Applicant Tracking System (ATS): Which One is Right for Your Business?
Scaling and hiring are the top concerns we hear from both our portfolio leaders and the broader tech community. Hiring can be daunting in a rapidly growing startup. Who do you need to hire now to continue to scale the business? Who fits the right background for the job? Each hire is crucial to get right in the early days of the organization.
So how do you properly keep track of hiring without completely reinventing the wheel? It’s all about implementing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS can be used as a centralized platform to keep track of applicants throughout the hiring process.
To dive into best practices, I spoke with Jenny Shedd, a Recruiting and Talent Strategy Consultant, who guides startups on ATS buy-in from senior leadership and implementation. I first met Jenny when she was consulting with JumpCloud’s talent team on this exact topic.
When to implement an ATS
It may seem simple, but when I asked Jenny when she thought a company should implement an ATS, she said they should do it as soon as possible. An ATS is just as important to a company as Salesforce.com is to sales and JIRA is to engineering. It becomes the centralized depository for active candidates and can capture the progress on a specific search and for future talent. To have something in place to manage the process is crucial as your business rapidly scales. “An ATS in one year can save you one agency fee,” says Jenny.
Choosing the right ATS for your business
When choosing an ATS, Jenny said there are a few important questions to ask:
- How much reporting do you need?
- Does your process need to be automated?
- Do you want to create offers through the ATS?
- Do you need an integration with your calendar?
She also said it’s important to understand the growth within the product and your overall budget. “You can’t go wrong with any ATS, but spend the money early to buy a good ATS.”
Below is an outline of the three top Applicant Tracking Systems for basic, premium and top grade. Please note that OpenView does not promote any specific ATS.
ATS’ for basic, premium and top grade subscriptions
Basic model: Recruitee
- Recruitee offers a kanban-style ATS with features include job posting to multiple boards, a sourcing tool and careers page.
- Suitable for small businesses and it gives a free 18-day trial.
- Pricing starts at $19/month ($199/month for job postings).
Premium model: Hire by Google
- Hire integrates seamlessly with Gmail, Google Calendar and all G-suite apps
- Uses AI to streamline administrative tasks, post jobs to various job sites all at once and will identify and attract strong candidates.
- Pricing starts at $100/month.
Top Grade model: Greenhouse
- Greenhouse is a cloud-based recruiting platform that helps you find good candidates and conduct better interviews.
- The platform allows for structured interview plans, scorecards (where interviewers can record their impressions after an interview), reporting and analytics and pipeline management.
- Pricing starts at $6,600/year for 10-15 employees.
ATS best practices
The best way to lay the foundations for proper ATS use is training. “I always start with an ATS-specific training that includes executives and everyone that will have access to the ATS,” says Jenny. She keeps the training simple and covers the basics:
- Interviewing 101
- What to cover in a phone screen
- What the interview process will look like
- Who will make the offer (Talent/HR vs. Hiring Manager)
- Who owns what during the interview process
- Where the information will reside in the system, who has access and what are the right permissions
- Defining a scorecard and how will it be used
Schedule all interviews (phone and onsite) through your ATS. Send reminders to the interview team to complete scorecards (that have already been created) and record all correspondence between candidates and HR/interview teams in the ATS.
Scorecards/behavioral interviewing is one of the best tools in an ATS. A scorecard allows your interviewers to focus on the candidate and not the feedback form during the interview. This type of interviewing gets your interview team on the same page and to conduct high-impact conversations with candidates.
Jenny urges users to look for attributes that are universal regardless of position. “Create three must-have skills sets (and build the metrics from there) and a ‘one size fits all’ standard bar across the entire organization. During interview training, make sure the interviewers know that they are not looking for personal qualities, but attributes that will be a value-add to the organization.”
It’s not always easy to put the time and effort into implementing an ATS, but it is an instrumental database, not just an organizational tool,” says Jenny. Taking the time to find the right ATS and construct best practices will give you the proper tools to scale quickly and create a successful repeatable model.