How an Applicant Tracking System Changed My (HR) Life

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Although I started my career in HR in 2000, I still remember filing voluntary EEO/AAP forms, paper resumes/applications and thumbing through piles of paperwork looking for that one candidate whom I thought would be the perfect fit for our organization. In addition, I think about how much longer it took to administer an effective EEO program. Looking back, I think about the time wasted doing that – for myself and the teams with which I worked.

Exhausted worker

It took a while to get used to an Applicant Tracking System—well, if you consider 20 minutes a while—and I’m so glad our organization embraced the use of this tool. Using an ATS has made our EEO/AAP reporting a breeze, no longer is it an intense process that involves lots of paper and with it, a potential loss of information throughout the year should a filing—or recycling bin—mistake occur. All of the information is located in one central place.

While EEO/AAP reporting has saved time and ensured accuracy, the other reporting capabilities an ATS offers include cost of hire, time to hire, candidate status, etc.; each of which help our HR team work efficiently and effectively, and give us credibility. We can quickly respond to a hiring manager on our recruiting process by instantly running a report, allowing us to focus on the quality of hires and organizational fit.

What’s more, we can give hiring managers limited access to our ATS, thereby enabling them to review resumes we’ve flagged for them or read candidate interview evaluations. Given the continued globalization of the workforce, and the popularity of flexible work environments, this allows the decision makers in the hiring process to get information and make decisions any place and at any time.

The best part of our ATS, if I could only choose one thing (fortunately I don’t have to!), is the ability our organization has to provide a consistent and timely recruiting process from job posting to on-boarding. Our correspondence templates to candidates are already written in the system, ensuring applicants get the same message, which supports our brand and our culture. When we decide to present an offer to a candidate we can quickly follow up upon acceptance with our background check materials and first day forms: I9, W4, you name it.

We also have the ability to place applicants and candidates in a “future growth” category, allowing us to build the pipeline which helps us greatly in our strategic workforce planning process. While we can’t plan for every resignation, we can be prepared for them—and for the future needs of our business—which give us the opportunity to be that true business partner.

Overall, an ATS has allowed our HR team to be less reactive, more proactive; less tactical, more strategic. Bottom line: we’re able to work smarter, not harder, and still get a lot more done. Worried about selling an ATS to your boss or the C-Suite? Calculate your EEO/AAP administration time and costs along with your recruiting and selection time and costs (SHRM has lots of metrics to choose from) to see how much you’re company is spending. Now, look at your HR department’s strategy and goals – wouldn’t you rather be investing your resources in those?

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About the Author


Sarah Zaug

Sarah joined the ImageTrend community in August 2012 as Human Resources Manager. In her role, she develops, implements and drives HR strategies, plans and programs and partners with leadership on people and organizational issues to meet business objectives. Prior to joining ImageTrend, Sarah held HR management roles at Parker-Hannifin, a Fortune 500 manufacturing and engineering firm, and the Wedge Natural Foods Co-op, a large single-store natural foods co-operative. Sarah began her career in HR in 2000 after graduating with a B.S. in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. She holds an MBA from Hamline University and has been PHR certified since 2005. In her free time, she enjoys visiting local farmers markets, finding great places to have weekend brunch, and spending time around the many lakes Minnesota has to offer.



Fantastic info you have done your homework well! I agree 100%, a great Applicant Tracking System is always worth it’s value. Losing 1 amazing potential employee because of the hiring process can and will hurt. Social Media is a big deal because most of the great employees come from referrals, so get out there in Social Media, and have your employees help!

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