What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that provides a central database for a company’s recruitment efforts. This system is used to keep track of candidates who have applied to open positions and the stages they pass through as part of the hiring process, assisting the management of resumes and other applicant information. Besides being a monitoring tool, the software can be used to advertise job openings on company websites, screen and rank resumes, generate interview requests through email, and track their responses.

Applicant tracking systems also enable an organization to collect and store job- and candidate-related data — an analysis of this information is valuable as a basis for long-term sourcing strategy. For example, you can see which efforts of your recruitment team brought in the best (or worst) results, and from that standpoint, you’ll be able to make adjustments to optimize your hiring structure.

This software has traditionally been implemented on an enterprise level as part of a human resource information system, usually due to the large volume of applications they receive on a daily basis. But small- and medium-sized businesses can reap the benefits of this application as well, through software-as-a-service (SaaS) or open source offerings. In fact, smaller companies have more benefits to gain from using applicant tracking systems, because they enable businesses to maximize the efforts of a small human resources team.

This brings us to one of the biggest benefits of using this kind of software: easing the workload of recruiters. Because the system automates the hiring process, from job posting, resume screening, and scheduling interviews, recruiters can free up their time to deal with the indispensable aspects of hiring, such as the actual interview. This can also be a source of reducing expenses, as the tasks no longer have to be expensive in terms of manpower or hours of labor.

Another benefit that this system provides is collaboration. Across a team, multiple administrators will be able to process the same pool of candidates, without having to deal with an old system that only enables one recruiter to edit the spreadsheet at a time. If a person wants to check on the status of a candidate, he can just check the ATS to what stage of the hiring process the applicant is at any given time. This kind of paperless system benefits the recruiters involved, because all the information is stored in a central location for all to access, and there’s no cause for concern over any paperwork that might get lost in the shuffle.

While technology continues to push the envelope in terms of automating and speeding up systems that were once time-consuming, there’s no denying the lingering importance of a human hand across all the processes. No software can completely replace the benefits that a trained human resources professional can bring to the table, especially when it comes to conducting the actual interview and making character-based decisions. Once again, the collaboration between man and technology remains the best option available.

Originally published at blog.bridgesoutheast.com on February 19, 2016.