Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses: Pros and Cons

Hiring managers, sitting down at a computer, reviewing applications with the help of an applicant tracking system.

With 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies use an application tracking system (ATS) as well as 75 percent of recruiters and hiring professionals overall, this hiring technology tool is likely here to stay. But how do small businesses who may not hire at the scale of Fortune 500s or field applications and screen applicants at the rate of dedicated recruiting companies take advantage of an ATS?

Businesses that leverage technology to move applicants quickly through their process have the advantage, especially when hiring in tight labor markets. For small businesses in particular, finding the right employees can make or break your path to success. Here’s some information about ATS software and how to put it to work in your business.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An ATS is software that supports companies during the recruitment and hiring process, as well as with human resources administration. Most often, a company’s primary use for the software is to collect, organize, and filter applications.

While some jobseekers bemoan ATS because they create an extra barrier between them and HR representative and hiring managers, businesses of all sizes have come to depend on ATS for good reasons. For one, application tracking can perform many routine tasks that would otherwise bog down small business owners and hiring managers who have more important things to do.

In addition, a single corporate job opening attracts an average of 250 resumes. Couple this with the reality that 27 percent of employers say candidates don’t have either the interpersonal aptitude or job skills they’re looking for, and you can see how these systems can help businesses drastically reduce the number of applications they personally review and process.

ATS Recruitment for Your Small Business: Pros

Small businesses face many challenges when recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees. Those challenges generally fall under three broad categories: time, cost, and competitive advantage. Standard features for ATS platforms address all three categories. No one system is perfect, so you’ll need to identify your top pains to ensure that the ATS helps where you need it most.

While each system offers a different package of features, a typical applicant tracking system for small business is used primarily to help hiring companies organize and navigate large numbers of applicants. These systems are available at a broad range of price points designed for organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees. Here are features and benefits that will address the most common time, cost, and competitive advantage challenges.

Application tracking is the cornerstone of this recruitment tech tool. As such, the best solutions save you time and money by automating processes like:

  • Collecting applicant information through online forms.
  • Organizing prospective hires based on data like skills, experience, and geographic location.
  • Tracking the status of each application.
  • Archiving applicant information for future hiring searches.

Generally, a top-tier applicant tracking system for small business allows users to customize the workflows associated with each of the steps in the list, which makes the tool more impactful in your small business. Mobile friendliness and ease of use are other ATS features that benefit both the employer and the applicant.

Integration with other business software, as well as web-based and mobile apps, will drastically improve your workflow as a hiring manager, but it also helps create a more streamlined applicant experience. An ATS recruitment strategy that integrates with tools you already use (like Gmail, Outlook, LinkedIn, and text messaging) allows you to automate and support actions that keep the communication flowing and process moving forward.

More than half of applicants use online job sites to conduct their search. And, more than 50 percent of hiring managers view social professional networks as a source for viable candidates. That’s why the right ATS should facilitate posting on career sites and social media posting management.

ATS Recruitment for Your Small Business: Cons

Even though recruitment with ATS will reduce administrative burden and overall time needed to recruit and hire a new employee, there are limitations and drawback to using the systems. The most notable are:

  • Automatic elimination of applications because the algorithm can’t recognize and interpret key information.
  • Missing well-qualified applicants who didn’t optimize their applications for ATS.
  • Vulnerability to manipulation by applicants (i.e., using KWs in specific ways that hide their lack of qualifications).

A list of top HR and recruiting software options with feature comparisons may help you avoid systems that don’t actively address these issues, thus minimizing the likelihood of experiencing these pitfalls.

Don’t Wait to Start Recruiting Top Talent

Your competitive advantage-and your bottom line-depend largely on selecting the right employees to join your team. Whether you’re ready to go with a new applicant tracking system, or still on the fence, you don’t need to delay the hiring process. Attract top candidates to help grow your business and increase your success by posting your job opening for free with Monster.