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Elizabeth T.19.08.20205 min read

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An application tracking system (ATS) could be likened to two types of friends: the first is the kind of friendship where you meet for coffee every few months and happily gab for an hour and at the end say, “we should meet more often”, but it never happens. Or an ATS could be the other type of friend: the one who showed up to your pet’s funeral or books you a hotel when your credit card isn’t working. 

In short, an applicant tracking system could be a feel-good filler or it could add true value.

An ATS system could be a good add-on to your business or a system that truly supports you through every phase of growing your hiring and recruitment practices and talent management process.

When implementing an ATS, what are you expecting from the system? Like different kinds of friendships, your expectations of an ATS mean varying degrees of pitfalls. If you want a ATS system that sends simple notifications to meet up with Candidate X in September, then the risk for incorrect use is naturally lowered. But if you’re a human resources manager or recruiter  who understands that an effective ATS could mean serious impact to recruit and retain high-quality candidates and develop in-house talent, then you understand how it provides a backbone.

If talent management processes and hiring teams don’t choose the right ATS tool, they risk the company leaving money on the table. 

If you’re ready to add true value to your company through the right ATS, avoid these common pitfalls:


1. Not asking for the proper budget

pre-employment assessment

To create value, invest in the best-in-class ATS program. 86% of recruiting professionals say that using an ATS has helped them hire faster. ATS can also increase hiring efficiency by an incredible 41%. That’s serious savings for a company, particularly small and medium-sized companies. It’s not uncommon for boards and management to set aside healthy and expansive budgets to fund external strategies, like marketing or brick-and-mortar expansion. They often may fail to give a healthy budget for internal processes, like an applicant tracking system, installing a AI pre-employment assessment, or other efficiency tools.  What they often forget is when internal processes are optimized, external efforts become further empowered and optimized, for a fraction of the cost. 

For example, an effective ATS tool retains customers. This means less dollars spent on other superfluous tools. It can also be used to figure out where candidates are coming from, whether its from LinkedIn Jobs or some other platform. This will improve the candidate experience. By creating a healthy financial budget, job managers will be setting up for fast access.


2. Choosing a generic ATS tool

pre-employment assessment

Many tools require minimal information, usually types of information that have little to do with the nut-and-bolt processes. Pick an ATS tool that requires clear objectives, coordinates the needed actors in managing customers, and the technology functionality. A one-size-fits-all ATS tool will be little effective to a growing company. A design firm may have different hiring practices and interviewing needs than an electronics manufacturing plant. As a company grows and the specific needs becomes apparent in their generic ATM tool, the value will be delayed as a company and a vendor must build new features and negotiate prices.

Outdated systems are still functioning at large companies. However companies are moving fast to replace those systems as employers move to spring for the best talent and candidate experience. Automatic ranking systems for candidates and interviews are kicking into full gear with AI and the uptick in remote work and remote talent management. Companies should invest in AI-powered ATS software to make the biggest leap in planning for hiring and talent development.


3. Signing off on vendor’s design choice

pre-employment assessment

Setting up an ATS system takes time. Companies trust ATS vendors to make smart user interaction decisions for their software. However, what if the format of the design isn’t good?  Like the dangers of buying a run-of-the-mill ATS tool, it could prove costly if the UI is confusing and bogs up time as a hiring managers navigate it through different tabs. When selecting abn ATS vendor and ATS integration is to outline the exact outcomes you wish from the tool. Learn about how it can improve your internal process and which technology, AI or otherwise, can be used to leverage your workflow. In the beginning, hiring and recruitment professionals will save time and money by doing homework on the requirements they’re looking for. Even if there are special features your company would need, your vendor may have partnerships with other companies via integrations. For example, Greenhouse is a common ATS that gives their clients the ability to use AI to rank candidates via Retorio. 


4. Fail to train employees 

pre-employment assessment

New tech means new change, which means it takes time to get the tool into use. An ATS is not a stand-alone method of recruiting and retaining talent. The employees using the ATS tool must be using the technology to make it useful. Employees not utilizing new tech is typically called the “adoption problem”. Ironically, a new piece of tech that can truly save time and work often does not get used. Employees are sometimes resistant, hesitant, or confused by the new technology. Train employees to properly use the tool. Otherwise you’ll be left with an useless process.


5. Not Share the “Big Picture” of ATS

pre-employment assessment

This is the biggest mistake human resources managers can make. Without a clear vision of the goal that an ATS will provide for their teams, employees, and candidates, the ATS may not be properly harnessed to its potential. Be sure to share the value of the ATS system or freshly-bought integrations. Even if you already have a ATS tool, migrated the data, created candidate profiles, and use AI integrations, be sure to share the long-term strategy in place. 

Questions to consider when planning for long-term ATS success

What the most important outcomes in my business?
In 1 year?
In 3 years?
In 5 Years?
Of the outcomes, which creates the most impact?
How can my ATS support the ones with the most impact?
What are the metrics to measure success?

People & Processes
On an everyday basis, how are employees and or managers going to use the ATS?
How will new hires be trained to use ATS?
What is the training schedule for employees when new updates are released?
How will teams from hiring and recruitment be using ATS effectively?

A ATS tool can be a life-creator or an insignificant means in talent management practices.  Avoid the common mistakes to create an organized and healthy candidate pool base. Now, that’s an added-value relationship.


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