Choosing the Right ATS for Staffing Agencies to Boost Recruitment Efficiency

By Jennifer Roeslmeier Mikels

February 29, 2024

Applicant Tracking Systems are vital for staffing and recruiting agencies. It helps track and manage candidates throughout the recruiting process for a job. If you aren’t manually doing this by hand, then you are probably already using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for your day-to-day operations.  While the bones of an ATS help track and manage candidates, the right ATS can transform your entire staffing and recruiting operations to not only boost efficiency but GROW your business.

As a comparison, let’s look at this year’s NFL™ playoff season and Super Bowl™ game. Many NFL teams made the playoffs.  These were the best teams in the league. These teams can be compared to a good ATS software that gets the job done. Now, let’s look at the Kansas City Chiefs™.  They made the playoffs, and they went all the way to becoming the Super Bowl Champions for their second consecutive year. THIS can be compared to an exceptional ATS that will take your staffing and recruiting agency to the next level.

In this article, we will dive into what an applicant tracking system can do for your agency and how the right system can boost your recruitment efficiency and grow your business.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems

As it was mentioned at the beginning of this article, the bones of an ATS will help you manage your candidate pool, track candidates in the recruiting process, and help manage your job orders. The meat of an ATS though is what separates a good ATS software and one that will boost your recruitment efficiency and grow your business.  Let’s first look at some of the core features an ATS should have.

JOB ORDER MANAGEMENT AND JOB POSTING

In most applicant tracking systems, you will be able to enter job orders and place candidates to work at those jobs. Another helpful feature is the ability to post the job on third-party job board sites, such as Indeed®, on social media, and on your website. If your ATS has a candidate mobile app, candidates can also view open jobs and apply from the mobile app.

CANDIDATE TRACKING AND MANAGEMENT

Candidate Tracking and ManagementAnother core feature of an ATS is the ability to manage candidates coming into the system, such as a candidate applying for a job on your website or a new resume that has been parsed in. It will also track candidates throughout the entire recruiting process, from the time they apply, and have an interview (if one is needed), to the time they are placed. It will also track candidates that may no longer be on an assignment.  This gives staffing and recruiting agencies a large candidate pool to work with. Instead of needing to always go to a third-party source to find candidates, over time your ATS will house hundreds and thousands of candidates.  Many of these candidates will be ones you have worked with, and you can immediately qualify them for a position.

COMMUNICATION TOOLS

Most ATS solutions also have various ways you can communicate with candidates and clients right within the system.  Emails, text messages, and mobile chat features are all various communication tools that may be available within your ATS. These communication tools not only make it simple to communicate with your candidates and clients but all communication is logged.

SEARCH TOOLS AND CANDIDATE MATCHING

ATS’s will also have search tools to help match candidates with jobs. Search features will vary between ATS’s. In a demo of the software, you will be able to see how robust the search features are. Some ATS’s may have Boolean search capabilities, which is an advanced search tool that scours an entire ATS for keywords on a candidate profile and resume. Based on your search criteria, some searches will also have the ability to rank candidates, so you can instantly see your top candidates based on your search criteria.

PIPELINES AND FAVORITE LISTS

Pipelines and favorite lists are also a core feature you may see in an ATS. These are used to group candidates, clients, or job orders on specific lists. Perhaps you want to add all of your top clerical candidates to a favorites list as you look to fill a job order or maybe you want to do a marketing campaign targeting light industrial companies, you can add key contacts you want to target to a pipeline. Pipelines and favorite lists allow you to group, manage, sort, and organize information in your ATS to eliminate manual work and make communication easy.

DOCUMENTATION AND NOTES

All actions and notes are logged within an ATS, so nothing is ever forgotten, and everything can be tracked. This is a key benefit of using an ATS. If someone needs to look up an activity or see what communication has been made with someone, everything is automatically recorded.

REPORTS AND ANALYTICS

Reports and AnalyticsLastly, a core feature is having access to reports and data analytics. This is an area that will vary within each ATS. Some ATS’s will have more reports and analytic tools available.  When you are in discussion with ATS providers, this is something you can ask to see.  While it may not seem like the main purpose of an ATS, robust reporting and analytic tools can help you see key insights into your business to make strategic decisions. The more that is available to you the better. As you can see by just reviewing some of the core tools in your ATS, everything and all activity is housed there. This is one area where good reporting and analytic tools can take your staffing and recruiting agency to the next level.

Key Attributes to Look for in an ATS

So far, we have looked at some of the core features an ATS should have. In this section, we will take it a step further and look at key attributes to consider when looking for an ATS that will further enhance the recruitment process and help the growth of your staffing and recruiting agency.

EASE OF USE

Ease of use is one of the most important characteristics of an ATS. If it isn’t easy to use, then it either won’t be used by your recruiters or it will be used incorrectly. You want an ATS system that is intuitive.  In a demo, you can often tell if an ATS is easy to use. How many steps do you need to take to complete an action? How many clicks does it take to complete simple tasks? A cumbersome software that takes several steps to complete a task and is confusing will not boost your recruitment efficiency. Customer testimonials and a sandbox of the software, if one is offered, is also a way to understand the software’s ease of use.

SCALABILITY

Scalability is also huge. You ultimately want your staffing and recruiting agency to grow. As you grow, you want your ATS to grow with it. Can it support multiple lines of business, multiple corporations (EINs), and multiple branches? As your business grows, will the ATS support your needs?

Transitioning to a new ATS takes time and is an investment, which is what makes choosing the right ATS an important decision. The fewer transitions you make, the fewer disruptions you will have, and the more you can focus on the core of your business without worrying if your ATS will support your growth.

DATA VISUALIZATION

Today, data is everything. We touched upon reporting and analytics in the above section, but robust data visualization tools that are tied to your ATS can paint an entire picture of your business.  See where bottlenecks are in your recruitment process, how long it takes on average to fill a position, measure the quality of your hires, How to Measure Quality of Hire | How to Reduce Time to Hire | Staffing Metricsturnover rate, which clients are bringing in the most business, and where your best candidates are coming from.  You can even use data in your ATS to see which recruiters and sales associates are meeting their goals and performing the best. Which recruiters placed the most candidates? Who has the quickest time to hire? Which sales associate is closing the most business?

These are just some of the data analytics that can be tracked within an ATS.  Reporting and visualizing this data is different in all ATS’s.  This is a game-changing component in an ATS that will give you important insights into your business to make data-driven decisions.  Improve what’s not working and focus on what is. When working with ATS companies, see what reporting and data analytic tools are available to you.

MOBILE ACCESSIBILITY

Everyone is on their mobile device these days. In fact, people check their phones 144 times per day, according to a survey conducted by reviews.org. This is why bringing your staffing and recruiting agency on mobile is critical. Allow recruiters to enter orders and fill positions while on the go to complete client requests faster. Give candidates access to search for jobs, receive push notifications for jobs that fit their qualifications, apply for jobs, access their employment information, and more. A candidate mobile app gives candidates access to everything they need at their fingertips, as they search for jobs, and also when they are on an assignment. Mobile accessibility not only boosts everyone’s efficiency, but it will give candidates an experience that keeps them wanting to work for your staffing agency.

INTEGRATION CAPABILITIES

As a staffing and recruiting company, there are many partners that you work with on a daily basis to successfully place candidates and efficiently operate. Integrations within your ATS can be important to streamline processes. This is where an ATS partner that is involved within the staffing industry and has various partners of their own can be important to you. Background checks, WOTC, skills testing, and more are all examples of solutions that can be integrated within an ATS. Instead of going onto a separate website to initiate a background check, having the ability to initiate it within your ATS and see the results populate right back in saves time and improves your overall efficiency. When talking with ATS companies, it is important to ask what partners they integrate with.

The Benefits of Implementing an Effective ATS

The Benefits of Implementing an Effective ATSWhen you find the right ATS, it will have an instrumental impact on your business. The first impact it will have is streamlining your recruitment process. All major tasks can be completed and executed in your ATS. An effective ATS will allow you to easily complete tasks with minimal clicks. In return, the overall candidate and client experience is improved. Job orders can be filled quicker and candidates can be placed faster.  Communication is also made easy through built-in texting, emailing, and chat features. Reminders and check-ins can easily be sent to candidates and clients to keep them engaged. Candidates and clients can also easily communicate back with you and that communication can be seen instantly within your ATS, so a beat is not missed.

An effective ATS will also give you everything you need to make data-driven decisions.  Your very own data will show you what’s working and what’s not to help you make smarter and more strategic decisions. All of these factors can ultimately help lead to growth.  That is the difference between a good ATS and an exceptional one that will take you to the next level.

Evaluating Your Staffing Agency’s Needs

It is important to recognize that all staffing agencies have different needs.  An ATS that works for one staffing agency might not work for you. Before you begin the process of looking for an ATS, you first need to outline your needs. Consider factors such as your specialization. Some ATS’s specialize in certain lines of business. If you have a specialty, are there any ATS solutions that are specifically designed for your industry needs? You will also want to evaluate if you need a system that supports multiple lines of business, multiple corporations, and multiple branches. If you don’t need this now, are you anticipating growth and may need this in the future?

Another factor to consider is if you are looking solely for an ATS solution or if you are looking for an all-in-one solution with a built-in CRM, Back Office, Web Portals,  Evaluating Your Staffing Agency NeedsOnBoarding, and Mobile. An all-in-one staffing software solution will further streamline your needs and keep everything connected, so you don’t need to toggle between multiple solutions. In the end, it will also help eliminate multiple data entries, avoid misplacement of information, eliminate costs, and allow you to gain big-picture reporting insights into your business. It’s possible you might want to start small with just an ATS and built-in CRM solution. The advantage of going with a solution that has a complete suite is you will always have the opportunity to add more solutions to your business, as your business grows.

Lastly, think about your top 10 bottlenecks and what you are hoping an ATS will resolve. It will be important to have this as a reference as you are looking at solutions. Additionally, make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves. This can be used as a rubric as you are looking at different solutions to see what features the ATS solutions have that meet your needs.

Making the Decision: Factors to Consider

Besides factoring in your staffing agency needs, some other factors to consider are cost, customer support, user reviews, and vendor reputation. You may be attracted to a solution that has a lower cost, but does it have all the features that you need and is it scalable? Be aware not to just go for the cheapest option as you may be cutting yourself short.  A solution may be more expensive but evaluate the value you would receive from it.  What results will it provide to your staffing agency now and in the long term?

Customer supportMake the Decision Factors to Consider is also a big factor.  Ask about response time, the hours support is available, if there is a cost per support ticket, and if you can talk with someone when you call in.  Additionally, readily available and ongoing resources can also be very helpful to you. Does the company conduct regular webinars on the software? Is there a video library and software tips available to you if you want to learn more about a topic? Good customer support and readily available resources will have a big impact on your overall software experience.

Before making your final decision, you might also want to ask for references and look at software review sites, like G2®. This will give you real feedback from staffing industry professionals like yourself before making your final decision.

Implementation and Beyond

You successfully selected your staffing software—congratulations! So, what’s next? Two important factors in the implementation process is training and migrating your data. Make sure you invest in training your team (don’t skimp out on training!)  Training your team on the software is a vital component for successful software implementation. The software provider will offer training—be sure to take advantage of the training offered.  They are the experts and will be able to guide you on the best way to use the software, so everyone is using it correctly and uniformly. Additionally, your staffing agency should also create an internal processes guide on using the software. You will receive a user manual from the software provider; however, your staffing agency will have processes tailored to your agency. Any specific procedures that should be followed when using the software should be outlined so everyone is using it the same way. This will also be important in helping keep your data clean, relevant, and useful for reporting and analytics.

Migrating your dataImplementation and Beyond to the new system is also a critical step. You will work with a data migration specialist at the software company you are migrating to. This is a good opportunity to assess your current data and decide what you want to bring over. Only bring over good, relevant data that you still use. You are starting fresh with a new system, so it is a good opportunity to get rid of old data. This will also help with your conversion costs.  It will also be important to confirm the field mapping of your data to the new system is correct. For example, you may be using a field in your current system that is not what it is labeled as. This information may incorrectly migrate to the wrong field in the system. A review of the field mapping will help ensure everything is migrated over in the correct fields.

New ATS, New Recruitment Efficiency

We uncovered a lot in this article! From the advantages and core features of using an ATS, to key attributes that will boost your recruitment efficiency and grow your business. Choosing the right ATS for your business is an important decision because it can have instrumental results.  Remember to evaluate your staffing agency needs and know what bottlenecks you are looking to resolve with an ATS solution. After you have your needs factor in other variables such as cost, customer support, and customer testimonials. It is important to do thorough research and not rush through the process.  The right software can be a big asset to you for many years to come. Once you choose your solution, don’t forget to invest in training and evaluate the data you are bringing to the new system to ensure accuracy and that the data is clean. While choosing an ATS and going through the process of finding the right one for your agency can be a long and daunting process, in the long run, it can bring major results to your staffing business.

Contact Ultra-Staff EDGE Staffing Software to learn more about choosing the right ATS for your staffing agency and schedule a free discovery meeting to see how Ultra-Staff EDGE Staffing Software can drive results and growth for your staffing business!