You embraced the scrappy startup spirit and signed up for a free applicant tracking system (ATS) to manage your hiring process. The tool worked out well enough when your hiring needs were small, but now your recruiting team is struggling. You regularly have 5+ job openings, and job applicants are falling through the cracks.
A free ATS isn't scalable for small businesses. As your recruitment expands, you'll eventually need to switch to a paid applicant tracking system that offers greater functionality and support. In this post, we'll highlight signs that your free ATS isn't cutting it and outline how to transition to a paid tool that helps you attract and nurture the best candidates.
What to do when your free applicant tracking system isn’t cutting it
Adding a paid ATS to your recruiting budget may give you pause. The tool can be a significant investment, so you may be wondering whether you actually need to switch to a paid ATS.
At the same time, you don't want to be too thrifty. An ATS has a major influence over your hiring processes and your ability to attract the best applicants. If a free ATS is disrupting your talent acquisition — poor resume management, weak candidate sourcing — it's not worth the savings.
Consider the following warning signs of a weak ATS. If any of the following statements ring true, your free ATS is doing more harm to your hiring process than good, and it's time to move on to a paid one with expanded features.
You have more job openings than you can post with your free ATS. Many free recruiting tools limit the number of job postings you can share on your careers page and job boards. If your open positions exceed this limit, you'll be asked to upgrade for a fee to post jobs.
Your ATS software isn't compatible with job boards you'd like to use. Free applicant tracking systems often limit the number of job boards you can use — some allow just one — and/or charge a fee to post there.
You can't integrate with your email, calendar, and human resource management system. This lack of integrations adds menial work to your plate. You'll have to manually communicate with every job seeker, interview scheduling, and transfer applicant data to your human resource information system (HRIS) once a candidate is hired.
You aren't able to gather data-driven insights on your recruiting processes. Free versions of applicant tracking systems either track very simple metrics — such as the number of applications received — or don't offer any reporting features. To gain meaningful insights on streamlining your recruiting process, removing bottlenecks, and attracting top talent, you'll need a paid ATS that can report your hiring activity on a more granular level.
Few employees are using your free applicant tracking system. If you need to push interviewers and hiring managers to use your recruiting software (or worse, the ATS doesn't allow the number of users you need), the tool probably isn't meeting your team's needs.
These warning signs are opportunities for improvement. You've recognized that your free ATS isn't cutting it, so you can make plans to move to a paid all-in-one tool that will benefit your hiring team and candidate experience.