Applicant tracking system benefits
In this guide, we’ll examine the top 12 advantages of adding an applicant tracking system (ATS) to your business toolbox:
- Save time on administrative tasks.
- Host an attractive careers page.
- Make it easy to apply from any device.
- Communicate with candidates more efficiently.
- Increase your applicant pipeline.
- Track your applicant sources.
- Pre-qualify candidates more effectively.
- Evaluate candidates using the same measurable, objective criteria.
- Make quality hires consistently.
- Accelerate hiring decisions.
- Create a great new hire onboarding experience.
- Complete onboarding paperwork digitally using a compliant system.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: as a small-to-medium business owner, you don’t have a dedicated HR department to take care of your recruiting and hiring needs, so you have to find the time to do it yourself.
And your “system” leaves a lot to be desired. You post a job on a popular job board and hope that the right hire for your role happens to be searching on that same job board.
Applicants send you PDFs (or worse — Word documents) of their resumes and cover letters, which clutter up your desktop, even though you promise yourself that you’ll “file them later.” (Spoiler: you never do!)
You read through each resume, comparing one against another, and you deliberate over which applicants you actually want to reach out to. You go back and forth for days and weeks. Finally, you reach out to the candidates whose resumes interest you.
You play phone tag with candidates or fall into an email wormhole where even more days pass before all parties agree on concrete dates and times for interviews.
You go through several rounds of interviews and when the time comes to make a decision, you try to listen to your gut about who seems like they would be the best fit. You make an offer and then immediately Google “new hire documents” because it’s been so long since the last time you onboarded a new employee and you need a refresher.
Have I just painted a vivid word-picture of what the average hiring process looks like for many business owners? Chilling, isn’t it?
The number one challenge facing business owners is the same as it’s always been: attracting and hiring the right people. But today, the technology exists to make this process a whole lot easier. And, even better, you don’t need to be a seasoned HR professional to reap the benefits of these tools.
What you need is an applicant tracking system (ATS) — a software that helps you recruit, hire, and onboard candidates quickly and easily. Let’s learn what your hiring process could look like with an ATS.
1. Save time on administrative tasks.
Think of an ATS as the hiring version of a CRM (customer relationship management software). It’s a centralized hub that automatically collects and stores everything applicants send you, such as résumés, cover letters, or samples of work. Submissions come with assessment scores and answers to pre-qualifying questions attached. Plus, you can schedule interviews and manage your communication with applicants all in the same place.
You’ll never have to file and organize resumes or hunt down contact information with an ATS. Just log in to your dashboard, sit back, and watch the applicants come through — with all their information automatically laid out in front of you, neatly organized in their individual hiring workflows. So satisfying.
2. Host an attractive careers page.
CareerPlug analyzed hiring activity in 2019 from more than 10,000 companies and discovered that company careers pages are an underutilized, but high-quality, source of applicants. In our analysis, we found that an applicant who applied directly from a company careers page was 23 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board.
A good applicant tracking system should give you the ability to create an attractive careers page for a few reasons:
- It allows you to showcase your employment brand better than you could on a generic job board
- It allows jobseekers to learn more about your business, culture, and values before they decide to apply to your role
Take, for instance, this careers page from Mosquito Hunters:
Our experience shows us that applicants who apply from job boards are more likely to be sending out dozens of applications in short order, with less consideration for their qualifications for the role or less interest in the specific job. An applicant who takes the time to research a role and then applies directly through a company careers page is more likely to have spent time considering their own fit for the role and the company.
3. Make it easy to apply from any device.
In 2019, Glassdoor reported that 58% of job seekers were searching for jobs using their mobile device. They also found that mobile job seekers complete 53% fewer applications and take 80% longer to complete each application.
This is a huge hurdle for both mobile job seekers and businesses alike because applicant pools shrink as job applications take longer to complete.
An ATS can provide you with the functionality and integrations you need to present job seekers with a fast, easy application — even from their mobile devices. Your candidates should be able to apply to your job in less than 3 minutes.
One last thing to keep in mind: the best candidates can afford to be picky about which jobs they apply to. If a job application is inconvenient, they have no qualms about moving on.
4. Communicate with candidates more efficiently.
We mentioned how an ATS helps eliminate the administrative tasks involved in the hiring process, and that extends to communication. Not only will an ATS store candidates’ contact information, but it can also allow you to email candidates directly and schedule interviews without leaving the software.
One pain point we hear from hiring managers is the time they waste trying to get in touch with applicants who never get back to them. Luckily, research shows that text messages have a 98% open rate compared with email, which has a 20% open rate — which is why CareerPlug also gives you the option to text candidates directly from the software.
The time you’ll save by not having to juggle multiple programs for file management, e-mail, and calendar scheduling is time you can spend running your business instead.
5. Increase your applicant pipeline.
Any successful marketing strategy places your products where your customers will actually see them, right? Similarly, when creating a successful recruiting strategy, you’ll want your job opportunities represented in the places that contain the most active job seekers.
A good ATS will allow you to, with a single click, post your jobs to all of the major job boards as well as your own company careers page and any other custom sources you’ve defined.
ATS users also often report seeing an immediate boost to their applicant pipelines.
For more tips on how to increase your applicant pipeline, check out the video below featuring CareerPlug’s Director of HR, Natalie Morgan.
6. Track your applicant sources.
There’s no question which sources produce the most applicants: major job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. But when it comes to hiring, quality matters more than quantity.
Our research finds that while job boards produce 88% of all applications, they produce only 29% of hires. Companies that rely solely on job boards are likely to find that the applicants they receive are less responsive and not as high-quality as applicants generated through other means, including their own careers pages and referrals.
An applicant tracking system will aggregate all your applicants into one place (your dashboard), but it can also allow you to track your applicant sources so you can identify which are the most effective for your business. That way you can focus your energy (and potential advertising spend) on the sources that produce quality hires.
7. Pre-qualify candidates more effectively.
When you begin using an applicant tracking system, you’ll likely start to see your applicant pipeline increase — which means you’ll now find yourself sorting through more candidates than ever before. Champagne problems, right? Well, there’s a downside to this…
An applicant tracking system should save you time while also helping you make better decisions about which applicants to move forward. With an ATS, you can add prequalifying questions to the application to automatically fast-track applicants who check your most essential boxes and gracefully reject those who do not.
Research shows recruiters skim a resume for just 7.4 seconds before moving on. This is what we would consider to be the opposite of a hiring best practice. It’s like evaluating resumes based on a knee-jerk reaction! Approaches like this are simply too prone to error to be effective.
An ATS can allow you to focus your efforts on higher-quality candidates and remove the legwork of sifting through countless submissions from applicants who don’t check your most important boxes.
8. Evaluate candidates using the same measurable, objective criteria.
An ATS discourages hiring based on “gut feelings” by providing the rubric to evaluate all candidates fairly and consistently. An applicant tracking system can help you measure objective criteria using tools like prescreen questions and assessments.
Creating an ideal candidate profile for each role will make it easier for you to commit to a set of objective criteria. This profile should serve as your goalpost guiding your hiring decisions. Always keep in mind: You shouldn’t move the goalpost for each candidate.
One major bonus: by sticking to data-driven decisions with the help of an ATS, you can begin to reduce unconscious bias in hiring. Evaluating all candidates fairly is a great first step toward increasing your organization’s diversity — and there’s plenty of evidence that proves diverse companies perform better.
9. Make quality hires consistently.
A good ATS should also provide the framework for a good hiring process. This is the hiring equivalent of a sales leader creating a strategy to guide a customer through the buyer life-cycle journey.
When you establish processes, you can drive predictable results. In hiring, it starts with things like the prequalifying questions mentioned earlier and extends to assessments (math and verbal assessments, personality tests, functional assessments like coding challenges, etc.), phone screens, multiple rounds of interviews, background and reference checks, and more.
Even better: When you hire the right people for your team, you reduce turnover. With the US Dept. of Labor estimating the cost of a bad hire to be 30% of the first-year salary, you want to make the right hire the first time.
10. Accelerate hiring decisions.
The best candidates have a lot of options. Hiring managers should hire with urgency before they move on to other offers. You can put your business at a significant advantage if you contact candidates sooner than your competition — and an ATS with built-in messaging and evaluation tools can help you do that.
A recent CareerPlug study found that 30% of job seekers ranked responsiveness after they initially apply as most important to them when it comes to candidate experience. Candidates are looking for prompt and clear communication as they evaluate their interest in a position.
Pro tip: You can build relationships with top talent quickly by creating an exceptional candidate experience throughout the entire hiring process. Check out the video below to learn more tips on improving your candidate experience.
11. Create a great new hire onboarding experience.
Here’s a staggering stat: 28% of employees are willing to quit within the first 90 days of a new job, according to a 2017 study. The reason? Poor onboarding practices.
At CareerPlug, we believe in the importance of setting up new hires for success, which is why our software includes a configurable new hire checklist to make it as easy as possible for business owners to create a consistent onboarding experience for their managers and staff every time.
Follow that up with a solid 30, 60, and 90-day onboarding plan for each new team member and you’ve already done more to increase your employee retention than most businesses suffering from high turnover.
12. Complete onboarding paperwork digitally using a compliant system.
Remember paper? It was inefficient, expensive, and took up a ton of precious storage space. An ATS takes the pain out of new hire forms by going completely paperless.
CareerPlug’s software gives you the tools to be compliant with your onboarding paperwork. It provides you with a digitized I-9, W-4, and any state-specific tax forms.
Did you know businesses can be subject to potential fines for filling out employment forms incorrectly? Digitized forms require that candidates fill out and sign all the necessary fields before they can proceed. When combined with a review by the hiring manager, this can reduce your risk of submitting incorrect or incomplete forms.
Lastly, all completed forms are stored electronically in a secure and compliant environment. Your new hire can hit the ground running after a seamless, worry-free onboarding.
An applicant tracking system gives you the tools to improve your results at every stage of the hiring process. It helps you save time, attract more qualified candidates, and make the right hires.
Click here to request a personalized demo of CareerPlug today, and our Hiring Experts will provide you with a free consultation to see how an ATS can boost your hiring results.