9 Signs You’re Ready for an Applicant Tracking System

As companies grow, they reach a natural bottleneck, where their existing hiring process—juggling a dozen spreadsheets and hundreds of job applicants—becomes unwieldy.

But there's a simple solution: To streamline recruitment and improve the candidate experience, it's time to consolidate your hiring processes into an applicant tracking system.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system, sometimes called applicant tracking software or simply an ATS, is recruiting software that manages a company's recruiting and hiring process. A good ATS will help you post open jobs to job boards, filter resumes, and let your staff collaborate as each candidate moves through your hiring pipeline, from the first phone screening to the offer letter.

You'll know you need an ATS if you agree with any of the following statements:

1. You'd like a more streamlined hiring system.

If you're using your calendar to schedule interviews, and your email to accept applications, and documents to manage feedback, and spreadsheets to track data, and a dozen other tools for a dozen other functions, it may be time to streamline your recruitment process.

Do you find yourself trying to track down a single resume or conversation with a candidate buried somewhere within hundreds of email threads? Are you often copying and pasting candidate information and notes across various spreadsheets and documents, and three different shared folders? When you post your jobs, are you struggling to get them seen by the best applicants and manually reposting them to multiple job boards?

If these are a few examples of some of the pains your team feels on a regular basis when trying grow your team, you’d benefit from having a single, straightforward system that manages all of the tasks associated with filling open positions.

How an applicant tracking system can help

If you’re already using multiple apps in the same suite (like G Suite), you’re off to a great start, but an applicant tracking system will take your recruiting process to the next level. While different software products within a suite can communicate and share information with one another, a good ATS centralizes information and offers you the functionality of several different apps all-in-one.

If you want to schedule an interview, contact current applicants for more info, and pull a report to measure hiring data, you can do it all in the same app, saving hours of administrative work every week. So many hours are lost to slow load times, endless copying and pasting, and trying to track down interviewers for feedback that could be spent building relationships with candidates instead.

2. You want to store, organize, and track candidates more efficiently.

What if you could easily manage every resume you’ve ever had? You’d always have a record of past applicants (+ notes and interview feedback) to review when you open a new position. You would know right away when a relevant application came in, without anything getting lost in translation between team members, emails, folders, and documents.

How an applicant tracking system can help

Applicant tracking systems offer a lot of file-management options. You can organize and store your applicants’ data, such as email threads, resumes, cover letters, and interview feedback.

An ATS centralizes this and other data into a single application - and the best ATS’ sync directly with your email, calendar, and other productivity apps you use to run your day. You won’t have to check your email, and your documents, and your external memory drive just to find one person.

Hire email template feature

Even better, you can rediscover previous applicants’ files when a new opportunity arises. Have you ever had a role open up that’d be perfect for a previous candidate? It happens all the time, but if you can't find their old records, you may have a hard time tracking them down. An ATS can save you from ever dealing with that problem again - the data for every candidate is stored securely and is just a quick search away.

3. You want to hire faster.

Anything that slows down the recruiting process or clogs the pipeline, such as lost emails, missing applicant data, or miscommunication between recruiters and interviewers, can cause frustration for your team.

When your hiring workflow is clear, concise and the same for all candidates, and it’s shared across the whole team, those slowdowns are far less likely. Not only that, automating repetitive tasks will return hours of time to your recruiter, CEO, COO, hiring managers, or whoever manages your hiring process.

How an applicant tracking system can help

Collaboration is key in the hiring process, and nothing helps you collaborate across all hiring touchpoints more than an ATS. You can set up an ATS to be accessed by the whole hiring team so they can get their work done quickly and efficiently, with few headaches.

When roles are clearly defined and the right data is accessible across the team, all the key hiring team members will have a clear view into where candidates are in the hiring process. This way nobody follows up twice with an applicant or, worse, misses emailing them entirely.

4. You want to be known for creating great candidate experiences (even for candidates who don’t get the job).

A well run hiring process creates positive candidate experiences that reflect well on your company. This is especially important when referral is a key channel for sourcing top talent. A great experience can cut costs, increase revenue and increase applicant flow, as satisfied candidates recommend your company to their friends and on employer review sites.

The first part of creating that better experience is communication. In a recent survey from Glassdoor, 58% of candidates said what they want most out of the job application experience is for companies to communicate clearly and regularly during the entire hiring process.

You want to make sure that every applicant who sends you a resume gets a response, even if that response lets them know they won’t be moved forward for the role. Research from Talent Board found that fifty two percent of candidates were still waiting for a response three or more months after application—a trend that has worsened by ten percent since 2016.

How an applicant tracking system can help

An airtight system in which every step is recorded and accounted for, from receipt of the application to rejection notices to offer letters, contributes to building a reliably strong candidate experience. Email automation keeps your hiring team on track and reduces the stress applicants feel waiting for a response, all while saving you time.

One of the best ways to make sure that no applicant feels forgotten is to use the automatic email features embedded in many applicant tracking systems. Automatic emails, especially those that confirm application receipt (and share next steps), and those that let candidates know their application has been reviewed and either moved forward or declined, are critical to ensure communications with candidates don’t fall through the cracks.

Hire email template feature
Sample email template for automated candidate communications

5. You want interviews to be easier to run and score.

The interview is a central part of hiring. It’s crucial that it be straightforward and clear so you can focus on the actual responses.

The best interviews start with a plan. Every member of the hiring process is in on this plan, questions are determined beforehand, and everyone knows what makes a good answer. The whole team has calibrated on standards for scoring candidates, so scores can be normalized across interviewers.

How an applicant tracking system can help

When interview scheduling, ratings, and feedback are centralized in an ATS, it’s much easier to plan, execute, and track interviews from scheduling all the way through to interview scoring and feedback.

The best recruitment software allows teams to create standardized evaluation criteria, feedback forms, and candidate rating scales. This gives hiring teams the ability to choose evaluation criteria based on each job, and gives interviewers a structure for feedback and scoring.

6. You want to increase job visibility on job boards.

To find the best new hires, you need to go where the talent is. That often means posting to dozens of job boards and promoting your company’s career site and its job openings on LinkedIn and other social media channels every chance you get.

If you’ve had to do this more than once, you know that manually running through this process over and over for each job description is time consuming. The problem is that if you don’t do it, you likely won’t see the applicant flow you need to fill the role. This is another place where an ATS can speed up your job distribution efforts and get more applicants into your hiring funnel.

How an applicant tracking system can help

With an applicant tracking system, you can post your jobs directly to job boards from the app. All you need to do is set up your job posting in your ATS, and when you’re ready for it to go live, push it directly to the hiring boards of your choice, like Glassdoor or Indeed.

7. You want your hiring data to be accessible and helpful.

Pulling reports on your hiring KPIs is difficult when you don’t have an automatic system to generate them.

A DIY approach means deciding which metrics to track; sorting through data that may be stored in a dozen different spreadsheets, emails, and user profiles; and then manually calculating percentages and finding trends. For teams that don't have an automatic way to track hiring data, this often means hiring performance just doesn’t get measured at all.

How an applicant tracking system can help

You already know that an ATS can improve your workflow by consolidating the various applications and SaaS products you use in your homemade hiring system. What comes along with that is the ability to track your data. Since you’re using only one program for every step of the hiring process, all of your data is in one place, which makes it much easier to spot patterns and identify ways to make your hiring process more effective and efficient.

When pulling reports is simplified to choosing your metrics and clicking “export,” you’ll be able to more easily see where your applicants are coming from, how long it takes to hire them, and what tasks are being accomplished by which recruiters and hiring team members.

Hire ATS report
Example of typical report data

8. You want your hiring to be done in-house.

As your company starts to grow, you may supplement hiring efforts with the help of an outsourced recruiting agency. Using third-party staffing agencies is a suitable solution when your company is relatively early in its lifecycle, is hiring steadily, but not yet at scale, and doesn’t have the resources to build and manage in-house hiring.

But long-term growth and ambitious scaling plans usually require small businesses and large companies alike to build in-house recruiting teams that have a deep sense of ownership over the hiring process and employer brand. Your full-time team knows your company and its culture better than an external agency ever could - and attracting and closing the best fit talent requires that knowledge.

How an applicant tracking system can help

An ATS takes the most frustrating hiring tasks—pulling data, posting jobs—and makes them easier and faster, removing some of the biggest roadblocks that prevent you from building out a scalable in-house hiring process. And when time-consuming administrative tasks are automated, running your hiring process becomes predominantly about finding, converting and keeping the best people.

9. You want to attract world-class talent.

You need ambitious people who will take your company to the next level. The problem is those people are usually in high demand and don't conduct job searches often. And when they do, they usually receive multiple competitive offers that leave little room for inefficiency or mistakes in your hiring process.

To beat out your competition and win these top candidates, delivering that stand-out candidate experience is critical. Communicating proactively, being responsive, and creating an engaging and transparent application and interview process are all pieces to the candidate experience puzzle.

How an applicant tracking system can help

An applicant tracking system makes every step of the hiring process easier for you, your hiring team, and your candidates. When each step is clear, you can more easily stay on top of your hiring process with every single applicant.

Compared to working with a homegrown system, when you use ATS software, efforts spent courting promising qualified candidates are less likely to be derailed by forgotten emails, missing interview feedback, unclear team expectations, or messy data tracking.

Is it time for an applicant tracking system?

If this article had you nodding your head, dreaming about how much easier your job could be, then it's time to take the next step to help grow your company.

Finding the perfect ATS for your company is worth the effort to save time and money and help you attract strong candidates.

About Hire by Google

Hire is a recruiting app by Google that uses AI to make the hiring process faster and simpler. Because it is designed specifically for G Suite users, with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite integrations, Hire streamlines administrative tasks so that your team can hire the best people, faster.