8 signs that your applicant tracking system is ready to be retired

Andy Agouridis Talent acquisition

As the Human Resources (HR) landscape continues to grow and evolve, technology has become a key driver of efficiency and productivity. One such technology that has become a critical component of HR operations is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

According to Jobscan research, over 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS. Even small organisations are getting on with the game, with 35% of them using recruitment software to manage their HR processes. It's clear that the widespread adoption of ATS underscores its value as a tool for simplifying hiring procedures and enhancing the candidate experience. Who doesn’t love a system that makes life a little easier, right?

As HR processes change and new technologies become available, it is essential to keep your finger on the pulse and periodically evaluate the performance of your ATS. This will help ensure that it continues to meet your organisation's requirements. In this blog post, we'll outline eight signs that indicate it's time for your current ATS to retire and upgrade to a better system. So, let's get started!

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1. Slow Performance

Managing hundreds of applications for a job vacancy can be tough. That's where an efficient ATS comes in handy. But what happens when your ATS starts to slow down? It's like trying to run a marathon in quicksand - even the simple tasks become nearly impossible to complete on time. Your system is clearly struggling to meet the demands of your HR operations if it takes forever to load pages, save data, or retrieve information. So, if your organisation is experiencing frequent performance issues, it’s time to look for an alternative solution.

ATS may slow down due to various reasons. Some examples include inadequate hardware, outdated software versions, or inefficient database structure. To prevent major problems down the line, it's best to be proactive and address any issues with your ATS early on. One way to do this is by conducting a thorough performance audit so you can get a clear overview of what’s going on under the hood and devise the right solution. This might mean upgrading to a newer ATS, migrating to a cloud-based solution, optimising your database structure, or making other technical tweaks to your system.

2. Inability to integrate with other tools

In today's digital world, integration is the name of the game for a seamless recruitment process. If your current ATS is a bit of a tech dinosaur that can't integrate with other HR tools, it's time to upgrade your tech game. Without integration, you might be stuck manually entering candidate information into different systems, which is about as fun as watching paint dry. Or worse, you could lose out on top-notch candidates due to poor communication tracking.

Luckily, modern ATS has got your back. They can integrate with other tools to streamline your recruitment process and make your life easier. For example, syncing your ATS with your HR management system will automatically update candidate information, while integrating with email allows you to track all candidate communications in one place. It's like having your own personal full-time HR department in one tool.

If you're not ready for a full-blown breakup, third-party integrations can come to the rescue and connect your systems. Just make sure to thoroughly test your integrations to ensure everything runs smoothly. The last thing you probably want to happen is to miss out on qualified candidates because of a glitchy system.

3. Lack of analytics and reporting capabilities

Recruiting without data is like flying blind. Without data to guide you, you’re forced to rely on your gut instincts and make educated guesses about the best way to recruit for a role. To avoid guesswork, you need an ATS with robust reporting and analytics capabilities. Reports can give you insights into your recruitment process, such as where your best candidates are coming from or which stages take the longest. You can use this information to make smarter decisions and optimise your process for better results.

So, what kind of reports do HR managers need? There’s really no one size fits all answer here. Each organisation will have its own requirements based on its hiring needs and the stage of the recruitment process they’re in. But there are a few common ones. For example, a sourcing report can show you which job boards or social media channels are bringing in the most candidates. An aging report can highlight how long candidates are staying in each hiring stage, while a diversity report can help ensure a more inclusive hiring process. Whatever reports you need, make sure your ATS can provide them. If not, it’s time to move on to a new platform that can.

4. Outdated security

In a world where data breaches and cyberattacks are all too common, it's important to make sure your ATS has updated security measures. These systems hold a ton of personal and professional information about candidates, and you don't want to take any chances when it comes to keeping it all safe. One way to check if your ATS has outdated security is to see if it has been updated in the last year. If not, it may be using older, less secure software that is more susceptible to attacks. In such a case, it may be time for an upgrade.

When searching for an ATS with necessary security measures, look for platforms that offer frequent updates and features like encryption and access controls. It's also important to partner with a provider that has experience working with businesses in your industry or size, so they can better understand your unique security challenges. And, of course, don't forget to read reviews and ask for references to ensure that the ATS you choose has a strong track record of keeping data safe and secure.

5. Not mobile-friendly

With 58% of candidates using their mobile devices, a mobile-friendly ATS is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have. If your ATS is not optimised for mobile devices, candidates won’t be able to apply for open positions on the go, which greatly diminishes the user experience. Yet more is at risk here than just the candidate's experience. Employers that don't offer mobile-optimised applications are competing in an increasingly mobile-oriented labor market. This misalignment can be costly, with cumbersome applications discouraging candidates and employers from missing out on top talent.

If your current  ATS does not have mobile-friendly features, now is the time for an upgrade. Look for a modern ATS that offers an intuitive candidate interface that can be viewed on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones without compromising functionality or design. This will not only allow you to attract and retain top talent but also position your company as one that values innovation and convenience, giving you a competitive advantage.

6. Obsolete user interface

A great user interface is the secret sauce to any successful software system, and your ATS is no different! If your interface is outdated, it can negatively impact user experience and make it more challenging for recruiters to navigate and use the system effectively. Furthermore, a clunky and confusing interface can also slow down the recruitment process, leading to frustration and delays in filling open positions. 

So, how can you tell if your ATS user interface needs an upgrade? Well, consider factors such as the layout, font, and overall design of the system. Is it easy to use and navigate? Does it offer customisation and flexibility? Are there any features or functions that are difficult to access or use? If you're shaking your head to any of these questions, it might be time to say goodbye to your old ATS and hello to a more modern and user-friendly one.

Finding an ATS with a sophisticated user interface is usually a breeze. It should have an up-to-date design that is visually appealing, combined with advanced features and functionality. Plus, modern technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing are increasingly being integrated into ATS systems to streamline the recruitment process and improve the user experience. These advanced features may consist of automated candidate screening, predictive analytics, and chatbots for candidate communication.

7. Unreliable customer support

Once your ATS has been implemented, it’s essential to have reliable support in case something goes wrong. You should be able to get prompt assistance from the support team whenever you need it, whether it’s to address a technical issue or provide guidance on how to use the ATS more effectively.  If your current provider isn’t living up to your expectations, it may be time to consider looking for another ATS provider that offers a robust support package.

So, what should you be looking for in customer support? For starters, you want a support team that's easily accessible and responsive to your inquiries. You also want a team that demonstrates a true understanding of your needs and is willing to go the extra mile to help you resolve your issues. After all, ATS is a key component of your HR operations, so it only makes sense that the support you receive is just as outstanding as the software itself.

8. Non-GDPR compliant

Personal data is an integral part of the recruitment process. From resumes to job applications, a vast amount of personal data is collected, making GDPR compliance an essential aspect of an ATS. Ignoring GDPR compliance in your recruitment process could lead to hefty fines and damage your brand reputation. So, if your ATS is not GDPR compliant, it's time to upgrade to a solution that ensures the privacy of candidates is protected, like Jobylon.

GDPR compliance is not only about ticking boxes but also about taking the necessary steps to ensure that the personal data of candidates is handled securely. Jobylon's detailed permission levels ensure that sensitive data is only accessible by authorised personnel, safeguarding it from misuse or misplacement. It also takes the hassle out of data cleanup by providing automated cleanup rules. You can easily specify how long data should be kept and when it should be deleted, giving you complete control over your data retention policies.

To bring it all together:

It is crucial for leading companies to regularly evaluate and reassess their ATS to ensure they are meeting their recruitment needs efficiently. The eight signs serve as essential indicators that it may be time to consider a new ATS solution. To avoid the pitfalls of an outdated ATS, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Regularly assess your recruitment processes: Continuously evaluate and analyze your recruitment processes to identify inefficiencies or gaps that may be attributed to your ATS.

  2. Stay up-to-date with emerging trends: Keep a pulse on the latest recruitment technologies and industry trends to ensure your ATS is equipped with innovative features and functionalities.

  3. Seek employee feedback: Involve your recruitment team and hiring managers in the evaluation process. Gather their feedback and insights to understand how well the ATS is meeting their needs and where improvements can be made.

  4. Review your reporting capabilities: Effective reporting is crucial to measure recruitment success and identify areas for improvement. Ensure your ATS provides robust reporting functionalities to track key metrics and generate meaningful insights.

  5. Prioritize user experience: A user-friendly and intuitive interface is essential for both recruiters and candidates. Choose an ATS that is easy to navigate, provides clear instructions, and facilitates seamless communication.

  6. Consider scalability: As your organisation grows, your recruitment needs will evolve. Choose an ATS that can scale with your business and accommodate future expansion without compromising efficiency.

  7. Integrate with other HR tools: Look for an ATS that can integrate seamlessly with other HR solutions such as HRIS, onboarding software, and background check providers. This integration streamlines processes, reduces manual data entry, and enhances overall efficiency.

  8. Stay compliant with data privacy regulations: With the increasing focus on data privacy, ensure your ATS complies with relevant regulations such as GDPR or CCPA. Data security should be a top priority when considering a new ATS.

By following these best practices, organisations can ensure their ATS remains a valuable recruitment tool that supports their talent acquisition strategies and delivers optimal results. Regular assessment, user-centric design, scalability, integration capabilities, and data privacy compliance are key considerations in selecting a modern ATS that meets the evolving needs of a company's recruitment efforts.

Last updated:

Andy Agouridis

Andy helps candidates and employers connect faster and better. Apart from being a Jobylon contributing writer and a Careers content creator. He has a background in HR with Fortune 100 businesses, holds an MSc in HRM, and is a Chartered member of the CIPD.

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