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How to Choose an Applicant Tracking System [Expert Tips Included]

Choosing the right applicant tracking system (ATS) for your business is easier said than done. But with this guide, we have made it easier for you. Read on to learn what is an applicant tracking system, why it matters for your business, and what you should keep in mind to select the right ATS software for your team.

By Chris Smith

6 Feb 2023 · 7 min read

How to Choose an Applicant Tracking System [Expert Tips Included]

A killer job description, savvy recruiters, and a robust hiring process aren't enough to hire qualified staff on time. You also need an applicant tracking system (ATS) to streamline hiring by automating resume scanning and the candidate selection process.

ATS software is essential because hiring suitable candidates can be challenging. You can't expect to close a job opening on time when your team receives hundreds of applications on a job opening, and your recruiters have to review each of them manually. The right ATS can save time and effort while ensuring only the qualified and relevant candidates make it to the advanced recruitment stages.

However, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right applicant tracking system. There are hundreds of ATS software in the market, and each caters to a different type of business, industry, budget, etc. Hence, you must remember many things before investing in an applicant tracking system. 

This blog aims to guide you in choosing the best applicant tracking system for recruiters that does justice to your time, money, and hiring strategy. We'll compare some factors to consider while selecting an ATS and share tips for experts who enhanced their recruitment process with the proper ATS software. 

💡 Also read: Why Your Startup Needs an ATS

6 Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing an ATS

Company Size

The size of your company can play a significant role in deciding which applicant tracking system would be the best for you. It is because your needs may differ depending on whether you're a small business or a large enterprise.

  • Applicant tracking system for small businesses: if you're a small business, you would want a basic and user-friendly applicant tracking system. An ATS with advanced features will only help you a little, as your recruitment needs are limited. Also, you would want to choose ATS software that doesn't take up too much of your budget.
  • Applicant tracking system for large enterprises: on the other hand, a large enterprise with frequent and high-volume hiring requirements and enough budget to spare would want to opt for an applicant tracking system with advanced features and customisation options. It can help them efficiently manage many job resumes and make hiring smooth for their recruitment team.

Recruitment Volume

The recruitment volume of a business is also a crucial factor in choosing the best hiring software (ATS). When you're a large enterprise with a high volume of job applicants and recruitment processes, you need ATS software with advanced features that can efficiently handle large amounts of data. You also need features like automated resume parsing, applicant workflow management, and bulk email communication to ease hiring. 

However, you don't need advanced features when you're a startup or a small business with a low recruitment volume. Instead, a low-cost ATS with basic features will be sufficient. 


ATS software can cost anywhere between several hundred to several thousand dollars annually, depending on the features and capabilities offered. 

Spending thousands of dollars on an applicant tracking system may not be a big deal when you're a large business with no budget constraints. After all, it will generally offer a wide range of features and customisation options. Hence, you can easily opt for advanced ATS software.

However, every dollar will matter to you when you're a small business with budget constraints. You wouldn't invest thousands of dollars on an advanced ATS and then struggle to manage your other operations. Hence, looking for an affordable ATS for small businesses is essential. 

In short, budget is a crucial factor in choosing the proper ATS (applicant tracking system) software. You must assess your budget to determine the ATS software that fits your financial resources and recruitment needs.

Integration with other HR systems

Recruiters can better manage the hiring process when they have all the information they need at one hiring platform. Hence, they must ensure that an applicant tracking system seamlessly integrates with other HR systems.

Integrating an applicant tracking system with other HR systems like candidate relationship management software and ERP allows you to share data and make more informed decisions seamlessly. Additionally, integrating the ATS with other HR systems can also:

  • Reduce the risks of error by eliminating manual data entry.
  • Save time and improve efficiency by automating onboarding and performance management.
  • Offer HR teams the necessary information to make informed decisions.

User-friendly interface

An ATS with a confusing or cumbersome interface leads to errors, loss in productivity, and a negative impact on recruitment efforts. Hence, ensuring that the ATS has a user-friendly interface is essential. It can help you improve HR efficiency, reduce training time and costs, and increase user adoption and satisfaction. You can also enhance HR workflows, provide better candidate experiences, and lead to more successful HR outcomes.

Reporting and analytics

Reporting and analytics are critical features in an applicant tracking system (ATS). It is essential because reporting and analytics can offer you valuable insights to make data-driven decisions by:

  • Gathering data to measure the performance of your recruitment process.
  • Identifying your hiring effort's strengths and weaknesses and leveraging the data to improve the hiring process.
  • Tracking the sources of best candidates.
  • Evaluating the time & cost associated with the recruitment process and focusing on improving it.

This way, you can continuously optimize your recruitment process and hire qualified candidates faster.  

💡 Also Read: Applicant Tracking Systems – A Detailed Guide for Recruiters

5 Expert Tips for Choosing an ATS

Determine Your Needs

An ATS can impact a lot of things for your business. You may only see the desired results if it aligns with your business goals. But your hiring efforts may experience a setback if the ATS doesn't suit your business needs. Hence, it's essential to determine your business needs before you choose an operating system.

Here are a few aspects you must consider to determine your business needs:

  • Size of your company: Large organisations need ATS software with advanced features to streamline their hiring process. However, small businesses can work with essential ATS software as they don't need advanced features.
  • The number of job openings: You can easily manage a small number of job openings with a basic ATS. However, you need a high-end applicant tracking system to manage and streamline a diverse number of job openings.
  • Budget: You must spend thousands of dollars each year to buy high-end ATS software. On the other hand, a basic ATS is relatively inexpensive. 

Evaluate via an ATS Demo

An applicant tracking system is a significant decision. It would impact everything: your hiring process and even the success of your business. Hence, it would help if you made an informed decision while choosing ATS software.

Evaluating via ATS demos can be a practical approach to choosing the right ATS. Here's how it can help:

  • Offering you a hands-on experience: A demo allows you to try out the software and get a hands-on experience with its features, interface, and usability. It can help you determine if the software meets your needs and is user-friendly for your team.
  • Drawing feature comparison between different ATS: Seeing a demo of multiple ATS options can help you compare and contrast the features. This way, choosing the ATS software that best meets your business needs would be more straightforward.
  • Offering insights into the integration capabilities of an ATS: A demo can also provide insight into how well the software integrates with other tools and systems you already use, such as your HR software or resume database.
  • Availing of better vendor support: A demo can also allow you to interact with the vendor and ask questions about the software and their support services. It can help you determine if the vendor is a good fit for your business and if they can provide the level of support you need.

ATS Demo

In short, evaluating an ATS demo can help you make an informed decision and ensure you get the best vendor support after choosing ATS software. 

Read Customer Reviews

Another great way to choose the right applicant tracking system (ATS) is to pay attention to what current and former users are talking about. These customer reviews can be a goldmine of information. 

If you pay close attention, customer reviews can offer valuable insights into an applicant tracking system. With these insights from your customers, you can understand the strengths and weaknesses of the software, its functionality and ease of use, and how well it meets the needs of similar organisations. This way, you can make an informed decision and choose the ATS software that best suits your business requirements.

Customer reviews can also help you gauge the level of customer support and the ATS system's reputation in the market. It is essential because you wouldn't want to choose an ATS that fails to satisfy its customers.

Check for Mobile Responsiveness

4 out of 5 job seekers use smartphones to search for jobs. If your ATS is not mobile responsive, potential candidates will have difficulty viewing and submitting their applications through their mobile devices. It will lead to a poor candidate experience, and most will not even apply for the job.

That's why you must check for the mobile responsiveness of an applicant tracking system before selecting one. It will ensure that job seekers can easily access and engage with your company's job postings and application process, regardless of their device. It will further improve the candidate experience and increase the number of high-quality applications you receive.

Always remember that today's job market is hypercompetitive. You can't take any chances. A seamless and convenient mobile experience for candidates would ensure you attract and retain top talent.

Ensure Data Privacy and Security

An applicant tracking system stores sensitive and personal information, such as resumes, cover letters, emails, phone numbers, job profiles, etc. Now, imagine if this information falls into the wrong hands. There will be catastrophic consequences, such as identity theft or financial fraud. 

Your company's reputation will also hit a setback if the ATS doesn’t offer protection against data theft and cyber-attacks. That's why ensuring data privacy and security in an applicant tracking system is essential.

To ensure data privacy and security:

  • Choose an ATS that complies with industry standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
  • Ensure that the ATS implements robust security measures, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular backups to protect against data loss or theft.
  • Ensure that the ATS software has clear policies for managing and protecting candidate data and regularly training employees on data privacy and security best practices.

By taking these steps, you can choose ATS software that protects sensitive candidate information and maintains the trust and confidence of your job applicants.

In Conclusion

An applicant tracking system that aligns with your business goals and helps you save time and effort in hiring candidates is a critical component of an employee experience. Choosing such ATS software can be challenging and time-consuming. But with the tips we shared in this blog, you can easily make the right decision.

In short, keep the following factors in mind while choosing an ATS for your business:

  • Your business size: choose a basic ATS if your business is small but go for a highly-functional one if you're a large enterprise.
  • Your budget: be prepared to spare a significant chunk of money if you want an ATS with advanced features.
  • Integration with HR systems: you can streamline your hiring effort better if an ATS integrates with other HR systems like ERP and CRM software.
  • User-friendly interface: an ATS with a confusing interface will only increase the worries of your hiring team and make you less productive.
  • Reports and analytics: these will give you enough data to make better hiring decisions.

Apart from this:

  • Read customer reviews as they're a goldmine of information.
  • Ensure that the ATS software aligns with your long-term business goals.
  • Choose a mobile-friendly ATS, as most job seekers are on mobile. It's also convenient for your HR team as they can access the ATS anywhere.
  • Data privacy is a must because the ATS data is sensitive, and you wouldn't want it to fall into the wrong hands.
  • Try before you buy. ATS demos can save you from making a wrong investment and regretting it later.

Last but not least, put the knowledge we shared into practice. It will help you avoid potential pitfalls and make the right decision.

By Chris Smith

6 Feb 2023 · 7 min read

Founder of GoHire, dedicated to simplifying hiring for SMBs across the globe. Passionate about tech, SaaS, business, and recruitment innovations. Always up for a chat about the latest in our field. Let's connect!


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