Choosing the best applicant tracking software for your organization can be a confusing experience. 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 critical part of the hiring process or one specific type of user. 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: unsure of what to think and what really matters. Our advice is to forget about the feature checklists and focus on the big picture first.
The first thing you need to determine is what type of applicant tracking system is right for your organization. This is simple. Are you a staffing / recruiting agency or are you an employer? If you are an employer and are looking for hiring software to manage all of the processes, workflows, collaboration and compliance data and to generally manage internal hiring, then you are looking for an applicant tracking system for employers. If you are an agency that is managing external recruiting projects for multiple clients and sending the same candidates to multiple clients, then you need recruiting software specifically designed for agencies.
Pro Tip: Ask each vendor who uses their software. Who are their core customers? Vendors that claim to do everything or offer products that claim to address both staffing and corporate recruiting often come up short.
One of the most important considerations that employers face when selecting recruiting technology today is whether the system will be universally accessible to everyone that needs to use the product. From applicants to interviewers to hiring managers, everyone uses different devices and systems to interact with hiring technology. Today’s applicant tracking systems must be completely accessible from any browser and mobile device.
Pro Tip: Ask about a platform’s “responsiveness”. That is, ask if the product is optimized for use on any platform and mobile device. When an ATS vendor says their platform can be accessed on a mobile device, most often they mean that their product can be viewed on a mobile device, but it doesn’t mean that it works well without being frustrating and slow. If it’s not responsive. Don’t buy it.
A Successful Activation is Critical
Don’t leave a successful activation to chance. It’s imperative that you understand the level of activation support your hiring software provider will provide before you commit to purchasing an ATS. Training and technical support are crucial when introducing new technology into your organization. Be wary of vendors that don’t charge some sort of a set up fee as it’s likely they won’t be able to dedicate a resource to help your team activate the system successfully. Self-provisioning of any sort will be insufficient. Make sure your chosen vendor has a well-defined activation plan and has resources in place to provide hands on support.
Pro Tip: Let’s face it, if you are interested in an applicant tracking system, you’re not going to leave activation to chance. So would you buy a product that doesn’t offer live support or a dedicated Customer Success Manager to onboard the product? No. Choose a vendor that offers fast, friendly, dedicated US-based activation support. And remember, trials are likely a waste of your time. They’ll never mimic the how the system will perform in a production environment.
Remember the 80/20 Rule
What we’ve learned is that when recruiting software achieves something valuable without being distracting or requiring hours of setup and training, only then will it live up to its potential (those old-school software companies call this concept “return on investment”). Let’s face it: it’s usually harder to do simple things exceedingly well, than to just pile on features. The 80/20 rule applies here: your applicant tracking system must do well what 80% of your users do all the time, and you’ll create a good user experience that promotes user adoption. That’s the goal isn’t it?
Pro Tip: Your users don’t care about the technology. What counts is what it does for them. Forget about that one killer feature that may appeal to one type of user. Say hello to the age of the killer user-experience. And, remember, no one likes software training. Any ATS that requires extensive training will only be adopted by a small number of users
Finally, our last piece of advice for choosing an applicant tracking system is to see for yourself. There are websites out there that claim to give buyers “advice” or rank vendors. The reality is that these sites are in the advertising business, not in in the system selection business. They are not experts. They are marketers. Narrow down a couple of vendors by doing you own research. Contact them to find out if there is a fit and if their solution falls inline with your budget. Schedule demos with the ones that are the most interesting. Trust your instincts.