Applicant Tracking Systems reduce the time taken to hire a candidate, improve overall recruitment efficiency and most importantly offer a great candidate experience.

The question you should be asking now is not whether you need an ATS but 'How to choose the right ATS that fits your needs and budget'. Choosing the right Applicant Tracking System is one of the most crucial decisions every HR leader makes.

However, not all organisations are the same and one ATS does not fit everyone. So, how do you choose the right ATS? You need to consider these 12 factors while choosing an ATS:

how to choose an applicant tracking system how to choose an applicant tracking system

1. Relevant Features for the Scale of your Business

The primary job of an ATS is to streamline your entire recruitment process in one system - from collating job requisitions to broadcasting a role to multiple job boards, bringing all candidates into one recruitment funnel and managing the source to hire process end to end. However, when looking for ATS features make sure you're solving for challenges your teams face today and the ones you foresee in the near future. Investing in a very expensive, enterprise-grade ATS could delay your time to go live and prove to be very costly. Learn more about the most important ATS features to look for. 

2. Customer Reviews & Brand Reputation

Hear from the horses' mouth - Look for customer reviews from businesses that are at the same stage of growth as yours. Check for features that customers love or hate and the reputation the product has amidst users. Look for customer success stories and testimonials from real businesses. There are thousands of ATS players in the market and going by customer reviews is one easy way to shortlist your top 10. 

3. Ease of Use

An Applicant Tracking System is meant to make your recruitment team's life easier. If the ATS you decide to invest in comes with a massive learning curve, it adds to the already rising workload of your HR team. Look for a tool that is intuitive and easy to implement and use. When considering 'usablity' as a factor, account for ease of use for non-recruitment team members such as the hiring managers who would be using the ATS in the long run. 

How to choose an ats - 12 factors - infographic How to choose an ats - 12 factors - infographic


4. Pricing

Cost of the ATS is one of the most important factors to consider, especially if you are an SMB working on a budget. ATS vendors typically anchor pricing on the number of users who would be accessing the tool. There could be other costs such as a platform fee or a data migration fee from your existing tool to the new ATS. Watch out for implementation or set-up fees, integration fees and training fees that would bloat the total cost of ownership up. Check out Freshteam's transparent pricing that allows you to pay for what you use.

5. Choose an ATS with Stellar Customer Support

One of the most overlooked feature when leaders finalize an ATS is 'customer support'. Get a lot of support-related questions clarified upfront - A few questions that you should be asking are: 

Without the right kind of support, you will end up with a hefty investment that does not provide you the right return on your investment. 

6. Availability of a Free Trial

Look for an Applicant Tracking System that lets you try and buy. This is especially important for early-stage businesses that do not have a streamlined recruitment process yet. Investing in an expensive ATS without a recruitment process would not allow you to enjoy the benefits of the ATS. Use the free trial period to streamline your recruitment process while getting onboard the new ATS. Trying the ATS for free also allows your team to get a first hand experience without spending any money. 

During the free-trial phase, here are a few things to check:

7. User-Experience

Recruiters spend a major part of their day with the ATS. You don't want them to be dealing with a clunky tool that frustrates them, do you? Choose an ATS that offers a simple, intuitive and delightful experience. When considering users, think beyond just the recruitment team. Hiring panelists, candidates also come in contact with the ATS - so make sure you gauge the experience from a candidate/applicant's perspective as well. 

8. Scalable & Flexible

A right-sized Applicant Tracking System for your organization must scale as your business grows. Before investing in an ATS, don't just think of the challenges that you and your team are dealing with today. Think about tomorrow's problems and how your ATS could solve for those needs. The scalability of the ATS should reflect in the feature set that the tool offers, the pricing that scales as you grow and the flexibility in integrating with the rest of your HR tech stack. 

9. Data Security

An Applicant Tracking System is a solution that brings the entire hiring process together. You can source candidates, screen and evaluate them, schedule interviews, collect feedback, manage communication, make offers, and nurture a talent pool - all from a single platform. 

The biggest difference between using excel sheets/hiring trackers and an Applicant Tracking System is that you have everything in one place. You don’t have to juggle multiple tools, thus helping you stay more organized. 

10. Compliance 

HR teams are bound by the law of the land. Depending on the business location or the location of your candidate, your business has to comply with varied rules and regulation. For example, complying with laws around storage of personally identifiable information of a candidate is a very simple but a very important problem that companies struggle with. An ATS helps consolidate all these information in one place and enable your organization to stay compliant. Similarly, tracking the number of days/months a candidate has been in the system helps your organization stay GDPR compliant. 

11. Frequency of Product Updates

The HR tech space is fast evolving and HR teams are trying to stay abreast of new trends in the market. Choose an ATS that will keep evolving with the market - be it introducing better analytics reports or introducing features to attract passive candidates.