Recruiter using an applicant tracking system during an interview

Unemployment has reached historic lows, with many job seekers finding millions of open positions as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes and the country returns to business as usual. Finding top talent in this tight labor market is a serious challenge for both recruiters and hiring managers. 

Many employers are having trouble hiring enough employees to fill these open positions and are turning to technology to streamline the process. Applicant tracking systems make the hiring process more efficient and ensure you’re hiring the right person for the job. So what are applicant tracking systems, and how can they help your business grow?

The Need for Applicant Tracking Systems

Just a decade or two ago, if a job seeker was applying for a position, they needed to submit a paper application alongside a hard copy of their resume and cover letter. The desks of recruiters and hiring managers were littered with papers that required careful sorting to find a properly qualified applicant. That all changed with applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Applicant tracking systems are a necessity in the digital age. Instead of paper applications trickling in over a period of weeks, hundreds of digital applications arrive in a day or two. Using online job boards, prospective employees can find open positions anywhere in the world, and hiring managers get access to an applicant pool that is an order of magnitude larger than it was 10 or 20 years ago. The problem is finding the right candidate; with so many applicants, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. ATS are the sorting tools that are needed to overcome this Sisyphean task.

Who’s Using Applicant Tracking Systems?

The short answer: everyone. 

Over 90% of companies use applicant tracking software; it’s the only way recruiters and hiring managers can feasibly sort through all of the applications landing on their desks. It’s not only Fortune 500 companies, either. Applicant tracking systems are essential to small businesses without dedicated recruiters or even an HR department.  

How Applicant Tracking Systems Work

Sorting through all those applications is a colossal task — how does a piece of software perform the job of a recruiter or hiring manager with years of experience? An ATS doesn’t replace humans in the hiring process but rather assists them in the role. Before a human ever sets eyes on an application, the tracking system searches through them for critical keywords associated with the job posting.

If you’re hiring for an administrative assistant with a few years of experience, it’s expected that the job title of administrative assistant is somewhere on an applicant’s resume. If a job listing states that applicants should be familiar with a certain software package, the name of that software should appear somewhere in the applicant’s past job duties or skillset. 

To extract the relevant information from a resume or CV, they must be formatted properly. This is why many job listings require candidates to fill out an application with nearly identical information to what’s on the resume. Fortunately, applications that don’t meet all of the qualifications aren’t filtered out entirely but instead are flagged for recruiters and hiring managers to have a second look at. Resumes meeting more of the qualifications are prioritized, though, so if several of them have the proper keywording, the applications that are missing them might go unread.

How Applicant Tracking Systems for Recruiters Can Save Time and Money

A successfully implemented applicant tracking system can be a game-changer for recruiters and hiring managers, saving them time, finding the best applicants, and providing them with the data needed to pursue quality candidates in the future.

Few Applications

Job seekers cast a wide net, sometimes applying for dozens of jobs all over the country. If your job listing is complicated, with too many steps, or requires candidates to register on your employment website, they’re going to move on to the next option. Some recruiters consider this an effective filter, screening out candidates that aren’t all that interested in the position, but even the most dedicated job seeker is only willing to put so much effort into a single application.

ATS’s provide for a streamlined application process, often one that applicants can complete on their phone. In the last few years, having a mobile-ready application has become essential for recruiters as job seekers scroll through listings on their phones during breaks or while commuting. 

Unqualified Applicants

With online job boards, it’s easier than ever to apply for positions, even when the applicant isn’t remotely qualified. In most cases, the opening requires little more than a cover letter and resume, which the applicant can copy and paste with minor changes. The cost of applying is low, so the applicant assumes it’s “worth a shot,” even if getting an interview is highly improbable, making it harder for recruiters and hiring managers to find the right candidate. 

Applicant tracking systems act as filters, limiting the applicant pool to only those that are eligible for the job. Recruiters can also use the software to rank candidates based on attributes such as experience and education, bringing those resumes to the top of the pile.

Employee Retention

The usefulness of applicant tracking systems for recruiters doesn’t end once the position is filled. The same software that’s used to spot the perfect candidate can also identify the types of employees that are most likely to leave. Applicant tracking systems recognize patterns that recruiters could miss; perhaps applicants with less experience are more likely to leave within the first six months, which could suggest there’s room for improvement in the training process. Perhaps these new hires aren’t feeling confident in their position and could use some extra help during onboarding.

Senegal Software’s Talent Management Platform

Applicant tracking software is proven to enhance the hiring process by reducing time to hire, lowering associated costs, widening your pool of quality applicants, and increasing employee retention. Senegal Software’s talent management platform not only assists you in finding excellent future employees, but also organizes the data gleaned from the hiring process into an easy-to-use database that will help refine your candidate searches in the future.