You have been searching for the right applicant tracking system (ATS) and have narrowed the search down to a few selections. Now what? Some folks simply select a ATS based on documentation and demonstrations, while the others go for free 30 day trials. The trials are offered by many ATS vendors, and it is my opinion that everyone searching for an ATS can benefit from a trial. However, it is important to maximize your trial experience to ensure the ATS is a fit for you and your organization.

So how do you properly take advantage of a trial? One of the best ways is to develop an evaluation plan before the trial starts. This will help you fairly review the ATS and make the most out of the trial. Below are several highlights from a larger planning guide I’ve created over the past 12 years of trial experiences.

Start Right Away
Start the trial right away and be ready with the evaluation plan. It sounds simple enough, but many folks start trials right away with no plan and then try to cram an entire evaluation in the last week or day. Even worse, the trial is many times abandoned because of a poor start.

Plan Time and Stay Committed

Make time each day to work with the trial and stay committed to the schedule. This will balance the amount of time needed for a fair evaluation and with your other daily responsibilities. Similar to a poor start, the evaluation of the trial can many times be crammed at the end or abandoned because poor time management and commitment.

Set Expectations then Benchmarks
It is important to the set your expectations of the ATS. Your expectations should include functionality, features, etc. Once you have them set, make sure to develop benchmarks. These will help you in the future if you need to compare different solutions.

Get Others Involved
It is one thing to have the responsibility for selecting an ATS just for you, but it is quite different for an entire organization. There probably is no doubt that you are now the resident expert on the ATSs. However, it is important to share what you have learned with other stakeholders. Help them understand how the ATS will align with the goals of the organization by providing them with hands-on use or provide them with a demonstration. Then seek their input for any questions or concerns.

Plan for Multiple Trials
When you get to the point of the trial, you have probably already spent a lot of time researching ATSs. Instead of just a single trial, have several lined up. Why? The biggest reason is that the trial might prove the ATS is not a match for you needs. Then you are back to the drawing board. Keep your expectations, goals and benchmarks consistent by having a few trials lined up.

Ask for More Time
Ask for more time if you run into a snag or if you just need more time. An understanding vendor knows that more time is some times needed. I’ve never had a vendor tell me I could not get more time.

Ask for a Trial
Have you ever found a perfect ATS you wanted to evaluate, but found there was no trial upfront? Simply ask and you shall…usually…receive. This is especially true with a web based (SaaS) ATS. Many vendors don’t advertise their solution as having a trial, but most of them will offer it up as you go through their sales process.

Create Summary Report
Be sure to develop a summary report after your trial ends. This can greatly help if you are asked to present your finding to others or if you have to compare ATSs. The summary can also be a great reference tool for suggesting the ATS to other professionals.

I believe that if you follow just a couple of these suggestions, you will be on your way to a better evaluation of an ATS through a trial. Remember that your decision will have a long term affect on your everyday work practice and organization’s success.

Here are some ATSs offering trials:

- JobDig Tracker http://www.jobdigtracker.com
- Taleo http://www.taleo.com/
- Navicus http://www.navicus.com
- HRMDirect http://www.hrmdirect.com
- Hirebridge http://www.hirebridge.com
- Akken http://www.akken.com

Best of luck!
Jake Stupak
www.TheATSGuy.com

Views: 46

Comment by Recruiting Animal on October 23, 2008 at 3:01pm
Free Online ATS

SmartRecruiters.com is a free, online applicant tracking system.

Key Points: Launches Oct 28, 2008. Set up in 2 minutes. Easy to use. Personalize your own Career Site. Includes a "vibrant" recruiter community. Includes "integrated pay-per-use recruiting services" (sounds like they will do your recruiting for you).
Comment by Julia on October 24, 2008 at 8:51am
myStaffingPro is a feature rich applicant tracking system that enables you to configure your hiring process. Please contact us today for a 30 day free trial !
Comment by pam claughton on October 24, 2008 at 11:52am
www.cbizsoft.com offers a free trial as well. That's how I discovered it 4 years ago and fell in love with it. Very robust, user friendly and inexpensive. :)
Comment by Farhan Ahmed on November 3, 2008 at 5:23am
Hi All,

I know you everybody might not be a big fans of Web Based Applicant Tracking Systems, but for your convenience a very simple and comprehensive ATS is there.........you can check this out : www.simplicant.com ..............It has the longest Trial Period of 90 Days with full features.......No restrictions.........and an amazing support service.....

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