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6 Steps to Selecting the Best ATS for Your Company

Ah, the applicant tracking system (or ATS for short). Where would recruiting be if not for this one invention? Back in the dark ages, for sure, and moving at a much slower speed, for another. Lucky for you, the ATS exists, serving as the foundation of many a talent acquisition function.

William Tincup

Even so, when it comes to this “critical” solution, one size hardly fits all, and some applicant tracking systems definitely work better than others. If you’re in recruiting long enough, the time will come to make a new selection and switch from one ATS to another. For those having already done an implementation, you know how complicated the process is — for everyone else, you’re in for one heck of a ride. Let’s roll. 

Step One: Take the Journey

Figuring out which ATS meets your organization’s needs requires a deep, intimate understanding of your hiring process — from the outside in and the inside out. No, this isn’t a personal matter; it’s about getting your recruiting house in order.

That means clicking through, filling out each form, importing information and waiting on a confirmation to see where you stand. You need to understand what the experience looks like for candidates, recruiters, hiring managers and even leadership before thinking about a shiny new technology.

Try to approach this from a few angles, seeking to answer, “If we weren’t doing it this way, how would we do it?” Audit every step in the funnel and make sure your outcome is bulletproof.

How can you select the best ATS for your company?


Step Two: Ask the (Really) Hard Questions

Okay, so now you know what’s going on. Time to call out the pain points and figure out what to include going forward. You would be hard pressed to find two companies with the same hiring needs, even in the same industry.

These are some factors to consider: sourcing, scheduling, feedback, referrals, diversity and inclusion, compliance, workflows. See where this is going? You need answers that accurately examine and reflect the uniqueness of your organization because ultimately, you’re looking for an ATS that both fits your process and delivers an exceptional experience to … well, everyone. Anything less won’t do — and you’ll be searching for this article again before you know it.

Step Three: Crowdsource Names

Only after you complete the steps above should you start to sniff around for solution ideas. I’m sure you can name the big ones off the top of your head, but truth be told, it’s a larger marketplace than most of us realize. And to find out what’s cool, what’s working (or not) and what’s making other recruiters happy, you’re going to need to have that conversation again and again.

Skip the search engines in favor of real-life human beings who know how an ATS operates. Their hands-on experience will offer far more insight than Ask Jeeves ever could. Your goal is to build a bank of names, so start with like-minded people and expand the search from there.

Step Four: Check the Core 

Consider the exploratory phase complete and take the info about those ATS providers back in house. Unless this is the very first HR technology your organization is using, there are other systems and solutions to consider (payroll, HRIS, etc.).

To determine what you’re working with, double check your stack and workflows and create a master repository of every single tool in the box. Now go back to those ATS names you just identified and see what integrates and what doesn’t. Prepare to be amazed as several self-select off your list right then and there. Cross check to verify that the remaining solutions account for the predetermined pain points and nonnegotiables. If everything shakes out, you’ll end up with at least ten options left (hopefully).

Step Five: Due Diligence

Tired yet? I told you it’s a long road (but I promise, it’s worth it in the end). This next part is a doozy — and 100 percent necessary.

Look at the review sites for the names that remain, recognizing that perfection is not believable or attainable. You want to familiarize yourself with what people are saying before taking these ATS options over to an internal committee for additional vetting.

Collectively, you should rank what you’ve got and come up with the final three. These are the ATS that you want to demo live and grade out. Here’s where you get into the deep probing questions about things like rollout, road maps, customer experiences and the like. Worry about the price at the end.

Step Six: Making the Pick 

Of the final three, you want to learn how they support your exact hiring needs. That means understanding the source and quality of hire and how the technology figures this out. You want to go back into your funnel and gain as much visibility as humanly possible without sacrificing the end-user experience.

Does this particular ATS help improve your current initiatives? How does it handle diversity and inclusion? How far can you track? With a firm grasp of everything the ATS has to offer, put the final three in order. Communicate this standing with each ATS representative you’re in contact with and see how they stack up when it comes down to the wire. Choose wisely.

Much like that next greatest candidate, your next greatest ATS may surprise you. But to find it, you’re going to have to do the work first.

William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him online Twitter,FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.


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