What Features Should I Look for in a New Applicant Tracking System?


Configuration / Customization

Evaluate the flexibility of the systems within the budget range after you’ve established your budget. Would the system be able to adjust and customize to accommodate the recruitment workflow and hiring requirements of your company? Does the vendor have to be involved in this customization or is it possible to do it alone without their involvement? As your recruitment needs and team structure change, how easy is it to update the process flow? In addition to determining the time needed to set up and implement the program, all of these questions will also determine the amount of time that is required for questions, concerns, and changes that may arise later when working with a new system.

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Flow of recruitment

What degree of customization does the workflow offer? How easy is it to see all the candidate information, including their resume, LinkedIn profile, past job applications, and notes from other recruiters? Can candidates easily track and move through the different stages of the recruitment process? Is the ATS capable of enabling communication, application forms, and interview scheduling? Is the recruitment process automated, from auto-populating candidate information to scheduling automated messages to candidates throughout the interview process?


By parsing, you move candidates from your job portal or email into your applicant tracking system. Currently, what can the system do to improve the process as it stands, and what improvements can it make? Is candidate contact information automatically entered from their resumes? Does the applicant tracking system detect and flag duplicate candidates? Can candidates who apply through certain job boards be automatically parsed into the system? Does it take much effort to determine if a candidate has submitted a new resume, or if they have already submitted one? Can cover letters, references, and certification information pars into the system for easy review? For reporting purposes, how well does an ATS track requisition IDs and referral sources?

The sourcing and screening process

What is the speed and accuracy of the search? It is possible to easily parse key skills from multiple online sources into a candidate profile from the system? With just one submission, can you search, add prospects to your new ATS account, and contact them directly? Is there a way for you to create tags and prospect folders for key skills and strong candidates for future recruitment?

Employer branding / Job posting

Employer branding is one of the most important (and free!) pieces of a successful recruitment process. When posting jobs or using career portals, you should protect and maintain your brand. When exploring the system’s career portal capabilities, ask if the career portal can customize as well as if employer branding is possible. What is the ease of editing the portal and how often is the system updated? Can the career portal access from a mobile device? How easy is it to apply for a job using the career portal? Are our national job boards integrated with the system? Which job boards integrate with the system?


To support your recruiting efforts, you probably already have several different systems in place. A system with more integrations is more likely to make the transition easier. If your system tracks communications via email, does it communicate with it? Is there a text messaging platform integrated with your ATS? How about an interview scheduler integrated with the system? How well does the system integrate with the ATS and does it offer a CRM feature? Is video interviewing offered by the ATS? How customizable are the integrations with other systems, such as payroll, and does the system integrate with other systems, such as accounting?

Storage of data

Is there a limit to the amount of data that can store on the system? In case you have a lot of information to import into the ATS, this step is important.

Developing a mobile application

We learned one thing from 2020: we must be ready to go anywhere with our work. Do you have a mobile app for the system? Does it have a user-friendly interface? Are there any features that the mobile application does not offer? Is the mobile application compatible with Android and iOS?


It’s not a good idea to dive into a new system without adequate guidance. Does training come with the implementation process? Ask your salesperson if that is the case. Does training come at an additional cost? What is the content of the Help Center in the system, and how useful is it? Support is available on a continuous basis, and how quick is the response time from the support team?

Analytics / Reporting

Analyze your reporting requirements, and ask the following questions. How robust are the reporting and analytics capabilities of the system? Are you able to build custom reports? Can you schedule reports to run on a regular basis?  Could reports export or share easily? Regardless of whether you have an in-depth reporting structure today, the data you collect today may prove useful tomorrow.

Investments in financial services

Is it possible to have an unlimited number of users on this platform? Does the system have a per-user cost? Although preparing for unlimited users may appear more expensive at first glance. This package may be beneficial to your organization (depending on the number of people on your team and your expansion plans in the next three to five years). Will there be additional customer support and training costs? Does the contract require a specific duration? 

You must decide which applicant tracking system features are most important to your organization. To narrow our search to four ATSs, Strategic HR used each of these key features to evaluate our top ten candidates and rated each system based on these characteristics. The sales and integration teams then conducted multiple in-depth demos and trials with potential users and allowed them to ask questions. We were able to reduce the selection process time, involve multiple team members, and clearly define the most critical elements of a new ATS (versus wish list items) by using this step-by-step approach.



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