grumpy cat excited

I researched Applicant Tracking Systems (So you don’t have to)

Are you having a hard time handling your talent pool and worried with upcoming GDPR? Then you probably tried to find some technology such as ATS software that will solve your problem. Here is the next obstacle for you – there are a number of them! Don’t worry; we researched applicant tracking systems, so you don’t have to.

What does ATS stand for?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a handy little thing that will help you automate the company’s recruiting and staffing efforts. You will be able to handle all kind of things easier – from job posting to hiring. Moreover,  ATS can help you manage candidate’s data. Based on the data you collect, you will be able to improve candidates experience, which will save you time and make you more productive. 

The bad news for HR and PeopOps teams is there is a bunch of them (more than 300 in the market at the moment to be exact). Our team tends to move fast so we can keep our average time per hire at 2 weeks. From the moment we receive the job description to the moment a stressed manager starts thanking us, we only think about tracking our time and productivity. Staffing agencies use CRM’s and we couldn’t afford the whole team to do the research. The decision was I should do it. I’ve found an article named The top 100 ATS in 2018 . Oh, the excitement.

I wanted to learn which ATS are the biggest sharks out there using.

Well, none of them. Google developed their own ATS product called Hire. The bad news is that this software is available only for companies that use G Suite and are based in US. 

Facebook also developed CRM for their needs. This might not be the best solution for every company cause it takes up a lot of planning and resources if you want those cool features like video interviewing or employee referrals. We developed CRM for our needs and it’s far from perfect. It’s also far from cheap and we don’t even have “the cool features”.

The truth is, most of the applicant tracking systems are built for small to mid sized businesses. Large organizations usually need more custom features and I figured Breezy has that option. Also comes with a “custom” price.

What happened when I used the ATS

I researched a bunch of them, but decided to write an overall review for just a few of the most popular ones. The most common elements are: career sites, applicant tracking, advanced search options, interviewing tools and analytics.

1. recruitee has career sites with customized application forms, you can even customize hiring workflow for each position. They also have this drag & drop option, which gives the user a nice kanban/trello feeling. Apart from the great UX, it offers a nice set of features for recruiting teams and integration with Slack. They listed pricing, so go check it out.

2. Workable says they are the most popular ATS, yet no pricing. The workflow is quite much the same as previous, it starts with a career site where applicants apply. Once they appear in your pipeline, each candidate will have their own profile. Workable has built in sourcing tool, based on booolean queries. Mobile apps available.

3. SmartRecruiters looks like pobresito comparing to the previous two. You’ll find four tabs and for each job you’ll have well drew up charts and data about the position. What I hated is how many pages I had to read to figure out what features this ATS has. KISS.

4. Zoho AKA the free one. There are actually two types, one for HR teams and one for staffing agencies. The free package for staffing agencies comes with Candidate Management, Career Website, Client & Contact Management, Email Management, Interview Scheduling and Job Posting Management. It is cloud based, offers integrations with social media, API or email, but it is provided only in Enterprise model. CV parsing also comes with few bugs. Much like others, you can customize ATS to your needs, migrate data etc. Does the trick for small recruitment teams.

Bonus warning for recruiters: I noticed there are bunch of these charts, tracking your efforts. There are companies that are not able to meet their hiring needs due to different reasons. Seeing these charts might just motivate you to pursue your dream of being a farmer. I am kidding you not, I’m not even a recruiter and these things seem mean. (under pressure playing in background)

What to focus on when choosing an ATS

Social Media Sourcing

Copy/pasting a job offer to social media, and then adding a pic can be a drag. But, we’ve been used to doing it manually, and it gave results. What we’ve discovered is there are ATSs that allow you to connect your official LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter page to it, and to post your job opening through it. Due to instagram’s policies, we all still dwell in sort of a limbo where we have to manually post. However, three out of four doesn’t sound at all bad. Good example of this is zoho. It may not be included in a free pricing plan, but at the end of the day, the level of optimization is completely up to you, and ATS is there to help you optimize your process.

Posting to External Job Sites

This one is a no brainer. It is necessary for acquiring applicants, and possibly the applicant who will be just perfect for the job opening. Luckily enough, most ATS’s we’ve looked at have this option. This option adds an additional dimension of security and creates more confidence in applicants that you are offering a stable and reliable work. Zoho has a basic function for this in it’s free pricing plan, and recruitee and workable offer this option.

Compliance with local laws

Four letter everyone should pay attention to are GDPR. Fortunately, all ATSs we’ve reviewed disclose where data is stored, and how it is protected. A good example of ATS disclosing this information is recruitee. You might also want to research if and how taxes are applicable.

Mobile Capabilities

If you’re a small agency owner, and you’re on your feet most of your time, it’s very important, as it is to me, to be able to access and see where in the selection process the applicants are, on the move. Workable and SmartRecruiters both have apps that will provide you with necessary insight to see how your candidate is doing in the selection process.

What I learned losing my mind over this ATS madness ?

1. It’s an absolute must have if you have a lot of applicants asking for internship opportunities;

2. It can improve candidate experience, you’ll send feedback right on time;

3. Most of this softwares rely on a “post and pray” strategy. Reality is that in IT recruiting – the best talent out there are passive candidates and won’t apply through your career page. You would have to add their info manually or ask them to fill in data.

4. … which also reminded me that if there is a fill out form with more than 3 questions, Seniors just ain’t gonna do it if they are not really into the position;

5. Some of them are really pricey and you will probably have to talk your CEO/CTO/CFO into it;

6. Design sells;

7. It really depends on the size and needs of the organization;

Free ATS – Trello board as Applicant Tracking System

Applicant tracking system for small business

Small businesses usually don’t have hiring managers, so somebody from the office will have an extra job to hire someone. This task can be really stressful, especially because this can be a distraction from your day to day duties. The solution? Well, ATS can be a huge help if you know how to choose the right one. 

Earlier, it was harder and more expensive for small businesses to find ATS that fits their needs. The time has changed, so is the ATS. If you’re satisfied with basic data processing, applicant communication, and simple recruitment analytics, you can find affordable or even free ATS that can help you track your candidates. For example, Zoho Recruiter we mentioned above is free, so you can try this one or you can request a demo version of another ATS. 

As a small business owner, you have to find an applicant tracking system that will make your job easier, but first you have to think about your needs. Here are some questions that will help you decide which ATS to use:

  • How often does your company hire? If vacancies are rare, then you don’t need to pay annually for ATS. 
  • How many applicants will apply (approximately)? Some ATS are limiting candidate interactions or the number of applications you’re able to receive. 
  • How many users should have access to ATS? With small price comes the limitation of a number of users, so you might have to pay when you add additional employees.
  • Do you need time-to-hire and efficiency reporting? (Yes, you do!) These reports will help you focus on sources that are the best for the interviewing process and help you understand how you can improve the hiring process. For example, if it takes you a long time to provide feedback to candidates, that can be bad for their hiring experience. When you collect data, you will have proof that something has to be improved. 
  • In the end, can you answer the question – what would your perfect ATS look like? 

Application tracking software for staffing agencies 

With more obligations comes more needs. With loads of resumes coming up for the screening, you will need a sophisticated system that will narrow your list of applicants. Here are some rules you should follow when choosing ATS:

  • The whole team should have access to the ATS 
  • It should be able to manage a large-scale talent pipeline. 
  • It should have a quick and accurate candidate search
  • It should contain only simple steps for candidates that won’t make them frustrated
  • You should think about how ease is to integrate it into other systems
  • You should be able to test it before you buy it

Every recruitment company works differently, so there is no simple answer to the question which application tracking software for staffing agencies should you use. You will have to ask yourself what the unique business requirements of your company are?

Maybe you have recruitment niche, or perhaps you have to track people from different fields of work. If one ATS works for one recruitment agency, it doesn’t mean that it will work for yours. Remember, a good applicant tracking system should be tailored to your specific needs.

Trello is one of our favorite tools. Kanban works perfectly in recruiting, so we created this free template you can use to track your applicants. Check it out here. 

Candidate experience is one of the key metrics you should watch since talent acquisition became so competitive. Companies must evolve to reach new standards in recruiting and become more efficient in attracting, screening and hiring the best.

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