40 Considerations When Choosing Your Next ATS

No two HR Technologies are created equal. Repeat this to yourself frequently when looking to make a change or when adding new technologies to your HR tool belt. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are no different. In fact, I would go as far as to say choosing the right ATS for your organization and your organization of tomorrow is a decision that effects not just your recruitment team but your entire company. It’s the necessary evil that HR loves to hate yet couldn’t function properly without it.

With this in mind I would like to present a starting point, a checklist of sorts, of questions/features, that when laid out in a side-by-side fashion during your vetting process, might just shed some much needed light on what can be a complex and frustrating decision. I have completed this exercise myself a few times. I draw from my experiences in contributing to the build and design of an ATS along with consulting on both the buyer and supplier side and am always amazed by my findings. So, here it goes…

Questions/Features Regarding Requisitions for ATS Systems

Does the system offer you the ability to:

  1. Create templates for requisitions (REQ)?
  2. Select whether the REQ needs EEOC information collected?
  3. Support HTML (bold, bulleted lists, etc.)?
  4. Have job descriptions support photos/logos?
  5. Search job boards from within the ATS? If so, which ones?
  6. Post jobs directly to job boards/job feeds? If so, which ones?
  7. Post jobs directly to company career site(s)?
  8. Customize the look and feel of the postings (not just sit in an iframe)?
  9. Disable a particular job from being sent to job feeds/job boards?
  10. Have an approval process for REQs? If so, how complex can it be?

Questions/Features Regarding Recruiters

Does the system offer you the ability to:

  1. Run a Boolean search for candidates and search candidates on criteria that matter to your team/organization (distance from zipcode, first 3 letters of last name, etc.)? Conduct an EEOC/OFCCP compliant search within ATS?
  2. Create candidate knock-out questionnaires/parameters, etc.?
  3. Split-screen a candidate resume while looking at REQ details?
  4. Set up templates when parsing/uploading candidates into database?
  5. Recognize duplicate candidates?
  6. Upload candidate resume from email directly (Outlook, etc.)?
  7. Have disposition comments and reasoning? If so, ability to run report on data?
  8. Bulk disposition or advance interview stage/process?
  9. Self select attachments (i.e. updated resume, etc.) that are sent to hiring manager?
  10. Edit attachments/override (i.e. phone screen notes, etc.)?

Questions/Features Regarding Administrative And Business Concerns

Does the system offer you the ability to:

  1. Allow hiring managers to have their own hiring manager portal or a customizable view?
  2. Allow customizable dashboard views for other key stakeholders?
  3. Conduct ad-hoc and custom reports? Easily?
  4. Edit/remove custom lists (i.e. referral source), fields, workflow, interview stages, etc.? If so, can functionality be done internally or only through vendor support?
  5. Have multiple screens open at one time?
  6. Have multiple divisions within one database? Have a multi-tenant environment (i.e. divisions, teams, etc. only see their data)?
  7. Allow access to EEOC data to a selected group? Run reports on EEOC data by CN, REQ, etc. easily?
  8. Set up different user groups/types with alternate views and abilities? If so, can functionality be done internally or only through vendor support?
  9. Bulk edit (i.e. assigned recruiter, REQ function, etc.)?
  10. Multi-language support? If so, can you set language preference by user?

Questions/Features For A Few Of Those Other Important Matters

Does the system/vendor offer:

  1. Adequate data backup (i.e. daily, weekly, etc.)?
  2. Adequate security measures when it comes to your data?
  3. Integration needs covered (i.e. Open API, email, VoIP, texting, social media, assessment companies, video interviewing, HRIS, payroll, etc.)?
  4. Mobile capabilities (i.e. user friendly, candidate friendly, career site, etc.)?
  5. Room for your organization to grow (i.e. can they handle your future needs)?
  6. Internal multi-country HR specialist that know HR law/rules, etc.?
  7. The data conversion you need (i.e. candidate only, relational, complete, etc.)?
  8. Adequate initial training and ongoing support/training (i.e. 24/7, chat, knowledge banks, multiple languages, etc.)?
  9. Candidates the ability to check their application status and make updates to their candidate profile?
  10. Other recruitment marketing functions (i.e. editable auto-response email notifications, measurable email campaigns, workflow automation, etc.)?

There you have it, 40 questions to be considered for your organization, recruitment team and process when making an ATS decision. Treat this as a jumping off point and edit as needed before diving into the crowded vendor landscape. A little research and due diligence on the frontend will narrow down your list of technologies and free up more of your time so you aren’t demoing all the wrong solutions.

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Bridget Webb

Bridget Webb is a Recruitment and Marketing enthusiast, leader, advisor and speaker. Her specialties include Demand Generation (customers & talent), People Analytics, Employer Branding, HR Technology and homeroom mom duties. With over a decade in the talent acquisition space both as a practitioner and marketing/business development executive Bridget has built a reputation as a trusted thought leader whose creative problem solving and relentless character have grown brands, bottom-lines and talent pipelines. Connect with Bridget.


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