Candidate and Applicant Tracking Systems
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Candidate and Applicant Tracking Systems
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Candidate and Applicant Tracking Systems
Recruiting and hiring the right people for your organization can be a complicated and challenging effort. In some cases you might have hundreds — or even thousands — of applicants for a single position. And depending on the size of your HR staff, you might not have the time or resources to manually review and analyze each application.
This is why most companies today — regardless of industry or size — use candidate and applicant tracking systems. These are systems that automate much of the application review process and centralize all candidate information. The purpose is twofold: to reduce the time it takes for an applicant to move through the hiring process and quickly weed out candidates who aren’t a good fit.
An applicant tracking system can be incredibly useful for companies looking to hire fast and weed through a large volume of applicants. It can help you get to the right applicants quickly so you can start moving them through the interviewing and verification process. But it’s important to also be weary of a simple applicant tracking system. The most basic tools do not offer the necessary integrations with third-party systems like skills tests which can limit the speed and effectiveness of your process.
You might think human resources information systems (HRIS) and applicant tracking systems are the same. But in fact the two are actually very different. An HRIS is focused on centralizing and maintaining employee data — anything from the benefits each employee is enrolled in to time off tracking to annual reviews. An applicant tracking system, on the other hand, is geared towards applicants and candidates. Once a candidate becomes an employee, their information will then be transferred to your HRIS.
Read on to learn more about candidate applicant tracking systems — everything from the features of a top system which solutions are best for small businesses and startups.
Applicant Tracking System Definition
Applicant tracking system definition: A software that acts as a database for job applicants. Some applicant tracking systems also serve as an initial verification for applications that are submitted to an open role — using machine learning to identify key words that indicate a candidate is a fit for the role, such as previous job titles or specific skills and certifications.
How does it work? When someone submits an application, most applicant tracking systems will scan the application for resume keywords and automatically review screener questions. If an application does not meet the requirements for the job, the system will eliminate the applicant. If the application does meet the minimum requirements, the system will move the applicant into the database for the recruiter or hiring manager to review and kick off the rest of the hiring process.
In addition to scanning and weeding out resumes, most applicant tracking systems also keep all these resumes in one place and provide support — for everything from candidate communication to skills tests to sending offer letters — as the candidate moves through the rest of the process.
In theory, an applicant tracking system saves time for recruiters by surfacing the best candidates and weeding out the rest. But without a human actually reviewing every application, it is easy for top candidates to actually fall through the cracks. Computers and machine learning have limitations. Hiring should be a human-centric process. While it’s useful to cut time by eliminating those that truly aren’t a fit, the wrong applicant tracking system can actually set you back cause you to lose out on top talent to competitors.
So when searching for an applicant tracking system, it’s important to find one with the right features and functionality that will ensure you are actually surfacing the best candidates. Here are the typical features of the best applicant tracking systems:
- Automatically send screener surveys to every applicant
- Eliminate unqualified applicants without needing human review
- Prioritize top applicants for the next step in the hiring process
- Test applicants for the skills needed to succeed in the role before extending an offer
- Automate reference checks
- Order background checks and drug screens and get notified once results are available
- Send candidate emails and texts within the platform
- Use in-app texting to reach candidates without sharing your personal contact details
- Run effective interviews with compliant and customizable interview guides
- Tailor questions for role-specific positions in your industry
- Track hiring manager notes and feedback
- Score interviews
How to Use an Applicant Tracking System
Once you learn how to use an applicant tracking system, you’ll find that most are incredibly easy to navigate. While the pay structure will be different from tool to tool, typically your organization will have a single account and each individual user will have their own individual login in order to access the data and move candidates through the process. Depending on the tool, each user might have different levels of access and authority.
The guidelines for using an applicant tracking system will depend largely on the tool you use. But there are some best practices that transcend systems. For example, regardless of the system you use, you’ll want to make sure your job descriptions include the right keywords and that your system is set up to review applicants based on those keywords. Before deciding on the words to prioritize, make sure you really spend time understanding your target audience and ideal candidates.
Other tips include:
- Define a standard set of interview questions so that each candidate is evaluated on a level playing field.
- Set a repeatable hiring workflow that defines the steps your recruiters and hiring managers will take any time you receive a new applicant — this will ensure that you’re able to get top talent through the interview and hiring cycle as fast as possible.
- Diversify the channels you use for sourcing talent — job boards alone aren’t enough, make sure you integrate your applicant tracking system with other sources like LinkedIn or Jobs on Facebook.
- Take advantage of your applicant tracking systems’ mobile offerings — the ability to work on-the-go speeds up the hiring process
Top Applicant Tracking Systems
Top applicant tracking systems are so much more than just a simple database of applicants and candidates. The best systems offer customizable hiring steps, automated workflows to save time, communication tools like applicant texting, candidate history, and in-platform verifications give you everything you need to hire your best team.
You might be tempted to try a free applicant tracking system. But free applicant tracking systems – either part of a larger software solution like a payroll provider or a standalone vendor – may limit the functionality of the core platform unless you pay additional monthly charges. This could mean being blocked from organic job board feeds or other core features unless you upgrade your account.
Many of the free solutions also miss basic functionality that could lead to manual work, disjointed or lost data and a poor experience for your candidates. And worse, you might not even realize an applicant tracking system is a bad fit until after you commit and launch the software.
When deciding on an applicant tracking system to use, check out an applicant tracking systems list that provides applicant tracking system examples and outlines the pros and cons of each. No system is going to be right for every organization — the top applicant tracking systems of 2021 are those that are tailored to a specific industry or size.
Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses
While many large companies rely on applicant tracking systems to save time, these tools are useful for small businesses and startups too. Chances are you do not have the degree of resources and staff in place that most larger organizations have so you might need a little assistance from an automated tool.
There are plenty of applicant tracking systems for small businesses and startups. These systems understand the unique needs of small businesses and how you differ from your larger counterparts and offer features like career site support and sourcing analytics that can help you cut through the crowd and reach top candidates who might otherwise be interested in larger organizations. The best applicant tracking systems for startups specifically might offer discounted rate for companies that were founded within the last 2-3 years or have fewer than 10 employees.
Using an applicant tracking system for recruitment and hiring can help you get top talent on board fast. And at a time when hiring is harder than ever, the right tool can make all the difference. But be sure to vet your systems well. Not all applicant tracking systems offer the integrations and features that you need to move fast and get in front of top talent before your competitors do.
At Hireology, we deeply understand the unique hiring challenges and needs of businesses across many different industries — from automotive to healthcare to hospitality. And we’re constantly updating our applicant tracking system to help you optimize your processes, automate manual work, and keep pace with top talent to stand out in a tough job market. Schedule a demo to learn more about our new features and how we can help you build your best team today.