Editorial

27 Sep 2021

What You Need To Know About An Applicant Tracking System

Kelsey Kaczynski

An applicant tracking system is something that can make your software applications, talent cloud, and recruiting technology simple for all business sizes.

But are you aware of what the fastest-growing hiring platform, recruiting technology, and recruiting software is and how you need to use it to your advantage?

Sending out your resume as part of a talent cloud may seem like the first obstacle that you have to overcome in the search for a job, but there are more than hiring managers that you have to get past in order for job success.

Many business sizes are starting to use the fastest-growing hiring platform, an applicant tracking system (ATS), to do some of the hard talent management work for them, filtering through resumes and job applications from job seekers before they even get in front of a hiring manager.

By learning how an ATS works and what it will look like when coupled with an ATS-friendly resume, it will help your business in a number of ways, as there are plenty of benefits.

You can get the best talent pipelines for your team, save time, save money, and make the hiring process more automated and simpler. If you’d like to find out more, read on.

What Is An Applicant Tracking System?

ATS software aims to help recruiters and hiring managers streamline the recruitment process. It is a vital hiring tool for many businesses, especially for those with a high turnover of staff.

This fastest-growing hiring platform works by collecting and then sorting through all of the resumes that get sent over for a specific job, matching them as close as possible to the job description, improving the functionality of your recruitment.

There are benefits to using an ATS for both small and large businesses. Besides just skimming resumes, different ATS software can provide an HRIS solution, help with employee onboarding tools and referrals, and create a positive employee experience for dream candidates that can help you build up your employer brand.

Unlike the entire hiring process that you might be used to, these days when you apply for a job, your job application doesn’t necessarily go straight to the hiring and recruiting team. Applicant tracking systems tend to rank applicants first.

It is likely to go through and be processed by talent cloud ATS software. If your application or resume is what the software algorithm is looking for, your job application will then go further.

Why Is It Important To Have An Applicant Tracking System?

There are a number of reasons why having the fast-growing hiring platform is good for the entire hiring process – including applicant scoring. As mentioned, this software can speed up the process for recruiters.

The automated communication features of a talent cloud ATS software helps to increase the cycle of recruitment, making it easier for a hiring team to follow up with applicants and take the next steps with the best new hires.

Essentially, this creates a more efficient business workflow.

Other benefits of an ATS include improving the quality of the new hires, as well as improving the process of onboarding, as you can be as specific as you want with the algorithms.

It can also make for a much smoother process for applicants, which is a key part of the future success of your hiring process (especially when it comes to your set rank of applicants).

For a step-by-step guide to real-time digital recruiting and applicant scoring, check out flair’s digital recruiting checklist here.

two women look at a calendar

Can An ATS Improve Your Organization’s Talent?

If you want to improve the talent pool and talent cloud of your business by attracting the most qualified candidates, then using a single interface ATS software can be a great way to do just that.

By using applicant tracking systems, you can get the best new hires and have the best talent acquisition for your organization’s business decisions, as there can be automated matching of job applicants and candidates through the software.

That means a corporate recruiter will only engage with the best candidates out of the whole application pool.

By using AI-driven automation of some single interface administrative tasks, recruiters will have the time to go through refined resumes and engage with those candidates in the selection process.

With the time saved, recruiters can gather some more information about their candidate sourcing and talent cloud for each application to make a more complete assessment of each qualified candidate before they reach a hiring decision.

How Does An Applicant Tracking System Work?

A talent pool ATS works by collecting and storing resumes and applications in a candidate database, which the HR team and HR manager can then access.

Resume screening can be stored for some time afterward, which applicants will often get asked to consent to before submitting their application.

A hiring manager can then go through the applications and resumes by choosing a variety of methods, which will depend on the ATS system they are using.

Some hiring managers will want to see all talent pool applications that come in, especially during their onboarding process.

When there is a large volume of job applications, this is more of a glance to get an idea about the candidate’s previous work experience and who they have worked for before.

The candidate sourcing process can be something that happens very quickly, which is why it is important to have details of your key skills and qualifications easy to read in a paragraph at the top.

The fastest-growing hiring platform and candidate tracking, in general, will be able to help you with the task of resume parsing and compare them with your talent pool-based job description. 

This then gives all of the applicants a ‘score’ based on how well it suits the algorithms, according to the job description.

This allows the hiring team to not have to see all of the applications and just focus on those that are best suited, which will be identified by the software.

Another common way that a recruiter can filter the applications and automate the job application process is by using key terms.

If a manager was looking for an admin assistant with experience, then they are likely to want to put those as the keywords in the software. Any applications where these words aren’t even mentioned will be dismissed.

Of course, more than one term can be searched for, such as ‘admin assistant’ and ‘administrative assistant’, as well as including key skills of the job, so that a combination comes up.

From an applicant's point of view, if they are able to predict talent cloud keywords, then they are much more likely to have success with their application than those that don’t.

This will usually be done by closely analyzing the job description.

How Do You Know If Your ATS Is Working?

How Can You Improve Your Applicant Tracking Software?

One of the ways that you can look to improve an ATS is by looking at the options that are available to you. Is your recruitment process and software allowing you to have a seamless and more streamlined candidate experience? They aren’t likely to recommend you for referrals if they have an unpleasant experience. If they find it difficult to go through the process, it can put them off wanting to even work for you should they get offered the job.

With digitized ATS templates, sometimes one of the things that you need to do is start by starting with a solution in order to get going with the process. With this, though, you need to make sure that it is a solution that will work for your needs. For example, with HR software in place and an applicant tracking system, you can build something that works exactly for your staffing needs. By choosing what you automate, you will have a workflow that works for your business and has defined steps that work as you need it to.

ATS solutions are all about data and being able to rely on it. If you can’t work out if the data is working or not, then you need to see where things can be improved to make them work for you. By having the best ATS software in place, your team can have the time to focus on the things that will truly grow the business, rather than anything else. You could also look to improve recruitment marketing to make sure that you are able to reach the best talent, as well as using your HR process to improve performance management.

Conclusion

It is clear that ATS is here to stay. Even by improving rates in unemployment, it won’t be the end of using this kind of software for the job application process. There are many outdated systems that some companies use, but with many seeing the benefit from using ATS, such as helping them get the best talent and improving the experience for candidates, it makes it a no-brainer for businesses of all sizes.

Ranking systems and this kind of automation for business aren’t going to be going anywhere. They are just becoming more specialized and technical, as this kind of software starts to leverage artificial intelligence. For those people applying for jobs, being aware of these systems and software will help them to optimize their resumes to get the first step of the process, to then be seen by someone in person. With so much success with these ATS systems, they are here to stay.

a recruiter looking at 3 candidate profiles

If you choose to use an ATS, you need to know that it is working, as it is a key part of your HR software.

One feature of an ATS is that you can get tracking links for the jobs that are currently on your niche job boards, to see where the majority of candidates are coming from and which of those candidate sourcing or job board channels are working the best (such as social media platforms and social networks like LinkedIn, for example, as well as other career sites that you post to).

By doing this, you can see where you need to invest more money and time in your recruitment so that you can find the top talent for your new hires.

Another thing that you can check on with your ATS is looking at job applicants and where they are in the hiring process.

If there are some areas that are taking longer than others, such as interview scheduling, then you will be able to take steps to improve the process (such as reducing how many keywords you use as you might be using too many that doesn’t filter out candidates very well).

You can also look into parsing for your ATS to improve any components that aren’t working well. At the end of the day, one of the ways to see if this is working is by seeing the candidates that you are left with.

If they are fit for the role and have the soft skills and experience that match your job description and job openings, then it shows that the ATS is doing its job.

What Kind Of Companies Use An ATS?

As a small business, the hiring process can be made simple with spreadsheets or going through applications by hand, while knowing what metrics to look out for.

When you have more applications and more roles to fill, then an ATS can help the process and make sure that your business is ready and prepared for growth.

The recruitment process can be long, and it means time and money taken out of the business. With a system in place that can centralize and automate the hiring process, you won’t miss anything.

As a larger company, knowing what you are spending your money on can make a difference as it will show you if you are spending your money in the right areas.

By having the data that will show how effective or ineffective something is, you will have the data that will help you to back up your business decisions and improve the functionality of your recruitment.

You will then be able to make sure that your job vacancies and any job postings are being seen by dream candidates in the places that are performing the best.

How Can You Improve Your Applicant Tracking Software?

two people stare at a large red x shown on a monitor

One of the ways that you can look to improve an ATS is by looking at the options that are available to you. Is your recruitment process and software allowing you to have a seamless and ideal candidate experience?

They aren’t likely to recommend you for referrals if they have an unpleasant experience. If they find it difficult to go through the process, it can put them off wanting to even work for you should they get offered the job.

With digitized ATS templates and informed business decisions, sometimes one of the things that you need to do is start by beginning with a complete solution to get going with the process.

With this, though, you need to make sure that it is a complete solution that will work for your needs and your existing onboarding software.

For example, with HR software and onboarding software and the features of applicant tracking in place, you can build something that works exactly for your staffing needs.

By choosing what you automate, you will have a business workflow that works for your business and have defined steps that work as you need it to.

ATS solutions are all about data and being able to rely on it. If you can’t work out if the data is working or not, then you need to see where things can be improved to make them work for you.

By having the best ATS software and onboarding software in place, your team can have the time to focus on the things that will truly grow the business, rather than anything else.

You could also look to improve recruitment marketing to make sure that you are able to reach the best talent and dream candidates, as well as using your HR process to improve performance management and human capital management.

What Do You Know About Applicant Tracking Systems?

If you think the first obstacle to getting a job interview is a recruiter’s judgment, you’re not seeing the whole picture.

Why Employers Use Applicant Tracking Systems

Top employers hire for several jobs at a time and receive hundreds of resumes for any given opening. Because applying for a job online is easier than ever, many of these applicants are unqualified and figured “it was worth a try.”

Applicant tracking systems keep all these resumes in one place, helping recruiters and hiring managers stay organized as well as compliant.

In theory, these systems also save time by automatically surfacing and highlighting top candidates. In reality, an ATS does help hiring professionals narrow their applicant pool, however, top candidates can slip through the cracks.

Applicant Tracking Systems Are Everywhere

Most large corporations utilize talent cloud applicant tracking systems. Jobscan research found that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS, while an estimated 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on recruitment software.

If you’re applying to a large organization, chances are you’ll face an ATS. Even job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn have their own built-in ATS.

Viewing Applications

Some recruiters still choose to glance at every talent cloud job application that comes through their applicant tracking system. In this case, most take a quick glance at the applicant’s past highlights, job title, and companies.

They can make a determination about whether they want to learn more in the first few seconds. So, it’s important to make sure your top achievements and projects are easily identifiable.

Resume Formatting Matters In Applicant Tracking Systems

When you upload your resume into a talent cloud applicant tracking system, the recruiter won’t necessarily view the file. Some ATS parse the document into a digital profile to make things uniform and searchable.

This causes big problems for job seekers and companies that have a marketing-inspired recruiting approach.

Many ATS parsing algorithms are outdated and unintelligent, causing your resume information to get distorted or lost.

This means vital keywords or details might not be imported. Imagine your most important qualification slipping through the cracks.

four people have a virtual meeting

A modern applicant tracking solution is starting to get away from this practice when it comes to growth for staffing, but some popular systems still do it as part of their business impact.

To create an ATS-friendly resume that is parsable by these outdated systems, be sure to keep section headings simple, use consistent formatting for your work history and dates (not fancy formatting), avoid tables, and use a .docx or .pdf file format.

How To Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

There is no universal trick to ‘beating’ applicant tracking systems. Getting past an ATS and landing a job interview requires a well-written resume that is mindful of ATS algorithms, as well as the people pushing the buttons.

Here’s our simplest advice for how to beat an ATS:

  • Carefully tailor your resume to the job description every single time you apply to ensure the best business impact of your application
  • Optimize for talent cloud ATS search and ranking algorithms by matching your resume keywords to the job description
  • Use both the long-form and acronym version of keywords (such as, ‘Master Of Business Administration (MBA)’ or ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’) for maximum searchability
  • Use a chronological or hybrid resume format (avoid the functional resume format)
  • Don’t use tables or columns as they often cause major parsing errors for hundreds of businesses
  • Use a traditional resume font like Helvetica, Garamond, or Georgia
  • Don’t use headers or footers as the information might get lost or cause a parsing error during the candidate journey
  • Use standard resume section headings like ‘Work Experience’ rather than being quirky or clever (‘Where I’ve Been.’)

Don’t Cheat Or Over-Optimize For Applicant Tracking Systems

Optimizing your keywords and avoiding fancy formatting for applicant tracking systems is not the same as cheating the system during the candidate journey.

In theory, you can trick ATS algorithms by stuffing your resume with keywords. Some do this by secretly adding additional keywords to their resumes using ‘invisible’ white text or by unnaturally overusing keywords.

These tricks might help you get a better initial score in the ATS, but they’re unlikely to fool recruiters.

Instead of getting yourself blacklisted from the company, focus on crafting the best resume possible based on your actual skillset and your best key skill.

Applicant Tracking Systems Are Here To Stay

During the great recession, employers were flooded with talent cloud applications, and they wanted features that discouraged and filtered out unqualified candidates and pre-screening questions.

This resulted in hundreds of businesses experiencing bloated application processes and indiscriminate filters found in an ATS complete solution. This tended to lower business impact and onboarding journeys.

While outdated systems are still in use at thousands of companies, we are seeing new ATS being developed as a modern applicant tracking solution.

As employers fight for the best talent and a dream candidate experience, overall employee experiences are becoming more of a priority.

AI-driven automation and ranking systems aren’t going away; they’re just becoming more technical as recruiting process software begins leveraging AI and pre-screening questions – avoiding manual hiring processes.

An ATS-optimized resume is the first step to a marketing-inspired recruiting approach that gets past the bots and face-to-face with a human recruiter during the candidate journey, as well as when it comes to remote hiring and hiring with job templates.

In Conclusion

one women and two men have a discussion

It is clear that ATS is the future when it comes to business impact. Even by improving unemployment rates, it won’t be the end of using this kind of software and complete solution for the job application process.

Applicant tracking systems are indispensable software for large organizations when it comes to growth for staffing, but it can be a frustrating roadblock for job seekers when it comes to candidate interactions.

Some offer a difficult candidate experience, which discourages candidate communication. Some take a long time to complete. Some have rudimentary search and ranking functions that allow stellar applicants to go unnoticed.

Instead of reading through hundreds of resumes that come in for a job opening, a recruiter can opt to narrow the talent cloud applicant pool by searching for keywords to initiate the best candidate engagement when it comes to their onboarding journeys.

This helps to eliminate manual hiring processes and encourage remote hiring, hiring with job templates, an optimized business impact, and a marketing-inspired recruiting approach.

Resume keywords might be job titles, hard skills and soft skills, candidate profiles, or qualifications. Even if an applicant is highly qualified for the job, if they don’t have the right search terms on their resume, they might not be found.

However, ranking systems and this kind of AI-driven automation for business aren’t going anywhere.

They are just becoming more specialized and technical, as this fastest-growing hiring platform starts to leverage artificial intelligence and background checks.

For those people applying for jobs, being aware of these systems and software will help them to optimize their resumes to get the first step of the process, to then be seen by someone in person when it comes to their candidate interactions.

There are many outdated systems that thousands of companies use, but with many seeing the benefit from using an ATS, such as helping them get the best talent and improving the experience for candidates, it makes it a no-brainer for all business sizes who want to practice remote hiring.

With flair, you can enhance your application tracking and ATS-friendly resume by offering a customized customer experience.

Every organization is individual, which is why we provide a tailored way of managing your recruiting process internally.

You can enjoy features from a modern applicant tracking system such as:

  • Diverse notification system – Customize emails for potential candidates, candidate interactions, video interviewing, and specific hiring managers to cut out manual hiring processes and maximize onboarding journeys
  • Recruiting reports – Analyze your main sources of recruiting technology, time on admin, cost per hire, performance management, and knockout questions to grow and improve in the future
  • Referral bonuses for your employees and external recruiters
  • Work with candidate data to schedule interviews and a marketing-inspired recruiting approach, while avoiding bad hires
  • Upload a variety of files for an optimum customer experience, job posting functionality, enhanced hiring with job templates, and overall growth for staffing
  • Send customizable emails and employee referrals to create the best experience for applicants
  • Plan tasks and events while hiring with job templates and social media platforms to improve your business impact and avoid passive candidates
  • Collaborate with hundreds of businesses and managers in a feed and on niche job boards and major job boards to encourage remote hiring and having a modern applicant tracking solution in place.

Are you ready to track and stay ahead of the recruitment pack?

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