What's an Applicant Tracking System?

Gavin Oxley
Gavin Oxley4 Aug 2021

If your business is planning on hiring full or part-time employees, using an applicant tracking system will help you find the best candidates for your hiring position. In addition to tracking applicants and sort candidates, you will likely also want to be able to attract the best candidates for the job so that the tracking system will be worthwhile. 

One way to make competitive hiring offers and attract the most qualified applicants is by offering benefits to both full and part-time employees, if possible. Health care benefits can be affordably offered to employees using care memberships. Mira offers care memberships for $45 per month, offering discounts on urgent care, prescriptions, and labs.

What an Applicant Tracking System is

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are platforms on which both an employer can post a job opportunity and where a prospective employee can apply. ATS is a relatively new data-driven system that allows employees to track and sort through the applications by any number of criteria. 

Most ATS suppliers recommend their systems to businesses if their business meets the following criteria:

  1. The business is growing;
  2. Recruiters are not sufficient;
  3. Human resources (HR) tracking has become difficult;
  4. And your business is experiencing high employee turnover.

Basic Features of Applicants Tracking Systems

When searching for an applicant tracking system that suits your business needs, all of the ATS systems should meet the following criteria at the minimum. There are more advanced features, but they will vary by provider and needs of your business.

  • Job board posting
  • Resumé database
  • Candidate search system/applicant filtering
  • Optional pre-screening
  • Application management
  • Workflow management and delegation
  • Interview setup and scheduling
  • Employee and applicant data security

Additionally, many top-tier ATS include built-in recruiting firms that enhance the hiring process.

Furthermore, it is important to make sure they are a legally compliant system when selecting an ATS system based on features. Not all ATS systems comply with all government regulations, including:

Security of Applicant Tracking Systems

Be sure to look for security guarantees before purchasing any ATS. Any worthwhile ATS provider will guarantee that no company or applicant data is compromised while using their system. Some security protocols that should be included are:

  1. The provider should ensure deletion of all company information if you decide to discontinue the use of the ATS.
  2. They should ensure data security from the applicant side, not only the company’s hosting server (SOC-2 certified).
  3. The system should pass penetration testing.
  4. The provider should never share, sell, lend, lease, or disclose any information on the ATS, no matter the perceived importance.

If you find a system that does not explicitly state these security guarantees, you may want to avoid that system unless you can contact the provider and provide the guarantee directly. Ultimately, if these security factors are not guaranteed, you may want to look elsewhere for a reliable ATS service provider.

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Availability of Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant tracking systems are available through a wide selection of providers, but not every provider offers the same services or for the same price. Below, we provide a list of some of the top systems and their basic features and prices. Most of the ATS providers listed below provide free trials as well.

ProviderCandidate TrackerResumé SortBuilt-In Recruiting FirmInterview SchedulingBuilt-in HRInterview SchedulingPrice Range per Month

Cornerstone Recruiting

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Applicant Tracking Systems Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

There are many caveats to consider when deciding if you should use an applicant tracking system and, if so, which one. We highlight some of the common questions and concerns below.

What are the best features to look for when deciding on an applicant tracking system?

In addition to the basic criteria that all applicant tracking systems should meet as listed above, some of the more advanced and often important features that employers find helpful may include but are not limited to:

  • Automatic interview scheduling
  • Candidate matching scale
  • Automated offer letter generation
  • Easy employee onboarding
  • Candidate analytic systems
  • Mobile use
  • Social networking use
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What are signs that my business needs to use an applicant tracking system?

Before looking at specific metrics, you need to determine whether your business can grow. If your business is rather stagnant, you likely will not need to invest in an ATS. If the business is growing, an ATS may be needed to guide your hiring process.

The first metric on whether or not you should be investing in an applicant tracking system is based on the number of applicants you receive and how often you are hiring for new positions. If you are hiring new employees regularly and are receiving around 1000 applicants per year, it may be wise to invest in an ATS. 

Tracking your return on investment (ROI) is also a generally important concept about the number of applications. If there are many applications (>1000), then the work overtime that an individual or hiring team would spend sorting through various applications and hiring criteria would ultimately cost more than the ATS.

Lastly, if you need to fill a position you are hiring for quickly, using an ATS has been shown to decrease the time-to-fill for the position significantly. 

How do I know that an applicant tracking system will be a good long-term investment for my business?

Choosing an ATS system capable of and adjusting to the scale of your business as it grows is very important to ensure that it is a long-term investment. As an employer, you can always switch platforms, but it may be more difficult to transfer data between the different ATS.

What are some tips for using applicant tracking systems?

Inputting the correct keywords into your job description will exponentially increase your quality of matches. Being specific to the job duties and role title will bring in better matches. Remember to keep your keywords limited; if there are too many keywords, they may bring in irrelevant users and applicants.

Additionally, you should state explicit qualifications that you are looking for in an applicant. When doing this, it is important to be realistic and set clear expectations for experiences and degrees that you want your potential employees to meet. This can help filter out under-qualified applicants and increase the likelihood that your applicants will be a good match.

Bottom Line

If you are in the growth stage of your business strategy, using an applicant tracking system may be the best way to hire quality candidates on time. ATS is data-driven and shows top applicant matches for the hiring criteria that you set as an employer. Using ATS is shown to increase the quality of matches by 20%, improve hiring time by 50%, and lower the cost of the candidate hiring process by up to 30%. 

You can also advertise benefits on the job portal of your new ATS. Health benefits are often quite attractive to prospective employees and, through Mira, you can offer a care membership for as little as $45 per month per employee. Care memberships include $99 urgent care visits, 80% off prescription prices, and same-day lab results. Sign up today to offer a more appealing offer to your potential employees.

Gavin Oxley

Gavin is a 4th Year student at the University of Virginia, studying Medical Anthropology, Ethics, & Care as well as Environmental Science. He is passionate about providing healthcare resources and proper education in order to promote life and health for all.