Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) TrustMap
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What is an Applicant Tracking System?
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is used to manage recruiting operations. It is generally available as a cloud or web-based service. Applicant tracking systems’ core functionality is to house and serve a database of candidates. ATS products connect the database to job listings on job boards and the company website to centralize applications and candidates for recruiters. Recruiters can post and manage job listings from within the ATS. Recruiters can also communicate with candidates from within the platform via email or social networks like LinkedIn.
However, since it’s often associated with old-school passive recruitment methods, the term "ATS" has become interchangeable with much "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 database that stores submitted applications.
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 appl may include additional features, such as:
Integrated background checks
Candidate screening tools
Video interview capabilities
Integration with onboarding/talent management software
EOE compliance checking
White-labeled career sites
Personalized candidate outreach and advertising
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
As competition for top talent increases, applicant tracking systems’ candidate outreach methods are increasingly reflecting traditional marketing approaches. For instance, recruiting software is now starting to provide capabilities for creating and managing career sites and running personalized ad campaigns targeting talent leads for companies’ positions. Like traditional marketing tools, these recruiting functions are also becoming increasingly automated as well. Recruitment marketing capabilities can be found within larger ATS or recruiting platforms and as point solutions.
Recruitment marketing can enable businesses to target their recruiting efforts both by the job segment they’re looking to fill and by specific candidates. The latter function is enhanced by integrations with organizations’ ATS or CRM databases that support hyper-personalized and granular ad campaigns.
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:
Diversity in Recruiting Software
In recent years, organizations have begun including diversity metrics and goals in their recruiting processes. Recruitment software vendors have responded by offering a range of tools and features to assist this growing emphasis on diversity in the workplace. While not all diverse recruiting tools have core ATS functions, they often overlap substantially or integrate easily with applicant tracking systems. However, some applicant tracking systems identify diversity in recruiting as a core value proposition, such as Greenhouse.
There are generally two complementary goals that applicant tracking software can assist recruiters with when improving diversity. Products will usually remove instances or influences of unconscious bias on recruiters’ processes, or they will enable recruiters to actively seek out and improve diversity rates in their candidate pools. In many cases, recruitment processes will need to leverage features in both areas.
Applicant tracking and recruiting software can help recruiters achieve these goals in a variety of ways. The most common features include:
Native prebuilt pools for tracking diverse candidates- this overlaps heavily with recruitment marketing
Resume parsing tools- some parsers will scrub all demographic or bias-triggering information from application materials
Diversity recruitment metric tracking- how are current recruiting efforts performing against diversity goals?
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 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 information.
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.
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