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6 Best Practices on How to Use Your Applicant Tracking System Effectively

6 Best Practices on How to Use Your Applicant Tracking System Effectively

Most companies understand that adopting new technology is beneficial, especially when dealing with HR and tracking its processes. A new software program helps streamline tasks while keeping key employees engaged and involved. Implementing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) helps a company’s recruiting process run smoother and more efficiently. But implementing the software into your company’s workflow is only half the journey.


Here are the 6 best practices on how to use an applicant tracking system effectively:


Thoughtfully source your candidates

external-internal-helpdeskBefore reviewing a candidate’s resume, it’s important to first locate the top-notch candidates who resemble your company’s standards and culture. Using sources such as career sites, social networks and internal referrals helps your hiring team broaden their candidate pool, which will help your career advertisement be seen by more talent. But not all sources are created equal; it’s best to pick and choose which career sources work best for the needs of your company.

Review your source data

inventory-iconAfter you have used the ATS to gather a targeted group of candidates, review your source data. Source data is the primary location of where your data is located. Your company’s source data can be in a form of a database or spreadsheet. This simple data will give your HR department an idea of how long it will take to fill these positions if you use these sources, and how many candidates you are receiving from each. Going through this process will allow your team to calculate the cost per hire.

Connect with each applicant

data-caps-user-iconSome companies are afraid that an ATS will decrease the human component of the hiring process, but the ATS can actually free up the hiring manager’s time (allowing them to be able to reach out to each applicant individually.) Because most systems send automated thank you emails to each of the applicants once they applied, automated follow-ups quickly with applicants will add the human touch that was sometimes missing before. Whether applicants are hired or not, extending this type of courtesy helps foster a positive perception of your company as one that’s respectful and courteous to potential employees.

Provide a thorough and accurate job description

blogging-iconIn a world where info is at our fingertips, if candidates can’t immediately find out the information they’re seeking from the job description, they will most likely move on to the next company who has an accurate job description. Being vague or leaving critical information out will only waste your time and the applicant’s. It’s best to clearly communicate from the beginning so both parties have clear expectations about the role, duties and responsibilities. Job ads should be reviewed before they’re posted on career sites to ensure that the information included is accurate.

Be versatile when selecting keywords

ab-test-iconThe way that the ATS uses keywords to sift through applications has helped make the process much more efficient; however, it can be tricky to get keyword filtering to work in your favor. At times, strong candidates may be filtered out because they didn’t know how integrate the right keywords into their resumes.Using a broad range of keywords will help open the candidate pool of resumes that you would have otherwise missed.

Work ahead of your needs

alerts-iconJust-in-time hiring is a trap that many companies fall into. It may seem like this method is a money saver, as you aren’t putting labor and time towards scouting candidates when you don’t need to fill a position; however, hiring will actually cost the company money when positions are left empty and the quality or output decreases. Staying ahead of your hiring needs and continuously hiring top talent will help keep your business running smoothly.


Discover the solution

Figuring out how to fully utilize your company’s ATS may take some time, but following these best practices gives your companies a fighting chance in maximizing return on investment (while attracting new, impactful employees to your team.) At the end of the day, remember that applicant tracking software is used to improve your recruitment process, not a replacement for broken systems or a quick fix hiring solution.


Find the right candidate today by downloading your FREE Human Resources report here.

[Image courtesy of Tim Gouw]

  • Consultant

Dave Rietsema

Founder of, HR Payroll Systems
Dave Rietsema has worked in the human resources industry for several years as both a generalist and manager. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration with an HR focus and is certified by the Human Resources Certification Institute as a ...