Applicant Tracking System - Why Do Recruiters Need It?

If you ask an HR officer of a large company about how they organize the recruiting process, you will most often hear the following sequence of actions. A top manager contacts the personnel department with a request to select an employee. This department, as a rule, combines the duties of personnel recording and recruitment. Further, the vacancy is posted on a specialized job site. Less often, a vacancy is published on a corporate website, blog, or social media. Also, if the company has a significant budget, it can deal with an employment agency.

After receiving hundreds of job seekers' responses, the recruiter selects several appropriate resumes and invites these candidates for an interview. When several of the most suitable applicants are selected, the HR manager agrees with the interview time with the company manager, who is responsible for the final selection. At first glance, this scheme is workable, but its weakness is that it is not scalable. Resumes that have been read are lost in a computer folder, and the candidates invited earlier are forgotten.

So, is it necessary to do this process over and over again and select employees for the same type of positions? The solution to this problem is using algorithms for filtering resumes or ATS (Applicant Tracking System). The widespread business automation is no longer surprising. Today, it is hardly possible to imagine accounting without special software, such as sales and inventory management - without warehouse recording systems. Also, large enterprises widely apply ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.

In many companies, especially those engaged in intellectual activities, employees are one of the primary resources determining the enterprise's success. Many companies constantly require a lot of qualified specialists, but the automation of their selection has not yet received due attention. A lot of enterprises receive several thousand applications for their vacancies. Therefore, automation of the recruitment process as a robotization of other aspects of economic activity is an inevitable process for large companies.

What Is ATS?

The Applicant Tracking System is a software that allows companies to perform recruiting tasks electronically. Not so long ago, recruiters from many countries have started to use the concept of ATS. Sometimes, this applicant management system is also called the Talent Tracking System, which often includes searching for candidates within the organization. In general, ATS software is similar to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Recruitment agencies use specialized websites, social networks, the mass media, and their own resources as well. Managers of large corporations have long understood that their own database of job seekers who had previously responded to company vacancies or simply sent their resumes is a valuable asset that can significantly save money on recruiting. ATS allows companies to create databases of applicants with a record of all activities for creating a resume, posting it, applicants' interviewing, and other recruitment processes.

Moreover, the longer this system is used, the greater the company's savings are. If an applicant has already come to the company for an interview but was not selected at that time, a vacancy may be open again in a few months or even years. This candidate might be perfect for it. When choosing a particular ATS software, a company has to analyze its needs and consider how the given system can be integrated into the company's recruiting channels.

ATS Functionality

Applicant Tracking Systems always have a range of functionalities, including a database of previously created vacancies and submitted resumes, as well as tools for creating new vacancies. These systems are typically integrated with specialized recruitment websites. These online resources are usually combined with all the leading recruitment management systems, allowing HR officers to post jobs and receive responses directly from the ATS interface.

It can significantly save the recruiter's labor costs and improve work efficiency. Indeed, if a recruiter needs to post a vacancy on several websites, this vacancy has to be re-created for each of them. Placing vacancies on multiple sites using an application tracking system is quickly made with one mouse click. These systems often include a module for creating a section with vacancies on the company's corporate website.

Furthermore, these are not just announcements with an email or phone number of the recruiting department. It is a full-fledged system that allows applicants to search for vacancies, as well as register and create their resumes for the company's database. In fact, that is the creation of a mini-job site with all its functionality. ATS also allows automating the process of vacancy approval. Typically, the head of the company department creates a vacancy. Then, the recruiter edits its content according to the corporate standards and publishes it on the corporate website or external online resources.

Often, an application tracking system includes tools for assessment of candidates at all stages of communication with them, as well as an ability to attach test results. ATS increasingly use technologies related to artificial intelligence and word processing. They facilitate the intelligent semantic search offered by various cloud platforms. As a result, companies can sort and rate resumes according to requirements and job descriptions. With the development of ATS, various online services for resume optimization are gaining popularity to help applicants get an invitation for job interviews.

Advantages of ATS

The functionality of ATS is not limited to data collection and analysis. In recruitment, an application tracking system is used to automate recruiting processes in accordance with the company's workflow. In addition, ATS allows different company employees to coordinate efforts to manage a conceptual framework called human capital. Some systems provide the creation of a corporate website for posting vacancies or include modules for job portals. It allows HR officers to work primarily with the available human resources.

Job applicants are evaluated based on existing data or by analyzing data obtained in other ways. All information is saved for future searches. In some advanced systems, resumes and other data are encrypted to comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity legislation. Access to ATS is provided over the Internet or by subscription (SaaS). The cost and quality of services may vary. Depending on the needs and size of the company, ATS can be either a classic application or an online service. Also, ATS can be offered free of charge or as an open-source version.

Some Pitfalls Related to ATS

Applicant tracking systems can significantly facilitate the work of recruiters, increase the speed and quality of recruiting, and save money on the recruitment process. However, all the leading systems have been developed based on the needs of recruiters and the market specifics of particular countries. For example, database searches for resumes of job seekers are not popular in some countries. In that case, the recruiting process is usually limited to posting a vacancy with the employer's contact information. Job seekers call, send a CV by email, or attach a file with a resume.

All this does not allow recruiters to systematize resumes and browse them in the future. To amend the situation, applicant tracking systems continue to develop, which allows inserting a link "Please click here to respond" into the vacancy instead of contact information. Then, the applicant is transferred to the interface of the company's ATS to register and create a resume for that vacancy. So, an applicant will have to follow the links of every vacancy publication and write a resume for each position.

Accordingly, such a system has a significant drawback since all companies have their own resume databases. It is incredibly inconvenient for job seekers. Also, the number of applications for vacancies is reduced. In most cases, ATS is automatically filtering applications based on specified criteria - keywords, skills, previous employers, experience, and education. It makes many job seekers optimize the process of applying to vacancies. In many ways, these techniques are similar to search engine optimization (SEO).

Leaders of recruitment departments of large corporations often face a situation when their head offices require implementing specific ATS, such as Taleo, BrassRing, i-GRasp, and TalentLink. Although the vast majority of companies use paid ATS, there are several open-source alternatives. Since the data contained in ATS is mostly personal, its use is governed by the legislation of data protection, which does not allow storing data on servers and imposes additional restrictions on the SaaS scheme.


Thus, the primary purpose of ATS is to provide centralized access to the database of job seekers. ATS improves the efficiency of processing applicant data and resumes. The vast majority of online job portals are dealing with ATS developers to facilitate the process of analyzing and transferring data from one system to another. Contemporary ATS versions are being improved, and large companies even plan to reduce the number of their HR officers by replacing them with automated selection systems.

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