Applicant Tracking Systems: Key Features and When You Need Them

As a business owner, it is important to understand how to improve hiring process efficiency within your company. By making use of new and beneficial technologies, businesses can find qualified candidates promptly. Read further to learn more about applicant tracking systems, why your business may need one, key features ATS systems provide and free features you can access through Indeed.


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What is an ATS and why businesses might need one

An ATS, or applicant tracking system, is a type of software that helps businesses recruit, select and hire candidates for positions within the company. According to  ClearCompany, businesses may benefit from having an ATS for a variety of reasons. Here are some examples:

  • Helps filter through applicants: ATS systems allow you to upload a job posting or assign a list of keywords. The software uses this information to filter through applicant documents to select those that include one or more keywords.
  • Speeds up the hiring process: Due to automated communication and candidate filters, the technology allows businesses to get a narrowed down list of candidates in less time than hiring managers would be able to. Businesses can then focus more on the interview and screening phase.
  • Keeps previous candidate data for future openings: ATS systems allow businesses to store candidate information when they give a position to someone else, but the applicant is still qualified. If the same or related position opens up, hiring managers can use the candidate database to select existing applicants.
  • Identifies which platforms candidates used to find the job posting: ATS software also helps businesses see which platforms attract the most applicants. For example, businesses that received 200 applications from a job board and only 20 from a social media post may decide to utilize the job board more for position openings.
  • Provides automated messages to candidates about their application status: To prevent frequent calls and emails to HR or recruitment professionals, ATS software offers businesses an automated system from which to notify applicants of their status. This allows hiring professionals to focus on other tasks and keeps applicants involved in the process.


Key features of ATS systems

According to Paycor, here are seven key features of ATS systems that help narrow down candidates:


1. Job post integrations

Depending on the ATS system you use, you may be able to create and upload a job post to the system for automated dispersal to several different platforms. This may include different job posting sites, social media platforms and your own company hiring page.


2. Customizable job application software

You can use an ATS system to create an application that allows candidates to upload their resume and cover letter, answer skills test, confirm contact details and answer preliminary questions about their background and reasons for applying.


3. Job-specific filters

To ensure you only select qualified candidates for more thorough consideration and interviews, ATS systems offer keyword filters that help you select qualifications, characteristics skills and more. For example, if you want to find a communications specialist, you may apply the following fliters to narrow candidate results:

  • Business degree
  • Communication degree
  • English degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 0-2 years of work experience
  • 2-4 years of work experience
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Public speaking
  • Social media
  • Content writing
  • Time management
  • Proficient in Microsoft Excel


4. Career pages

Career pages allow candidates to learn more about your company and what you have to offer them in terms of career development. Some ATS systems offer a career page layout for you to customize accordingly. You can incorporate a search tab for interested professionals to search for job openings and display which locations or departments have openings.


5. Automated candidate messaging

ATS systems have an automated messaging feature that gives you the opportunity to customize messages for candidates. You may either select phrases or create your own to communicate with candidates at each phase of the hiring process. For example, when a candidate applies, the ATS sends an email or phone message to them stating “Thank you for your application, a member of our recruitment team will review your qualifications and contact you soon,” followed by “A member of our team is reviewing your application, now.”

To confirm or deny their candidacy, the ATS may send out a message like: “We are impressed by your qualifications and would like to get to know you further, click here to schedule a phone interview,” or “Thank you for your application. We have decided to move forward with other candidates. Please check back soon for more openings!”


6. Scheduling integration

Instead of having to email or call candidates about an appropriate interview time, ATS systems offer integration with online calendars and software programs. This allows you to set interview dates and times for candidates to sign up for. Your ATS could also send an automated email message linking the calendar for candidates you want to interview. 

For instance, “Thank you for your application, our hiring managers reviewed your qualifications and we would like to meet with you to discuss the position further. Please click the link below to access our interview calendar and sign up for an interview slot.”


7. Candidate feedback

Another key feature of an ATS system is a candidate feedback portal that provides candidates with insights into the reason for the termination of their candidacy. This is typically offered at the post-interview stage after a company informs the candidate that they didn’t receive the position. Hiring managers can input strategies for improvement or words of encouragement for candidates who had all the right qualifications. 

This is a great way to help industry professionals improve their interviewing skills but it is also a great way to encourage qualified candidates to continue a professional relationship with your company.


Free ATS features you can get on Indeed

There are several ATS features that you can get for free on Indeed. Check out these examples and how they can benefit the hiring process within your company:

  • Integrated job listing feature to post and update to Indeed
  • Employer dashboard for candidate overviews
  • Easy application feature that enables more candidates to apply quickly
  • Source reporting to weigh effective job postings
  • Analytics and candidate tracking metrics
  • Partnering clients with ATS expert providers
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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your career or legal advisor, and none of the information provided herein guarantees a job offer.