An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a type of software solution that helps manage, organize and track job applicants for all types of enterprise businesses, regardless of industry.
Applicant tracking systems, or ATS for short, are a major component of most fully integrated human resources solutions. ATS software has the primary purpose of assisting hiring managers with tracking potential candidates through the entire hiring process. A standard enterprise-grade ATS solution is often equipped with numerous features like HR management, recruitment CRM, talent acquisition and management, candidate experience, metric-based recruiting, as well as predictive analytics and reporting in more advanced platforms.
Enterprise ATS solutions work by managing the core tasks typically associated with the recruitment process, which includes filling an open position within an organization through candidate sourcing, i.e. aggregating applicant data from third-party sources or performing all the necessary tasks and processes within the ATS platform itself. Most applicant tracking systems have the capacity to cover all or sometimes a few of the key processes handled by recruitment teams and agencies, such as résumé parsing and collection, job posting in various career sites, referral programs, candidate qualification analysis, interview scheduling, employee onboarding, candidate relationship management (CRM) and other HR processes.
There are different categories of applicant tracking systems, from a simple standalone recruiting solution with basic features and capabilities, like the ability to post on a job board for the sole purpose of attracting top talent, to fully integrated HR management solutions with enterprise applicant tracking systems designed to help an organization’s hiring team in finding the right candidates with the right skill sets and character traits to fill specific positions within the company.
Enterprise applicant tracking systems are primarily used by large businesses and recruitment agencies with more complex hiring requirements than most small businesses and mid-market users or companies. Enterprise ATS is equipped with tools and applications that go beyond your standard recruitment solution. This ATS category is mainly suited for users that regularly conduct multiple recruitment drives to fill a multitude of job positions and roles on a fairly consistent basis, like a recruitment firm or agency, which a lot of large businesses usually hire for candidate sourcing.
A comprehensive enterprise ATS platform is what you should probably consider if you’re running a fast-growing enterprise that need to fill a lot of vacant job positions and important administrative roles within a short amount of time. Enterprise ATS is not just for recruiting agencies, it is also used by a lot of large multinational companies that frequently hire new talent and need to manage a large pool of candidates in an efficient way.
Enterprise-grade ATS is often available natively within a fully integrated human capital management (HCM) platform. Products like these will usually provide the sub-functionality of an ATS solution, while there are other cloud-based software solutions in the market that specialize or focus only in delivering the core essentials of applicant tracking and management. For an enterprise, the key is finding the right ATS platform that can provide more than just job postings, interview scheduling, career pages and other basic recruiting software functions that you can get in a free trial or free-to-use ATS.
One of the most important factors for enterprise ATS is the ability to integrate with existing HR solutions and/or enterprise resource planning systems (ERP). Global businesses and enterprises have a highly complex hiring process that often takes multiple hiring teams to accomplish, requiring reliable communication and collaboration tools to perform their tasks as efficiently as possible. Communication and collaboration tools allow recruiting teams to share résumés, job applications and other relevant applicant data and get feedback from hiring managers and other teams.
Large multinational enterprises that use legacy applications may also want to integrate their existing solutions with their new enterprise ATS using an open application programming interface (API) provided by the ATS software vendor. This allows for seamless integration between multiple systems in an existing technology stack.
Candidate relationship management (CRM) is another feature that you can expect from an enterprise ATS. While this is a term that many hiring managers and teams often throw around, sometimes they can even be misused when it comes to applicant tracking systems. CRM is in fact a crucial part in the applicant tracking process. Candidate relationship management is a tool that you can use to keep tabs of your talent pool, allowing you to nurture and manage your entire job seeker ecosystem.
A CRM solution will enable you to set reminders to connect with candidates in the future, nurture talent pools and give your recruiting managers and teams a sustainable way to rediscover past candidates that may now be a good fit for recently vacated positions. This is an important function that you should be expecting in all enterprise applicant tracking systems.
Custom employer branding and career site are two key functions that you should consider when choosing an enterprise-grade ATS solution. Modern ATS platforms are purpose-built to provide enhanced candidate experiences, not just to facilitate recruiting processes. This category of ATS will give you the ability to design, create and maintain a branded and professional-looking career site that showcases your brand in the best light possible. Some enterprise ATS solutions will also let you embed employer branding media and messaging into every candidate communication channel.
A good example of an enterprise-grade ATS with excellent employer branding and career site functionality is SAP SuccessFactors. It is a software product that offers a holistic, cloud-based HR management solution dedicated to helping with a wide range of workforce management processes, from candidate sourcing, screening and onboarding to employee engagement, performance assessments and even payroll management. SAP SuccessFactors provides a specialized recruiting system that can facilitate all core processes within the recruiting cycle.
Buying an applicant tracking system involves a lot of work. Choosing an enterprise-grade ATS is even more challenging as it usually involves a lot of money, so you have to consider every aspect of the software and all the benefits that you can expect from implementing this kind of system. You may need to conduct a complete cost-benefit analysis, if you want the best possible outcome when investing in such a software solution.
The hiring process for large businesses and enterprises will often involve multiple recruiting managers and teams working with HR to find the best and most qualified candidates to fill different positions within the organization. Good enterprise ATS can assist in that process by providing robust collaborative tools that recruiting teams, the HR department and even the employees themselves can use to take part in the recruitment process. For instance, staff members can participate in the hiring process through employee referrals, hiring teams provide valuable feedback on job candidates to HR, and recruiting managers can leverage social media as part of their distribution strategy for new job openings.
The ability to integrate with legacy business process solutions like HR management, employee evaluation, time tracking and attendance tools, employee scheduling, payroll systems, governance risk & compliance (GRC), accounting, etc. is another key benefit that you can expect from a fully integrated enterprise ATS solution.
Modern enterprise applicant tracking systems will often provide users with open API access, allowing them to seamlessly integrate almost any third-party solution in their technology stack. So if they want to integrate their HR software with their enterprise ATS, they can just do it without any issue. With seamless integration, large businesses can fully optimize and streamline their recruitment and employee management processes, from the hiring phase to onboarding, skill development and assessment, career development and all the way to retirement.
Good analytics and reporting capabilities are inherent functions in most top-tier enterprise ATS platforms. As an employer, you need to have a better understanding of your hiring process by using smart and intuitive dashboards that are capable of pulling relevant data that are useful to your talent acquisition team. Details such as recruiter productivity, time to hire for various positions, the cost-per-hire and cost-per-applicant for multiple job boards and other paid channels, as well as other important metrics that are necessary in hiring top talent are all vital in an efficient and well-optimized enterprise-level recruitment process.
The ability to customize workflows is another benefit of using enterprise ATS to facilitate a complex hiring process for large businesses and global enterprises. If you can create a customized workflow for your recruiting process, one that is bespoke to your organization’s core requirements, then processing applications, scheduling interviews, screening candidates and nurturing talent pools should be easier and less time-consuming. This can lead to a more efficient and cost-effective hiring process. This is quite true for a lot of large organizations that recruit candidates from very different talent pools.
HR and recruitment professionals in today’s businesses and organizations are responsible for covering a lot of ground when it comes to attracting and hiring top talent. The hiring process, nowadays, goes beyond the traditional job boards. For a recruiting firm or a large global company to attract the best talent available, they need to have a large job distribution network and well-optimized recruiting workflows.
Enterprise ATS allows businesses to manage candidate relationships, nurture talent pools, share candidate feedback and collaborate with other recruiting teams to get the best results. Through open API access, enterprise applicant tracking systems can be seamlessly integrated with any existing technology stack to ensure a more streamlined workflow for hiring managers and teams.