Recruiting the right talent can help your company thrive, and data shows that the cost of a bad hire can cost your company big. That’s why over 75 percent of multinationals use applicant tracking software (ATS) to help streamline their recruitment process. But with a plethora of ATS options to choose from, it’s difficult to pinpoint a solution that you’ll be glad you chose well after adoption. 

To help organizations of all sizes choose the best applicant tracking software for them, we spoke to industry experts and practitioners who shared their top tips to keep in mind when selecting an ATS.

1. Get Recruiters Involved in Decision-Making

First and foremost, you need to get your recruiters involved in the decision-making process for choosing an ATS. Kim Smith, Content Marketer at GoodFirms shared that input from those who work in recruitment can prove to be extremely vital since they’ll be familiar with the “pain points” faced by the company during the hiring process.

Smith also added that everyone involved in the ATS selection process must clearly outline their requirements and then work together to prioritize them. She urged brands to, “clarify the priorities with each and every member of the ATS selection team, because you don’t want to miss the required features for the unnecessary ones!”

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2. Mobile Optimization

It’s critical that your chosen applicant tracking software solution is responsive, that’s according to Alaina Lynch, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at St. Petersburg, FL.-based The Penny Hoarder. Lynch explained that mobile responsive design is crucial for recruiters first and foremost. 

“As a [Talent Acquisition] professional, I am constantly on the go. My days range from meeting with company leaders to discuss their talent needs, conducting phone interviews, creating optimized job posts and more. Recruiters are not at their desks all day long and they need to have their information readily available. This is where a mobile device comes in handy. It’s imperative that an ATS not only work seamlessly on [a] desktop but also mobile," she said.

But just as importantly, applicants will also expect a responsive interface. A report by CareerBuilder states that 40 percent of candidates who apply for a vacancy on a mobile device abandon the process if the ATS is not mobile-friendly.

3. Scalability

Having an ATS that is scalable is another significant feature, as it allows for flexibility as your organization grows or downsizes. Lynch notes that there are a lot of applicant tracking solutions providers that only catered towards medium to large-sized companies. For a small but growing company, Lynch suggests utilizing an ATS that is built for small companies but also possesses the ability to scale as you grow. 

Lynch also mentioned that if an ATS is unable to scale with your business, then this should be considered as a red flag. “If an ATS is unable to scale with you then that’s a problem. An ATS needs to be flexible in terms of the company size. For example, if you’re a smaller company, [an ATS that is] created specifically for large companies [may not be suitable] because it may have features that [are not] necessary for your current size and therefore may hinder your team’s effectiveness.”

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4. Customization

A suitable applicant tracking software has to work around your needs and requirements, not the other way round. Lynch advises that those seeking an ATS find one with the ability to customize certain features and functionalities, so they work with your business. "You also need the ability to customize those things on your own. There are some systems that require you to contact an account manager to make any changes, and [you then] wait for that person to complete them. Those are the ones you want to avoid,” advised Lynch.

5. User Experience

According to Lynch, an important feature that often gets overlooked is user experience for both applicants and recruiters. Lynch advises selecting an ATS that is both user-friendly and delivers “a strong customer experience” for both sides. 

“If you can’t create an easy, seamless, brand-relevant candidate experience then you’re going to lose your candidates. On the other side, if your [recruitment team] can’t move effortlessly from one task to another, then the system becomes a hindrance to your entire hiring process."

6. Integration Capabilities

Julie Ruvoli, Recruiter at Chicago, IL.-based G2 Crowd, suggests that one of the most important features to look out for in an ATS is its ability to integrate with other essential tools. “I find it helpful that our ATS integrates with Gmail, Google Calendar, and [other] testing software [that] we use. Without this integration, there would be too much data entry and [coordination] and the ATS wouldn’t [save us] that much time.”

7. Reporting and Tracking

Ryan Englin, Founder and CEO of Scottsdale, AZ.-based Core Matters recommends that reporting and tracking are both key features that brands must "absolutely have” when selecting an ATS. “When spending money on advertising your [job openings], you should not only be able to see where the applications are coming from but which advertising dollars are working.”

Englin also adds that an ATS with a good tracking tool can assist in managing your advertising budget and will also help you to “re-engage” with potential candidates who “viewed your jobs but didn't apply”.

8. Ensure The Product Gets Updated Regularly

Finally, Lynch warned brands to avoid applicant tracking vendors that do not regularly update their product. “An ATS that doesn’t have regular product releases is a big red flag. If an ATS company isn’t listening to their customers and investing in regular updates to keep up with the needs of the ever-changing world of talent acquisition, it speaks volumes about their level of commitment and desire to create a superior product,” Lynch said.

Got any tips for those hunting for applicant tracking software? Share your views in the comments below!