What is an Applicant Tracking System? 5 Things You Need to Know About ATS

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

With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, hiring managers and recruiters rely on technology to handle the large number of applications received for each job opening. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has become one of the most commonly used tools in the recruiting industry. AI-based ATS can scan resumes, recognize promising candidates, and conduct preliminary interviews. As AI technology advances, ATS programs will probably become even more advanced.

This article explores an ATS and discusses some things your business needs to know about the system.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application that helps organizations manage the recruitment process. This workflow-oriented tool assists companies in managing and tracking the pipeline of applicants at each step of recruiting. With the help of ATS, recruiters and hiring managers can compile, categorize, and monitor job applications and resumes from candidates. ATS can post job vacancies, assess resumes, arrange interviews, and even send job offers. By automating the recruitment process, ATS improves the efficiency of the hiring process, reducing both time and expenses.

How Does an ATS Work?

To attract more candidates, user-friendly and hassle-free application processes are sought after. The top applicant tracking systems facilitate easy application submissions via any device, eliminating the need for logins. This expands the candidate pool, which can then be automatically ranked based on their skills and experience. Applicant tracking systems simplify recruitment by enabling users to provide feedback and notes on candidates effortlessly. Busy recruiters and hiring managers can use certain systems to collaborate from mobile devices. Moreover, many applicant tracking systems integrate with job boards, simplifying job postings.

The functioning of an ATS involves scanning resumes and job applications for relevant keywords and phrases that match the job description. This process, known as resume parsing, enables recruiters and hiring managers to identify the most suitable candidates swiftly. The ATS then sorts and organizes the parsed resumes into a database, streamlining the reviewing process for recruiters and hiring managers.

What are the key features of ATS?

Resume parsing: The ATS uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze resumes and extract details such as the applicant’s contact information, work experience, educational background, and skills. This relieves the recruiters from the tedious task of manually sifting through a large number of resumes.

Advanced search: This enables you to filter applications by specific keywords, job titles, skills, experience, education, and more. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a candidate with a particular set of skills or qualifications, they can use the advanced search feature to narrow down the pool of applicants based on those specific criteria. The system can be set up to search for exact matches or include similar terms that may be relevant to the job opening.

Multi-channel candidate sourcing: This feature allows you to actively search for, identify, and reach out to potential candidates for open positions. With candidate sourcing, an ATS can search for potential candidates from various sources, including online job boards, social media platforms, company career sites, and employee referrals. The system can be set up to identify candidates who match the qualifications required for the job, such as work experience, education, and skills. Once the ATS identifies potential candidates, recruiters can review their profiles and contact them directly through the system

Email templates: Most ATS offer email templates that allow recruiters and hiring managers to quickly and easily send professional and consistent communication to candidates throughout the recruitment process. The email templates provided by an ATS can include pre-written messages that the recruiter can customize to suit the specific needs of the job opening or candidate.

Advanced analytics and reporting: This is a powerful feature of an ATS as it allows you to generate detailed reports on job seekers, hiring trends, and other data. For example, if many qualified candidates drop out during the interview process, the data can be used to identify the reasons for this and implement strategies to improve the interview experience.

Various integrations: This means the ATS can connect with different types of software, such as email marketing software, accounting software, and CRM systems. For instance, an ATS integrated with email marketing software can help recruiters send targeted email campaigns to candidates meeting specific criteria. This can help to keep candidates engaged throughout the recruitment process and improve the overall candidate experience.

Ability to schedule interviews: Once a candidate is selected for an interview, the ATS can send them an automated email inviting them to choose a time and date that works for them, based on the recruiter’s availability and the interviewers. By automating interviews, recruiters can save the time they otherwise spend rescheduling, sending out reminders, or coordinating multiple calendars.

What are the benefits of using an ATS?

Using an ATS offers numerous benefits, with some of the most significant ones listed below:

Saves time: An ATS automates many of the time-consuming administrative tasks involved in recruiting, such as job posting and interview scheduling, resulting in significant time savings for recruiters and hiring managers. By utilizing artificial intelligence to sift out unsuitable candidates and rank the remaining ones, the direct cost and time required to fill a vacancy could be reduced.

Improves the quality of hire: The ATS allows for the quick identification of better-qualified candidates, resulting in enhanced quality of hire. Thanks to these systems, recruiters need not waste their time and effort on candidates who do not meet the criteria outlined in the job description.

Eases collaboration: Recruiters and hiring managers can collaborate seamlessly through the ATS, regardless of their physical location. Automated emails facilitate interview scheduling, enabling candidates to choose a mutually convenient time with hiring managers effortlessly. In addition, an applicant tracking system can provide recruiters and hiring managers with all necessary information and metrics at the click of a button.  

Better compliance: An ATS aids in ensuring compliance with federal and state hiring laws, mitigating the risk of legal issues. This is done by ensuring that recruitment and selection practices are fair, transparent, and objective. ATS can help standardize the recruitment process and avoid bias since it uses a consistent method for screening, evaluating, and ranking candidates based on specific job criteria.

Does ATS have any disadvantages?

Although using an ATS has numerous advantages, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the oft-cited disadvantages:

Keyword focus: One of the significant drawbacks is that ATS systems tend to be overly focused on specific keywords. As a result, highly qualified candidates with excellent skills and experience may be disregarded if their resumes or applications do not contain these keywords. A recent Harvard Business Review study reported this exclusion of viable candidates whose resumes did not match the exact criteria established by the job description.

Unintentional bias: ATS may mistakably discriminate against certain applicants. If the software is not programmed correctly, it could overlook certain candidates based on factors such as gender, age, or ethnicity.

High costs: Some ATS can be expensive, especially for smaller companies with a limited budget. Although they may provide long-term benefits, the high costs can be a barrier for some companies.

Lack of human touch: ATS systems may lack a human touch, which can remove the human element from the recruitment process. Automated systems cannot make the same kind of intuitive decisions as human recruiters, potentially eliminating great candidates.

How to Optimize Resumes for an ATS?

Candidates applying for jobs that use an ATS should ensure to optimize their resumes for the system. Here are a few tips:

Use keywords: Review the job description and incorporate relevant keywords and phrases into your resume to increase the chances of your application being recognized by the ATS.

Keep it simple: When creating a resume to submit to an ATS, it’s essential to keep it simple and easy to read. Using standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial and formatting options such as bullet points and headings can help ensure that the ATS can parse your resume correctly. ATS systems may have trouble reading resumes with complex or non-standard formats, so avoiding using uncommon fonts, unconventional spacing, or special characters is best.

Do away with graphics: When a candidate adds images or graphics to their resume, the ATS may not be able to read and parse the information accurately. Most ATS software is designed to parse and extract data from text-based documents. Resumes with images or graphics may also take longer to load, potentially causing the ATS to skip over them or overlook important information. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using images or graphics in your resume and instead stick with plain text.

Customize your resume: Customizing your resume to the job description is an important aspect of optimizing your resume for an ATS. One way to do this is to incorporate the same language and terminology in the job posting. For example, if the job posting emphasizes specific skills or qualifications, highlight those in your resume. Another way to customize your resume is to adjust the order of your sections or bullet points to emphasize the most relevant experience or achievements for the specific job. This will ensure that the ATS can quickly identify your qualifications for the role. Additionally, highlight your expertise in a way that aligns with the job responsibilities listed in the job description.

Summing Up

Recruiters and hiring managers use ATS to stay organized and efficient instead of sifting through a pile of paper resumes or cluttered email inboxes. An ATS is especially beneficial for larger companies simultaneously hiring for multiple positions and departments. Despite its downsides, its advantages make ATS a vital tool for companies of any size. It enables them to streamline their recruitment process, making it more efficient and effective, and eventually achieve their hiring objectives.

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

Know More