The Basics of Buying an Applicant Tracking System
According to an Aberdeen Group study, of the companies that perform the best when it comes to hiring and retaining top talent, 84% invest or plan to invest in best of breed ATSs.
What do these companies know that others don't? Why are over 50% of them planning to increase investment in recruitment technology over the next 12 months?
As the Aberdeen report concludes, “Best-in-Class organizations recognize that these systems provide an understanding of how to handle complex recruiting needs and a way to improve the experience of recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates.”
Consider this eBook your guide to navigating the world of Applicant Tracking Systems so you can improve your whole recruiting and talent selection process. There are over 203 ATS solutions out there, and trying to figure out which one is best for you can seem a daunting task. With the tips on the following pages, however, and by completing a few simple steps, you can easily winnow down those numbers to a much more manageable shortlist and make a final selection
Taking the step to formalize your hiring and candidate selection process is a big deal. How do you know you're ready? Is an ATS even what you really need? And most importantly, which Applicant Tracking System is going to actually make things easier and improve the hiring experience in your organization?
Over the course of this guidebook we'll cover…
Ready to get started? Or are you feeling unsure? Let's take a placement test to see where you stand…
ATS Readiness Screening
There are a lot of great reasons to buy Applicant Tracking Software….and a few bad ones. Do you have all of the necessary requirements? Answer “yes” or “no” to these questions to find out if you're ready….
An ATS may or may not be what you need right now. Let's review some of the basics before you move on.
You're most likely ready for an ATS, but keep looking over the material so that you're completely prepared.
You're at the top of the class! Skip ahead to Chapter 2 and get started!
Most companies don't receive thousands of resumes, hire big batches of employees, or have tons of seasonal positions to fill. Many times, just having one of those criteria is enough to require an ATS, and two or three means you'll definitely benefit from an ATS.
Additionally, manually posting to multiple job boards doesn't necessarily mean you need an ATS, but if you find you have to do this regularly, an ATS may help cut down the time spent.
If you find yourself saying: “We need to get more applicants” or, “Our turnover rate is horrible” … you have other issues to address before you buy an ATS.
During your search, you will also encounter numerous software solutions available that either compliment and/or integrate with applicant tracking software to help you manage recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, performance management, and human resource management, such as:
Which is it?
There are two types of Recruiting and Applicant Tracking software:
To avoid confusion and ensure that you're looking for the appropriate software, Capterra has differentiated the two types as follows:
Note: It is common for software vendors to use the terms, “Recruiting” and “Applicant Tracking” interchangeably. In fact, the majority of functionality is the same in both types of software. Some vendors, however, will focus more heavily on one user type or the other.
Preparing Your CV of ATS Goals
Now that you've taken the screening test and know that you're ready to buy, it's time to dig into the meat of our guide- identifying your ATS needs. With hundreds of Applicant Tracking options and features available, clearly establishing your requirements will ensure that the ATS you ultimately select makes the cut.
In order to figure out which features you'll need in an ATS, your organization should set down on paper your ideal process for hiring qualified candidates
Make sure you cover all these steps in order to have a more informed and productive conversation with ATS vendors:
Develop detailed examples of the different types of positions you expect to fill. In each case, include what type of tracking and compliance functionality you would need.
Use the ideal process developed in Step 1 to inform each of your use cases. This way when you talk to an ATS vendor, you can paint them a clear picture of what you need the software to do
Note: It's best to develop these use cases for the most common hires, rather than the one-time-per-year hire, otherwise you may waste money on “cool” features to deal with exceptions.
For example: Incredible Doodad Inc. needs to hire extra shift workers for the manufacturing plant in the two months leading up to the holidays, due to increased demand for their product. They will need to hire at least 60 extra seasonal workers by October 30th, and all the workers need to be certified to operate their heavy machinery. Additionally, each worker needs to pass an E-Verify check and a drug test.
Incredible Doodad Inc. wants to use online job boards, as well as their database of previous seasonal workers to select applicants, and plans to have an automated initial screening for new applicants but not for candidates from their database. The person responsible for the hiring is the floor manager in the manufacturing plant, and he will collaborate with the HR Director on interviews and rating resumes
There are hundreds of features in an Applicant Tracking software solution. Some you will need, most you will not. Focus on the top 10 – 15 that you really need, and don't get hung up on the flashy features that you'll only use once, if ever. Instead, write down a separate list of “nice-tohaves,” but don't let these make or break your selection decision.
Mobile recruiting: In a market where, according to a Comscore survey, 77% of jobseekers use smart phones to find jobs, it will soon become necessary for your company's jobs portal and your ATS to be smart-phone optimized.
Cloud enabled: It used to be that an ATS was only used by the biggest enterprise companies, and it was tied to an install at the office. This has changed and is continuing to change dramatically as the number of ATSs hosted in the cloud and aimed at small and midsized businesses is exploding.
Collaborative hiring: Share notes and impressions about applicants and have your entire team be able to view them instantly.
77% use smartphones to find jobs
Here are some pros to each kind:
Web-based: accessible anywhere with an internet connection, can be used on most computers/devices, maintenance and upgrades are handled by the vendor, lower initial investment.
On-premises: greater ability to customize, greater access to data, easier integration with other installed systems, greater flexibility with deployment, potentially lower lifetime investment.
*Based off of Capterra ATS buyers in 2013.
Now that you know what you want, it's time to start selecting promising candidates. But be warned…just like interviewing job applicants, you can't simply ask a few basic questions and expect to find the perfect fit. Your first step is to prepare for the interview process by creating a list of possible software options for your organization.
Interview Tips for Buying an ATS
Capterra's Applicant Tracking Software Capterra's ATS software directory has all 203+ applicant tracking systems listed in one place. Use the filtering tool to check off your must-have features and narrow down the list to a much more manageable size.
The goal is to create a list of 3–5 ATS solutions that you'll evaluate more closely. But if your requirements are pretty basic, narrowing your results could still leave you with 15, 20, or even more viable options. Alternatively, your needs could be so specific that after filtering the list down, you're only left with 1 result. That's why in Chapter 2 we said to only focus on your top 10–15 features… hopefully those should leave you with a manageable amount of options to evaluate.
If they don't, or if going through this process is overwhelming— or even just a pain— we're happy to do the work for you. Search our software directory, and we can get you halfway to your perfect solution in a matter of minutes.
Now that you have your handful of options, it's time for the fun part— demos! Software demonstrations are the best way to determine which applicant tracking software fits your needs. Some of these demos happen one-on-one with a sales person (like second round interviews), while others are webinars with groups of potential buyers (like a panel interview). Either way, the demos and conversations you'll have with each software company should answer the following questions about your remaining ATS contenders:
When you're demoing and selecting an ATS, make sure to gather answers to the following questions from each involved party:
There's no simple answer when it comes to ATS pricing. Besides the fact that there are several different pricing models, your specific requirements are also a big factor in how much you'll pay. However, it's important to know the various pricing models so that when you get quotes, you can compare apples to apples.
Here's a breakdown of how most ATS providers charge for their software:
Solutions with This Pricing Model*: Applicant Stack, Hiring Steps, The Resumator
* Additional pricing models you may run into include one-time flat license fee (ex. Newton Software), and free, but with premium HR and recruiting services on offer (ex. iKrut).).
The great thing about the ATS hiring process is that you don't have to go it alone—you can bring this ebook with you to every interview (demo) and callback. Asking yourself the right questions and taking the time to examine your organization's specific needs will ensure you end up with an applicant tracking system you love and that helps you get the best talent out there.
nd remember – just because you're the one doing the hiring doesn't mean you can't employ outside headhuntersp
We've covered enough to get you started, but as you're going through demos you might come across terms you aren't familiar with. Here's a cheat sheet to help you translate.
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