How to Pick the Right Applicant Tracking Software

4 Mins read
Application tracking software or ATS systems have become a standard tool for Human Resources departments. Here are a few tips on how to pick the right applicant tracking software for your organization. 
Note that price is but one out of many factors to consider when deciding which application tracking system is right for you.


The best applicant tracking systems connect every related system you need to use, though the ideal ones fill multiple functions at once. For example, the best ATS tool allows a manager to define the type of job that needs to be filled and necessary headcount, carries that information to Human Resources to refine and then post online, and then processes all of the information about applicants before giving the initial set of candidates to HR to review. 

It should collect data on applicants as is required by law and collate it for easy recall in case of an audit or legal action. It also lets you export data as required to any other system where you need to upload information – whether the Department of Labor’s requests for diversity metrics or payroll experts who will set up the new hires in your employee database.

Ease of Use

An applicant tracking system that connects with every related platform and application, from online job boards to learning management systems, is not efficient if it takes forever to learn how to use it or significant data entry to maintain it.

The best applicant tracking systems let you schedule interviews easily and run reports almost instantaneously. You especially want an ATS that comes with built-in interview scheduling if your company has several pipeline “stages”, so that you don’t forget to schedule a follow-up interview with your best candidates in a timely manner or fail to get back to someone you decided to offer the job to before they accept a position somewhere else.

Regulatory Compliance

An applicant tracking system that automatically adds legal disclaimers to job postings not only saves you time but potentially saves you from lawsuits in the future. ATS systems that ask applicants for demographic data in a manner in compliance with the law ensures that information is collected without compromising your regulatory compliance. 

The applicant tracking system should also ask the right questions needed to determine if someone is qualified for the job, such as skillsets, experience, credentials and criminal record. This can help prevent someone from asking a potentially illegal question under the misguided belief that it would weed out candidates you don’t want.

Another benefit of ATS systems is the fact that it lets you capture all of your documentation in one system for easy review at a later date. What did all involved in the team interview think about the applicants? What were the reasons the manager gave for not hiring the person? By having the information automatically stored and backed up along with the rest of the ATS data, you don’t have to call in unreliable narrators to explain why someone wasn’t hired. 

The HR manager stating that the prior employer gave a bad referral, or a note saying the person failed to demonstrate the technical expertise expected as part of the interview is right there for anyone to see.


The best ATS systems let you automate a lot of processes and standardize all of them. For example, you can set up a workflow so that every job requisition is approved by payroll or finance before moving forward and each job posting is reviewed by legal prior to posting. 

You’re protected from charges of favoritism or corruption if every job requisition and application is handled the same way. Your organization also saves time and money if it has templates for job postings that pull from existing databases of salary ranges and job requirements instead of having to craft each one by hand.

Note that many applicant tracking systems let you add candidates manually when you find that rare subject matter expert, whether from LinkedIn or GitHub. However, the ATS requires these candidates be vetted by the same criteria and their applications reviewed by the same managers, reducing the risk of favoritism and lawsuits.

Another benefit of applicant tracking system automation is the ability to automatically send notifications to applicants. Using an email template to send offers or interview invites saves everyone time. 

Letting the ATS automatically send emails to everyone involved if they are not qualified, were not selected for an interview, or the job was filled saves time. And, it prevents anyone from sending too much information in their explanation as to why someone else was hired, potentially opening the door to litigation.


A small but growing company may need an ATS system with basic functions now, but the ability to add complex workflows and multiple reviews of each applicant later. If you have 150 people now but intend to expand, your ATS probably needs to be able to handle increased volume and interface with not only the payroll system you use now but the HR system you’re likely to use in the future

It doesn’t matter if an ATS can interface with your payroll system now if you’re planning on upgrading – and it doesn’t handle any other similar applications.


Your business won’t come to a standstill if the ATS system does, the same way it risks being shut down if your enterprise resource planning software or financial software is unavailable for three days. However, your business does need support for its ATS. Every piece of software and every website the ATS interfaces with is a potential source of problems. 

The more applications and sites the ATS has to interface with, the greater your need for tech support. The more complex the interview process is for your company, the more important it is to have good training resources from the supplier and support when there are user errors.


A perfect ATS system should be easy to use, automate as much as possible for the sake of efficiency, and connect with other related systems and websites. It is not worth buying or leasing an ATS system if it doesn’t provide regulatory compliance. 

Your company needs to look at ATS systems and compare it to what they need now as well as what you’re likely to need in a few years. You should also make sure to select an ATS vendor that offers the level of support and training your organization needs.

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