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Sourcing and on-boarding the right candidate with the required skills-set is the primary goal of any organization. Discovering the desired profile from a pool of candidates with a traditional process can be challenging for any HR professional.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) automates the entire recruitment process and helps your recruiters to onboard the best top-notch candidates hassle-free.

Over the past decade, the online recruitment process has evolved from a simple job posting to a fully integrated service that can minimize huge costs while improving the quality of new hires. However, choosing a solution among numerous available ATS options with varying degrees of capabilities can be a daunting task for anyone.

Here we’ve discussed a few factors that will help you decide on the right software solution for your business to enhance productivity.

1. Candidates’ Experience

Software solutions are meant to simplify the entire process. If the candidates must endure a lengthy process due to slow performance or multiple clicks, they will get frustrated and leave your site. So, check the workflow, performance, and attractiveness of the solution before making a decision. Also, check for various other features such as resume uploading options, mock tests, and more that can enhance the candidates’ experience.  

2. System Integration

Based on the size of the organization, you are likely to integrate the software with your in-house systems. Usually, SMEs and most agencies integrate the ATS with their career website, while larger companies integrate with multiple systems. So, when choosing a solution, check whether it can integrate with your existing business systems for seamless data transfer. Research the ins and outs of your business to understand which resources you need the vendor to provide for the integration.

The integration process of any software can be complicated. Make sure you have the resources to handle the integration and implementation process effectively to gain better results. Check whether the software includes Human Resource Information System (HRIS) and verification system to check the candidate’s family background, criminal record, and work status. Analyze the pitfalls of the existing system and processes and determine what type of system integrations you necessary to ensure a seamless hiring process.

Accordingly, choose a solution that provides all the features you need to automate and streamline the hiring process.  Also, check the ATS is capable of integrating with other solutions such as payroll, billing, and more.

3. Understand Your Unique Business Requirements

Markets and Markets research revealed that the ATS market size is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.3% from USD 1.08 billion in 2017 to USD 1.81 billion by 2023 during the forecast period.

Whether it’s an SME or a well-established business, every enterprise will have its own goals and objectives. Before deciding on investing in a new solution, you need to define the pros and cons of your current business processes and figure-out what challenges you are trying to solve with the new solution.

Also, analyze what you want to achieve by adopting the new Applicant Tracking System.  Whether you want an ATS to streamline recruitment processes, improve cost per hire and quality of hire, and reduce time to hire or to automate the requisition approval process. Figuring-out the primary purpose of the software helps you find the right solution that can add value in your journey towards achieving your business objectives.

4. Cost of ATS Software

Price is one of the most crucial factors to consider while deciding on purchasing a solution. So, compare the prices of various software solutions available in the market and choose the best software that is within your budget.

Along with the cost of the software implementation, consider the software upfront costs and the cost of additional software and hardware equipment that are required to manage the processes effectively. While comparing the cost of the software, also consider the features, scalability, and other crucial functionality.

5. Vendor Reputation & up-time

Almost every vendor projects themselves as the best option for premium-grade services. But, in reality, only a few vendors are providing the most reliable services. Instead of believing the vendor’s statements blindly, scrutinize the vendor’s reputation and check their client-base before purchasing software from them. Research more about the functionality of their ATS solution by going through the case studies and user reviews in social media networks, print magazines, and other platforms.

If you are purchasing a cloud-based solution, consider asking the vendor’s existing clients about the software up-time and responsiveness of the vendor when required. It is worth discussing your company’s specific objectives and workflow with the vendor to predict and reduce the possibility of any errors during the implementation.

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6. Ease of Use

A robust solution with advanced features and functionalities can’t help you achieve your business objectives if your employees don’t utilize the software correctly. Check for a software that is intuitive, easy to set up, and requires little to zero maintenance. So, discuss your requirements with different vendors and consider asking each of them about their software capabilities, functionalities, system configurations, routine maintenance, customer support services, and customizations they offer.

According to ReportsAndData research, around 40% of the recruiters use an Applicant Tracking System for selecting the applicants.

As there are many software solutions with poor search functionality, check what type of search engine vendor uses to ensure quick and accurate search results. If your employees can use the software solution with minimal training, you can save time and money, making your investment worthwhile.

7. Financial Viability

Every business database comprises the most crucial business data that needs to secure against theft and unauthorized access. In today’s competitive technology world, vendors come to the market and go at an alarming rate.

So, there is a possibility that your vendor went bankrupt and shut shop with your money and data. Analyze more about the vendor’s business by inquiring about their existing clients, financials, employees, and more. Accordingly, analyze various software solutions and purchase the right solution.

8. Social Media Job Posting

In today’s technologically connected world, social media is top of everything. Most of the advanced ATS systems come with social media integration, which allows hiring managers to promote job opportunities online. From sharing job opportunities, sourcing candidates for hosting interviews, everything can be carried out on various social media channels with the ATS software. This kind of recruitment process has become a trend in the modern recruitment sphere.

So, before purchasing a solution, ask the vendor whether the software is integrated with a social networking platform. Ask the vendor about the various job posting and social networking websites they have access to use and what are the additional costs for using those sites.  

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9. Security and Ownership of Data

HR teams deal with a lot of personal, financial, and other crucial business data that needs to be secured against theft. Unauthorized access to this confidential business data can lead to serious legal repercussions. So, invest in the applicant tracking system that leverages advanced technology and security protocols, and provide hosting services across SSL servers to secure data.

Also, confirm whether the vendor will delete all your information stored on their system and backup servers once you stop using their system. Purchase a solution that is in compliance with the security standards.

10. Legal Compliance

The legal rules and regulations for software solutions vary from country to country. If you are managing a multi-national company that has branches across various countries, you need to be more careful. You need to ensure that the software you are using has tracking tools for legal compliance, so you don’t have to bother about lawsuits and fines.

It is imperative for the enterprises that are doing business with the federal government to be OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) compliant.

11. Analytics Tools to Track the Metrics

Enterprise database comprises tons of data that needs to be analyzed to make better business decisions. But, analyzing the bundles of paper-based data with the traditional processes is time-consuming. Fortunately, few advanced ATS includes analytics tools that can help HRs to track the data accurately.

Check whether the software you are buying enables you to track applicants throughout the entire process – from source to hire and monitor job posting and social media success to determine the advertising budgets. The software should help the enterprises to identify bottlenecks in the recruitment process and determine where the referrals are coming. So, go for a solution that comes with analytics tools to enhance the hiring process.

12. IT Features & Considerations

Businesses must embrace technology to stay ahead of their competitors. To keep pace with the ever-evolving market, the applicant tracking system should be accessible, secure, and stable for both HRs and job seekers.  

When researching a solution, check its system integrations, technical and customer support, compatibility with employee referral portal and other portals, accessibility and security and ownership of data, and more.

13. Flexibility, Scalability & Accessibility

Every enterprise meant to grow in the long run. So, make sure that the software you are going to purchase can support the growing requirements of your business. Both the on-premise and cloud-based software solutions come with a set of advantages and disadvantages. The on-premise solution provides you with the full control of software and hardware required to run the solution. You need dedicated IT resources to manage the on-premise solution.

On the other hand, a cloud-based solution will be managed by the vendor, allowing you to concentrate on more productive tasks.

According to the GlobeNewswire, cloud deployment is anticipated to witness a higher CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.2% during the forecast period (2019-2026).

So, decide whether you want a solution that will be maintained by your in-house staff or vendor maintaining it. However, the cloud-based application tracking software provides you with the flexibility to increase or decrease the storage and bandwidth whenever required.  

14. Internal Candidate Portal

When it comes to recruitment, hiring/ promoting internal employees to the vacant positions is cost-effective when compared to on-boarding outers. Ask vendors if the software they are providing has a separate portal for internal employees to check the vacancies.

Consider discussing the features and accessibility of the internal candidate portal. Some questions to ask the vendors to know more about the portal: Will the recruiter gets notified when an internal employee submitted a job application? And Is there any possibility of creating jobs for only internal employees?    

15. Employee Referral Portal

Referral hiring is gaining more popularity due to the range of benefits it offers. According to Deloitte’s research, referral hiring reduced the time to hire by almost 50% when compared to on-boarding outers.

The referral recruitment strategies help you source the right candidates with the required skills-set and improve retention levels and applicant conversion rates while reducing time to hire. So, go for an ATS solution that offers a separate employee referral portal for employees to refer their friends for jobs.

16. Technical and Customer Support

Usability, performance, and downtime issues can be crippling while using an applicant tracking system. Even though most vendors name themselves as a 24/7 support provider, it’s meaningless if the support is poor. So, it is always advisable to discuss with vendors about their customer support team working hours, customer satisfaction ratings, and second-and-third-level support capabilities. Rather than blindly believing the vendors’ statements, interact with the vendors’ existing customers, and collect their feedback about the vendor’s actual customer support services.  

Regardless of how user-friendly a solution may be, there will still be a set of sophisticated programs that need special skills to use. For this, every enterprise needs dedicated expertise with skills and experience to use the software effectively. The dedicated resource provided by the vendor should be capable of handling the issues of the system and also has to train the in-house employees if needed.

To know more about the support services of the vendor, consider discussing the following questions with the vendor:

  • Fee for support services.
  • Availability of dedicated manager for the company.
  • Customer support service working hours.
  • Whether training is available.
  • Help guides, user forums, and knowledge base and more.

The Bottom Line

If the software you’ve purchased fails to streamline your job application process, you may lose many worthy candidates.

Choosing an applicant tracking system that best suits your business-specific requirements takes plenty of effort and research. Along with the factors mentioned above, there are many other priorities to consider while deciding on the software to choose from. It includes dashboards and analytics reporting, on-premise or cloud-based solution, GDPR compliance, data security, and more.

As the software purchasing process involves huge investment and workforce, it’s always better to research thoroughly before deciding on the software to avoid unpleasant surprises later.


Written By
Charles Harden is a freelance content writer at SutiSoft , who frequently writes articles on Cloud Computing/SaaS, HR, Business and ERP trends.

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