skip to Main Content

How To Choose an Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is used to manage the entire hiring process from start to finish. It can help your company comply with employment, hiring, and privacy legislation. And an ATS can save you time and money. But before you go shopping, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

Stand Alone ATS or Integrated Modules?

Consider these five points before selecting an applicant tracking system.Human Resource Information Systems (Ultipro, Avanti, Bamboo HR) and Enterprise Resource Management Systems (SAP, Oracle, Unit 4) often offer built in recruitment modules that can handle the duties of an applicant tracking system. There could be some limitations to using the modules for HRIS or ERP systems but the benefit of not having to transfer successful candidates into a new system when they become employees can outweigh the limitations. If recruiting top talent is critical to an organization’s success, then adding on modules to an existing or new ERP will have to be compared against the best applicant tracking systems available and if chosen, implementation has to be planned, executed, and funded with as much care as a stand-alone ATS.

Internal Requirements: Understand Your Applicant Tracking Needs

The right ATS will improve your hiring efficiency without breaking the budget. Clarifying your needs will simplify the selection process. Talk to everyone who will use the system. At the very least, that means your recruiters, hiring managers, and the IT folks who integrate and support your systems. Remember to involve marketing as you’ll want to understand the ways in which each potential choice will reflect on your employer brand.
One way to tackle this stage is by crafting a problem statement — one or two sentences describing why you’re looking for an ATS — which can later be turned into a rating guide when it’s time to evaluate potential solutions. A different approach is to collect wish list items from as many internal stakeholders as you can. Then tame the list by designating each item as either a must-have capability or a nice-to-have feature.

External Requirements: Think Like a Job Candidate

Candidates appreciate simplicity. When we reduced the number of mandatory fields in our online application, we increased our application rate by 20%.  Another consideration is the growing use of mobile devices for job search. Remember to view each prospective ATS on as many different mobile devices as possible.

Making the Final Selection: Buy What You Need and No More

Typical costs for an ATS range from $50 to $150 per month for each user. It’s easy to get romanced by bells and whistles but if your team won’t use them all or doesn’t need them, you’ll pay too much. When you get to the short-list stage, use your internal advisers and the initial assessment criteria you created to rank the top contenders objectively.

Before You Sign That Cheque: Create a Service Level Agreement

A service level agreement documents milestone dates and the responsibilities of each partner during implementation. It should also include service levels to be expected after implementation such as uptime (the time during which the system is fully operational, expressed in hours or as a percent). Your business will also want periodic formal reviews — at least one per year.

Applicant Tracking Systems

When it comes to applicant tracking systems, there’s no shortage of contenders. Here are just a few to get you started.
Bullhorn is delivered via a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model. It is used by more than 10,000 companies and claims to be one of the fastest systems on the market. It is mobile friendly and integrates with Outlook and Gmail. The standard reports include analysis of overall team and individual recruiter performance, placement activity, and candidate touches. You can also create configurable reports to match company-specific goals. Bullhorn operates from Boston, Massachusetts.
cBiz offers one of the most flexible approaches in that there is no contract required. Progress against open job orders is presented in an easy-to-read pipeline based on your organization. It provides email integration, email blasts, and built-in SMS/text messaging. cBizSoft is based in Dallas, Texas.
CURA calls itself ‘browser agnostic’ in that it works on Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers, making it accessible through PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, and smartphones. It integrates with LinkedIn, Kenexa, Outlook, Facebook, and many other platforms. The recruiting dashboard is customizable by each user through a series of widgets. mindSCOPE is a global company with Canadian headquarters in Toronto.
HireDesk features advanced candidate management functions such as candidate-driven profiles and a robust contact management module. This Richmond, BC, company is compliant with all Canadian privacy and employment legislation and is EEO ready with demographic data collection and reporting available for U.S. requirements.
Njoyn by CGI 
Njoyn operates from Markham, Ontario, and offers ATS services in three key areas: hiring management (requisitions, job ads), document management (semantic search and matching capabilities), and process management (workflow control, metrics). Its one-to-many job posting wizard reduces administrative burden by distributing ads to job boards, social media networks, and job aggregators. Njoyn is fully hosted and serviced within Canada.
Oracle Taleo
Designed for mid-sized to large enterprises, Taleo is the most robust of the systems presented in this article. Its Recruiting Cloud Service relies heavily on social media sourcing tools such as Facebook and Twitter and integrates with Outlook, MyYahoo, and iGoogle. It is fully compliant with U.S.-legislated fair hiring practices.
StartDate by HireGround
StartDate offers an intuitive interface for recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. The software filters, matches and ranks applicants, and attaches history records to each one. Based in Calgary, Alberta, all data is housed in Canada and information is handled in accordance with Canadian privacy laws. HireGround is also set up for the affirmative action guidelines in the United States.