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What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

It seems like every southern 90s movie has an old, creepy house with a twisted fence, bottles in the trees, and an elderly lady who’s thought to be the town witch.  

In reality, she’s usually the kindest, wisest, and most intriguing character. Unfortunately, her frightening front yard precedes her reputation. 

In the same way, excessive paperwork, a clunky interview process, and poor communication will deter promising candidates from applying to your business. It’s like trying to find your way to the front porch at midnight and tripping through the overgrown lawn. 

You can pave their way to success by implementing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS helps you recruit and hire the best candidates for the job by providing you with applicant insights and reporting. 

We know that hiring is difficult right now – and we want to help you find the right people to fill the roles your business needs. That may begin with integrating an ATS into your HCM platform. 

In this article, we’re going to guide you in understanding what an ATS is, what it’s capable of doing, and if it’s the right fit for you and your business. 

The Pros and Cons of an ATS System

Losing valuable employees is one of the worst things that can happen to your business, yet a Harvard Business School study found that 1 in 3 new hires look for a new job during their first six months of coming on board. 

An Applicant Tracking System tracks, organizes, and schedules interviews for applicants, transforming your recruiting process and saving you time and money. 

Let’s explore some benefits of these features so you can see if it makes sense for your company. 

1. It eliminates your paper trail.

Outdated recruiting methods slow your back-office down and make you appear disorganized to potential candidates. 

By eliminating paper, you declutter your office, save on printing costs, and reduce the risk of misplacing an applicant’s information. Plus, your streamlined process will alleviate stress (and impress) possible employees. 

2. It relieves application frustration.

You’ve probably experienced the frustration of submitting your resume, writing a cover letter, and filling out an initial application – only to be forced to manually enter your experience in the next step of the application. 

If an application process takes more than 15 minutes, candidates are likely to bail before applying in today’s digital world. 

Don’t let your application process drive promising prospects away. More than 60% of applicants will start an online application but leave without finishing it. And there’s even more who never see your job posting in the first place. 

An ATS posts your open position to job boards in a single click and leverages employee referrals. Branded career sites and mobile-optimized applications ensure a seamless experience. 

3. It gives you applicant insights.

With an ATS, you can get an inside look into how many people view your job postings, where they come from, and what boards they’re considering. It also shows you whether they start or finish the application process. 

Pre-built reporting means you can make better hiring decisions in less time and improve the process for future applicants. 

4. It helps you communicate.

An ATS saves you time and eliminates back-and-forth communication from pre-screening candidates with questionnaires to scheduling interviews with integrated calendars. 

When the hiring process takes months, the other team members often bear the brunt of the extra workload, causing additional stress and frustration. You don’t want a new employee welcomed by an embittered team. 

A streamlined process through an ATS makes it easier and more efficient to post jobs, receive applications, and hire the right people. 

Recruiter-candidate communication is a critical component of the hiring process. Poor communication frustrates candidates. This can make you miss out on top talent. And frustration, in turn, leads to a refusal to take the job.

How much does applicant tracking cost? 

If you integrate an ATS with your HCM platform, your current provider will probably charge you per employee per month. Regardless of the number of users, your cost will be based on the total number of people you employ. 

At Whirks, we charge $3 per employee per month for applicant tracking. Payroll providers with robust HCM platforms usually charge anywhere between $3 and $ 7 for an ATS feature. Check out the table below to understand how you would be charged every month. 

HCM providers usually charge an implementation fee to set up an ATS for clients, which includes building their careers webpage, setting up their job templates and descriptions, posting their first job advertisement, and more.

At Whirks, we charge around $2k for this implementation process. 

You can also look into buying a third-party integration, like Breezy or Vid, that can potentially integrate with your existing payroll and HCM platform. If you prefer this, ensure that your current provider can accommodate that integration. 

Does my business need an ATS?

We’re still learning how to adapt to this pandemic and its changes in our society. Hiring the right people is difficult enough. 

According to the recent Future of Recruiting study, virtual recruiting is here to stay. Eighty-one percent of talent professionals agree that it’s the new standard. 

An ATS can empower you to virtually screen potential candidates before they ever walk into your office, saving you both time. In turn, you can use that time to craft engaging job posts that will attract the right applicants for your business. 

On the other hand, if you are employing hundreds of gig workers or contractors, an ATS can speed up your hiring process. 

However, if you only are making a couple of hires a year, you won’t see enough ROI from the system to justify the cost. 

Additionally, you may favor the old-fashioned way. Several businesses prefer that applicants come into the office, fill out an application, and meet face-to-face. 

Keep in mind: an employee turnover usually costs you between 100% to 300% of the employee’s salary. Unless you’re hiring several temporary, transient, or union employees, this is a steep price to pay for poor recruiting practices.  

Pave the way for your applicants 

My favorite part in those 90s southern rom coms is when the witch’s house is magically restored to its former beauty, and she ends up being the town hero. 

An Applicant Tracking System can pave the way for your candidates. It tears down the scary application process and cuts out the nerve-wracking waiting time. In turn, it helps you weed out the wrong prospects and enables you to grow by inviting the right people for an interview. 

If you’re having a hard time hiring and want to attract top talent, research which ATS solution would be the best fit for you and your business. 

Read this article on our four tips for hiring the best candidate, or watch a demo exploring our Applicant Tracking Feature to see if this is the right option for you and your team. 

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Gia Rolen

I'm passionate about helping small businesses understand how awesome outsourcing your payroll and HCM systems can be.