Best Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software

An applicant tracking system (ATS) manages the recruiting process by collecting and organizing applicant information. These systems are used in the recruiting and hiring of new talent. By using an ATS, recruiters reduce the time spent reading resumes and screening potential applicants. In addition, ATSs assist in posting positions to job boards and communicating with candidates. They store applicant information in a centralized system of record so that candidate information can be retained until relevant information becomes available. They are often implemented by HR departments in order to boost efficiency during the hiring process and simplify the qualification of candidates. ATSs can be implemented either as a standalone solution or as part of an integrated HR management suite. These systems can also integrate with onboarding software and recruitment marketing software to form a talent acquisition suite.

To qualify for inclusion in the ATS category, a product must:

  • Post jobs on company websites or job boards
  • Collect and screen resumes and any associated attachments
  • Manage candidates within a custom workflow
  • Enable communication between the hiring manager and candidate

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software Grid® Overview

The best Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Software products are determined by customer satisfaction (based on user reviews) and market presence (based on products’ scale, focus, and influence) and placed into four categories on the Grid®:
G2 Crowd Grid® for Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Leaders
High Performers
Contenders
Niche
Cornerstone ondemand
Halogen talentspace
Kenexa
Lumesse
Oracle taleo
Peoplefluent
Sap successfactors
Ultipro
Workday hcm
Jobscience
Peoplesoft
Sage business cloud people
Jobvite
Paylocity
Bullhorn ats
Smartrecruiters
Careerbuilder applicant tracking
Mystaffingpro
Applicantstack
Icims recruit
Bamboohr
Sentricworkforce
Cats
Jazz co
Birddoghr
Greenhouse
Adp workforce now
Paycor perform
Kronos workforce ready
Applicantpro
Recruiterbox
Zoho recruit
Jobdiva
Clearcompany
Webhr
Big biller
Paycom
Workable
Oracle hcm cloud
Crelate talent
Recruitbpm
Avature
Lever
Recruitee
Ismartrecruit
Mightyrecruiter
Compas ats crm
Talentreef
Breezyhr
Newton ats
Alongside
Freshteam
Hire by google
Silkroad recruiting
Market Presence
Satisfaction
Linked in no background
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    What do you need to know?

    HR personnel no longer need to spend countless hours bent over an Excel file in an attempt to organize the seemingly endless deluge of job applications. The arduous task of ascertaining which candidates move forward in the hiring process is now streamlined by solutions such as recruiting software, recruitment marketing platforms, pre-employment screening software, video interviewing software, and, of course, ATS. But what is ATS?

    Originally created as an applicant storage and compliance solution, applicant tracking system software now provides an abundance of tools. Applicant tracking system solutions can help companies streamline the hiring process by assessing every candidate for keywords, skills, years and type of work experience, job history, and education. Instead of spending the majority of their work life assessing each and every job applicant’s resume for skills and work experience, ATS solutions can help recruiters and HR personnel avoid overlooking qualified applicants.

    These hiring and onboarding solutions are similar to customer relationship management systems (CRM) in how they record interactions between an organization and its prospective or existing customers; in this case, however, the candidates are the customers. And that’s actually a pretty good rule of thumb to have moving forward; businesses should treat every candidate like a potential customer. Companies are competing for the most qualified talent pool to “buy” into their businesses and bring their valuable assets to the table. Applicant tracking system solutions help businesses promote themselves via brand awareness marketed specifically to qualified job seekers.

    Candidates have a lot to consider when applying for jobs, including salary, benefits, career growth opportunities, location, commute, work-life balance, and company culture and values. The first impression they might have of a potential employer is the job listing on a job board or marketplace. Many of these job sites provide a service to the applicants in the form of user or candidate review. Word of mouth is huge and companies need to put their best foot forward when enticing a potential new hire. Companies should expect to see reviews on job boards written by former and current employees, job candidates, and new hires. Job boards provide reviewers with the platform to share their experiences with any company, and many candidates do post reviews—especially if they are negative. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding are complex, multi-tiered processes that can result in a happy new hire or a discontented disqualified candidate. Or even worse, a frustrated new hire sure to have a short-lived career at their new company.

    For HR teams or the lonely recruiter, the potential ATS delivers is widespread. Applicant tracking system solutions provides a centralized database for all recruitment and hiring efforts that greatly improves the capabilities of an HR team, recruiter, and hiring manager. Applicant tracking system tools include features that collect and process data, which in turn help businesses streamline the hiring process. The data that these solutions collect and analyze from internal job applications, company websites, and job boards is easily migrated from one system to another. That alone would be a complex job no recruiter would have enough time in their day to complete. Collecting, storing, and analyzing data on each job posting and candidate greatly improves the recruiting and hiring process.

    ATSs can also be used to filter each and every resume submitted by candidates for qualities such as skills, experience, and job history. Alternatively, the HR team can implement additional solutions such as pre-employment testing, or candidate aptitude tests, to test, analyze, and rate candidates’ qualifications. Some companies use ATS to screen out every unqualified resume, while other businesses depend on pre-employment testing to weed out the candidates that meet the their specified qualifications. If optioned, these testing solutions integrate with applicant tracking system tools for ease of use. Candidates will receive the test upon submitting their job applications and the recruiter or hiring manager will be notified as to whether the candidate passed the test upon completion. This allows the recruiters to focus their attention on test-approved resumes.

    Companies have the option of using their applicant tracking system solution to manage their onboarding as well. Onboarding tools allow companies to design a personalized welcome experience that reflects the businesses’ mission and values. Aligned with the company brand, the onboard process can be consistent and streamlined so each employee begins their career with the same, and best, foot forward. Additionally, onboarding solutions reduce the workload on HR personnel by automating the uploading and storage of relevant information via customized new hire profiles, paperwork, and essential documentation. Meanwhile, HR personnel can use applicant tracking system software to collaborate with hiring managers to create a transparent and streamlined onboarding process.

    This can be a great way to further integrate analytics throughout the entire job hiring lifecycle—from new job creation and posting to onboarding—to improve the process. In addition to collecting reviews and data from candidates that were not offered the job, data can be collected regarding the onboarding process. So, not only do ATS onboarding solutions streamline the onboarding process, but they have the ability to help determine how smoothly and effectively the onboarding process is and how quickly a new employee begins producing quality output. These solutions automate the process of collecting feedback from new hires regarding the hiring and onboarding process, as well as deliver full reports to visualize the impact of onboarding efforts and determine areas for improvement.

    Who Uses Applicant Tracking Systems?

    A business’ employee recruitment team is composed of many positions, both within and outside of the company, that work together to fill an open position. They identify the need for a new or additional position; write the job description; share the job posting on job boards, websites, and social media; promote company brand awareness; recruit passive and active candidates; collect, manage, and review resumes; organize interviews; collaborate on reviewing candidates; negotiate salary and job offers; manage onboarding; and provide assessments to collect data to further improve the hiring process. In other words: A lot of time, energy, money, and staff goes into the hiring process. This is not an exhaustive list of the roles that might be involved in the hire process, but it does highlight a few of the usual players. Depending on the company’s size—small business, mid-sized company, or enterprise—the following roles may play an essential part: hiring manager, internal recruiter, recruitment agency, interview team, recruiting coordinator, external recruiter or talent sourcer, and other employees.

    Hiring Managers: The hiring manager is the employee who identifies the need, and requests staffing, for a new position. They then collaborate closely with the HR department throughout the entire hiring process. Upon gaining approval for the new position, the hiring manager composes the job description that clearly details the position. This is the first step in hiring the most qualified candidate—creating a job listing with an accurate title and description—that will be posted in job boards and used in marketing the position. The job description also helps the recruiter use the tracking software tool to create keywords that identify the most qualified candidates. The hiring manager might help design the interview process by creating key questions for each interviewer involved, as to better identify qualified candidates. The hiring manager is typically involved in the first and second round of interviews once the candidate has passed through the applicant tracking system and recruiter screening process. They often have final say or approval in the hiring decision, as the new hire will report directly to them. Additionally, the hiring manager builds relationships with each candidate to improve employee retention and job success. They may also assist with onboarding, training, relationship building, and gauging job success.

    Internal Recruiters: Internal recruiters are the main point of contact during the talent acquisition process, from creating new job listings to onboarding, all while providing a positive candidate experience. They often collaborate with the hiring managers during the creation and posting of new job descriptions. Recruiters attract and source new candidates via recruitment marketing, hiring external recruiters, or outsourcing recruitment efforts to recruitment agencies. They might even serve as a sort of employee brand ambassador while seeking employee referrals. ATS solutions help recruiters maintain an employee referral database. Additionally, they manage the process of reference and background checks, which are often integrated with applicant tracking system solutions.

    Recruitment Agencies: Recruitment agencies mediate the process between companies hiring for open positions and active and passive candidates. Recruitment agents seek out and identify a qualified pool of applicants for a job opening. Typically, a recruiter or HR personnel from a company submits the job application to a recruitment agency. The agent identifies a complete list of qualified applicants and submits their resumes and CVs into the applicant tracking system solution for processing. If any of the candidates pass the initial step of resume analysis or pre-employment screening, the recruiter or HR personnel reach out to the recruitment agency to organize an interview.

    Interview Team:The size, role, and structure of the interview team varies depending on the size and type of company, size of the department, type of job, and company culture. The interview team might be composed of recruitment coordinators, hiring managers, supervisors or team leaders, stakeholders, and even peer interviewers.

    Recruitment Coordinators:Recruitment coordinators work closely with candidates, external recruiters, headhunters, HR personnel, hiring managers, and anyone else involved in the hiring process. They often manage the hiring process from recruitment through onboarding. They might manage any testing and preliminary screening via ATS, as well as interviews. If companies advertise open positions at job fairs and recruiting events, recruitment coordinators often represent their company by presenting appropriately branded job opening information in an effort to collect all qualified candidates’ information.

    Talent Sourcers / External Recruiters:The talent sourcer, or external recruiter, works closely with the company recruiter and hiring managers to source talent, generate candidate leads, promote the company brand, and generate interest in open positions. Talent sourcers utilize a variety of tools for seeking out qualified passive and active candidates including job boards and social media sites. Additionally, these individuals might focus on search strings, cold calling, and networking.

    Employees: Employees are often encouraged to share job listings and referrals on their personal social media accounts. ATS solutions simplify this process by providing access to a database of all current job openings, enabling employees to set up accounts that automate job listings throughout their social accounts. Most companies provide some kind of monetary incentive or reward for employees when their referrals become new employees.

    Why Use Applicant Tracking Systems?

    With an application tracking service software, enterprise, small, and medium-sized business can accomplish so much more, regardless of the size of their recruiting team. Applicant tracking system tools help recruiters and HR personnel advertise open positions, manage communication, promote the company brand, collect data, perform analytics, and manage employee referrals. Every business—small to enterprise—can benefit from implementing an ATS into their hiring process. Applicant tracking systems not only improve recruiting efforts, but a successful ATS can directly benefit your company in other ways as well.

    The average hiring duration1 varies by location, including country and city, job title, and industry. In the U.S., the average length of the interview process is 23.8 days. Applicant tracking systems help to optimize the hiring process by making use of every resource available to the HR team, personnel, or solo recruiter. Unfilled positions not only cost companies money; they can impact the health of the business in the long term as a result of missing out on business opportunities and resources misused due to errors made by overworked and overburdened employees.

    As of 2016, a report2 found that the average cost-per-hire is $4100 and the average time it takes to fill a new position is 42 days. This cost includes paying the entire team involved in hiring, purchasing job listings, hiring recruitment agencies, creating recruitment marketing strategies, just to name a few. But the most qualified candidates do not last long on the market. If the process takes too long, you might lose out on a qualified candidate. It is often highlighted that some very well known companies have optimized their hiring process to a short order of a few simple steps.

    Analytics

    In addition to determining which applicants are qualified for a particular job listing, ATS solutions provide analytics tools that measure the all-around success of the job hiring efforts. Applicant tracking systems help recruiters evaluate the effectiveness of their recruiting strategies with real-time data, analytics, and assessments. Different tools have the capability to measure different metrics. Some products provide analytics that measure the success of the sourcing initiative, while others offer tools to measure the success of a company’s hires by evaluating factors such as the time it takes for a new hire to become productive. Such measures can instruct a business’ future hiring strategy by providing a simplified, streamlined, and transparent interview process. These tools often calculate the number of applicants over the course of a set range of dates; the source of candidates; and a look at a role at large, from job posting through onboarding. Building a recruiting pipeline for future hires can help recruiters keep and maintain an active and qualified workforce. Using data proactively can help HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers determine that the hire process is running smoothly and that the candidates are a well-qualified fit for the role and company culture.

    Communication

    Managing communication between the recruiter, hiring manager, team leads, employees, and candidates is essential. When not using an tracking software application, or not using the tool effectively, it can be easy to lose track of communication with a candidate. From clearly expressing the company brand to the feedback process post-onboarding, applicant tracking system solutions allow HR personnel to manage their communication in a productive manner.

    Companies cannot just pay for good advertising to promote their brand to qualified applicants. When a job applicant has a bad experience with a company during the job-hiring process, they will not keep it to themselves. Bad news travels, and it travels fast. Between word of mouth, review sites, and social media—if companies do not have candidate experience plans in place including superb communication, they could miss out on qualified candidates.

    Recruiting and marketing work together and, of course, company and employer brand is essential. Developing an employer brand is especially important in recruitment marketing and passive recruiting. Companies without a strong, effective brand to promote to both passive and active candidates will have a harder time filling positions. Utilizing branding features, a company can highlight their culture, benefits, and professional development opportunities.

    Once a candidate has applied for a job, organizations need not miss out on a a perfect fit because the candidate slipped through the cracks. The vast majority of applicant tracking systems provide some sort of candidate communication functionality. Some tools include an email plugin, while others work more like a fully developed CRM with profiles and communication tools all built into the software.

    Clear communication is critical throughout the application process, between tracking current employees’ referrals, following each candidate’s rejection or acceptance of open positions, overseeing the onboarding process, and beyond. ATS solutions provide the ability for HR personnel to clearly and efficiently communicate with the candidates, hopefully resulting in a pleasant experience with the company. This will help to ensure that when a new position opens up, qualified candidates who didn’t make the cut will consider applying again or recommend this company to their friends and colleagues.

    Communication during the hiring process is necessary for everyone involved, especially in the form of feedback via comments and notes. The feedback process following an interview can be disorganized. Some applicant tracking system tools offer functionality to solve this problem by summarizing the feedback of the hiring teams. This can often be more effective than quick huddles after an interview is completed, because it ensures each interviewer’s voice is heard. The person making the final decision can easily return to the feedback notes to compare multiple candidates for the same position. Clear feedback templates also tend to lead to more focused interviews. When the interviewer knows what his or her goal is going into the interview—whether that’s looking for a cultural fit or technical aptitude—he or she generally has an easier time formulating useful questions.

    An applicant tracking system solutions can alert recruiters and hiring managers as to where each candidate is in the hiring process. Essential personnel will be notified when a job seeker has completed the preliminary screening, a resume has been approved and is ready for review, a candidate has been rejected, or if a candidate has been approved for the interview stage. These tools keep managers and candidates alike informed and in the loop regarding where they are in the application process. In addition, these solutions often provide onboarding tools or easily integrate with onboarding solutions. They can track referrals regarding which employees have shared each job listing and how much traction these social shares receive.

    During the job application process, applicant tracking system solutions notify recruiters and HR personnel of new, approved, and rejected applications. These personnel can then proceed accordingly and notify the candidates of the next step in the hiring process. This might entail a video interview, phone screen, or face-to-face interview.

    Most applicant tracking systems provide survey tools that recruiters can send to job applicants shortly after they are either rejected or receive a job offer. These solutions provides HR personnel with the option to send mass emails, which might prove more beneficial than email integration. HR personnel can create and prepare templates and then schedule them to email at a specific time and dates. These tools save HR personnel and hiring managers time because everything is easy to save, queue up, and deliver at a preassigned date and time.

    Integrations

    Integrations are a key component to any applicant tracking system. Given that this software is used by businesses to hire people for their company, many applicant tracking system solutions will integrate with most HR software. Another benefit of implementing ATS tools is that all of the candidate information can be easily transferred from the applicant tracking system software to the HR tool, saving HR personnel precious time during the onboarding process.

    There are also several other types of software that ATSs may integrate with. The most notable examples are solutions related to the recruiting process such as reference and background check software, recruitment marketing products, or onboarding software. Depending on the breadth of features provided by applicant tracking systems, the amount of integrations businesses will need can vary.

    Mobile

    Recruiters are often on the go, and depending on the structure and nature of their recruiting team, a tool with an effective mobile app may play an important role. If a crucial part of a business’ recruiting strategy is to either hold or attend off-site events, mobile functionality would be beneficial. For example, if a recruiter is attending a college job fair, a mobile app can assist in tracking potential candidates. However, if a company has an inbound recruiting strategy and sources the majority of their candidates through job boards, websites, and referrals, a mobile app wouldn’t have the same utility.

    Social

    As is the case with most things in this day and age, recruiting has gone the way of social media. Social recruiting is a critical recruiting strategy that many organizations employ to share and promote job listings to a wide audience. Tools with social recruiting capabilities don’t just make it easier for a recruiter to post jobs to a social media account, but rather make it easier for everyone within a company to do so. This strategy can boost the number of referrals you receive from people within your organization.

    Social recruiting promotes social sharing among employees. They can set up accounts within the ATS and automate social shares of job postings to post as frequently across whichever social media accounts they choose. Encouraging employees to promote their company is easy, especially with bonus and reward incentives for referral hires.

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    Features of ATS Software

    • Job posting
    • Resume importing and sorting
    • Candidate search and tracking
    • Passive candidate sourcing
    • Candidate profiles
    • Candidate application pipeline
    • Candidate-facing statuses
    • Recruit tracking
    • Automated resume parsing
    • Applicant scoring
    • Transparent and collaborative view of activity including resumes, CVs, interview feedback, and reference notes
    • Easy collaboration with hiring teams including scorecards with feedback, notes, etc.
    • Alerts, tasks, and notifications so hiring managers can stay on top of candidate progress including follow-ups, reach-outs, and rejections
    • Job and offer approvals
    • Interview scheduling, calendar, and feedback tools
    • Integration with additional solutions such as video interviewing, onboarding, and CRM
    • Customizations to fit company needs and maximize potential
    • Hiring stage alteration based on job description and needs
    • Performance analytics with visually clear charts and graphs
    • Mobile capabilities
    • Social media integrations
    • Career page configuration
    • Access for external recruiters to promote transparency
    • Company recruitment portal so candidates know their stage in the hiring process
    • Employee referral solutions
    • Background check integrations
    • Offer letter management
    • Web-based software

    Potential Issues with Applicant Tracking Systems

    Gaming the System: A common fear is that applicant tracking system solutions might potentially reward unqualified applicants that game the system by targeting keywords from open job descriptions. There is, undoubtedly, a plethora of information out there regarding tips, secrets, and tricks to beating applicant tracking system software. Job seekers are also concerned that applicant tracking system tools can spell disaster for their chances of simply getting a phone interview based on their resume formatting and keywords and phrases used therein. But these tips aren’t so much about gaming the system; rather, their goal is to give applicants a fighting chance. Yes, some candidates that are not as qualified as a company would might squeak through if they hit all the right keywords and phrases, and yes, that will result in extra time spent for the personnel that need to review ATS-approved candidates. Inevitably as technology continues to improve, as will applicant tracking system software’s ability to accurately distinguish between the unqualified and truly qualified candidates for the job, in a timely and efficient manner.

    Reduced Market Competition: Some concerns expressed are that the lack of high market competition might result in slow-growth solutions. If you look into the highest ranking applicant tracking software, you will find that the top five vendors all hold over 5 percent of the market share, with the majority holding less than 1 percent. If the top five ATS software companies get roughly 50 percent of the market share, will they feel compelled to maintain that competitive edge? User experience might be left out in the cold. These systems were originally built with HR departments in mind to ease the burden of resume sorting and applicant tracking. If making improvements to these systems is not essential for these companies to remain competitive, businesses that are looking to attract and hire top talent may be the ones that lose the most. After all, it is a candidate’s market; if candidates are dissatisfied with their experience as a result of poor user experience (due to a lack of innovation in the market), they might move on to applying with another company that has a more user-friendly application experience.

    Measuring ROI Errors: Companies must first determine their hiring costs and then track the time spent on recruitment, including HR personnel, hiring managers, recruitment agencies, and any other employees working within the job placement lifecycle. Conducting market research is essential for insight into which solutions similar companies have employed. Estimate direct savings and evaluate any additional benefits to implementing an applicant tracking system solution. If they do their due diligence, this estimated ROI will be used to determine the company's budget and the actual ROI following the purchase of an applicant tracking system solution.

    Missing Out on Good Candidates: Essentially, those candidates that are well qualified know it, and if they have to jump through too many hoops, businesses may lose them. If the application process takes too long candidates will call it quits. A recent study 3 found that 60 percent of applicants have abandoned a job application due to the length of the process. Not only might companies miss out on qualified applicants, a lengthy application process could result in a bad candidate experience thereby diminishing the company image via negative word-of-mouth. Conversely, it’s all about keywords and ranking—not just for websites promoting their goods—but for people promoting themselves. If a candidate is unaware of how to properly format their resume to be scanned accordingly, that applicant might be deemed a poor contender by an ATS. Businesses could lose out on a perfectly qualified applicant as a result of unique formatting, fonts, and even strangely spelled addresses that the ATS deems spelling errors.

    Product Agility: If multiple products need to be used for the entire hiring process, some tasks might be short changed and the recruiter may need to increase their time allotted on specific operations. Some companies might still be stuck in the rut of using one product for talent mining, one for recruitment marketing, and one for job distribution. If a company or hiring manager is using multiple tools for each step, integration might be tricky; this can result in reduced transparency and a convoluted job hiring process. Conversely, certain ATS solutions might not be agile enough to alter workflows and make the necessary adjustments. When purchasing a talent acquisition solution, businesses must be certain that these tools can integrate with their centralized database. One should never need to enter pertinent information more than once. If this is occuring, valuable time and resources are being misallocated.

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    Trends Related to ATS Software

    Collaborative Hiring

    Sharing notes and thoughts on candidates across the entire team including recruiters, hiring managers, team leads, recruitment agencies, employees who submitted referrals, and job seekers is becoming standard. Some applicant tracking solutions now include social integration and gamification elements such as tagging, rating profiles, etc.

    Customizable Skills for the Gig Economy

    According to a 2016 report 4 published by the Brookings Institution, gig economy workers have increased 27 percent over the past 20 years. Skill requirements are shifting and companies are reassessing their needs for traditional, full-time employees. Companies are choosing to “rent” employees over hiring them and are actively recruiting contingent workers for the gig economy, including contractors, freelancers, and consults. Applicant tracking tools provide solutions for gig economy workers to express their skills, aptitude, and experiences and provide for remote, flexible, and work from home options. Meanwhile, some applicant tracking system software allow users to keep notes and categorize by skills on gig workers that have been hired in the past. These solutions are customizable to allow companies to alter their hiring process for gig positions, and to fill these positions quicker with fewer steps. As some employees are staying in their jobs for fewer than six months, companies will focus their efforts on assessing the aptitude of temp, project-based, freelance, and consultant roles.

    Design Thinking Practices for Candidate Journey Mapping

    A recent report 5 found that employers underestimate the amount of time it takes candidates to apply for one job. Job applicants reported that they spend on average 3-4 hours preparing and submitting one job application, whereas roughly 70 percent of employers believe that candidates spend an hour or less per application. Meanwhile, job recruiters spend about 60 seconds reviewing each application. Applicant tracking system software isn’t simply a solution for recruiters; it’s a solution for the job seekers spending countless hours on each and every application.

    Recruiters are increasingly employing design thinking plus sentiment analysis to collect and measure employee, candidate, and consumer opinions. Design thinking utilizes a human-centered approach to “solve” a business problem. Some companies monitor employee social media posts and comments to capture insights into how employees feel about their position, work, and company. These businesses are collecting and analyzing data in hopes to continue improving the candidate experience.

    Employer Branding Customization

    As of 2017, American job seekers had 6 million openings to sift through according to data released by the Labor Department. Businesses need to entice an applicant’s desire for employment with their company by catching and maintaining the job seekers’ attention; an easy way to do this is through clear and consistent brand messaging. Some helpful branding initiatives include developing strong employee value, promoting company culture, and engaging talent on social media and company blogs. These approaches help to promote the company brand by sharing news about company charitable giving campaigns, awards, and perks, to name a few. Applicant tracking solutions help companies promote their branding by including company logos, fonts, and colors to increase brand consistency between the business’ website, social platforms, and applicant tracking services solutions.

    Employee Referrals

    According to a recent study7, 48 percent of recruiters claim that employee referrals are the top source of quality hires. Referred candidates are quicker to find resulting in a reduction of time and money spent on recruitment marketing and agencies. Companies usually spend less money hiring referral candidates over traditional candidates, onboarding is often faster, and they tend to remain in their positions longer than traditional hires. Applicant tracking system tools provide employee referral portals that give current employees the option of connecting ATS-sponsored job postings to their social media accounts; this allows employees to advertise job listings to all of their professional and personal contacts. The progress of employee referral applications (and the employee that provides the referral) are then tracked for progress, referral bonuses, and rewards.

    Free and Open-Source

    If you have a small business but want to remain competitive and hire the best talent for your budget, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of ATS. In this instance, there are a few free and open-source options out there to choose from. Many target HR professionals, recruiters, and staffing agencies; some integrate with content management systems (CMS, various apps, and CRM software. Many provide the standard features including candidate tracking, resume management, analytics, and reporting and others offer job board integration and onsite job application listing. Some free and open-source solutions provide a free trial to start for limited job listings and then provide additional listings, priority support, and training for a monthly fee or annual subscription. Meanwhile, some of these applicant tracking systems include a free basic subscription but then charge for add-ons to enhance the tool allowing businesses to cater their plan to fit their needs.

    Gamification in Recruiting

    Games are everywhere, even in recruiting. The gamification market forecast8 is expected to hit $11.10 billion by 2020. Gamification is used by HR personnel to improve candidate interest in a company’s brand and develop their interest in a position. Gamification can include profile rating, engagement activity, loyalty programs, simulated games with prizes, or employee-of-the-month rewards. Gamification also helps to shake up the norm with company-related “quests” and personality behavioral quizzes. These solutions can improve the recruitment process by expanding the types of questions that candidates expect to be asked. The questions covered might relate to pertinent industry challenges, trends, insights, and progress. Gamification might also be used in conjunction with an applicant tracking system to encourage candidates to enter an organization’s career site and social media accounts to explore opportunities by creating or amplifying brand awareness. Not only does it put the F-U-N into recruitment, it encourages candidates to interact with the company brand, as well as improves their job seeker experience. More importantly, it allows recruiters to determine aptitude, scale creative thinking, and gauge problem solving skills.

    Hiring for Diversity

    According to a recent study9 of the retail and hospitality industries, gender-diverse businesses were found to have higher revenue than less diverse businesses. Overall, the study found that diverse companies outperform their less diverse competitors. To diversify the candidate pool, recruiters and HR personnel can use job board that specialize in diverse recruitment and hiring practices. In addition to posting job listings throughout a variety of jobs boards, automatic scoring and ranking solutions can help reduce and eliminate bias throughout the hiring process. The scoring features help hiring managers focus on a candidate’s likelihood to succeed in a role based on quantifiable characteristics. Depending on the lifecycle of the business, some HR personnel may find themselves desperate for people, and quality versus quantity may be an issue. And, of course, executive buy-in is key. But the numbers don’t lie and companies that include diverse hiring practices reap greater financial rewards10.

    HR Professionals Broaden their Skills

    Recruiters need to do so much more than post a job listing, review resumes, and schedule interviews. Their knowledge and skills need to include experience with people analytics, marketing, branding, and even VR and wearables. In the name of workplace innovation and to create a personalized relationship with employees, HR personnel often employ product marketing, research principles such as design thinking and sentiment analysis, and even HR hackathons. Companies are taking notice of their HR professionals’ broad array of skills and using them to further promote innovation within the company. One multinational technology conglomerate, for example, organized a global event similar to a hackathon in which HR personnel worked together on brainstorming new ideas, products, and solutions around talent acquisition, new hire onboarding, and training and development.

    Improved Candidate Experience: A “candidate’s market”

    A recent survey11 from 2016 found that 60 percent of candidates experienced a negative application process and 72 percent of those shared their negative experience via an employer review site, and with colleagues and friends. A poor candidate experience can potentially discourage qualified candidates from applying for positions at the same company. Furthermore, 65 percent of candidates reported to rarely or never receive a notification when they were rejected from the candidate pool. Of these job seekers, they were 3.5 times more likely to apply for a different job if they received a rejection notice from the company. Of the employers that participated in the survey, 99 percent of them believe that communicating with candidates, or re-engaging them, would help to further build their talent pool and promote a positive company brand.

    Additionally, this study found that 70 percent of employers either plan on or have invested in auxiliary resources meant to improve the candidate experience. Candidates rated a “timely follow up on application status” as more important to them than a “well designed career site” or a “mobile-supported online experience.” Recruiters need to sell the “why” of the company by providing a positive experience that will keep qualified candidates interested in the position. The balance of power is shifting from employer to candidate; and job seekers have increased leverage. They are empowered to negotiate new terms and seek new opportunities. Even the standard length of employment today is not what it was 20, 15, even 5 years ago. A blend of HR, marketing, and customer service is what is needed to improve candidate and employee experiences.

    Individual Development of Emotional Intelligence

    Recruiters and HR personnel are adding emotional intelligence to the list of skills they are working on enhancing and developing. Finely tuned emotional intelligence will aid in performance and productivity, resulting in reduced in-house recruiter burnout and overall improved relationships between HR personnel and candidates and employees. HR, hiring managers, and recruiters are investing time in themselves and thereby helping to improve the employee experience with their company, resulting in increased retention, performance, and productivity.

    Leveraging Data

    Companies are leveraging data for actionable intelligence that can help HR personnel better determine whether a candidate has the right skills and experience to excel in an open position. Applicant tracking system solutions provide analytical tools that can be used to help build more robust hiring processes. These tools are designed to use data to accurately assess candidates qualifications and map out a candidate’s journey—from initial application submission through job requisition. HR personnel and recruiters can leverage data to improve transparency, early engagement, the candidate experience, onboarding, and more. Recruiters can employ data beyond assessing the hiring process to help remove any blockers within the recruitment process. Data can also provide recruiters with valuable insight into a candidate’s work experience with a business during the application process, thereby improving both application and job-offering conditions.

    Mobile Recruiting

    According to a 2015 study12, 28 percent of all Americans and 53 percent of all Americans ages 18-29 have used a smartphone to apply for a job. According to a study13 from a recruitment technology company and research firm, of over 1,000 job seekers polled, 86 percent of candidates use their smartphones to begin their job search, 60 percent have quit the job application process due to technology issues, and 20 percent would end the process if they could not apply via a mobile device. Meanwhile, according to these top HR statistics14, 45 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices to search for jobs at least once every day. Meanwhile, 54 percent job seekers read company reviews from employees on their mobile devices and 52 percent of job seekers research salary information. Non-mobile optimized content must be a thing of the past. Recruiters can increase conversion rates over 300 percent if the length of application process is reduced to five minutes and provided on multiple screens. From mobile-optimized career pages to submitting job applications via social media, to increase job application numbers, businesses must optimize their websites and career pages for mobile functioning.

    Leveraging Social Media

    As of 201415, only 14 percent of recruiters hired candidates via Twitter. But, you need to go where your ideal candidates spend all of their time. Job seekers not only use Glassdoor for reviews but tend to search Twitter to look at company profiles for insight into their culture, social media presence, followers, community, etc. Tweets from the company should be a mixture of company events, work environment and we all know that hashtags are an excellent way to reach a broader audience. Job seeking terms and job locations are an effective hashtag to use. Company options are to use the existing company handle for recruiting or create a separate handle specifically for recruiting purposes.

    Video Interviewing

    HR professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters are seeing an ever-increasing candidate pool in remote hires. The standard is moving well beyond that of phone and in-person interviews to hosting video interviews. These interviews do not need to occur in real time; they can be completed at the interviewee’s convenience and the HR personnel can review the answers at a designated time. Many features of video interviewing products include the option of uploading a link into the job application with prerecorded questions that the applicant answers at the time of resume submittal. Hiring managers or recruiters can view the submitted questions while reviewing their resumes. This allows hiring managers to gain additional insight into each candidate beyond the details of the resume provided by the applicant tracking system software. The resume contains the pertinent information meant to sell the candidate; in the video forum, they will need to answer the questions determined by the hiring managers. Additionally, the candidate’s experience of the interviewer and company can be impacted by the experience with video interviewing. It is, by no means, an old-fashioned process.

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    Software and Services Related to ATS Software

    Job Boards: Job boards, also known as job marketplaces, provide job listing databases for companies to advertise their open positions to job seekers. Companies can use their ATS solution to share their job listings to job boards. Recruiters can then add associated filters to their company page to help interested and qualified candidates seek out the appropriate positions. These solutions provide businesses with a branded homepage that hosts pertinent information and links for job seekers to submit resumes, CVs, and portfolios. Employers can maintain their branded site, manually post jobs listings, and track all activity. Some job boards also allow employers to search through resumes to identify and source qualified passive candidates.

    Recruiting Software: Companies use recruiting software, a type of talent management software, to facilitate the hiring and onboarding of new talent. Recruiting software not only streamlines the process of hiring for recruiters, but it improves the job application process for candidates as well. These recruiting solutions provide tools that often integrate with applicant tracking systems for creating and distributing job postings, attracting qualified talent, managing and tracking applicants, organizing candidate data, and managing an assortment of other recruitment tasks. Recruiting solutions often employ advanced technology in the form of machine learning software and embedded AI to analyze job seekers’ resumes and other records for potential successful fits.

    Recruitment Agencies: Recruiting services providers help companies find qualified candidates for open positions. Recruiters employ a variety of techniques to seek out qualified candidates, employed or unemployed. These recruiting agencies identify potential candidates, submit all essential information to the companies’ human resources personnel (usually through an ATS), and manage the interactions between the candidate and hiring business. HR staff often employ recruitment agencies to expand and enhance the pool of applicants. Recruiting agents typically use staffing software and job boards to help collect, organize, update, and manage information on prospective hires and some might employ recruiting software for additional assistance.

    Recruitment Marketing Platforms: Internal recruiting teams and HR personnel employ recruitment marketing platforms to identify job candidates that would make qualified applicants. Recruitment marketing platforms operate similarly to that of inbound marketing services by providing social media marketing and search engine optimization for recruitment, job distribution on relevant platforms, and candidate relationship management (CRM) capabilities. HR departments implement recruitment marketing platforms to expand their talent pool by both quantity and quality. HR personnel can then treat candidates as potential leads that need attention through engagement and nurturing. These recruitment marketing solutions can be integrated with applicant tracking software and onboarding software to form a talent acquisition suite with robust capabilities and increased recruitment potential.

    Video Interviewing Software: Video interviewing software helps HR teams and recruiters simplify and streamline the hiring process. HR personnel are able to identify quality candidates while creating improved candidate experiences. Regardless of interviewer and candidate location and schedule, video interviewing can occur any time, at any location. These video interviewing solutions automate the scheduling process, freeing up recruiters’ time to spend with candidates. Not only can you spend time with candidates who may live far and wide, but some video interviewing solutions provide AI insight into the candidates’ skills and experience to help HR personnel make informed decisions.

    Pre-Employment Testing Software: Pre-employment testing software are data-driven talent management solutions that help streamline the hiring process by managing and filtering large applicant pools through the use of candidate assessments. These solutions help HR departments and personnel make informed hiring decisions. These tests—including aptitude, personality, and skills—are an objective and standardized method of collecting data on candidates during the hiring process. Pre-employment solutions are meant to improve productivity, increase retention, and reduce the costs associated with turnover by determining the extent to which a candidate has the skills, experience, and ability to perform their job well.

    Reference Check Software: Reference check software helps HR personnel, recruiters, and hiring managers reach their potential hires’ professional references with ease. These tools help knock out the back work of hiring and can be used to attract, as well as verify, qualified candidates. Reference check solutions can reduce and eliminate time spent on verifying qualified applicants through the old-school method of manual phone calls and email conversations. These tools often provide a variety of features beyond reference checking, including applicant tracking and managing interview feedback.

    Background Check Software: Organizations use background check software for pre-employment screening solutions, including work, criminal, and driving history screening. Background check solutions simplify and quicken the interview and onboarding processes for HR personnel. Candidates can use background check software to input their information directly for verification. This solution also stores all data collected through this process. Companies employ background screening software to verify the information submitted by the new hires, including employment history, credit history, and drug testing. Background check software usually integrates with an applicant tracking software and is often used with core HR software. HR personnel typically integrate background check solutions with their applicant tracking system software to streamline the job application process by syncing all pertinent candidate information including background screening through one portal.

    Onboarding Software: Onboarding software streamlines the onboarding process of new employees. Hiring managers implement onboarding software to help efficiently transition new hires into their roles and the company while also simplifying the administrative work necessary. New hires are able to integrate into the company and their respective teams at a quicker rate, thereby improving their productivity. Onboarding software provides HR personnel, hiring managers, and employees with a singular and shared solution, making the onboarding process streamlined, transparent, and organized. Onboarding software is often one piece of a company’s HR management solution; most onboarding solutions will integrate with an HR management system or applicant tracking system software.

    Staffing Software: Recruiters and staffing agencies often employ staffing software to locate and administer candidates on behalf of business and companies. This staffing solution facilitates communication between qualified candidates and potential employers over the entire course of the hiring process. Staffing products often provide features such as candidate relationship management (CRM) tools, applicant tracking system solutions, and candidate sourcing tools. Staffing software typically includes self-service portals, which promote transparent communication between candidates and hiring businesses to access and share information about job postings, resumes, and referrals. Recruiters employed by staffing agencies employ these applications to locate, communicate with, and evaluate potential candidates. Staffing solutions may be implemented alongside additional HR solutions that share and promote job openings, locate and interview candidates, and manage employee onboarding.