The Future of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is on the move. We’re sharing our insights about how the ATS will evolve to serve the transforming world of hiring and employment. 

Human Resources is complex and multifaceted. It’s people-centric, but there’s a major technological component to recruiting and applicant tracking today. As a result of those digital demands, many companies have implemented software to manage the applicant tracking process, which can be seriously time-consuming without automation. 

Applicant Tracking Systems handle many of the manual and repetitive tasks of the recruitment process. We’re diving into the history of the ATS and giving our outlook on where the applicant tracking system will go as new technology emerges, artificial intelligence heats up, and new generations change how work is done.  

Applicant Tracking Systems Defined

Applicant Tracking Systems are software designed to handle the recruitment needs of a company digitally.

Previously ATS was reserved for larger companies, but as technology has progressed and the needs of smaller and medium-sized companies have expanded, companies of all sizes have adopted these systems. 

We’re in an age of rapid software as a service (SaaS) development and many new ATS platforms have been developed that fit even the leanest budgets.

The main function of an ATS is to serve as the primary hub and database for a company’s recruitment practices. They are designed to help HR departments and other management handle hiring responsibilities.

An ATS is extremely powerful when paired with a traditional Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), which help with aspects such as payroll, employee scheduling,  and time tracking.

A Brief History of Applicant Tracking Systems

Let’s recall a time when the internet wasn’t a thing (it’s hard to remember, we know). Prior to the internet, Human Resources was an entirely different landscape. In the last two decades, most hiring and recruiting work was done with paper and maybe a fax machine.

The internet brought Google, chat rooms, and email. The world wide web also brought the site that would completely upend job searching and hiring forever:

The advent of “e-recruitment systems” like Monster evolved and eventually created the need for the Applicant Tracking System. Originally ATS were designed to help scan paperwork into the appropriate databases, screen applications, and follow the applicant’s path through the hiring process. As technology advanced, the data entry tasks of applicant tracking were managed by software, saving time, and allowing for much more efficient hiring. 

Another important note is that the Great Recession of the 2000s drastically increased the amount of applications flooding into the employment system, which further increased the need for an ATS.

How an ATS Works

An ATS saves recruiters and hiring managers an incredible amount of time.

An ATS does a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes. Applicant tracking systems allow recruiters to view applications, automatically rank resumes, and search by keywords.

 ATS takes the information provided in the resume and cover letter and uploads them into the database, so that it can then be transferred throughout the system as the hiring process continues. Additionally, an added benefit of an ATS is that they help HR departments and hiring managers optimize their interview processes and workflow.

ATS: Current State

Currently, every Fortune 500 Company uses an ATS, and small to medium-sized companies are rapidly beginning to implement the system into their hiring practices. An ATS is a key part of a proper business strategy because it saves money by speeding up the hiring process and cutting out manual tasks.  A good ATS also ensures the best candidates join organizations as quickly as possible. Importantly, an ATS can lower the expense of hiring employees. A 2016 Society of Human Resource Management survey found that the average cost-per-hire is $4,129.

An ATS can dramatically reduce the cost-per-hire, especially for small to medium sized businesses.

The Modern ATS Has Great Features

With more and more companies using an ATS, applicant numbers rising, and technology progressing, ATS companies are becoming more competitive in the features that their systems offer. Some of the best features and technology available span the categories from attraction and engagement to interviewing and collaboration.

Companies can now rely on an ATS to help with efficient, one-click job postings, online job submissions, resume parsing, email templates, and advanced automation.

ATS: Future Outlook

As the talent pool and job market transform, ATS platforms will change too. Technology is moving faster than most of us can keep track of. From Instagram to mobile apps, there’s something new to learn every week. The best ATS platforms keep step with the pace of tech.

AI and Applicant Tracking

Artificial intelligence has exploded recently in its applications and use cases. In the realm of applicant tracking, AI will be a major factor. Expect even deeper ability to analyze resumes. AI will allow an ATS to go beyond resume parsing to advanced understanding of a candidate and could even provide recommendations for the ideal interview questions and role placement for them.

market for human resource software and ATS changes and grows, expansions are going to be made. “Features such as analytics, social integration, and mobile capabilities are becoming standard issue for most platforms” as opposed to fancy selling tactics

Social Media Will Define Employee Marketing

Sites like Glassdoor have allowed a place for employees to have more of a voice. Even candidates can weigh in on a company’s hiring practices and interview processes. While transparency is always positive, employers must now proactively manage their brand online. Beyond employer review sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn and even Instagram are fertile ground for candidates to discuss organizations. We expect ATS platforms to integrate more features to monitor and manage this type of content.

Video Will Expand

Incorporating more video into the recruiting and hiring process is definitely on the horizon. Many large companies are already using automated video interviews to make the process convenient both for candidate and hiring managers. In the future we see heavy integration of video interview capabilities in ATS platforms.

Applicant Tracking Systems Will Humanize Hiring

While many of our forecasts for how ATS will evolve are technology-based, the ultimate reward will be more time for hiring managers. As applicant tracking software improves, human resources departments will have the ability to focus more on finding diverse and talented candidates. Recruiters will be able to feel empowered to focus their time on meaningful connection with candidates which cultivates the best possible workforce for an organization.



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