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What is the value of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for hiring?

As software vendors, we’re always claiming our Solutions deliver value for money, excellent Return on Investment and generally deliver a more efficient, pleasant life.

Prospective customers are understandably more cautious.

You’ll, understandably, assess your recruitment management system options carefully before committing to implementing any new tool.

Especially Solutions involving Talent Management and acquisition.

Plus you’re, increasingly, conscious of the type of brand experience your hiring, onboarding and general People Management processes offer.

But not all Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the same. Forget the monstrous enterprise versions. We’re only talking about small businesses, SMEs and agile companies in this context.


Cost Benefit Analysis

Sizing up an ATS usually involves some Cost Benefit Analysis.

‘What’s the upside of deploying a system like this?’

‘What are the downsides and risks?’

‘What do we stand to lose if we don’t?


So what are the costs associated with recruitment? And what savings are there to be made?

If you’re looking at ATSs, you should start by adding up what you’re paying now.

No, not just the obvious recruiters’ fees (15% of annual salary – look how much an ATS for small businesses costs and you’ll see instant ROI!) and job board ads or admin costs in terms of time spent. (And is this time cost from a dedicated in-house recruiter? Or just from hiring managers and/or your HR team?)


But the cost of missing out on the right people to achieve your organisational goals without losing them to the competition.

Dial being turned up and says

If you’re a small, agile, growing business, where roles are often shared – for example, where operations or admin or Owner Managers are responsible for hiring and ‘HR’ – then we’d wager you’ll need help from a dedicated application more than a professional.

And Professionals will need the backup an application delivers to assist them to expand the quality of their staff retention and development programs rather than being focused on time-sucking, day-to-day admin tasks.

Sorting, shortlisting and responding to candidates is also particularly time-consuming. Ask your team if you don’t already know this.

Plus you need a consistent standard of on-brand, timely and well-pitched messages to advise candidates if they’re successful or not at each stage of the process.

You might also like to analyse the typical lifecycle of a new vacancy to refine your process from the creation of the job description, output of the ad, shortlisting and interviewing through to the final appointment and onboarding. (Will your solution integrate with a wider HR system at this stage?)

We call systems that do all of this ‘end-to-end recruitment software.


Reporting insights will illustrate what you need to adjust in your pitch, process – and the personnel responsible for recruitment.

But the most important thing, ironically, about automation in this context is the opportunity it grants to deliver a more human experience when there are finally person-to-person interactions – and to be more proactive about sourcing candidates. (‘Headhunting’ your own prospects that are not currently looking for a change via your networks!)

Surely that’s what the best talent expects – and what price can you put on that?


Show me the money

SUMMARY: ATS value comes from:

  • Being agile to rapidly push out of job descriptions to free and paid boards (you know, the same ones the recruiters you pay to use) in tandem with a swift and seamless integration into your careers page
  • Keeping control of brand messaging using customised forms and communications
  • Never letting anyone slip through the cracks of manual systems
  • Fast, effective screening of applicants (check boxes confirming valid certifications or permits etc.) to quickly build lists of eligible candidates to shortlist
  • Time efficient, in-app Collaborative notes for hiring managers to share alongside star ratings to speed up the shortlisting process without email ping pong and confusion
  • A smart database to suggest strong, but unsuccessful candidates for alternate or future positions (yes, one just like the recruiters that charge you a % of the successful hires’ salary use)
  • Freeing up time to focus on talent retention and proactive recruiting of the best talent
  • Tapping into you and your team’s own network via Social Media sharing and using referrals campaigns to incentivise strong leads for superstar candidates
  • Savings on recruiters’ fees and job ads
  • Accurate reporting on the process and refining it so the best talent is found – and fast
  • Use of automation to increase the quality of the human side of hiring interaction
What is the value of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for hiring? was last modified: September 27th, 2023 by Adam Coleman

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