What is Applicant Tracking Software?
When you’ve got an open job to fill these days applicants come from many directions. Sure you can still hire recruiting firms to supply you with a list of what they call vetted candidates. But for those who decide to save those fees, applicants can find your job through various online job sites, like ZipRecruiter, as well as any of their partner sites. Social media is another popular job source both through word of e-mouth as well as job descriptions that sites like LinkedIn serve up to their users based on those users’ preferences. And then there’s all the usual channels, including the aforementioned head hunters, your own website’s Careers tab, recruitment drives, job fairs, and more.
That information overload is why companies looking for a solution to help them find, recruit, and hire the best job candidates should consider purchasing applicant tracking (AT) software. The best software, such as the AT tools from BambooHR, Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting, and Workable, are available in different prices and customization options—suitable for large enterprises as well as the smallest of small businesses. You can elect to purchase a system integrated within your overall HRMS suite, or you can choose a tool that does AT and only AT. The AT software market is chock-full of capable, affordable, and user-friendly tools designed to plug and play.
Before you choose a system, it’s important to consider your team’s specific needs. Do you want AT as part of a larger software ecosystem? Do you want something that can handle an unlimited number of users and job openings? How important is it to you that your system integrates well with your corporate website and email client? There’s a lot to consider.
Pricing and Services
AT software can get quite expensive, especially if you’re a staffing firm that does most of your work within the system. However, small businesses and organizations featuring handful-sized recruitment teams won’t have to break the bank to find a suitable tool. In fact, some AT software firms offer free systems capable of basic data processing, applicant communication, and simple recruitment analytics. JobScore and Zoho Recruit both offer free tools that are excellent starter kits for small companies.
The other tools on this list run the gamut from $25 to $100 per user per month for basic plans. However, the more features and projects you’d like to add to the platform, the more expensive AT software can run. Some firms won’t openly reveal how high this price can go, and they prefer to discuss it with clients on a case-by-case basis. But keep in mind that annual payments (as opposed to monthly payments) will usually net you a 10-20 percent discount. So, if you’ve got the money, it’s wise to pay for the full year upfront.
No matter the technology you’re thinking of adopting, you want a user interface (UI) that’s easy on the eyes and doesn’t require an engineering degree to decipher. Fortunately, most AT software is built with intuitive controls that mimic popular social networking sites, email platforms, and even e-commerce systems. The tools feature simple data entry, drop-down menu navigation, and automated data sourcing requiring very little manual input.
The best systems in this class offer drag-and-drop, customizable UIs that let you decide when, where, and how often to view different information fields. If you’re a manager who wants to keep track of how quickly recruiters are placing candidates, you can slide real-time graphs into your home dashboard in order to examine this data every time you enter the tool. If you’re a team lead who wants to monitor the progress of an open position, you can drag a pipeline into your dashboard to see which candidates have been asked to come in for an interview.
Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting and Zoho Recruit are excellent examples of AT software offering almost limitless customization options. Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting’s drag/drop/slide/trash UI is the most elegant of all the systems we tested, while Zoho Recruit’s gives you the power to make almost any change you’d like (but not by dragging or dropping). Most AT systems will offer at least some customization, although many require that you work directly with manufacturers to make wholesale changes.
Features and Capabilities
Most systems on this list automatically post newly created jobs to the free job websites you’ve connected to the system. You can buy memberships from premium job websites within most of the AT software dashboards. If you regularly hire people, you’ll want to purchase a tool that ties back to your corporate careers page; this enables your system to automatically feed candidate data from the application page directly into the AT software.
The best tools available offer social buttons that allow you to share postings on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google+. Social networking is a huge driver of AT software navigation. Workable employs hashtagging within its system, which allows you attach a characteristic hashtag to any prospective employee (e.g., #Salesperson) so you can easily sort and find candidates within the database. It also automatically pulls in headshots from candidate social networks, and it even knows to filter out photos of objects, or animals. Zoho Recruit has a Hootsuite-style dashboard that lets you monitor candidate and recruitment firm social activity.
Even the most barebones AT software comes with a robust reporting platform. Typical reports include hiring velocity, candidate sourcing, and pipeline reports. These reports are more valuable for staffing firms than for in-house recruiters, but it doesn’t hurt to find a system such as Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting that provides ultra-detailed reporting on attractive dashboards.
Speaking of Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting, it provides one of my favorite features, “Slide Out,” which lets you view candidates and jobs without having to leave the original menu in which you were navigating. Simply click the binoculars on the left-hand side of a file and a window will pop out to the right of your screen. From within that new window, you can communicate, take actions, and view past activities—all without losing your original screen.
The Bottom Line
No amount of information offered here can beat actually testing out the AT software yourself. Most of the firms on our list offer a free trial that lets you create an account, navigate the tool, and even post jobs without any commitment. You’ll definitely want to select several of the tools on our list and give them a whirl before making a decision, especially if you’re thinking of purchasing access for more than five employees per month (or for more than 10 jobs per month). As I mentioned, it’s imperative that you determine your needs and preferences before you begin testing. If you know what you want ahead of time, you’ll have more success narrowing down your options before beginning your free trials. Good luck and happy hunting.
BambooHR (which begins at $7 per employee per month) does a great job of not just building a competent set of human resources(HR) management features, but also packaging and presenting them in an easy-to-use, friendly interface that’s perfect for small to midsized businesses (SMBs) where the HR staff isn’t married to a behemoth HRMS tool or even the HR module of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. While BambooHR can carry a higher price tag then much of the competition depending on the options you select, it’s earned our Editors’ Choice award in this comparison of all-inclusive HR management systems followed closely by the more enterprise-oriented Sage People.
The best human resources software and management systems (HRMS) offer a nice array of tools—from benefits administration, attendance, and payroll tools to the ability to recruit, track, and manage job applicants. Editors’ Choice HRMS tool BambooHR is the best of this class. However, if you’re specifically looking for a tool that lets you manage recruits, an applicant tracking (AT) tool such as Zoho Recruit (which is free for one recruiter and up to five active jobs per month) offers more robust functionality that ties in nicely with your entire software ecosystem.
Finding, recruiting, and managing prospective job applicants can be incredibly time-consuming. Fortunately, applicant tracking (AT) tools such as Workable (which begins at $39 per month for 50 users and one job opening) automate and simplify recruitment for companies of all sizes. The best AT software gives you the power to manage the hiring process from start to finish. As you receive applications, your candidates are automatically loaded into the solution. You’ll be able to pull in rich user data from social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You’ll be able to share opinions with coworkers, and send external messages to the candidates—all from within the platform.
Implementing human resources (HR) technology doesn’t have to be an isolating task for hiring managers. In fact, some of the best HR software and management (HRMS) tools integrate with other enterprise tools to provide one comprehensive dashboard for all your company’s activities. If you’re specifically looking for an applicant tracking (AT) tool but you’d like one that can handle HR from A-Z, BambooHR$7.00 at BambooHR LLC is our Editors’ Choice for HRMS. However, because BambooHR is more of an HRMS tool than a standalone AT tool, it will be more than you need for simple recruitment. Among the best standalone AT software solutions, you’ll find a wide variety of feature-rich solutions with gorgeous user interfaces (UIs) capable of delivering almost everything your hiring teams can imagine. In that vein, Editors’ Choice AT tool Bullhorn Staffing and Recruiting (which begins at $99 per user per month) not only delivers an almost-perfect AT experience, but it’s also designed to function with Bullhorn’s full suite of customer relationship management (CRM) and Salesforce Automation software. It’s the ideal AT system, especially if you’re not hoping to tie all of your HR needs into one tool.
The name SAP is typically associated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and databases, but the company also has an excellent entry in cloud-based human resources (HR) software. SAP SuccessFactors (which begins at $8 per employee per month or as an annual subscription beginning at $85 per employee) is well-organized, full-featured, and has the full SAP big business pedigree. It’s designed for companies that not only like dealing with a big-name vendor but also want kid-glove service and don’t mind spending more to get it. SAP SuccessFactors especially shines in performance management, which is a big reason why it garnered our Editors’ Choice award in that category.