How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work

published on 24 September 2022

A growing number of companies have designed software systems to help other businesses find new employees or recruit existing workers. These tools are typically referred to as applicant tracking systems (ATSs), recruitment management software, or talent acquisition software.

Many employers now use these applications to screen applicants for positions. Some even allow job seekers to apply directly from the tool!

While there is no one standard definition of what makes an ATS effective, most focus heavily on matching candidates with open jobs and helping employers manage their employment search process.

That’s why many ATSs include features like interactive job listings, digital portfolios, and chat services where employers can talk face-to-face with potential recruits.

Some even connect job hunters with friends and colleagues for referrals or introductions. This article will go into more detail about some of the features in ATSs and how they work. But first, let us look at the three major components of any successful ATS.

Touchpoints in the application process


Aptly named, an applicant tracking system (ATS), or recruitment software is designed to capture as many touch points of your career journey as possible. This includes applications, phone interviews, take-home assignments, conference calls, and introductions via colleagues.

Based on these interactions, the ATS can determine if you are a fit for a position, and if so, what role you should be offered. It also looks at how you respond to questions and whether this demonstrates that you have leadership potential.

The more data the ATS has, the higher its accuracy in determining future roles for you becomes. That’s why it is important to ensure any past experiences people talk about are matched with who you actually are!

Another key feature of most ATS systems is automatic notification when there is a new job opportunity – even if you don’t apply directly through their site, you may find yourself exposed to it.

Types of companies using applicant tracking systems


Most employers these days use ATSs to manage their hiring processes. A large portion of the job market is online, so it makes sense that most larger corporations have an ATS tool set up to recruit employees. These tools streamline the process by creating templates for applications and gathering information about applicants automatically.

Many times, people get hung up on the importance of having an adequate cover letter when applying. Fortunately, writing a good cover letter isn’t as difficult as some may make out!

There are several types of cover letters you can choose from, such as chronological, testimonial, and goal oriented. All three require different levels of content, but there are universal elements: why you want the position, why you are qualified for the job and what you hope to gain from working there.

Who is hiring?


A recruiter cannot evaluate your application without knowing who you are as a person. They look at your resume, make sense of it, and then talk to you about it to get more information. This is how they determine if you match up with this position or not!

Most ATSs have several features that help recruiters identify your qualities as an individual. These features include things such as: quick reviews of your LinkedIn profile, inquiries into college transcripts, and questions about past employment. All these factors combine together to give them insight into what kind of person you are.

With all this info, the recruiter can figure out whether you would be a good fit for their company.

However, most ATS systems were designed years ago when technology was much less advanced than it is today. Although newer ATSs offer some additional features, the ones that are really successful manage to eliminate the need for looking beyond your online presence to learn about you.

What are the job titles and skills required?


Employers use ATSs to evaluate your applications for specific position openings. They create jobs or task you with finding information about yourself, and then they assess whether you have done this successfully.

The employers can either accept or reject your application, so it is important that you apply properly. It also means they will look more in-depth at what you say than if you were applying through normal channels.

Some positions require a degree, while others do not. Some ask for experience that goes beyond what most people would consider experience, such as being hired within the past three years.

There may be things like salary requirements or timing restrictions that make it impossible to apply directly through the employer’s website, so looking into an ATS is necessary.

What does it pay to use an ATS?


Even though there is a cost for using an applicant tracking system, this price is more than paid back in benefits. In fact, most companies do not even consider the cost of installing and utilizing one!

Most employers that have their own internal recruitment software also offer these services to external recruiters or job seekers. This way you get two things: quality employment resources and professional looking documents and applications.

A growing number of companies have designed software systems to help other businesses find new employees or recruit existing workers. These tools are typically referred to as applicant tracking systems (ATSs), recruitment management software, or talent acquisition software.

By having access to all of your application materials, they can create a better hiring experience for potential candidates and you, as a recruiter or employer. Many times, recruiters will make changes to a document or add new documents to save you time!

These services also help streamline business processes and keep track of everything. By capturing information about applicants through various sources like social media, employee questionnaires, and interviews, the ATS has ways to connect the dots and find out who would be a good fit.

A process that spans several steps


When you are applying through an ATS, there is usually a form or questionnaire to determine if you match the requirements for the position. This process is called screening.

Typically, during this screen, they will ask about past employers and projects. They may also do some basic questions like whether you have hobbies that show passion for life and career growth, etc.

These screens can be done either via phone or face-to-face interview with a recruiter. It depends on what kind of culture they want to create at their company!

By having these conversations, they try to get a sense of who you are as a person and see how you respond to questions. If you feel uncomfortable or something seems off, it could alert them, and they might pursue additional interviews or even reject your application completely.

This is totally normal! Companies look into various things when hiring so it’s not uncommon to go through several rounds of screenings before making a job offer.

Sample jobs available through an ATS


An applicant tracking system (ATS) works by gathering information about you from various sources to determine if you should be considered for a job. A good ATS will also evaluate whether you would be a good fit for the company and position that it is seeking to fill.

Some of the data collected may include your employment history, education records, professional certificates and licenses, criminal background checks, and more. This information is then analyzed using algorithms and structured logic to determine if you are likely to work in the future, if they can hire you, and if this particular employer or position is a good match.

If there’s enough evidence that you could succeed at working there, you'll get hired!

Tips for applying with an ATS


Most employers now have access to such ATS services. This has become very common as most big companies now have them. Some even have it set up so that every recruiter can access the system, making it easier for business units to collaborate on candidates and job openings.

Many people complain about ATSs because they feel like a tool designed to create more efficiency for employers so they can cut out parts of the process. There are some who believe using an ATS makes you look less professional than having someone write a cover letter or do research on your skills and career goals.

However, there are ways to mitigate these issues and find jobs without relying too much on ATSs.

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