Applicant Tracking System: An Overview to Choosing a Software Package

Summary: Applicant tracking systems support recruiting, gathering applicant information, interviewing and selection, and hiring. Here's a comprehensive guide to evaluating your applicant tracking system.

Choosing and implementing an applicant tracking system has a significant impact on your business' ability to recruit and retain top talent. Many human resource managers and company executives are unaware that there are different types of recruiting software packages on the market. Understanding your business' needs and determining what features and systems can best support your human resources and business goals is the first step to a smart investment. Here is a closer look at the different elements to consider when choosing the right type of applicant tracking system for your needs.

Supporting the recruiting process

Applicant tracking systems need to support the full life cycle of the recruiting process. These include recruiting activities such as defining and posting the job; qualifying the applicant pool; managing the interviewing and selection process; and organizing the hiring process. Determine which steps your company needs support with and whether the systems you're evaluating provide the right level of functionality. There are a range of products on the market, from modules that provide support for specific individual functions to comprehensive packages that manage the process from end to end.

Implementation and compatibility concerns

It's essential to understand what's involved with the implementation of the system you choose. Will it be hosted on a local computer or via a cloud-based technology by a third party? Does the managing company provide support in terms of setup, training, and ongoing technical management? Recruiting software may also need to integrate with other software packages that your company relies on. Specific points of consideration may involve integration with an established HRIS system, background checks, assessment software, and job boards. Having a solid grasp of these technical elements will ensure that you're budgeting adequately for the purchase.

Applicant attraction and job management features

The best systems have a streamlined workflow that makes it simple to assign access to members within your team. Executives, hiring managers, and recruiters all have the specific needs in terms of access to information and reporting capabilities. Choose a system that simplifies job requisition from creating positions to managing the approvals process. Many systems today integrate seamlessly with popular job boards, allowing you to post ads with a single click and monitor application statistics. It's also helpful to choose a system that has applicant attraction capabilities. These include establishing a career site that's easy to use and optimized for search engines. Some also have the capabilities to collect the contact information of interested applicants and notify them of new job openings.

Application process management

A smooth, easy to navigate application process helps ensure that you get adequate applications for open positions and that candidates have a positive experience. Some of the features to look for include the capacity to customize the application form; the ability to include screening questions to help simplify the evaluation process; flexibility for candidates to input their data in a variety of ways; and compatibility with a wide range of mobile devices.

Applicant management and reporting

The applicant tracking system that you select should also ideally have a wide range of tools that assist your HR team in screening applicants. These include the ability to review applicants, share specific files with different team members, append notes to candidate files, and manage applicant communication management. Additional capabilities that can be helpful include managing onboarding paperwork and developing reports to help communicate on your company's recruiting activities to your executives and board.

Implementing an applicant tracking system is a critical infrastructure decision for businesses and can help ensure that you're recruiting and retaining the best employees. 

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