What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

When Googling anything to do with Recruitment, ATS is an acronym you will find popping up regularly. But what does it mean, and how it will be used?

Applicant Tracking Systems are applications that allow recruiters to manage their job more efficiently and effectively. For example, an ATS would allow:

  • Candidates to apply for jobs online
  • Recruiters to post jobs and adverts online
  • Recruiters to manage candidate applications efficiently
  • Recruiters to quickly screen candidates

A good ATS is essential to ensuring that the complete recruitment process is managed as smoothly as possible. The candidate experience will be great, and your life will be easier as a recruiter. You can sleep easy knowing that thanks to the intelligent ATS system you have at work, no diamond candidates have slipped through the net, and you have sent through the best profiles on the market. Everybody’s a winner.

To break this down…

Applying Online

Depending on your age, you may perhaps remember the times when paper ruled over the internet. If you were job-searching, you would primarily walk into a company advertising for a position & hand in your CV directly to someone at the till or the owner (if you know them). Alternatively, you might post your CV for a position if it’s based outside of town. There was none of this email lark or job boards or applicant tracking software.

Nowadays, however, a good ATS is all about making the most of these modern applications. Everything nowadays is done online, and an ATS is an application that allows candidates to apply for future vacancies via the web so that they come directly to you.

Posting Jobs and Adverts

However, a physical vacancy must be there for somebody to apply for a role. A good ATS will be integrated with Job Boards such as Indeed, Job Centre Plus, Reed and Jobsite, which allow Recruitment Agencies or in-house recruiters to post their jobs on these popular sites.

Without such a system, you would have to rely on people browsing your website, which limits coverage and relies on that person’s enthusiasm to drive them to the site. A lot of recruitment depends on what’s known as passive or speculative candidates. These are the candidates who always keep their eye open for new opportunities but don’t necessarily go out of their way to pursue them. Head-hunting is the most common way to source these candidates, as the crème of the crops are often already employed (I wonder why!) and don’t consider themselves to be interested in opportunities until a recruiter spontaneously catches them unawares about a position they cannot refuse.

However, some people will occasionally access Job Boards from time-to-time to see how the market looks. If a compelling advert is strategically placed on several different sites, your chances of coming across those diamonds will increase significantly. The tables will turn, and they’ll be rushing to contact you instead of you contacting them.

Managing Applications

One of the core features of an ATS is the ability to see all of your candidates on one screen. It is specifically handy, especially when you are filtering through ad responses. An ATS will allow a recruiter to quickly flick through the responses, clicking on CVs without having to open a separate document.

Some systems will allow you to schedule interviews with multiple hiring managers, sending an email to all parties involved at once. It is a beautiful function that saves a lot of time. Not only does it rescue you from having to find the email addresses of multiple people and copying and pasting the body of an email again and again, but depending on the system, the ATS will also add the appointment automatically to their Outlook or Google Calendar. It makes the process a lot easier for everybody to track and manage (and makes you seem mightily organized and on the ball simultaneously!)

Screening Candidates

One of the most useful features of an ATS is the ability to review multiple candidates from one screen.

Typically, these systems have features that automatically store and display the most useful information about a candidate right in front of you. You do not have to open their CV and scroll through pages and pages to find what you want. If you’re trying to find a local candidate, a good ATS will have a person’s location displayed right in front of you. You can quickly filter, screen and compare suitable people, making searching more accessible and faster. Telephone numbers will also appear on the same page, so you can check the location and dial simultaneously.

What is an applicant tracking system?

In a recruiter’s world, time is of the essence, and simple tools like a good ATS are the difference between success and failure and a good Agency and a bad one. Applicant Tracking Systems are often referred to as the ‘supporting backbone’, so if your ATS is bad, then it goes without saying that your organization’s performance will probably be bad.

In today’s competitive world, we are all seeking to improve. Stay tuned for our next post on emerging ATS trends and what will make your ATS stand out for 2022.

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