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5 Benefits of Fully Utilizing Your Applicant Tracking System

April 16, 2015

hiring-funnelMost companies have some sort of “applicant tracking system”, or ATS, to help keep track of who has applied to an open position and which step(s) each candidate has completed as part of the hiring process. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep an applicant tracking system up to date, especially during periods of high volume or when the number of candidates being processed greatly exceeds the number of administrators who have access to the ATS. However, there are many benefits to keeping your tracking system as up to date as possible.

Benefit 1: Collaboration

Tracking hiring activities via an ATS will make it easier for multiple administrators to collaborate while processing the same pool of candidates. If there is ever a question about what steps a candidate may have completed, one simply needs to check the ATS to see where the candidate stands in the process. This tends to be easier than using a spreadsheet or any other system that allows only one person to edit at a time.

Benefit 2: Less Paperwork

Using an ATS will also reduce the amount of paperwork that needs to be retained, filed, and then accessed if you ever need information about a candidate at a later date in time. You should be able to include anything in an ATS that you would typically record on a sheet of paper, including, but not limited to: the date an activity was completed, the score the candidate received (when applicable), the candidate’s status on that activity, and any additional notes that may be important to include. In addition, a good ATS will be accessible anywhere. This can be particularly helpful when you’re processing candidates off-site, for instance at a job fair or a local unemployment office.

Benefit 3: Group-Level Reporting

A good ATS should also offer group-level reporting that will allow you to quickly search for groups of candidates or help you monitor pass rates at each step in the hiring process. For instance, say you are nearing the end of a hiring wave and you are trying to hire one last person. At first glance it might seem you tapped out your hiring pool. However, there might be candidates in your applicant pool who have “stalled” in the process, but are still interested and available for the open position. If your ATS is up to date, you can run a quick report to see if there are any candidates who are eligible to move to the next step in the process.

Benefit 4: Monitor Pass/Fail Rates

Similarly, if you find that you truly have exhausted your candidate pool but you still have openings left to fill, you can run a group level report to see pass rates at each step in the process and where you are screening out the most candidates. Often times hiring managers assume that a later step in the process, like a technical test or an interview, might be screening out too many applicants. After running some simple reports, you may actually find info to the contrary, perhaps that the initial online application is where you’re losing the vast majority of candidates. Being able to easily monitor pass rates at every step in the process will help you identify any areas of concern and allow you to see make changes to help alleviate those issues.

Benefit 5: Defense

Lastly, and this is particularly important for companies who have federal contracts (and are subject to audit by the OFCCP), if you ever find yourself facing an audit, an up to date applicant tracking system can be your first line of defense. Regardless of the request, whether you need to provide a list of candidates who applied during a specific timeframe or you need to give detailed contact info for all candidates who completed a particular step in the hiring process, you will have that information at your fingertips if your ATS is up to date. Companies are often cited during audits because they simply can’t provide information about what why a candidate failed. Even if all of the candidates were processed exactly the same, if you can’t show documentation and proof of following a standardized process, you open yourself up to risk.


Applicant tracking systems are highly useful tools for any company. If you aren’t utilizing your ATS to the best of its ability, you could be creating extra work for yourself, and even leaving your company open to legal complications.

What are the other benefits of using an ATS?

The Ultimate Hiring Manager’s Guide

Paul Glatzhofer Paul Glatzhofer is the VP of Talent Solutions based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI Services LLC. He works primarily with organizations that are implementing global assessment and development systems at the leadership level. Paul’s work includes leadership development, leadership skills training, coaching, leadership and executive selection, turnover and ROI analysis, and ongoing feedback development.