What is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?
When Googling anything to do with Recruitment, ATS is an acronym which you will find popping up regularly. But what does it actually mean and how is it used?
Applicant Tracking Systems are those great databases which allow recruiters to manage their job more efficiently and effectively. For example, an ATS would allow:
Basically a good ATS is the key for ensuring that the whole recruitment process is managed as smoothly as possible. The candidate experience will be great and as a recruiter, your life is made easier. You can sleep easy knowing that thanks to the brilliant 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…
Depending on your age, you might remember the times when paper ruled over the internet. If you were job-searching, you would primarily walk into a company that was advertising for a positon & 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 Board application systems.
Nowadays however, a good ATS is all about making the most of these modern inventions. Everything nowadays is done online, and an ATS is that tool that allows candidates to apply for prospective vacancies via the web so that they come directly to you.
Posting Jobs and Adverts
In order for somebody to actually apply for a role however, a physical vacancy has to be there. 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 own website, which obviously limits coverage and relies on that person’s own enthusiasm to drive them to the site. A lot of recruitment relies on what’s known as passive or speculative candidates. That is, those candidates who always keep their eye open for new opportunities, but don’t necessarily go out of their way to hunt for 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 still occasionally access Job Boards from time-to-time to see how the market is looking. If a compelling advert is strategically placed on a number of 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.
One of the core features of an ATS, is the ability to see all of your candidates on one screen. This is specifically handy for when you are filtering through ad responses for example. 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 also allow you to schedule interviews with multiple hiring managers; sending an email at once to all of the parties involved. This is a beautiful function which saves a lot of time. Not only does it rescue you from having to find the email addresses for 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. This makes the process a lot easier for everybody to track and manage (and makes you seem mightily organised and on the ball at the same time!)
One of the most useful features of an ATS is the ability to review multiple candidates, from one screen.
Typically, these sorts of systems have features that automatically store and display the most useful information about a candidate right in front of you, which means that you’re not having to open their CV and scroll through pages and pages to find what you want. If you’re trying to find a local candidate for example, a good ATS will have the location of a person displayed right in front of you. You can quickly filter, screen and compare suitable people quickly, which makes searching easier and faster. Telephone numbers will also appear on the same page, so you can check location and dial at the same time.
What is an applicant tracking system?
In the world of a recruiter, 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’, and so if your ATS is bad then it goes without saying that the way that your organisation performs will probably be bad.
In today’s competitive world, we are all seeking to get better and better. Stay tuned for our next post which will be on emerging ATS trends and what will make your ATS stand out for 2016.