Essential Recruitment Software Features in an ATS

February 11th, 2020

In a recent TrustRadius survey, 1 in 4 HR professionals stated that their biggest purchasing challenge was differentiating between ATS products in the marketplace today. A crucial step in overcoming this challenge is establishing which features matter to you and which are fluff. 

Here are some universally essential features you should always consider: 

  • Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) database
  • Integrations with your other HR software
  • Routine task automation
  • Customizable candidate filtering

To help you determine which recruitment software features will be most valuable in your particular recruiting environment, we’ve provided the following criteria to guide the rest of your feature exploration. 

CRM: One Feature to Recruit Them All

Candidate Relationship Management features form the bedrock of modern recruiting practices. The core CRM capability is a database that centralizes all communications, data, and outreach to the candidate. 

If you aren’t already benefiting from a CRM, odds are your competitors are. In the survey of HR pros we mentioned above, 1 in 5 respondents identified Candidate Relationship Management features as the most important feature in achieving their recruiting goals. 

Recruiters value CRM functionality so highly because it serves so many objectives. CRMs enable recruiters to maintain long-term relationships with candidates, including the masses of passive candidates not currently be on the job market.  

CRMs are also crucial for building out candidate pools to meet strategic recruiting goals. For instance, you can build candidate pipelines that set you up to achieve diversity goals, fill leadership positions, and keep you cognizant of internal and external candidate opportunities. These pools let you have candidates ready to go as soon as a position opens.  

Universal adoption of Candidate Relationship Management tools is more a matter of “when” not “if.” This feature is universally essential. Many other ATS features are more contextually relevant, depending on your use case. 

Understanding the Essential Features about Your Recruitment

The difference between a “nice to have” and “essential” feature lies in your recruiting situation. There are a variety of factors that can impact how well any given ATS of the hundreds available fits you, but the three most essential aspects to keep in mind are:

  1. Your size
  2. Your hiring model
  3. Your geographic scope

The size of your company, as a proxy for your recruitment volume, will be the largest differentiator between feature sets. If your startup company is only hiring 20 or fewer employees per year, for instance, mass actions will not be as helpful as robust candidate filtering capabilities. 

Your hiring model will also affect which features deserve your attention. You will benefit from more advanced administrative controls and user management if you have a decentralized hiring process. If you use a more centralized hiring model through a single office or department, it may be important that you can view all candidates and open postings through a single pane of glass. 

The breadth of your geographic scope also impacts the breadth of your needed features. For instance, do you hire across regulatory compliance zones, or using multiple languages? The wider a geography you want to deploy your ATS, the more logistical complexities it will need to handle. Not all ATS tools do this equally well. 

Three Crucial ATS Features for Enterprises

Enterprises’ hiring volumes place a lot more at stake in the details when choosing a recruitment software. In a recent interview with TrustRadius, Jack Wei, the Director of Product Marketing for SmartRecruiters, outlined three of the most essential features for enterprises: 

  1. Configurable hiring processes and organization fields
  2. Bulk Actions
  3. Pre-integrations with HR stack and specialized recruiting functions

These features are particularly essential for addressing enterprise recruiting operations’ pain points. For instance, larger organizations are likely to be too complex for the prebuilt fields and structures in ATS products. Greater customizability of those fields and workflows play the largest role in making up that difference. 

Bulk action abilities also become impactful at very high volumes. Wei claims that “recruiters are spending up to 66% of their time each week just scheduling interviews.” The ability of candidates to self-schedule within the candidate interface can give you back much of that time. The same mass functions are also most beneficial for activities like self-assessments, email campaigns, and updating candidates’ statuses. 

Integrations are the name of the game for HR software as a whole, and no one feels this more than enterprises. That’s why you should look for ATS that has pre-built integrations with the other HR software you already use. Also, keep an eye out for integrations with specialized recruiting capabilities you may need, like background checks or skills assessments. 

How to Compare the Most Important Features to You

Factoring for your size, hiring model, and geographic scope should help narrow down the list of viable ATS products for your business. You can also use review sites’ built-in demographic information to see if a vendor has experience serving other businesses like yours. On TrustRadius, you’d simply click on a product’s profile, like SmartRecruiters, then sort the product’s reviews by reviewer company size, industry, recency of review, or whichever filters are most important to you. 

Reviews will also be your best source for insights into what it’s like to use various features on specific ATS platforms. You’ll learn not only whether a product has a particular feature or not, but the quality and functionality of the feature as well. 

Once you’ve developed your shortlist of products, seeing the most important features in action will be the best information you can get. Most vendors can show you what their CRM functionality looks like in demo environments or limited free trials. Vendors are aware that this is the best chance they have to differentiate their recruitment software from every other product on the market. Given how challenging differentiating products are, give them the chance to make your buying journey a little easier!

If you’re still looking for a starting point to evaluating and comparing the top ATS products, check out our Buyer’s Guide to Applicant Tracking Systems. It will give you a primer on current ATS trends and highlights of the leading products, according to other users. Once armed with that information, you’ll be well on your way to building your list of most essential recruiting features.