Applicant Tracking Systems: 5 Things You Need to Know

By Lawrence Gill

Applicant tracking systems are a necessary tool in the modern recruitment industry. Many recruiters need at least this level of automation to help process CVs and get the recruitment process moving. However, there are many aspects to applicant tracking and management and choosing the right system is important.

With a busy period ahead for the industry, we wanted to talk to you about Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and how some can help you do more for your candidates than others. We’ve highlighted five aspects of ATS that we think you need to know before finding the right one for you.

1.The fundamentals of applicant tracking systems

There is little doubt that applicant tracking systems have given recruiters a new level of efficiency from the start of the candidate journey. Traditional, paper-based recruitment methods are seen rarely in today’s modern agency and introducing automation has resulted in faster, more streamlined processes in terms of:

  • CV management
  • CV parsing
  • Communications logging
  • Initial candidate matching
  • And more.

Information collected from ATS is stored in a secure database, where recruiters can access it. This can be handled in several ways, but data protection and privacy regulations must always be followed. Some ATS are managed separately from other systems, but the most effective ATS are integrated within a compliant candidate management platform.

Some applicant tracking systems will make the automated comparison with CV and post criteria, performing an initial matching process. This is often based on a scoring system which can give the recruiter a focus list from which to start recruiting. The reliability of this type of matching system relies strongly on the available search parameters and the accuracy of the automated CV parsing, however. If the ATS is lacking in quality here, then the likelihood of a good candidate slipping through the net is much higher.

2.Why formatting is important to CV parsing strategy

Many agencies and organisations are still using ATS with algorithms that are today outdated. This can cause problems for both agency and candidate. Candidates uploading their CVs online are relying on your ATS to pick up their vital information and you are putting your trust in the system to give you your best-chance candidates. This means the data being parsed and imported must be as accurate as possible.

Formatting is crucial and must be consistent throughout. It must also be a clear and easy process for candidates to get the formatting right within file formats that they understand. Keep headings simple and include examples of the acceptable format for text, dates and other important information.

3.How to avoid ATS overlooking good candidates

It also helps to have a CV processing system within the ATS that can be tailored to a wide range of parameters. This is because the more information you can gather about the candidate, the better the matching process can be, and fewer candidates can slip through the net.

Selecting applicant tracking systems with a powerful search facility is the ideal way to extend your criteria and parameters. Some of the best modern recruitment software includes ATS as an integrated recruiting tool and encompasses automation for CRM, candidate management and communications logging too. This can mean that recruiters can focus more on the human side of recruiting and further reduce instances of poor matching or great candidates being overlooked.

4.Don’t pay too much for your applicant tracking system and support

This is an all-too-common problem in the recruitment industry. Many agencies and organisations end up tied into lengthy, expensive contracts or purchasing costly recruitment software and systems. These types of arrangements often do not include technical assistance as standard or have remote service centres contactable only by digital means.

Finding a subscription service could provide the answer to creating a reliable, cost-effective approach to applicant tracking and candidate management. This will entail paying a monthly or annual charge which can sometimes include technical and customer support.

5.Why scalability is even more important in 2020

2020 has been an unprecedented, exceptional year so far for the recruiting industry. Weeks of lockdown and confinement, pared back business operations and enforced social distancing measures has resulted in furloughed or laid-off employees. With economic uncertainty hovering over the country, many industry professionals are expecting an even greater surge in activity as the year rolls on. Now is the time to ensure your agency can remain as flexible as possible to effectively future-proof your business.

Also, the UK faces widespread regulation changes in terms of data protection, digital accountability and working practices. For this reason, it is crucial that your recruitment tools and systems can be fully scalable to suit your changing future needs and requirements. Therefore, investing in a scalable software solution, rather than a rigid, inflexible or long-term contract, can provide the answer to effective future-proofing.

How Vacancy Lab is different from other applicant tracking systems

There is another way to tackle your applicant tracking system investment. Vacancy Lab is comprehensive recruitment software available by monthly or annual subscription, cancellable at any time. This can be particularly useful when taking scalability into account at a time of economic uncertainty.

Full technical service support is also available at the end of the telephone during working hours at no additional cost. We are a small, dedicated team and encourage our clients to pick up the phone and talk to us, as we are often able to sort out any issues quickly and without any technical lingo.

Take a different approach to ATS in your agency and combine the best of automated recruiting tools with the all-important human element. Improve your reputation and enhance your candidate experience with Vacancy Lab and our powerful, integrated applicant tracking system.

With a central cloud-based system, everyone can see and search all candidates in one place. It’s given us a more structured approach, and day-to-day tasks are now managed more efficiently.
Fiona Frisson Senior Account Manager at Tarot Recruitment
Our focus is on providing our clients with top-quality candidates suited to their specific requirements. We can only do that because we trust Vacancy Lab to support what we do.
Jonathan Bates Partner at MPQR Resourcing Solutions
We’ve become a more productive and more effective business since we brought in Vacancy Lab. It’s made a real difference to how we deal with candidates and what we can achieve for clients.
Anthony Kelly Public Sector Director at Harvey Recruit Ltd.