Small and medium-size employers have four critical pain points that are driving them to switch applicant tracking systems.


Over the past several months, we’ve spoken with hundreds (485 surveyed) of small and medium-size employers that have considered a new applicant tracking system. As a point of reference, we thought it would be interesting to provide data on why HR and recruiting practitioners are investigating alternative ATS options. And, while we are at, we are compelled to share commentary related to our findings.

Pain points and reasons for exploring new applicant tracking system options. 

1. Almost 40% of the participants we spoke with are looking to improve how they capture and report key recruiting analytics.
2. Nearly 30% of the employers surveyed lacked necessary automation and were still using a combination of spreadsheets, job boards, email and insufficient ATSs to manage recruiting.
2. Almost 15% of the participants we spoke with report that their current system was not implemented properly and is therefore difficult to use.
3. The remaining 15% of employers respond that cost as the major factor for considering a new applicant tracking system.

Recruiting analytics
Recruiting analytics give HR and recruiting practitioners valuable information about the effectiveness of various important recruitment processes. Unfortunately, many organizations are frustrated with their current applicant tracking system’s ability to report on key stage-to-stage conversion rates and the time that it takes to move through each stage of the process – the most critical of all recruiting analytics. Additionally, we continue to hear that employers are unable to pull critical requisition / job related reports from their applicant tracking systems. This is most common for users of systems native to products offered by payroll providers.

Lack of automation
The easiest way to hire better people faster is to eliminate wasted steps, paper forms, complicated approval processes and everything else that creates inefficiency in the recruiting process. Even growing employers with only 30-50 employees are now common buyers of applicant tracking systems. And, the trend for smaller employers is to choose an applicant tracking system that they won’t outgrow in 12-18 months. This means choosing an applicant tracking system with great job and offer approval features, fully-integrated interview scheduling software, tight integrations with background check services and systems that are able to collect, track and store affirmative action data to help with EEO and OFCCP compliance.

Existing ATS was poorly implemented
Employers site two major reasons for poorly implemented applicant tracking systems. First, many employers implemented their ATS when the employment market was, frankly, slower. And, as such, their applicant tracking system is not geared to process hiring in today’s market defined by a sub-6% unemployment rate. Second, a fair number of employers had little to no support implementing their applicant tracking system in the first place and thus they are not utilizing their system to it’s fullest potential. In the second case, it’s worth noting that many employers feel that there is little or no support or additional training provided by their current vendor to remedy issues.

Unfortunately, as the applicant tracking system market has matured and become more saturated with products, the price for ATSs has increased. This is counterintuitive. More and more, we hear from employers that are looking for more cost effective solutions that have the same features and functionality as systems that cost $10-25+ per employee per month. Why are some ATSs so expensive? They have to be. Typically, the most expensive ATSs are offered by vendors that have taken too much venture capital and have to show astronomical returns to their VC firms. This is a trend that was seen in 2010 when VC money was poured into systems that inaccurately touted the benefits of social recruiting. Regardless of the cause, employers in every industry are getting wise and looking for more fairly priced products.

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