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Are You Making The 3 Biggest ATS Implementation Mistakes?

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Hooray! After weeks, maybe months of searching and research, seemingly endless demos and meetings, you finally have a shiny new applicant tracking software tool.

It’s a thing of beauty, too. It fixes all the problems you had with the old one. Your candidate experience (which might have been kind of a mess before) is going to be so much better with this in place. You’re so excited about it!

….Oh. Wait. How do you use this thing again?

ATS implementation

It can be a bit of a mess to switch over ATSs. Even if someone else installs it for you, sets it up, gives you an in-depth walkthrough of every electronic nook and digital cranny, it can still be a struggle sometimes. Especially if you were already used to using a different system. Making that changeover is far from intuitive.

And if you’re that person who refuses to update their iPhone and dodges the reminder for months because you know you won’t be able to find anything for weeks on the new system (like yours truly), trying to convert to a new tool is particularly daunting.

This isn’t the end of the world. You will figure this out. You will find the right button eventually (even if it takes a few clicks). But you can make it easier with some tips to help you handle your ATS implementation with a few less bumps in the road.

As soon as you have your new ATS in hand, be wary of these pitfalls:

1. Ignoring your vendor’s implementation help

I cannot stress this enough: your vendor is your best friend right now. They already know the difficulties of implementation and, since they designed the software, they’re the experts in making it work.

This means they can help install and get it running, assist with data moves, and may even offer training to help you and your team learn to use your applicant tracking system effectively. Why would you sit there and struggle with trial and error if someone who knows what they’re doing can explain it all clearly and efficiently?

Contact your vendor and accept their offers of help. It’s the smartest thing you can do for yourself. To avoid an unnecessary sales pitch (after all, you’ve already got the software you need), come already prepared with your questions, and focus on contacting their support or help desk team rather than their sales team.

Before you call:

  • Know exactly what software you have, what version it is, and when you installed it
  • Go over any instructions you’ve already been given. Read them out loud if you need to. If you still can’t figure out what’s going wrong, note the last step you were able to successfully complete, and tell the help desk
  • Reboot your system, or at least restart the program. It probably can’t hurt, and it will save you the embarrassment of calling for a frozen screen
  • Write down exactly what your problem is. This way you can get help faster, and won’t be struggling to explain which “thingie won’t, like, carry over the stuff.”

And when you’re done, it’s best practices to give them a review so others can know what kind of experience you had.

ATS implementation

And we should always be excellent to each other.

2. Not considering the time investment

ATS shopping takes a while. Software implementation takes a while. Getting used to a new system takes a while. Not being prepared for the inherent time investment you’re making by going for a new software is a fatal mistake.

This is a case where your milage may vary. Maybe your whole process from installation to testing will only take a week. Or maybe it will be a process spread out over a month or more.

You can figure out what your unique needs will be by talking to your own IT, the vendor, and seeing what timelines they project. Consider how much data you’ll have to migrate, how many applications you receive every day, and how different your new ATS is from your current system. All of these things will impact your overall time.

Make it easier on yourself by creating a plan in advance and banking on more time than you think you’ll need. Don’t start implementing right before a new quarter, days before a huge review, or when your business is undergoing other major changes unless you are sure that you’ll have plenty of time to get everything running and all the bugs cleared out. This may be the biggest favor you can do for yourself.

3. Thinking you’re done with feedback

I’m sure that, when you were shopping around for a new ATS, you sought feedback. You talked to your IT department, you talked to your applicants, you talked to your hiring and recruiting team. You wanted to see what was important to the people who would be working within the system every day.

That advice helped you pick out your new software, so now you’re all done, right?

Not even a little. You still need to be keeping up an ongoing communication with those involved with the software and getting feedback through the implementation process. No matter how fine toothed your comb, there will always be something you miss, and other people are the best way to catch those things.

Make sure you’re also tracking your adoption rates. It’s all very well and good that you have a new system, but are your coworkers or employees actually using it? If everyone is afraid to touch it because they don’t understand it, you’re getting a poor return on your investment. If that’s the case, consider conducting training or a tutorial to get everyone on the same page.

Consider using a survey to help gather this information in a quick, effective, easy to compare way.

Now what?

Have you recently implemented a new applicant tracking software? What steps did you take after the installation was complete? Talk to me in the comments below.

Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen writes about HR and eLearning at Capterra. She’s a graduate of Agnes Scott College and a TEDx presenter. You can follow her on Twitter @CapterraHalden, just don’t get her started about her zombie survival plan.


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