An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software application that helps manage your recruitment workflows.
It streamlines the entire recruitment cycle from posting jobs onto numerous websites, to receiving, filtering and screening applications, sharing candidate details with multiple stakeholders, communicating with candidates, scheduling interviews and giving candidate feedback.
Some ATS can also integrate with other HRIS to generate new employee records, prepare employment letters and contracts, start online induction processes and add new starters to payroll, thus reducing the admin workload and ensuring that all the proper hiring steps are followed in a timely and accurate manner.
ATS have mostly been used for volume recruitment, but an increasing number of SME’s are now using them to facilitate their recruitment activities.
When all works well, an ATS can make life much easier for recruiters, saving time and reducing costs.
In recruitment, speed is of the essence, and a good ATS can help speed up the hiring process by reaching out to candidates more quickly, retaining their interest and motivation so you don’t lose out.
It can also produce a shortlist of candidates with screening tools that enable you to set out skills, education and skills requirements, allowing you to focus on candidates who meet the necessary criteria.
However, be aware that this process can also run the risk of missing out on good candidates who have a different accreditation that is equally valid but may not be recognised by the system.
Other faults may be caused by applications being rejected if the scanner is unable to fully read CVs or fails to recognise the format.
If the system malfunctions or times out when the candidate is completing their application, is incompatible with certain browsers, is difficult to access from mobile devices or is tedious to navigate, candidates may become frustrated and give up altogether.
On the plus side, interviews can be scheduled easily and more promptly, follow up emails sent in batch and reminders set, reducing the number of hours spent in labour intensive and repetitive processes, freeing you up to focus on interviews.
If your hiring process involves multiple stakeholders, the ATS can facilitate communication and collaboration by allowing users to access candidate profiles, make notes, leave ratings or check where they’re at in the pipeline.
Crucially, an ATS allows to you to immediately contact those that have not been successful, helping you to follow best practice and promote your reputation as a good employer.
The metrics produced by the ATS can help you to measure and analyze your recruitment statistics such as time to hire, cost per hire, most successful job sites and acceptance rates. This will enable you to make continuous improvements in your search for talent.
It can act as a repository for storing all your recruitment-related information and retains candidate records for the future in the form of a talent database.
You can create a GDPR-compliant talent pool of good candidates who may have been unsuccessful first-time round, enabling you to reach out to them as soon as another suitable position becomes available.
However, be aware of your candidates’ rights in relation to their personal data and ensure that your team has the right processes in place to manage candidate requests effectively and in line with the GDPR requirements.
Under GDPR, recruiters need to respond to candidate requests, such as updating or erasing their details, within one month and be able to prove when or how they have actioned a request.
Provide candidates with your privacy notice explaining how you process personal data when collecting information. This also applies to all candidates, including those who apply indirectly via recruitment agencies or social media.
Under GDPR, candidates will have the following rights of access:
- To obtain confirmation that their data is being processed
- Access to their personal data
- Access to any other information relating to their data.
Any requested information must be provided free of charge unless otherwise stipulated in the ICO guidance, and within one month of the request being submitted.
If a candidate asks you to correct or update their personal data, you must do so within one month. If you have shared the personal data with other parties, you must also inform them of the update.
Candidates can also request the deletion of their data although you can refuse the request in accordance with ICO guidance.
Transparency is the key principle of the GDPR and an ATS can build an audit trail of when candidate requests have been met, providing a clear history of all communications.
Storage limitation is another core principle of the GDPR, and proper steps must be taken to ensure you don’t retain your candidates’ data for any longer than is necessary. An ATS can set up an alert system warning you when a candidate is approaching their data retention limit. Their details can either be archived (if appropriate) or completely removed from the system.
Should you ever be audited or receive a candidate complaint, you need to be able to access the associated data quickly and simply and an ATS can make this process fast, simple and reliable.
The right ATS will also provide confidence in where and how your data is hosted, ensuring you do not breach any significant data storage requirements.
If this all sounds too complicated, remember that the pros can easily outweigh the cons, and a reputable ATS will provide you with the necessary tools to manage your recruitment processes effectively, professionally and ethically.