The Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems

comparing characteristics of applicant on computer

The rise of the digital landscape continues to positively impact businesses of all sizes. Companies have access to technology that can improve productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement. Among the most important tools available to companies at the moment are those that make human resources (HR) processes more efficient and effective.

Why should companies focus their tech investment in this area? Well, your employees are among the most valuable resources your company has. They have a direct impact on all areas of your organization and influence your success. Any tool that improves the quality and efficacy of your staff is vital. This is why so many businesses are adopting applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Let’s look a little closer at the benefits of applicant tracking systems and how they can bolster your business.

What Are Applicant Tracking Systems?

There are various types of software available to HR departments today. Applicant tracking systems, or ATS, are among the most popular and accessible tools in the contemporary business landscape. In essence, an ATS is designed to more effectively manage the hiring process. Most contemporary versions of these platforms track candidates end-to-end through application, interview, and onboarding. They can filter applicants through set parameters, organize the most appropriate prospects, and log assessment data. They can also be used to communicate with candidates and to help new hires interact with essential onboarding documents.

There are a variety of ways businesses can adopt ATS. Some developers offer this software as add-ons to existing HR management platforms. In this way, companies are taking a modular approach to utilizing the tools that are right for their business models, which can be a more agile approach.

Perhaps the most popular format at the moment is ATS as stand-alone software as a service (SaaS). This is where companies invest in a license to a dedicated ATS platform on a subscription basis. Often, developers in this format offer different levels of access to their software to better suit different sizes and types of business.

There are also open-source ATS platforms available. These are usually free to use. However, it’s worth remembering that open-source platforms often don’t have dedicated support systems in place. As such, this approach is usually most appropriate for emerging businesses.

Automated Candidate Screening

One of the primary benefits of utilizing an ATS is automated candidate screening processes. Particularly with larger companies or in-demand roles, HR departments may have to sift through hundreds of applications. An ATS takes much of the heavy lifting out of this. By automating the majority of this aspect of hiring, HR departments in businesses of all sizes can be made more efficient and effective.

The first stage of the automated candidate screening process is data parsing. This is where the software extracts key pieces of information from the applications received into the business. It scans the documents to pull out demographic information, skills, education details, and work experience, among other metrics. The software then tags and stores this information for easy retrieval.

From here, HR personnel and managers can set advanced filtering parameters for the types of candidates they’d like to review further. These usually involve creating candidate profiles that essentially describe the most desired traits for a specific role. Profiles can include certain keywords for the types of experiences or characteristics they’d like the candidate to have. It could involve pulling all candidates with specific degrees or above a number of years’ experience.

Once the most suitable candidates have been identified from these parameters, the system can automatically send invitations to interviews. HR personnel can set up template emails for this purpose well in advance, with the system populating the individual names and other details from the previously parsed data. This helps to not only save time and labor for HR workers but it also keeps correspondence consistent.

That said, to get the most benefit out of an ATS, it’s important that HR professionals don’t use this approach alone. This can lead to missing potentially valuable candidates because they don’t fall into the traditional parameters for desired candidates. As such, businesses must be sure to set up a range of profiles with different ranges of preferred characteristics for candidates.

Centralized Data Visibility

One of the most beneficial aspects of utilizing an ATS is that it keeps valuable candidate data visible. Both during and after the hiring process, the application and interview details of each candidate are important tools for businesses. It helps HR departments to better understand the demographics they’re attracting, which can help identify changes to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The data can also be used to unearth efficiency or efficacy issues throughout the hiring process. Not to mention that it can highlight what types of experiences and education certain roles are attracting.   

Without an ATS in place, it is still possible to get access to this information. However, it would take a significant amount of time and labor for a member of the HR department to manually extract and store the relevant data. This approach is also more likely to be disrupted by human error. 

An ATS not only extracts and stores the data, but the user interface also makes for simple retrieval of various different metrics as required. This means that companies can perform analyses on their hiring processes in a more agile and impactful way. 

Onboarding Efficiency

Even once an applicant has been chosen, the ATS still has a valuable role to play. The information gathered throughout the candidate’s application process feeds into the pre-onboarding and onboarding stages. This makes for a more accurate, compliant, and efficient procedure for everyone involved.  

This works by either connecting the ATS to other parts of the HR suite or preloading the software with essential onboarding documents. This is likely to include employment contracts, employee handbooks, security screening documentation, and orientation information. The HR systems can populate the documents with any relevant salary information and identification details pulled from the ATS. In some cases, the new hire can access these documents via the ATS or a linked system to complete any signing online. As such, the pre-onboarding process is both more efficient and paperless.  

Another way in which the data parsed by the ATS is useful is in identifying individual training needs. Each applicant will have their work experience, education, and skill sets extracted and stored by the software. This can then be used by HR and management to establish gaps and important areas of education focus. This makes it simpler to ensure the most appropriate training resources and development plans are already in place on day-one of an employee’s time with the company. Alongside the efficiency benefits here, this type of attention can improve worker engagement.

Wrapping Up

There are a variety of ways applicant tracking systems can benefit your business. A solid ATS can improve the efficiency and accuracy of the hiring process through automated candidate screening. Your company can also gain from an agile way to immediately access and analyze candidate data. Even after the hiring process is complete, the information parsed by the software can streamline onboarding procedures. You can engage with an ATS through SaaS, open-source methods, or as part of your wider HR suite. But whatever method you utilize, your business and employees benefit from a tool that enhances the hiring process.