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How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work? (With Examples)

If you’re a recruiter or trying to fill specific roles in your company, you might be wondering: How do applicant tracking systems work? 

Job applicants might think that they send in their resumes to HR where a recruiter painstakingly looks over every job application, hand picking those that are right for the open position. But this isn’t how the recruiting process works anymore.

The truth is that hundreds of people might be applying for the same position and without some sort of resume checker to sort through them, finding the right person for the job is next to impossible. 

If you’re considering applicant management software for the first time and are curious about what an ATS system can do for you, keep reading for the details about how an application tracking system can help you make sure you find the best person for the job. 

Table of Contents

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

According to a survey conducted by Manpower Group, 69% of employers struggle to find a qualified candidate for their open position. This outlines just how vital it is to support applicant outreach efforts and recruiting with every tool you have available to you. 

There are many ATS systems out there. Each is a little different, but their overall goal is the same: to advertise a detailed job opening and then fill it with the best candidate you can find. Let’s take a closer look at all of the things an applicant tracking system can do. 

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ATS systems get job postings in front of the right people, whether it’s on your company’s website or the most popular online job board.

Posting Jobs

Before your ATS software can look at job applications, you have to get potential job candidates to apply. ATS software lets you post jobs to your company’s website and to some of the most popular job boards to make sure the right candidates see your job opening.

ATS systems may connect to platforms like Monster, Peersight, Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and more. This saves you time having to recreate profiles and position pages for each site. 

Remember that your ATS software goes off the information that you give it to filter applicants, so you must make sure you’re using an accurate description of what you’re looking for to attract a qualified candidate. 

Recruiting Emails

Applicant tracking software may also help you structure, track, and send highly personal and convincing recruiting emails as part of the head hunting process. The best ATS system will keep track of who you’ve contacted, what position you highlighted for them, and when a good follow-up date might be. If your HR team has quotas to meet, the ATS platform should be able to track and report on those, too. 

The ATS tool will also have easy access to each of your carefully constructed job postings. This makes it easy to share this information with a potential candidate via a link or other attachment. 

Importing Resumes

After applicants have started to apply for open positions, you’ll likely be receiving resumes from many sources. Some candidates may even take the old-school route and send their resumes in the mail or have someone they know personally hand it to you. The best ATS solution will have flexible importing options, from scanning hardcopies to ingesting Indeed applications into your database. 

ATS software makes it easy to get all of these resumes in one place. Electronic resumes are quickly imported into the system, hardcopies are turned into digital documents that can be scanned for appropriate keywords and experience metrics, and external website data is transformed into something useful and readable for the end user. 

Scanning Resumes

The resume scanner is the thing that ATS is primarily known for and it’s one of the biggest benefits of using one. With an ATS, you can parse hundreds of resumes quickly using pre-selected qualifications so that only the best resumes make it to your desk for a manual look-over. 

An ATS scan also helps when it comes to finding relevant information wherever it is located on the document. While there are some resume format standards, each one is different. For example, some people list their skills under each job experience while others create a separate heading to list them at the end. 

The resume parsing feature pulls out keywords from each resume, regardless of format, and categorizes applicants according to who best matches the job description. This process saves endless time scanning through resumes by hand to find those that might be a good fit.

Tracking Candidates

The candidate tracking system shows you exactly where each candidate is in the process. Whether they’re coming in for their first interview, returning for their second, or you’ve extended an offer, you know where everyone stands. 

Another great thing about this system is that those who don’t make the cut stay in your system. If any positions open up in the future that matches their skills, you can quickly and easily get in touch to see if they’re interested in an interview.

Do a lot of companies use ATS software? 

At least 40% of companies currently use an ATS platform. However, this is trending upward as companies across the globe are focusing on becoming more technologically relevant in the age of the internet, big data, and online ecosystems. 

Most large corporations have been using ATS software for a long time, whether it’s an external system or a candidate portal incorporated into their own HR software. So many independent options are available now that small and medium-sized companies can now invest in these systems and get the benefits without having to build their own platform.

The Takeaway

ATS software can save you time and money by streamlining the process of hiring new employees—from recruiting possible candidates to sorting through resumes to keeping track of where they are in the hiring process. There are a lot of great options out there for companies looking for ATS software. Some go much farther, acting as a full HRMS suite

By parsing resumes using keywords that you choose, these systems make sure that you only see the candidates who are best for the job. Not only does this process make it easier to find the right people, it gets them in the door quickly so you can fill important roles as efficiently as possible.

If all of this is still quite confusing but your need for a system is urgent, why not outsource the recruitment process? Here’s a short read on 7 Recruitment Process Outsourcing Companies & Benefits you can check!

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