Keep up with the latest HR resources and opportunities via our newsletter.

How SMBs Should Evaluate Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs)

Are you looking for the perfect Applicant Tracking System (ATS) but keep getting stuck among the different options?

It can be overwhelming to try to figure out which one will best meet your needs. Never fear – we’re here to help you navigate the ATS landscape. Read on to learn more about why ATSs are important, what SMBs should look out for, and some excellent tips from the pros.

Applicant Tracking System Basics

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software solution used to streamline recruitment processes. It automates the tracking of job applications and resumes, and helps recruiters and HR professionals manage their recruitment pipeline. It can also be used to post job ads, track applicant progress throughout the recruitment process, and even generate reports.

So why should SMBs use an ATS?

For small businesses, an ATS can help save time and money. It automates recruitment tasks, meaning you don’t have to waste time manually entering data or keeping track of applicants. An ATS can also help you find the best applicants for your company, and make sure all qualified candidates are considered.

From using cloud-based systems to searching for talent experience insights, here’s some helpful advice for anyone looking for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS):

  • Get Input From Employees Who Will Use it
  • Ensure Compatibility With Your Current Technology
  • Prioritize Its Ease of Use 
  • Include Customization
  • Choose a System With a “Notes” Option
  • Use a Cloud-Based System
  • Invest in Solid Data Security
  • Make Sure It Is Unbiased
  • Select a Tool that Gives Talent Experience Insights

Get Input From Employees Who Will Use It 

Seems like a no-brainer, but employees aren't often privy to these decisions. People like working with intuitive software with everything they need in one location. 

Let your employees (or at least a few of them) be part of the demos and ask for their honest feedback about whatever ATS you are considering. Having been through an ATS change or two, it can be a blessing or a curse. It can cut costs but likely will be a nightmare during implementation and integration. 

Have a pregame conversation with whoever is going to train your employees on the ATS and look for redundancies in the workflow and have them cut that stuff out. People have a limit to what they can remember, so there's no need to be trained on steps that are redundant, irrelevant, or unnecessary and your employees will appreciate not having a 100-step workflow. 

Pay for the top tier of tech support; you won't need it often, but when something goes wrong and slows or stops business, you'll want/need faster response times.

Matthew Jones, Sr. IT Recruiter, VIP Tech Consultants

Ensure Compatibility With Your Current Technology

Before purchasing an applicant tracking system, make sure it will be compatible with your current technology. Some systems require you to have a specific operating system. Not only does this make things more complicated, but it can also be a security issue. 

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it could be easy for someone to hack into your system and steal information. Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into before purchasing an applicant tracking system.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely

Prioritize Its Ease of Use

To help find the finest candidates who are responsible enough to work remotely, our company started using an applicant tracking system (ATS) during the pandemic. It assisted us in organizing and tracking the entire employment process. A small business owner looking for an applicant tracking system should use the below factors to decide: 

  • Has an easy-to-use UI that is clear, intuitive, and visually appealing 
  • Is compatible with other apps, such as social networking sites, email, and job posting websites 
  • Has a high usability ratio, is very easy to use and is automated 
  • Has an open pricing structure and a thorough breakdown of the things you can expect at each level.

Peter Bryla, Community Manager, ResumeLab

Include Customization

I would advise small businesses looking for an applicant tracking system to consider customization, especially if they are using a basic ATS. It's important that you get the right fit for your business and its needs, so you should be able to tweak the interface as needed. 

This will make it easier to manage your new system and keep up with changing trends in the market. Customization also allows you to have a more personalized experience with your ATS. 

So, if you're looking for an ATS that will work with your unique business needs and provide the right tools, then it's important that you find one that offers customization options.

Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute

Choose a System With a “Notes” Option

One core feature of an ATS that will make your on-the-fly processes much easier is to opt for a tool that has the option for you to make notes to records. Often, when you think of something in a moment of analysis or reflection, it’s nice that you can log information and assign it to a specific applicant.

This is a fantastic way of ensuring they a) get stored and b) are stored in a relevant place within the system itself.

Wendy Makinson, HR Manager, Joloda Hydraroll

Use a Cloud-Based System

My advice to small businesses looking for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is to consider a cloud-based solution. This type of system allows for easier access and scalability, meaning that as your business grows, the ATS can grow with you. 

Cloud-based solutions offer a more affordable option for small businesses as they don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or software, and they can be accessed from any location with an internet connection. This can be especially helpful if you need to quickly review applications and make decisions remotely.

Michael Alexis, CEO, Swag.Org

Invest in Solid Data Security

Investing in an ATS with solid data security is one of the best practices. The ideal ATS brings all data about customers together in one place for ease of access. This also means the system is in charge of a great deal of important information. 

Having a system with the right security measures and fail-safes in place ensures that this vital data is protected and only visible to those who are authorized.

Adam Bem, Co-Founder & COO, Victoria VR

Make Sure It Is Unbiased

As someone who has used Applicant Tracking Systems to source talent for my small business, I would advise any like-minded entrepreneur to make sure they do not bias the ATS they are investing in toward any demographic. 

Not only is this important from a legal perspective, but it also helps ensure your business practices ethical hiring and promotes an inclusive work culture. Do your research on a variety of ATSs and their capabilities before deciding so that you can find the right system for you.

Ludovic Chung-Sao, Lead Engineer & Founder, Zen Soundproof

Select a Tool that Gives Talent Experience Insights

As a small business, it's crucial that you deeply consider candidate management and experience right from the start of the company's inception. 

You should start building a culture right from the beginning; the type of talent that you let into your organization sets the bar for culture with the first handful of employees. Selecting the right tool is a huge part of that. 

My biggest piece of advice for selecting an ATS would be: don't look for a governance and compliance tool only. So much of what I see out there are passive data repositories, meaning you're inputting information into a system and then moving it along a workflow as if you're playing a little game of Frogger. The best tools are the ones that not only capture the information that you need but also help manage the experience, make your hiring leaders better at hiring, and give you robust reporting that unveils bias. 

A great applicant tracking system gives you crucial data insights that enable you to have more optimal outcomes.

Oz Rashid, Founder & CEO, MSH

Choose wisely

Applicant Tracking Systems can be a great tool for SMBs looking to streamline their recruitment process. It’s important to evaluate the features of different ATSs to make sure you’re getting the best one for your company’s needs. Keep the tips from our pros in mind as you evaluate ATSs and you’ll be sure to find a great system for your team.

Like what you're reading? Keep up with the latest articles and more via our newsletter.

Alex Sumner