SmartRecruiters Blog

10 Signs Your Applicant Tracking System is Stuck in the 90’s

After leading corporate talent acquisition throughout my career, I know far too well that applicant tracking systems were originally designed to automate the application and simply track applicants. The applicant tracking system (ATS) was born in the late 1990’s and over the past 15 years they haven’t evolved to meet the requirements for a competitive approach to recruiting.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) were originally designed in the late 1990s to automate job seekers’ applications and for employers to track applicants. After leading corporate talent acquisition throughout my career, I know far too well that the ATS hasn’t evolved to meet the requirements for a competitive approach to recruiting today. As a result, many recruiting leaders have had to implement add-ons and modules to close the significant gap left by an outdated ATS.

Based on my experience, as well as networking with other recruiting leaders, here are 10 signs your ATS is stuck in the 90s and you should ditch it for something better. Like now:

1.  Candidate experience and drop-off rates

  • 1990s: Your ATS shouldn’t be designed like a retailer site that has a shopping cart, account functionality, or one that requires a username and password.
  • 2018: Your ATS takes one click to complete and submit an application (after clicking apply) on your career site.

2.  Employee referrals and turning every employee in your company into a recruiter

  • 1990s: You expect your employees to visit an outdated employee referral page on the company intranet to constantly see what new jobs are open and think through who they might know.
  • 2018: Your ATS automatically matches your jobs to your employees’ professional networks and proactively markets matches.

3.  Your talent database of applicants, candidates and leads

  • 1990s: Performing a search in your ATS leaves your recruiters scratching their head wondering why a software engineer search in Silicon Valley pulls up administrative assistant candidates in New York.
  • 2018: You can easily leverage your proprietary database and perform easy, results-driven searches that work.

4.  Interview and selection activities

  • 1990s: Hiring in your company is not a collaborative effort and your process is reliant on email updates and voice mails between recruiters, hiring managers, and interview teams.
  • 2018: Your ATS naturally engages your hiring teams and is easy to use. It has an app and a desktop version that provides a social feed of all hiring activities, as well as enabling real-time candidate ratings and interview feedback.

5.  Reporting and analytics 

  • 1990s: You are pulling information from multiple sources, relying on spreadsheets, candidate self selected source data and third parties to painfully get basic reports.
  • 2018: Your ATS is the single source of information and easily provides this information at a program-wide view as well as by job. Everything from job board contracts and agency spend is in one place and guides your best investment decisions.

6.  Corporate career site and marketing

  • 1990s: You rely on Marketing and IT resources for any needs related to branding and your corporate career site. You spend most of your time building project plans and attending internal meetings.
  • 2018: Your ATS allows you to quickly build or update your corporate career site and instantly deploy a new landing page for specific audiences you are targeting. It also creates search-engine-optomized ads directly from your ATS.

7.  Marketing and distributing your jobs

  • 1990s: You use third party functionality to post your jobs, or you are posting them on each site manually.
  • 2018: Your ATS automatically distributes your jobs to any job board or network, provides responsive job ad functionality and enables you to manage all of your contracts in one place.

8.  Managing external recruiters

  • 1990s: Your process isn’t compliant and external agency or search firm recruiters are emailing candidates directly to hiring managers or internal recruiters, outside of your ATS.
  • 2018: All of your recruiters are in your ATS, including agencies and search firms, allowing you to control costs, manage candidate delivery and analyze agency results.

9.  LinkedIn as a sourcing and branding strategy

  • 1990s: Your recruiters are required to go back-and-forth between LinkedIn Recruiter and your ATS.
  • 2018: You automatically know if a candidate is in your ATS while sourcing in LinkedIn Recruiter. You can also quickly and easily jump from a candidate profile in LinkedIn Recruiter to a candidate profile in your ATS, as well as automatically import LinkedIn profiles and InMail conversations.

10.  CRM capabilities for sourcing and lead generation

  • 1990s: Your ATS was designed to track applicants once a candidate applies, but can’t manage lead generation, sourcing, and relationship activities.
  • 2018: Your ATS has sophisticated CRM capabilities built directly within the system and you aren’t using another vendor to provide what your ATS can’t do.

This list is just the beginning of identifying pain points that recruiting teams face every day, just by using an outdated ATS. Your recruiting technology strategy shouldn’t include a patchwork of integrations and add-ons just because your ATS doesn’t meet your needs.

Every feature listed here already exists in the SmartRecruiters all-in-one Talent Acquisition Platform. Take a look for yourself to learn why recruiting teams are ditching the ATS for hiring success.

Jason Buss

With 20 years of global human resources and talent acquisition leadership experience, Jason Buss is a recognized expert with deep experience in identifying, recruiting and hiring high-performing teams. As the head of global talent acquisition for New Relic, Jason is responsible for the strategy and delivery of recruiting and workforce management solutions.

Jason is also the founder of the Recruiters.Network communities and editor of Talent HQ, a premier online news and information channel for recruiting and human resources professionals.