Choosing the right applicant tracking software can be a daunting experience. With so much to choose from, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Most vendors have a sweet spot, a set of features that address at least one part of the talent acquisition process. Sit through a couple of PowerPoint presentations with sales engineers clicking through their demo scripts and lots of us are back to where we started: the realization that this decision requires careful thought and a look at the bigger picture.

Here’s a tip. Forget about the feature checklists. Focus on the biggest concept, hiring manager adoption. For buyers of corporate applicant tracking software, there are very few other fundamental concepts that matter more. If your managers willingly use the platform to request and initiate approvals, you’ve zapped antiquated paper processes and created a layer of exception management that can only exist in a digital environment. Even more importantly, if hiring managers consistently help drive the yes and no decisions that drive today’s hiring programs and do so quickly and easily, it’s a huge win for you and your organization.

Here’s another reason to focuson hiring manager adoption as key concept driving your ATS shoice. If you’re like most HR and recruiting leaders, metrics have become the front and center topic. If you are going to get budget approval for a new ATS, trust me, the executives are going to want reports. In the end, if the recruiting and HR users are the only ones using the system, it’s only logical that the system will capture metrics exclusively from administrative users. This won’t yield helpful insights without significant data manipulation (you know, building spreadsheets by hand on Fridays). Only when hiring managers are consistently using an ATS will you be able to get holistic recruiting performance metrics that will help you automatically generate reports and have the knowledge to pinpoint bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

As you create your ATS shortlist, ask yourself: what system will garner the most adoption amongst all of my users? What system is the easiest to use, easiest to activate and will be the easiest to roll out to new managers and interviewers joining the organization every week? Most importantly, whether or not your hiring managers will adopt an ATS isn’t even a question anymore. Hiring manager adoption is no longer a nice benefit. It’s not a feature. Hiring manager adoption is a must.

Here are 5 tips to help you choose applicant tracking software that will promote user adoption.

1. Hiring managers don’t care about the technology. What counts is what it does for them.

2. Shop for usability. You won’t make ATS software easier to adopt by shopping for the most features.

3. Hiring managers loathe software training. Any ATS that requires extensive training will only be adopted by a small number of users.

4. Remember, only features that provide a good user experience will be used. Expecting managers to login proactively and complete a task is unrealistic.

5. The 80/20 rule applies to user adoption. Choose an ATS that does well what 80 percent of your hiring managers do all the time. Hint: think making reviewing resumes as simple as possible.

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