The Evolution of Applicant Tracking System: A Historical Perspective

Published On
February 2, 2024
Read Time
4 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Using technology to manage job applications and hiring processes is not a new concept. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has been around for several decades and has evolved significantly. It’s unquestionably successful as an applicant database and recruiting tool.

Most of us know what an Applicant Tracking System can perform in today’s times. But how many of us are aware of this system’s journey?

This article will explore the evolution of Applicant Tracking Systems from a historical perspective.

Period before ATS

Recruitment software has revolutionized the way human resources staff operates. Prior to the advent of Applicant Tracking System, the manual nature of the process meant that posting job openings in newspapers and accepting hard-copy applications created a host of challenges and limitations.

However, using technologies such as email, Excel files, and online application forms has led to a shift towards more digitized management of procedures over time.

ATS and its Early Years (1970s - 1990s)

The first Applicant Tracking Systems were introduced in the 1970s. These early systems were designed to manage job applications manually, and most of the work was done by human recruiters. The systems were often rudimentary, with basic data entry capabilities and limited reporting options.

During the 1980s, Applicant Tracking Systems began to incorporate more advanced features, such as resume parsing. This allowed recruiters to sort and analyze large volumes of applications quickly. However, these systems were still relatively simple compared to what we have today. They were often expensive and difficult to use, and only large organizations with dedicated HR departments could afford them.

The Rise of the Internet (1990s - 2000s)

The introduction of the internet in the 1990s changed the hiring process significantly. Job seekers could now search for and apply for jobs online, and recruiters could post job openings on their company websites. Applicant Tracking Systems also began integrating with online job boards, such as Monster (formed in 1999) and CareerBuilder (founded in 1995).

During this time, Applicant Tracking Systems also began to incorporate more advanced algorithms to help recruiters find the best candidates for open positions. The algorithms could use specific criteria such as job experience, educational qualifications and other relevant factors to evaluate each candidate’s application and assign them a ranking score.

This process allowed recruiters to quickly sort through thousands of applications and prioritize the most qualified candidates for further review. It resulted in making the recruitment process faster and more streamlined.

The Cloud Era (2010s - Present)

In the 2010s, cloud technology revolutionized how Applicant Tracking Systems were developed and deployed. Cloud-based systems allowed for more flexibility and scalability, making it easier for smaller organizations to implement and use ATS. The rise of mobile technology also led to the development of the system, which was optimized for mobile devices. This move made it easier for job seekers to apply for jobs on the go.

Today’s Applicant Tracking Systems are much more advanced than their early counterparts. They can integrate with social media platforms, allowing recruiters to source candidates from various channels. They also offer advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing organizations to track key metrics, such as time to fill and cost per hire.

Modern Applicant Tracking System and its advantages

Modern applicant tracking systems offer several advantages for organizations and recruiters, including

• Increased productivity - An Applicant Tracking System allows companies to advertise job openings and manage candidates more efficiently. The increased efficiency that comes with using this system enables companies to manage their recruitment process more effectively. It also makes attracting top talent and hiring faster, leading to increased productivity.

• Recruiters can efficiently and quickly screen applications using modern software capabilities, enabling them to identify the best candidates for the job.

• Reduced time-to-hire - Employing an Applicant Tracking System is the ideal solution if you’re seeking to automate repetitive tasks and expedite the entire recruitment process. It is capable of automating job postings on multiple job boards and social media platforms with just a few clicks. This is considered by many as one of the most significant time-saving benefits of an Applicant Tracking software. Thanks to the software, it relieves recruiters of the task of manually posting jobs on various sites.

• Improved candidate experience - Applicant Tracking Systems improve the experience and well-being of applicants by providing a more efficient and streamlined process. With an Applicant Tracking System, candidates can apply for jobs easily through an online platform. This is usually more convenient and easier than submitting a paper resume.

The Applicant Tracking software also provides candidates with an automatic confirmation that their application has been received. This step gives them peace of mind and lets them know that their application is being considered. Moreover, an Applicant Tracking System can help reduce the time that candidates have to wait for a response. This is done by automating communication with them throughout the recruitment process.

The Future of Applicant Tracking Systems

As technology continues to evolve, so will Applicant Tracking Systems. We can expect to see more advanced AI and machine learning algorithms that can identify and rank candidates based on a wider range of criteria. We may also see the introduction of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, which could revolutionize the way recruiters conduct interviews.

Another area where we can expect to see significant developments is diversity and inclusion. Many organizations now use Applicant Tracking software to remove unconscious biases from their hiring processes. We can expect to see more advanced algorithms designed to reduce prejudice and promote diversity.

Final Thoughts

Applicant Tracking Systems have come a long way since their inception in the 1970s. From basic manual systems to cloud-based platforms with advanced AI algorithms, ATS has revolutionized how organizations manage their hiring processes.

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more advanced Applicant Tracking Systems that are faster, more efficient, and more effective at finding the best candidates for open positions. The key takeaway is to employ advanced recruitment software tailored to the company’s needs. You'll soon witness how such software will eliminate time-consuming manual work and expedite the entire talent acquisition process.

Complete, Update and Retain Your Form I-9s Digitally

Know More