All You Need to Know about Applicant Tracking Systems

Imagine this: You are a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company in charge of hiring for multiple positions. You receive hundreds and maybe even thousands of applications for each of the job openings. The ideal thing would be to read through each of the applications carefully in order to find the best fit for each opening? Is it possible, though? No! unless you have all the time in the world at your disposal! What if you had state-of-the-art software that could do that and more? It would take care of sorting resumes, store and process them, assess legal compliance, handle analytics, report creation, and manage job postings with built-in features like recruiting email templates, automated interview scheduling, and onboarding tools? Sounds like futuristic mumbo-jumbo? Not at all! Super efficient Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) are all the rage currently. These are integrated platforms that enable efficient management of the entire recruitment process.

What is an applicant tracking system?

Simply put, an applicant tracking system is a talent management system that streamlines the application, recruitment and hiring processes. It is a computer-based hiring tool that is used by recruiters and employers to manage every stage in the recruitment process with ease. Among the long list of things that it can do, it first and foremost acts as a repository of the resumes of potential candidates and helps hiring teams automatically and quickly screen through the resumes and find top candidates with the appropriate qualifications.

A Jack of all trades!

How does an ATS work? In companies that use ATSs, when an applicant applies for a job online, their resume does not directly go to a recruiter. Instead, it goes to an ATS for processing. The ATS stores all resumes received and organizes them for easy retrieval. It also takes care of screening the applications, based on previously determined keywords, eliminating candidates who are not qualified for the job.
The information of the shortlisted candidates on the ATS’ database helps recruiters to review the applications. The ATS is then used to send automated messages and schedule interviews. As the candidate moves through the hiring process, the candidate’s resume, video interview recordings, and other vital documents are all available on a single interface of the ATS. The recruitment team can review all these assets as per their convenience and keep the candidate informed about their progress. Interview scheduling is efficient as ATSs integrate information from candidates’ and recruiters’ calendars. ATSs can even add candidates to the payroll once they have been hired!

Features Galore!

ATSs come with a plethora of features that make them attractive for hiring teams the world over.

  • Integrations with job sites –
  • Job posts need to be up on as many job boards as possible to maximize the reach and get more eyeballs for the posting. An ATS enables you to create a job posting and instantly get the posting up on all the major recruitment sites like, Monster, and

    Features of Application Tracking System

  • Career Page hosting –
  • Career pages are excellent opportunities to showcase the brand of the company as well as display openings. ATSs have the ability to build branded career pages as well as integrate with an existing career page if the careers page has already been set up.

  • Interview scheduler –
  • ATSs help in contacting shortlisted candidates and scheduling interviews with them. Candidates not turning up for interviews have been a cause for frustration for many a recruiter. ATSs have the feature of automatically reminding candidates about scheduled interviews, thus reducing the probability of interview no-shows.

  • Onboarding tools –
  • Relationships with candidates who have been selected and hired into the company, need to be nurtured right from the get-go. An ATS can step into the game to help with the process of onboarding, personalizing emails sent to welcome the new hires and as well as track the submission of onboarding documents of hired candidates.

  • Analytics –
  • Since ATSs track every step of the hiring process, they are able to gather a large amount of data. This data can be used to calculate metrics and generate insightful reports that reveal bottlenecks in the recruitment process and thus help speed up decision making. The reports can be a good source of information about the channels and advertisements that resonated the most with potential candidates.

Exploring the Whys

  • Narrows down the applicant pool:
  • Sorting through thousands of applications to decide the best fit, used to be a nightmare for recruiters. That is no longer the case now with the ease that ATSs provide. ATSs sort through large applicant pools and highlight top candidates for the role. With a competent ATS in hand to do the job, recruiters can get rid of spreadsheets and paperwork. ATSs also help in enriching the resource pipeline by building large talent pools with their resume storage feature. Even if certain good candidates need to be rejected due to an inadequate number of openings, their contact information and resumes can be stored in the ATS to make it convenient to reach out to them once there are open positions. This way companies have a ready list of short-listed candidates as soon as the next job opening comes up!

    Saves the business time and money by speeding up the recruitment cycle

  • Saves the business time and money by speeding up the recruitment cycle –

  • Using an ATS is a huge time saver for recruiters since it automates many of the tasks that earlier had to be done manually. This helps recruiters with both focus and productivity. They can focus on just the top candidates identified by the ATS and use the time saved productively.

  • Improves quality of hire –

  • ATSs reveal where the best candidates came from. That way, companies can focus on recruitment channels that work the best for them without wasting time, money, and effort on channels that do not provide the required results.

  • Boosts employer brand –

  • Companies have to constantly step up their game to hire the best talent. Hence, a good ATS experience is crucial to onboard the best candidates. A top-notch ATS can help retain the personal touch with timely and personalised communication with candidates.

  • Facilitates collaborative and streamlined hiring –

  • Earlier, hiring meant shifting between different systems and tools to hire candidates. A recruiter would have to use an unending list of tools – Excel spreadsheets, calendars, email software, job boards, company web pages, social media, the list was unending! With an ATS all these are integrated and accessible through a single software! Moreover, the progress of the candidate through the hiring journey can be shared among decision-makers such as hiring managers and team members easily, enabling them to make informed decisions on hiring the candidate.

  • Ensures Legal Compliance –

  • In countries such as the United States of America, there are hiring laws that need to be adhered to, failing which companies are penalized or even sued by those affected. Keeping track of why certain candidates had to be rejected can be quite taxing if done manually, but becomes a breeze with an ATS in place. The technology associated with an ATS helps a hiring team stay on track with compliance requirements and mandates. The Byzantine layers of laws and regulations for each country and state can be more easily complied with an advanced ATS.

Exploring the Why Nots

ATSs have often been at the receiving end due to the fact that they are designed to search for specific keywords and work backgrounds, and not explore candidate skills. This means that extremely qualified candidates who are trying to switch careers might not get shortlisted for the next round and might slip through the cracks. This is a loss for the company since candidates who come from a different industry and background might bring different skill sets and perspectives and prove to be excellent in the job.
Apart from that, integrating an ATS with other tools that your company uses can be a challenge and could require significant development time.
These disadvantages notwithstanding, the fact is that the benefits offered by ATSs far outweigh the problems and they have become a must-have for most organizations irrespective of their size.

Here to stay!

Employers and recruiters rely on the ATS to collect, scan and shortlist all the job applications that they receive for a particular position. It is clear that ATSs have revolutionised recruiting and are absolutely indispensable. To get a leg up on the competition, it is crucial to find an ATS that fits the needs of your organization.