Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Overview
What is an Applicant Tracking System?
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
is a type of software used to manage recruiting operations. It is generally available as a cloud or web-based service. The hub of the software is a database of candidates. Connected to the hub are job listings on job boards and the company website, which feed candidates’ applications into the hub. Recruiters can post and manage job listings from within the hub. Recruiters can also communicate with candidates from within the hub via email or social networks like LinkedIn.
However, since it’s often associated with old-school passive recruitment methods, the term "ATS" has been phasing out in favor of "recruiting software." The shift in language indicates a market trend towards software allowing recruiters to better manage the recruitment process, from recruitment marketing to job applications and hiring. It typically has four major functions:
- Facilitating sourcing of job candidates
- Collecting and managing resumes
- Managing interaction with job candidates
- Candidate Relationship Management
Today, ‘ATS’ may refer to the whole recruiting platform, or just the piece that stores submitted applications.
Resume Parsing Software
Resume Parsing is a specific activity that falls under the umbrella of application tracking and recruiting operations. Tools designed for resume parsing automate the process of gathering, analyzing and storing resume data. There are three common types of resume parsing tools: Keywork-based for simple keyword and phrase recognition, grammar-based for deciphering each sentence, and statistical for leveraging numerical models of text in the entire resume.
Some vendors offer recruitment software or ATS suites that include some resume parsing or functionality. However, there are a few resume parsing point solutions available as well.
Applicant Tracking System Features & Capabilities
ATS and recruiting platforms assist with each stage of finding and hiring new employees. Basic ATS platforms aggregate and manage resumes. Today, it’s typical for recruiting software to include features around:
Job requisition management
Company website posting
Social media publishing
Job search site posting
Customizable applications forms
Duplicate candidate prevention
Task creation and delegation
Email templates for communication with candidates
Notifications and alerts (particularly for interviews
Standard reports on key recruiting metrics
More advanced recruiting tools may include additional features, such as:
- Integrated background checks
- Experience/education verification
- Candidate screening tools
- Video interview capabilities
- Integration with onboarding/talent management software
- EOE compliance checking
Recruiting is a core component of talent management
. Most of the products listed in the talent management category offer recruiting capabilities as part of a broader suite that includes onboarding, performance management, compensation, learning, etc.
This is the core functionality that allows users to manage the recruitment process. Common capabilities include:
Email and resume parsing
Scheduling and calendars
Analytics and reporting (to assess which approaches work)
Mobile accessibility/mobile apps
CRM-type features for storing candidate information
ATS vs. Active Recruitment
Taking a candidate relationship management approach to recruiting changes the paradigm of hiring. It holds that candidates should be treated much the same way as customers, and emphasizes providing a good experience for candidates. It’s the job of recruiters to actively market to prospective employees, to get them interested in the company and job opening, and make sure they have a smooth experience with the company.
Most traditional applicant tracking systems (ATS) simplify the hiring process for the employer. At the same time, some make it more difficult for the applicant. This is where the candidate experience and engagement strategies of modern recruiting software come in.
Tools designed for an active recruitment strategy focus on searching for and communicating with candidates who might not have applied yet, or even be actively seeking a new job yet. Software solutions like SmashFly
act as a kind of recruiting CRM platform, to store candidates’ contact information and a history of past communications. LinkedIn Talent
is another major player in this arena. Some vendors specialize in aggregating this information to make it easily searchable, including:
Applicant Tracking Systems Comparison
To compare different ATS products, you likely want to consider evaluating these aspects of the software:
- Recruiting agency vs. In-house recruiting focus: Some applicant
tracking systems focus on servicing recruiting agencies and firms, with scaling
for high volume and white labelling for recruiting clients. Other ATS products are
designed more for in-house recruiting, including more personalization and automated
processes. While most ATS offer capabilities for both groups, trends in which
user groups prefer a given product are usually identifiable in reviewer demographic
- Support for Candidate Relationship Management: With an
increasing focus on attracting talent that isn’t actively job-seeking, Candidate
Relationship Management features are an essential component of inbound
recruiting. CRM capabilities enable long-term candidate tracking to build out
your talent pool, as well as recruiting campaign management. Determine how you
want to go about establishing relationships with passive candidates, and what
specific CRM features support that kind of relationship, be it email communications,
advertising/job marketing content, social media content, etc.
- Core applicant tracking vs. full recruiting cycle support: There
are still some ATS products that focus solely on tracking candidates’ application
materials, but most have expanded to support other aspects of the recruiting process,
up to the full recruiting lifecycle. Common differentiation points in feature
lists include support for interviews, note taking, document signing and management,
scheduling, and integration with onboarding systems.
Pricing for ATS and recruitment software varies depending on the focus of the vendor and the size of the company/candidate pool. Specific pricing is available by a custom quote from most vendors. Costs can range from thousands of dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, depending on the number of features, integrations, recruiting users, and applicants you need in the system.