Chat with us, powered by LiveChat The Best ATS Software: A Startup ATS Comprehensive Guide for 2023

The Best ATS Software: A Startup ATS Comprehensive Guide for 2023

by | Feb 8, 2023 | Recruitment Software

In 2023, there are nearly two jobs available for every candidate. For employers, the hiring market is a cutthroat one.

Everybody wants to snap up top talent before the competition does. The secret to doing so? It isn’t clever curveballs you toss your interviewees to put them on the back foot.

It’s your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – and the best ATS software makes all the difference in the world.

Read on to learn how ATS software streamlines your candidate hiring process.

What is ATS Software?

Put simply, an applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software package designed to streamline the recruitment and hiring process. It does this by sorting through hundreds (or thousands) of resumes and filtering out unsuitable candidates.

Qualified hiring managers can then review and shortlist the remaining pool of “hot” leads.

How does ATS Software Work?

how it works

Most types of software share broadly similar workflows, and ATS is no different. There are four steps to how the software functions:

  • A hiring manager enters a job requisition
  • The ATS creates an “ideal” candidate
  • The ATS compares and ranks candidates based on matching criteria
  • Hiring managers review the most qualified candidates

The initial job requisition includes as much information about the role as possible. That means required skills, years of experience, and the job title. Keywords are important, as they’re used by ATS software to rank the candidates.

This keyword-heavy strategy has implications for HR teams that we’ll discuss below.

Why Automated Applicant Tracking Is Important

Recruitment done through job listings is handled online, and it’s par for the course for a single listing to receive hundreds of responses. Recruiters who are still stuck doing traditional recruitment look at and assess a resume in 7 seconds.

Think about it: You can’t appreciate a piece of music, order a pizza, or find a series to binge-watch in under 10 seconds. Assessing whether a candidate is a fit to fill five- and six-figure salaries in that timespan is absurd.

No matter which way you cut it, seven seconds isn’t long enough to assess a resume. Relying on a human manager to sift through stacks of resumes to find that diamond in the rough means inherent biases slip through. Managers will miss crucial details that hint at an ocean of talent lurking just below the surface.

Benefits of ATS Software vs. Traditional HR Strategies

ATS software isn’t here to replace your HR team (even if that team consists of a single hiring manager). It’s a tool that, when employed correctly, will supercharge the productivity of your HR department.

The software suites provide everything you need for recruitment in one place. Internal messaging systems, email, calendars, and job listing websites become a thing of the past. From reception to shortlisting to onboarding, ATS software reduces the overall time to hire new applicants.

That means less time waiting for open positions to be filled – which can cost you money, time, and energy.

Attract the Best

Every startup wants to attract top talent. The problem is that 70% of potential hires are already working for your competition.

One of the least desirable aspects of job hunting is the arduous and time-consuming process of filling out applications. Every job seeker who has spent a few weeks responding to open calls for applicants has been through the same frustrating process.

They spend hours meticulously entering their work experience, education, and personal information into online forms only to hear nothing back. It’s a trend that has made its mark on the industry – and it’s a trend people are getting fed up with.

Streamlining the candidate’s experience by allowing them to upload professional profiles, portfolios, and resumes results in a larger pool of talent to select from.

How ATS Software Helps Startups

How ATS Software Helps Startups

Startups face more challenges than established businesses. They’re in a volatile position with limited funding, often focused on creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to start generating cash flow fast.

The strict time constraints startups face puts pressure on them to find qualified staff quickly. Every day a position remains unfilled is a potential delay.

Better Candidate Experience

Whether candidates take the job isn’t only about the salary and conditions. The hiring process itself is a vital factor: Bad experiences are a red flag.

Candidates who feel underappreciated are more likely to look elsewhere.

By streamlining the communication experience, ATS software helps candidates feel valued. Customized email templates add a personal touch. And fast communication means nobody feels like they’ve been ghosted.

ATS Software Cuts Costs

The hiring process is expensive from both ends. Finding a candidate costs time and money. And hiring the wrong person for the job costs businesses lost hours and the need to go through the hiring process again from square one.

ATS software helps you attract talent while optimizing the process. Businesses save costs by:

  • Reducing advertising costs
  • Finding candidates faster
  • Removing the need to rely on external recruiters
  • Reducing HR labor costs
  • Attracting better hires

Legal Compliance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to treat every potential candidate the same. Unfair treatment because of gender, race, nationality, disability, and other attributes, is prohibited.

ATS software makes it easier for businesses to comply with EEOC regulations by filtering candidates by qualification only. In addition, ATS software collects all the information necessary for compliance with EEOC regulations.

How To Get the Most Out of ATS Software

Your ATS software will undoubtedly help you to find the best recruits – but only if you know how to use it. Like any other piece of software, it’s a tool – and it’s one that will only help your business if you play to its strengths.

Don’t Overlook Referrals

As much as we look to international, digital job boards to find top talent across the globe, the reality is that some of the best candidates are found through referrals, networking, or promoted as internal hires.

Depending on the industry, as many as 80% of jobs are not published for candidates to find. Many high-level executive positions, with exceedingly stringent skill requirements, are handled via strict referral policies.

In other words: Referrals are important to the health of your recruitment strategy. An ATS solution is a foundational part of filling your open positions, but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox.

Consider a QA Strategy

Although ATS does most of the hard work, human error and factual inaccuracies can slip through the net. For instance, misspelled or inappropriate keywords can filter out a lot of potential hires.

If an applicant lists “managing payroll executive” as their job title, and your ATS software is searching with “payroll administrator” as a keyword, you may end up missing a whole host of qualified people.

That’s where intermittent quality assurance comes in. Ideally, a holistic QA strategy would involve both ends of the pipeline, which means:

  • Detailed audits of job listings, keywords, and selection strategies from the ATS backend
  • Test candidates being run through your ATS listings from the applicant’s perspective

Implementing both of these QA measures will help you iron out mistakes and oversights early on, giving your company better results.

Review and Update Job Listings Regularly

Skills and job titles evolve and, building on your QA strategy, it’s important to review your hiring best practices are regular intervals.

Quarterly strategy meetings involving team leads, hiring managers, and senior staff are a good approach to take. That way, you stay at the top of your hiring game and continue to attract talent to fill future positions.

Be Open About Salary Ranges

Across many industries, it’s a common practice to hide salary ranges until the negotiation stage. It’s been that way for years and many hiring managers think nothing of it.

But attitudes are changing fast and being open about what you’re offering is a matter of corporate transparency.

Now, up to 85% of Generation Z candidates won’t apply for a job if it doesn’t have a salary listed. That leaves you with less than a fifth of new prospective hires to choose between, and even the best ATS software in the world will miss candidates if you refuse to list your expected salary range.

Qualities To Look for When Selecting the Best ATS Software

best software

When browsing the available ATS options on the market, you’ll need to know how to pick the software that’s right for your business.

We’ve compiled a more detailed guide for picking the best ATS software here, but overall, you’ll want to consider these crucial factors:

  • The ability to add your own screening questions
  • The ability to include custom data fields
  • The option of creating and managing candidate templates
  • Intuitive, easy-to-understand user interfaces
  • Regular updates
  • Affordable pricing plans

Custom Screening Questions

Screening questions are important in filtering out gems from a sea of duds. They’re used to ascertain whether a candidate fulfills the most fundamental requirements of an open position and determine whether any red flags might disqualify a candidate.

Employing custom screening questions is a vital step in filtering out those candidates you don’t even want to consider so that you can focus on the core competencies of any job. They help you focus on what’s important.

Custom Data Fields

The best ATS software includes custom data fields with parameters you can specify. This allows you to write generic templates for later expansion to include niche skills aimed at attracting niche expertise.

Open Position Templates

ATS software is meant to increase the efficiency of your hiring pipeline. Reusable templates make it even better. The ability to create, modify, and share templates across the software allows your HR staff to pick from the most appropriate template and add new information as needed.

This means that you can optimize your open position management over time. You can drill down to figure out the best keywords and search phrases and use and improve the same templates to ensure you never miss anything important.

Synching Opportunities

ATS software should integrate into the rest of your digital workspaces. That means that email, calendars, and business-internal software should be able to integrate seamlessly.

Intuitive Use

Intuitive software is good software. The last thing you want with a new tool is for everybody who uses it to complain and groan every time they fire it up. Better software solutions are supposed to make your life easier and streamline workflows – and a pleasant user experience is the foundation of that.

Intuitive software means you’ll have no problem onboarding new hires and the risks of mistakes are mitigated. Telltale signs of good software design include:

  • Clean user interface layouts
  • Easy-to-read documentation
  • Simple buttons that explain what they do
  • Helpful tooltips
  • Consistent terminology and internal logic
  • Easy updating
  • Responsive interface

Integrated File Type Support

ATS software that integrates support for common file types will streamline the recruitment process for applicants and your own HR team. Applicants can upload copies of their cover letters and resumes, which the software can automatically scan for keywords and important information.

Look for software suites that support common file types, such as PDF, docx, and text files.

Regular Updates

Well-maintained software is updated on a regular cycle. Look out for this, as it’s a sign that the software company knows and cares about the wants and needs of its clients. It also means that any critical errors or bugs are likely to be ironed out quickly, reducing your potential downtime.

Optimize Your Recruitment Strategy for Success

Finding the best ATS software helps you find top talent no matter the position you’re trying to fill. Your positions will be filled more quickly, you will screen more applicants faster, and you’ll do so while cutting costs and complying with legal requirements.

If you need an integrated ATS software solution, we can help. Our software solutions help recruiters find and land top talent across the globe. Click here to learn more about what ATS can do for you.

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