Top 9 Features To Look For In An ATS

Andy Agouridis Better practices

Technology is changing the game when it comes to finding the right people for a job. Gone are the days of sifting through piles of resumes and drowning in paperwork. Nowadays, organizations are relying on Application Tracking System (ATS) solutions to streamline their recruitment process, give candidates a better experience, and make smarter hiring decisions. A study by Jobscan found that over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS. And it's not just the giants who rely on this technology. Another study conducted by Kelly OCG revealed that even 66% of big companies and 35% of small organizations are banking on recruitment software.

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By automating and centralizing different parts of talent acquisition, an ATS makes life easier for you. They can save precious time and resources, allowing you to focus on strategic initiatives. Plus, an ATS promotes collaboration among hiring teams, ensuring smooth communication and a unified approach to finding the perfect fit for each position. Given these amazing benefits on the table, choosing the right ATS is a make-or-break decision for your hiring success. But how do you choose the best ATS from the sea of options available? We’re here to help! Keep reading for the nine crucial features to watch for while shopping for an ATS. 

1. User-friendly Interface

When it comes to an effective ATS, nothing beats a smooth and intuitive user experience. It's like the secret sauce that makes everything work seamlessly and efficiently. Why so? Simply because a user-friendly interface not only speeds up the recruitment process but also reduces the likelihood of human error. It empowers your team to focus on the real art of recruiting, instead of wrestling with complicated software. The cherry on the cake? Your team won't need extensive training to master the system, saving a significant amount of time in an industry where speed is everything.

Diving into the nitty-gritty, an ideal ATS is one with a wide array of features that make it super easy to use. One example is a design layout that logically groups related functions, so you can easily find and use the tools you need. Also, easy navigation through different sections, such as candidate profiles, job postings, and interview schedules, can be a game-changer. In essence, an ATS that feels like a helpful assistant rather than a complicated puzzle can take your recruitment game to a whole new level.

2. Integration Capabilities

Integration capabilities are the lifeblood of a top-notch ATS. Your ATS shouldn't be an isolated island in the vast ocean of your HR tech stack. Instead, it should be like the hub that connects all your systems, so they can integrate seamlessly. This smooth communication is crucial for streamlining your recruitment workflow, getting rid of the mind-numbing manual data entry stuff, and making sure that all your platforms are on the same page.

At the very least, a robust ATS should be compatible with your Human Resource Information System (HRIS) to share candidate and employee data effortlessly. Your ATS should also be able to team up with job boards and social media platforms, making it a gold mine for potential recruits. In a nutshell, an ATS with integration capabilities is the maestro of your recruitment orchestra, bringing all the different instruments together to create a symphony of efficiency.

3. Advanced Search and Matching

An ATS with robust search and matching features can also be a game changer in your recruitment process. With these, recruiters can breeze through stacks of resumes without breaking a sweat. Take, for instance, the keyword search feature. It allows you to pinpoint relevant candidate profiles by identifying specific words or phrases associated with the job role. It’s like having access to a digital magnifying glass highlighting potential "needle in a haystack" candidates. Thus, saving recruiters valuable time from tedious manual scanning processes that may not always yield optimal results.

As technology advances, ATS has become even more powerful with the inclusion of AI-powered matching capabilities. These advanced features allow for a deeper analysis of candidate profiles and job descriptions to determine compatibility based on factors such as skill sets and work experience, in addition to other relevant criteria. Think of it as having a super-smart assistant who knows exactly what you're looking for and delivers the best candidates on a silver platter.

4. Automated Communication

Automated communication is another ATS capability that can make a difference in your talent acquisition. This feature allows you to set up predetermined communication templates that can be sent out to candidates automatically at different stages of the recruitment process. And the best part? You don't have to manually intervene! It keeps the conversation going with candidates in a professional manner, saving you time to focus on the real deal – finding the best talent for your organization.

An ATS with strong automated communication can ensure that no candidate feels overlooked or undervalued by providing timely updates and responses. The use of bulk emails for large-scale candidate engagement, coupled with automated responses for individual queries, creates a balance between efficiency and personalization. Moreover, scheduling notifications keep both your team and applicants in the loop for upcoming interviews or assessments. It’s a win-win for both parties involved. The recruiter saves time and energy, whereas the applicant feels valued and informed about their candidacy status.

5. Analytics and Reporting

When it comes to talent acquisition, data analytics and reporting play a crucial role. Instead of relying on gut feelings or outdated methods, savvy recruiters understand the power of making data-based decisions. Numbers give you clear insights into what's working and not, and where you can improve. That's why it's essential for an ATS to have robust analytics and reporting capabilities. With this kind of system in place, your recruitment process becomes like a well-oiled machine that continuously optimizes itself using reliable data.

An ideal ATS should provide a wide range of tools to track important metrics like time-to-hire, source of hire, and candidate conversion rates. On top of that, it should present this data in intuitive, easy-to-understand dashboards that visually highlight trends and patterns. And let's not forget about customizable reports, which allow for a deeper analysis tailored to the specific needs of each organization. An ATS that meets these requirements isn't just a tool—it's a strategic partner in the mission to attract top-tier talent.

6. Mobile Compatibility

In the age of connectivity, an ATS needs to be as agile as the dynamic talent it aims to attract. Having a mobile-friendly interface is more than just a convenience—it's a vital link between potential candidates and the recruitment team. A streamlined mobile experience ensures that candidates, even those on the go, can easily apply, contributing to a more diverse candidate pool. For recruiters, a mobile-compatible ATS provides a seamless working experience, allowing them to review applications, schedule interviews, and manage candidate communication from anywhere, at any time.

But the benefits of mobile compatibility go beyond just operational efficiency. In an era where first impressions count more than ever, a smooth mobile interface signals that the organization is forward-thinking and tech-savvy. This seemingly small but significant detail can be the deciding factor for talented individuals considering multiple options, and it sets the stage for a positive candidate experience. Moreover, a mobile-ready ATS empowers recruiters with real-time updates, keeping them in the loop and speeding up the selection process. When it comes to attracting top talent, mobile compatibility is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have.

7. Compliance Features

In the complex world of hiring, compliance is key. An ATS serves as a guardian, ensuring your recruitment practices adhere to employment laws and regulations. It's not just about checking off boxes but creating a fair and unbiased hiring process. With robust compliance features, an ATS helps prevent unintentional biases and guarantees equal treatment for all candidates, regardless of their race, age, gender, or other protected characteristics. It's not just a tool but a trusty ally that supports your commitment to ethical hiring practices.

An ATS can also be your safety net when it comes to record-keeping. Employment laws often demand meticulous documentation of recruitment activities, which can be overwhelming even for the most organized HR teams. From tracking candidate communication to recording reasons for non-selection, an ATS automates the entire process, making it smooth and efficient. Essentially, an ATS with comprehensive compliance features is like having a virtual compliance officer, ensuring your recruitment efforts stay on the right path and safeguarding your company's reputation.

8. Flexibility and Customization

Flexibility and customization are essential factors to consider when choosing an ATS that meets the specific needs of your organization. A flexible ATS provides the ability to adapt and customize the system to align with your unique recruitment processes and workflows. This ensures that the ATS seamlessly integrates into your existing systems and allows for a smooth transition without disrupting your recruitment operations. By customizing the ATS, you can create a tailored experience for both recruiters and candidates, enhancing efficiency and improving overall user satisfaction.

Moreover, customization enables you to prioritize the features and functionalities that are most important to your organization. Instead of being locked into a rigid solution with unnecessary features, a customizable ATS allows you to select and pay for only the functionalities you require, thus optimizing your investment. Whether it's adding specific screening questions, creating custom workflows, or integrating with other HR tools, a flexible ATS empowers you to mold the system to suit your unique recruitment needs. This level of customization ensures that you have the agility to respond to changing market dynamics and evolving hiring strategies. Thus, enabling your organization to stay ahead in the competitive talent acquisition landscape.

9. Employer Branding

When it comes to attracting top talent, your employer brand takes center stage. It's pretty mind-blowing that a whopping 75% of candidates really care about a company's reputation before deciding to apply. It's not just some passing fad; it's a clear sign of how important it is to present a strong and genuine company image. That's why investing in an ATS that can capture and reflect your unique organizational culture isn't just a fancy extra—it's a must-have strategic move.

The right ATS is one that lets you customize it to reflect your organization's unique culture. It's not just a tool for managing applicants—it's a platform where you can tell your brand story. Think of your ATS as a digital host that welcomes potential candidates in a way that's completely "you." You can showcase stories of your employees' achievements, share your mission statement, or even show off a video that gives a glimpse into a day in the life at your company. Such personalized touches not only elevate your brand in the job market but also resonate with potential candidates on a deeper level. This customized portrayal of your brand within the ATS can help attract talent that aligns well with your company's core values and culture.

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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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