Selecting the Right Applicant Tracking System

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The investment in any software for an organization is an important decision with lasting impact, be it positive or negative. Selecting an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is no different. The act of purchasing and implementing an ATS requires unique considerations to ensure the best decision is reached.selcting right ats Throughout my career, I have experienced both spectrums of the ATS acquisition process and would like to share knowledge I have acquired as an HR professional and an Implementation Coordinator for HireTouch ATS.

With the emphasis companies place on hiring, the selection of an ATS should be given the same level of importance. The team you choose to make this selection should likewise be given careful thought. The most successful implementation teams I have worked with had representation from all areas that may be involved in purchasing or using an ATS, including information technology, human resources recruitment, financial, hiring managers and others with prior software implementation experience. A team with a broad set of perspectives will, in the end, deliver a selection that yields no surprises to all parties it concerns within your organization.

Once a team is in place, you will need to determine your price point and ATS feature set before actively searching. When determining price point, be sure to not only consider standard fees, such as upfront implementation and yearly Software as a Service (SaaS) fees, but also out-of-scope charges. Some critical questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • Will upgrades be included in the SaaS fee?
  • Is there a fee to alter the ATS once we go live?

Not all vendors charge such fees, and it will be important to know if charges will be assessed to keep the software current and relevant to your hiring process. Also, be aware if your organization will be required to host the software internally, as it can increase the cost in terms of IT resources, disqualifying some vendors from consideration.

The implementation process is another key item to consider. All vendors can provide you a typical timeline for implementation, but times can vary based on the feature set and complexity of the system. Vendors that offer an “out of the box” solution often implement 30 to 60 days from purchase, but may not be able to adapt their system to your workflow. Other systems may use custom workflows that will capture your current paper hiring processes, although they require longer (often 60 to 90 days) to implement. These systems, however, may utilize custom workflows designed to capture your current paper hiring process. Needing an ATS up and running on a tight deadline could require sacrifices in customization, or increases in implementation fees.

Lastly, the support a vendor offers will become greatly important after you go live with your ATS. Be sure to ask all vendors about support strategies, and if you are planning to purchase a highly customized solution, it will be helpful to find out if there will be access to individuals with a clear understanding of your specific build after implementation. If a vendor promotes self-sufficiency by offering free trainings and webinars, factor that into your decision as it generally allows for greater input in the setup and maintenance of their ATS. A little investment in self-sufficiency can go a long way in reducing ongoing operating costs and improve your purchase satisfaction.

Whether your organization is leaving paper behind or replacing an existing system, selecting an ATS is not an easy process, given the number of factors to consider and vendors in the market. That said, I am hopeful that with the information I have shared, combined with your expertise, you have a solid foundation on which to select an ATS that best captures your needs so you, and your organization, can truly reap the benefits these systems were intended to deliver.

Looking for Applicant Tracking software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Applicant Tracking software solutions.

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About the Author


Jeff DeMars

Jeff DeMars is the Lead Implementation Coordinator at ImageTrend, Inc. Prior to coming to ImageTrend, Jeff was a progressive HR generalist for six years, most recently as a Director of HR for DoubleTree by Hilton. His background includes a strong knowledge of all facets of HR, specifically those regarding hiring and onboarding in an OFCCP and union environment. Jeff has completed Affirmative Action Plans that have closed at desk through both a Federal and State EEO compliance audit. His working career has given him extensive experience in the use, set up and development of electronic applicant software in regards to EEO/AAP compliance. At ImageTrend, Jeff manages every client implementation and maintains intimate relationships with our clients to ensure their continued satisfaction.



I’d like to mention new ATS It’s free for up to 10 users (the whole functionality is included), no charges for upgrade. This is ready-to-use system, nevertheless you can customize it, creating your own workflow, question templates and scorecards.
Both free and paid versions provide all available features: postings to popular job boards, video-interview, customized career page, questionnaires, candidates comparison. iOS and Android applications etc.

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