How to convince your leadership team that you’re ready for an ATS

As a recruiter, you’re probably used to juggling multiple tasks alongside each other. However, managing too many jobs, clients, and candidates all at the same time can easily get overwhelming. If you’re struggling to keep up with all the moving pieces of your hiring process, you might be considering adding an applicant tracking system (ATS) to your hiring toolkit.

An ATS can help you track and improve your hiring processes, making you more efficient and improving the overall candidate experience. But before you purchase an ATS, you’ll likely need to get approval from senior leadership.

Human resources and talent acquisition teams don’t typically directly generate revenue, so it can sometimes be difficult to justify the expense of a recruiting tool. However, with a little work, you can convince leadership that your organization will benefit from an ATS not only functionally, but also financially.

Signs that your organization needs an ATS

While there are a number of signs that it's time to switch to an applicant tracking system, some of the most common are:

  • Your team is using multiple tools: All of your hiring processes and information are currently scattered across multiple tools or applications. You may need to log a single process, like a candidate interview, in two or three separate applications.

  • Conversations are spread across many channels: Conversations with and about candidates take place via email, phone calls, interviews, etc. Keeping track of what has been said or done by whom, and when, can be a major challenge for hiring teams.

  • Candidates are critical of your processes: Candidates may complain about a lack of communication with their recruiter, or that interviewers seemed unprepared for the interviews. And because scheduling interviews and collecting feedback may take a long time, you could also be losing qualified candidates to competitors.

  • Reporting is a challenge: Without an ATS, reporting is often done manually. Not only is this time-consuming, but it makes showing the ROI of hires, tracking metrics like time-to-hire, or noting which vacancies have been filled and when, more difficult than necessary.

These aren't the only signs that an ATS should be in your future, but if you find yourself relating to any of the items listed here, you should start preparing to broach the subject with leadership. To help, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to sell your leadership team on investing in an ATS.

3 ways to show the potential impact of an ATS on your hiring processes

While you may already know that an ATS has several potential benefits for you as a recruiter, focusing on these isn't necessarily the best way to make your case to senior leadership. Convincing a member of the C-suite to approve an investment in an ATS will require data. Just as you might present a data-driven report on last quarter's recruiting results, you should present a data-driven argument regarding your need for an ATS.

Collect this data from your current hiring processes, compile it, and present it in a way that will resonate with leadership.

1. Describe how you'll spend the time you'll gain

Saving time is one of the biggest benefits of an ATS. The amount of time you would potentially save by eliminating repetitive tasks or additional tools may be a key data point you want to use in your conversation with leadership. However, rather than focus on the time your tasks take now — which leadership may attempt to resolve by simply hiring another member of HR — you should present data about the time you'll gain with an ATS.

Think about the items that remain in the “someday” column of your to-do list because your current hiring processes don't allow you time to address them. If you had an extra hour in the day or a few hours each week, could you begin addressing those tasks?

Put another way: You were likely brought into their organization to perform multiple HR tasks, not just hiring. If you could spend less time on hiring, what would that free up more time for you to do? Perhaps you could research improvements to your benefits, or create an ongoing education program for new employees — both of which could increase retention. Or your team could manage payroll or benefits in-house, eliminating the need for — and cost of — external management.

These missed opportunities should drive your conversation with leadership. Avoid saying “I'm spending too much time on this task.” Instead, clearly explain what you could spend your time on, and the impact that would have on the organization.

2. Highlight the impact on the candidate experience

The kind of experience your candidates have during the hiring process reaches further than you might expect. An IBM survey of over 7000 job seekers found that candidates with an overall positive experience were more likely to recommend your organization to other job seekers.

Canidate experience graph

Recruiting without an ATS can have a measurably negative impact on your candidate experience. There are several data points you may choose to touch on in your conversation with leadership, depending on how you currently interact with candidates:

  • Do candidates have a personalized experience? An ATS can respond to applications and other candidate messages automatically, and these messages can be customized to tell candidates how long, on average, they should expect to wait for a human response. The ATS can also free up time for recruiters to focus on tactics like personalized emails, candidate nurturing, and creative sourcing.

  • Are candidates asked to fill out long, complicated application forms? An ATS will present a relevant experience to every candidate, every time: Applications can be customized per job opening, and potentially auto-fill data from uploaded documents. This prevents candidate churn during the application process, where it can be as high as 60%.

  • Does scheduling require several back-and-forth emails? An ATS can integrate with your productivity suite, so you can see all interviewers’ schedules side by side, adjust timing and duration, and book the interviews all without having to leave the ATS.

  • Are candidates falling through the cracks? By allowing you to add notes, reminders, and internal assignments, an ATS can prevent candidates from being unintentionally ignored or forgotten. These features can also help you fill vacancies faster, and in the case of roles like sales or marketing, have a measurable effect on your organization's ROI.

  • Are you looking for candidates in the wrong places? If you're manually posting your vacancies to job boards, some ATS' allow you to post jobs to multiple boards with just a few clicks. This not only saves you time: It allows you to cover more ground, potentially helping you to find higher quality candidates in new locations.

Focusing on how the ATS resolves these inefficiencies in the candidate process will show how an ATS isn't just valuable for HR: It's also valuable for the people you're hiring, and can dramatically improve the experiences they have while they're getting to know your organization.

3. Show the data leadership would be able to access

An ATS can benefit multiple departments — including the executive level. Strong reporting functionality in an ATS allows company leadership to have immediate access to data-driven, actionable reporting on your organization's recruiting efforts, cost of hire, turnover rate, and more.

Since your reporting may have to be done manually now, and leadership can't access the data they want without making a request, this feature has immediate benefits for them: They save time asking you for data, and waiting for the reports to be delivered. This allows them to make faster and potentially more accurate decisions about recruiting and staffing needs.

These reports also have benefits that extend into the hiring process itself:

  • Data is collected in one location: The centralized reporting of your ATS eliminates the need to manually track candidate information or log data in multiple applications, saving you time and money.

  • You have access to new metrics: An ATS can provide insight on metrics you previously found difficult to track manually, which can guide improvements to your recruiting processes. For example, time-to-hire reporting can help you speed up the hiring process by identifying delays or bottlenecks, like late feedback from hiring managers.

  • You can make informed decisions faster: If your reporting data tells you that your strongest candidates come from referrals, you can use this information to confidently scale your employee referral program. You'll have the data to share with leadership backing your decision, and can also track how referrals change over time with the same report.

Make your case with a compelling presentation

Ultimately, the best way to convince your boss that you need an ATS is to clearly state the potential return on investment. This may look like compiling a presentation that focuses on the tasks you'll be able to achieve once an ATS is implemented. Or it may simply be a presentation of screenshots of the reporting your organization will have immediate access to, and an explanation of how those reports will enable you to improve your hiring processes.

By leading with data in your conversation with leadership, you can speak more confidently about how an ATS will help you meet your specific hiring needs, and improve the experience for everyone from executives to candidates. And with the right kind of presentation, you'll become one of the 94% of HR professionals who can confidently say they've improved their hiring processes with an ATS.

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.