a way to track your candidates through the hiring process? Do you need a system that can completely overhaul and tie in all your HR functions? Do you land somewhere in the middle, wanting to tie just a few of your HR functions into a single system?

  • Basic systems can usually compile your recruitment data, electronically receive and parse resumes, review job qualifications and qualifying questions, and schedule calls and interviews.
  • Modular systems allow you to select from multiple functions what you’d like the ATS to perform, such as candidate assessment, scheduling, payroll, etc.
  • Complex and full-service ATS (sometimes referred to as Enterprise systems) can accommodate all cost centers across an organization to provide payroll, scheduling, recruiting, onboarding, background screening, assessments, etc. into one system that allows you to track your candidates through the hiring process and their employment with your company. Complex systems often require an adaptable ATS that provides buildable or integrated options.

Your commitment to individual systems for payroll, benefits, assessment questionnaires, and background screening, etc. may dictate the level of ATS you are able of implementing. Your ATS should be capable of integrating with myriad software if you use several different systems to track your HR functions.

How user-friendly is the solution?

Does the flow of the ATS work with your expectations, and can it be molded to meet your process flow? Those using the ATS should be able to navigate the system easily, assign privileges, retrieve and store applicant records, etc. Most systems will require a bit of training, but a user should be able to use the system without issue almost immediately.

Search functionality and reporting capabilities are critical to ATS usability. Does the system provide custom filters and sorting? Does it allow you the ability to set notifications and alerts? Does it offer both standard and customizable reporting? Is the dashboard intuitive and customizable?

Your ATS should also be reliably available to those who use it. Consider checking out customer reviews on your potential ATS to assess the system’s performance, downtime, and system outages as reported by actual users. You should also ensure that there is a disaster recovery plan in place should your system go down so that you don’t lose all your data.

How are the costs of the system broken down?

You should ask which costs your provider will charge you an ongoing basis and which will be one-time fees. For example, system installment is normally charged as a one-time fee, while use charges are assessed by volume. ATS providers may bill by several different methods and you will want to know where all possible costs may arise.

  • Pay per user programs charge per individual at your organization who accesses the system.
  • Pay by modular invoice by service provided by the ATS.
  • Pay all inclusive programs charge a flat fee to use everything the system offers.
  • Pay by candidate terms invoice for each candidate entered or loaded into the system over a period of time.
  • Pay by feed to job boards programs charge per job board your company uses in recruitment.

ATS providers may also use a combination of these billing terms, so make sure you know where every charge will occur before selecting a system. Your ATS may also need configuration to plug into the various systems within your organization, and providers may tack on a charge to do it for your company.

Can you expect technical advances, and when?

Technology advances quickly and your ATS should provide frequent technical updates to keep up. Your ATS should be able to tell you when new releases are made available and how often updates generally occur. You will also want to know the method your provider will use to alert you of updates, be it an email blast, newsletter, alert on their website, etc.

You should also know whether your company’s IT will have to update, maintain, and troubleshoot the system. If they’re incapable, then is the vendor able to do it for you and how much does that cost? A vendor may insist on implementing updates itself, so you’ll want to know the time and cost related to their updates.

How long will your contract be?

If you try the ATS out and decide it’s not as effective as you’d hoped it would be, will you be stuck with it? Is the provider financially stable enough that they’re going to stick around, or may they soon close up shop? A flexible contract should allow you to change providers if you find the system doesn’t work for your company.

Don’t forget to consider your customer: the candidates!

While it is important for your HR staff to be able to easily use and navigate your ATS, it’s just as important that your candidates are able to do the same. In order to find the very best candidates, they have to be able to use your application system and reply to job board quickly and with ease.

When looking to purchase a new ATS system, do your research. Find the solution that will fit best for not only your company but also for the type of talent you’re hoping to attract to your business. ATS can help you streamline your hiring process and quickly get the best employees available into your workforce.

What else is important to you when looking for a new ATS? Let us know us on social media!

Check out my recent blog on 5 tips for choosing the right vendor to get your company check.