How an ATS Works

One of the challenges that HR departments face is poor recruitment process.

Issues arise when recruitment personnel come up with flimsy job descriptions or fail to select suitable candidates. Sometimes, candidates are picked based on their personal characteristics instead of their professional competence.

Bad hiring decisions negatively impact productivity and business growth. This may even lead to a toxic work culture and huge financial losses. Thus, we should take the necessary steps to continuously improve our recruitment process.

We can streamline the recruitment and hiring process by utilizing applicant tracking systems.

What Is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software used to manage recruitment and hiring. It’s designed to automate, simplify, and expedite the recruitment process.

It is a tool that automates collation, analysis, and sorting of job applicant data. It also stores resumes in a database for easy access in the future.

An ATS makes recruitment processes more efficient. It filters hundreds of resumes and highlights the top candidates. With this system in place, we don’t have to review every single application we receive. We can just focus on those that have been identified as a great match by the system.

An ATS also facilitates seamless collaboration among recruiters and HR managers. This saves the company time and money.

How Applicant Tracking Systems Work

An ATS manages every step in the recruitment process from job requisition to hiring. It reduces repetitive manual activities and automate some processes. While each applicant tracking system works differently, they all essentially help through the following processes:

Creating job requisitions

An ATS simplifies the job requisition process. It creates job descriptions and makes it easy to add other details to the requisition. It automates the process from the request for the job opening to the approval for the listing.

When we use an ATS in this process, we produce less error in creating job requirements and descriptions. We facilitate faster approval for job listings. We also enhance collaboration and create less confusion within the recruitment team.

Managing job openings

An ATS organizes job openings and places them on various job boards. It can integrate with a company’s careers page to match the company brand.

Nowadays, many ATS also enable sharing on various social media platforms, allowing us to reach millennials.

While an ATS can automatically create and place job postings, it still affords us flexibility. We can standardize and configure the process according to our requirements. We can take measures to ensure that we attract only the most suitable candidates.

Receiving applications

The system automatically collects applicant data. It makes the application process easier for candidates by using customized forms. Contact information, work experiences, educational background, resume, and cover letter are all uploaded into a database.

With an ATS, we can create a central repository for applicant data for future job openings. By organizing information in a database, we can make data accessible and searchable by anyone in the recruitment team.

Screening applications

An ATS software can help with resume parsing. It uses keywords to filter and rank resumes according to the job requirements. It utilizes metrics for measuring talent.

It can select the most qualified candidates based on the education, experiences, and skills required.

Instead of manually going over resumes one by one, we can just set certain criteria for the job positions available. The system automatically sifts the talent pool and shortlists candidates. We can raise hiring standards through this efficient screening process.

Scheduling and documenting interviews

An ATS can also be used in scheduling interviews with qualified applicants. When integrated with the company’s calendar software, it can make appointment setting seamless.

Aside from scheduling interviews, the system can also be used to standardize interviews, record video interviews, and document interview comments.

We can easily collaborate on creating standardized questions to evaluate candidates. We can record interview notes as well for easy comparison. All of these features optimize the selection process.

Sending emails

Using an ATS, job offer or rejection letters are automatically sent through email. Automated emails ensure timely communication. It makes for a better candidate experience and improve candidate engagement.

We can maintain consistency and fairness when we keep track of offer and rejection letters. When we provide a positive candidate experience, suitable candidates are more likely to accept our offers.

We even increase the possibility of reapplication and referral among those who didn’t make the cut.


Digital onboarding is possible through an ATS. The applicant’s information in the database are used when they are hired and put into the HR system and on the payroll. Necessary employment forms can also be collected in electronic form.

We can streamline the onboarding process by using existing data from the application process. We also simplify filing and storage when we opt for digital filing of documents.

Documenting the process

An ATS makes it easy to generate reports on hiring activity and recruitment success. It can give us insights on how fast the application process takes. It can also measure the cost-effectiveness of the entire process.

We can use data collected by an ATS from our recruitment processes for our hiring planning. When we’re familiar with trends and outcomes, we can take appropriate measures to improve our hiring strategies.

Five Essential ATS Tools

Now that we understand how it works, let’s identify the ATS tools that are most important for our company. Here are five basic ATS tools that are essential to any business:

Pre-Screening Questionnaires

These questionnaires filter out qualified candidates from hundreds of applicants. Knockout questions are used to narrow down the pool to save the hiring team valuable time.

Scheduling Tools

These are tools that integrate with calendars we commonly use like the Google Calendar Microsoft Office 365. We can easily synchronize schedules using these tools.

Advance Auto-Emails and Texting

These tools help handle communications efficiently. Aside from auto-emails, they enable multiple people to text from the same number. With these features, we get to keep a history of email and text conversations.

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration features allow members of the recruitment team to view applications and leave comments and feedback. These enable faster deliberation during the selection process.

Document E-sign Tools

We can reduce the number of documents we physically file and store by using electronic copies of employment contracts and other forms. With these tools, electronic documents can be automatically stored and easily accessed.

The Future of ATS

It’s estimated that 75% of companies today use some form of applicant tracking system. This is bound to increase even more as companies see the impact ATS has on overall productivity.

When implemented properly, ATS results to a more effective and cost-efficient recruitment process. It can save time, improve employee engagement, increase work productivity, and maximize profits.

With technological advances, ATS will become more technical as they begin leveraging AI. AI will improve applicant tracking systems by intelligently scoring resumes and researching candidates. It may even predict an applicant’s potential performance in the company.

ATS is an essential tool for business growth. We must see the need to invest in optimizing the way we source our most valuable capital — our employees.