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October 10, 2019

5 Pro Tips For Buying A New ATS

Applicant tracking systems are the core operating system for most talent acquisition organizations.  They are the source of truth across your various recruiting efforts, and the warehouse where you are storing invaluable data on candidates throughout the hiring funnel.

However, there are literally hundreds of these systems out there which makes buying the right system really hard.  Beyond that, there really is no single “best ATS.” The answer is invariably, “it depends” based on your company’s size, goals, talent you’re chasing, and of course budget.

All that said, there are definitely a class of best applicant tracking systems that have set themselves apart from the pack.  And, there are various frameworks that you can use to choose the right system for you.  

Here are the pro-tips that anyone looking at a new applicant tracking system needs to know.

More than just a database: Previously, the ATS was simply a database where candidate records were stored (and many times forgotten) for the purposes of basic vetting of applicants, and compliance.  Today, the modern ATS is so much more. Make sure the software you are looking at has advanced feature sets that allow your team to source passive candidates, analyze your top sources of hire, and re-activate silver medalists.

Think through the ROI: Given these systems have more bells and whistles, they come with more ways to think through how they add value to your business overall.  Sourcing tools can lead to cost savings on recruiter fees. Analytics can allow you to double down on your best hiring channels, and turn off ones that don’t produce.  Re-activating old candidates means a shorter time to fill, which helps the rest of the business meet their goals faster.  All of these aspects translate into dollars and cents ROI that your CFO can appreciate – and they might have to given modern applicant tracking systems cost more than their predecessors.

Stay organized: This is generally true across buying all types of HRtech.  When you’re doing more than two demos for a given solution, it’s hard to remember all of the various feature sets across each vendor.  Make sure to keep a running tab of the features you care about, and the nice to haves that may become tie breakers when deciding between your final two.  You should also keep track of how much you liked your rep. Believe it or not, this is a great signal about the vendor as a whole – good sales reps can work anywhere, and the more abrasive ones will work for anyone.

Integrations matter: You most likely have a lot of other point solutions in your HRTech stack.  You’re going to want as many as possible to talk to your ATS through bi-directional APIs.  There are VERY few ATS’s that have built these out.  And you need to beware – some of the ATS vendors will charge you a monthly fee for everyone integration you want to hook up to their system.

Get the users involved: Too many times business leaders get caught up in the checklist they care about, which rarely foots well to what the end users of the system actually care about.  In the case of the ATS, your head of IT may care about security, the head of People wants better analytics, but it’s your recruiters who are going to have to live in this system day in and day out.  Make sure they have a say in which solution is ultimately chosen, and bring in a few during demos to understand the questions they’ll have for each vendor.

If you’re buying a new ATS, good luck.  It’s not an easy process, and making the wrong choice can definitely be costly.  But, if you follow the above advice, you should be well on your way to implementing a solution that will allow your recruiting team to meet its goals and contribute meaningfully to the business.


 Phil Strazzulla is the Founder of SelectSoftware. Follow him on Twitter: @philstrazzulla​.