In the early 2000's, I had just started working in recruiting and didn't know anything about the industry or its tools. My first week on the job, the company was implementing a new ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Dave, the guy who was leading the implementation, didn't show up my second day on the job and soon the announcement was made that Dave had left the company and was moving. I walked into the CEO's office and boldly stated, "I don't know what an ATS is, but if you'll make me the admin on it, I'll learn everything there is to know about it, finish the implementation, and have it running as smooth as butter." For some reason, he believed me and gave me the reigns to the company's most important technology. I followed through with my declaration - finished the implementation and knew the system (and the business reasons) inside and out.
Over the next several years, we served clients who had different needs when it came to an ATS, so I ran through deep demos with all of the major ones on the market, and I don't mean a demo with the sales guy who constantly has to say, "I don't know the answer to that but I can find out for you." When I would do demos, I would tell the sales guy that I needed the developers and product managers on the phone with me for the demo. Once we started in, the sales guys quickly saw why I wanted the others there. I wasn't judging the tool based on the user interface or how shiny and cool looking it was - I had very precise strategies and processes that I needed the tool to handle quickly and efficiently. Many times, my demos ended within 5-10 minutes as they already had too many hurdles to overcome.
In addition to implementing numerous ATS's, I've also been a user on many client systems. I say all of this to let you know that my knowledge and expertise when it comes to an ATS is deep. I'm not just a casual observer of these systems. I know them.
What I have discovered over the years is that many of these tools shouldn't even be available (an Excel spreadsheet would be more useful than what some offer), but there are some that get so close to hitting the mark...but then they leave out, forget, or ignore something so simple, so logical, that would make it far more useful and effective. I know I'm probably going to hear from several vendors at the end of this telling me how their tool does this or that, but it's not about it you have that one thing or a couple of things....it's why can't someone put together the ultimate ATS with everything?
So here are a few of the things that should be included in every ATS...
There are many other functionalities that I can think of. I've seen some of these in some tools, and others in other tools, but I've never seen one that nails everything. When I ask my question about these things, I don't want a "work around" solution because they always take more time than they should and often don't work the way they should. I've also learned that you have many of these capabilities, but you have to pay extra to get them added to your base model. Make that clear upfront instead of showing us the Mercedes in the demo and then we find out we got the Kia when we started using the tool (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Kia cars...I would drive one if someone gave me one).
The most important thing to a recruiter is speed and ease of use. Count how many clicks it takes to do what you want to do, then find a way to cut that number of clicks in half. That extra click may not seem like a big deal if you only have to do that process one time. But for recruiters, we do the same things over and over and over. That one click turns into 30-40 clicks by the end of the day, and if you add that time up, I could have screened another candidate in that amount of time while I was clicking and waiting for the page to load.
. It's vital that you know your process first, then find the ATS that can execute that process. Don't get suckered into thinking, "This one is well known and well respected so I'll get that one." The best known and the best respected may not match your needs at all. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.