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Which Applicant Tracking System (ATS) should I use?

An Applicant Tracking System or ATS is one of the must have tools for a talent and recruiting team!

Generally companies start by using google sheets or project management tools like Asana to begin with. But companies should start using an applicant tracking system when the recruitment process becomes too complex and difficult to manage with excel or google sheets. Typically, this is when the recruitment process involves managing a large number of job postings and candidates. An applicant tracking system allows companies to easily manage a high volume of job postings and candidates with automated features such as job posting, candidate tracking, and analytics.

Based on our experience at Rocket, a good rule of thumb is to layer in an ATS when the company size exceeds 40 employees or you are managing more than 5 different requisitions simultaneously.

How to choose an ATS:

There are many different Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) available, and the best one for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Some factors you may want to consider when choosing an ATS include:

  • Features and functionality: What are the key features and capabilities of the ATS, and how well do they align with your needs? Some ATSs have more advanced features, such as resume parsing and automatic scoring, while others may be more basic.
  • Integration with other systems: If you have other HR systems in place, such as a HRIS or CRM, it's important to choose an ATS that can easily integrate with these systems to avoid duplication of effort and ensure a seamless workflow.
  • User experience and support: How easy is the ATS to use, both for you and for your candidates? Does the vendor offer training and support to help you and your team get up to speed quickly?
  • Pricing and contract terms: What is the cost of the ATS, and what do you get for your money? Be sure to consider not just the upfront cost, but also any ongoing fees, such as for support or maintenance.
  • Security and data privacy: How does the ATS handle data privacy and security, both for you and for your candidates? Make sure the ATS complies with any relevant regulations, such as GDPR in the European Union.

Ultimately, the best ATS for you will be the one that meets your specific needs and helps you efficiently and effectively manage your recruiting process. It may be helpful to research and compare several different ATSs to find the one that's right for you.

Which ATS to choose?

There are a lot of vendors in the market providing different capabilities at vastly different price points. Here are some recommendations based on our experiences with hundreds of clients.

If you are a startup in the United States/Canada, you should generally choose one of the following 3 Applicant Tracking Systems:

  1. Greenhouse - Based out of New York, Greenhouse is known for its advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, which can help organizations make data-driven decisions about their hiring processes. Additionally, Greenhouse offers one of the most robust integrations with other HR and recruiting software vendors. Used by 4000+ companies worldwide - sample customers of Greenhouse include Adobe, Walmart, and eBay.
  2. Lever - Built in Silicon Valley, Lever is known for its focus on collaboration and transparency, with a user-friendly interface that allows teams to work together on the hiring process. Lever has a more limited integration suite (API access module is also priced separately), is generally more pricier but has email outreach capability built into the product. Used by 1000+ companies worldwide and sample customers include Google, Microsoft and Oracle.
  3. Ashby - Ashby is the newest kid on the ATS block. Its claim to fame is that it is a fully featured ATS including extremely robust CRM, Outreach and Reporting capabilities. While the user base is more startup oriented, it aims to be a single point solution.

If you are based out of Europe, the following companies have a stronger presence in the European markets with more focus and experience with privacy initiatives like GDPR as well as multilingual support.

  1. Workable - with offices in London and Athens (in addition to Boston), Workable is an important player in the European market. In our experience, Workable is best for companies that need to quickly post jobs and use social media for recruiting. Workable also has a strong AI sourcing plan - it automatically gives you 50 passive candidates for each job you post! Workable has 8000+ customers worldwide including Ryanair and Eurobank.
  2. Recruitee - based out of Amsterdam, Recruitee launched in 2015 and has but already has 5000+ customers. They are more focused on the SMB market with a design drive intuitive product and a focus on collaborative hiring across the organization. Sample customers include Hotjar and TaskHuman.

If you are a larger company, then perhaps you will need the additional compliance and regulatory benefits of using an ATS tailored for large companies. Some good options include:

  1. SmartRecruiters - Built out of the Bay Area and Venture Capital backed, SmartRecruiters deliberately focuses on large organizations. Some of their 4000+ customers include Visa, McDonalds, and even LinkedIn! Some of their enterprise features include job distribution to hundreds of destinations, job advertising, AI chatbots and more. It is probably the most modern option for large organizations.
  2. Taleo - Founded in 1996 in Quebec, Taleo was eventually acquired by Oracle in 2012 and now called Oracle Talent Management Cloud. Truly built for extremely large organizations like Fujitsu, ArcerlorMittal and other Fortune 500 clients, Taleo's product offerings span beyond recruiting to also include performance management, learning, development, and compensation benchmarking. No one is going to be over the moon implementing Taleo in terms of UX or feature set, but can be the right solution if you need global scale and want to implement a single solution.
  3. Jobvite - Based out of Indianapolis, Jobvite was founded in 2003 and eventually acquired by a private equity firm which also owns JazzHR. Jobvite has some large customers like Zappos, Hulu and Shutterfly and the product's original claim to fame was its focus on social media recruiting particularly on Facebook and LinkedIn and now offers chat bots, AI screening and ability to advance or reject candidates based on preset criteria.
  4. iCIMS - Based out of New Jersey, iCIMS is an acronym that stands for Internet Collaborative Information Management Systems - quite a mouthful! A legacy player which was founded in 2000, iCIMS has a large base of large customers like Target, IBM, and UPS. iCIMS is well suited for large global companies that need all the necessary regulatory and compliance features and need an ATS to be highly customizable which naturally also increases complexity.

Some companies don't want a separate ATS, instead preferring to implement an ATS that is part of a broader HR offering. In this case, your options include:

  1. Zoho Recruit - Used by 2000+ companies worldwide, Zoho Recruit is developed out of India and offers a powerful ATS and CRM in a single recruitment platform as part of Zoho's comprehensive suite of business solutions which includes email, productivity tools, project management and more. The product is highly rated and known for its customizations.
  2. BambooHR - BambooHR's recruiting solution is just one component of BambooHR's offerings which span payroll, compensation, onboarding, and culture management. The ATS itself is not super powerful but more than enough for many companies' needs.

If you are an SMB and just want something easy to implement, there are a few options for you:

  1. BreezyHR - Founded in 2014 and based out of Florida, BreezyHR's solutions are perfect for SMBs with pricing starting at ~$150/per month. Strong focus on the basics attracts customers like BoosterBox and Elevation Church.
  2. JazzHR - With offices in Waltham and Pittsburg, JazzHR is extremely affordable starting as low as $39/month. Customers like Lootcrate and Clearly love the ability to get started quickly and use custom workflows with every job rec.

Some ATS's are purpose built for Staffing agencies and include features to help them work collaboratively with their clients. Our best recommendation for this market is:

  1. Bullhorn - purpose built for Staffing firms, Bullhorn can source, search, interview, place, onboard, bill, and pay all out of one system.

Implementation & Training

Implementation of an applicant tracking system can be a difficult and complex process. Companies typically face a number of hurdles in order to get the full value out of the system. One of the most common hurdles is the lack of integration between the applicant tracking system and existing HR systems. Without integration, companies may miss out on valuable applicant data or have to manually enter data which can be time consuming and prone to errors. Another hurdle is that many applicant tracking systems require a significant amount of customization, which can be difficult to do and costly. Companies may also need to invest in additional resources to ensure the system is optimally utilized. Finally, companies may also struggle to develop a process for tracking and evaluating applicants in order to extract the full value from the system. All of these hurdles can make the implementation process challenging and require a lot of resources and effort in order to get the most value from the system.

For all these reasons, the implementation of the ATS is even more important than the selection of the ATS!

Common mistakes

Recruiters often make a number of mistakes when using an applicant tracking system. One of the most common mistakes is not entering all relevant job details into the system. This can cause confusion and delay in the recruitment process as recruiters may not be aware of certain requirements or qualifications needed for the job. Another common mistake is not properly categorizing or tagging applicants, which can lead to the wrong applicants being considered for a particular job. Additionally, recruiters may forget to update the system when applications are received or when a candidate’s status changes, leading to a disorganized recruitment process.

Finally, many recruiters fail to take advantage of all the features and tools an applicant tracking system can offer, such as automated emails, applicant filtering, and tracking metrics. These features can make the recruitment process more efficient and streamlined.

About Rocket

Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals and knows technology recruiting inside out. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more.

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