Is it Time to Upgrade Your ATS?

Julie Shenkman
Posted by

Although encountering an applicant tracking system is a reality of the technological age in which we live, you might be surprised to learn that nearly two-thirds of human resources professionals don't find their current ATS software very effective. A survey by ClearCompany notes that 62 percent of employers think their software filters out highly qualified candidates — and each one is a possible missed opportunity. Perhaps it's time to consider an upgrade.

Candidate Experiences

Respondents to the ClearCompany survey said a candidate's experience with the recruitment process is an important factor when finding the perfect fit. The reason candidate experience is so important stems from poor dealings with HR in the past. As many as 60 percent of candidates feel as if they had poor experiences with employers during job searches. Almost three-quarters of those wrote about their experiences online, and bad reputations gained from unpleasant online experiences could affect future hiring for those companies. An applicant tracking system may be part of these poor candidate experiences because it places a greater emphasis on computerized results.

An applicant tracking system filters cover letters, resumes and online applications through various keywords. If a resume has keywords that match the criteria set, a candidate moves up the ranking toward the front of the pool. However, ATSs make the hiring process more mechanical and less human, and they might exclude an experienced applicant who could actually be a great fit.

Improving the Hiring Process

Up to 37 percent of the HR pros want to improve the hiring process, but they still need to save money and efficiently weed out candidates. Candidates want a quick, simple application and a user-friendly experience. Job seekers — 76 percent of them — simply want to know a precise estimate on how long an application takes from start to finish. One in five job seekers don't even consider a position if the application takes 20 minutes or longer to complete. One in 10 millennials don't want to apply if they can't fill out an application on a mobile device.

These aren't small numbers, and a lot of great companies that use applicant tracking systems may miss out on some great hires due to these issues. Despite the number of candidates who want a better application experience, up to 36 percent of employers find that improving the application process is one of their top challenges.

How an ATS Improves Both Sides

An advanced applicant tracking system helps human resources pick through dozens or hundreds of candidates. However, the data may be confusing to those who use it. Rather than struggling through the data, HR pros should consider sharing the data with managers, company leaders and other personnel involved in hiring. The idea is that when more people examine the data gathered by an ATS, the better chance the company has to find the right hire. After the application is complete, companies should employ a human element to follow up and confirm the electronic decisions.

To improve a candidate's experience, an applicant tracking system could inform the user that the system received the application and provide a relevant timeline for hearing back. ATSs are here to stay, but a little extra effort, such as adding a human touch to the process, could go a long way with candidates.

Photo courtesy of Newton at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch