Maximizing Efficiency with an ATS: The Ideal Applicant Tracking System for Staffing Agencies

By Jennifer Roeslmeier Mikels

July 11, 2023

The million-dollar question that staffing agencies ask themselves is which Applicant Tracking System (ATS) should we use? An ATS plays a vital role in your staffing operations, not only to run your business efficiently, but it can also play a role in the way you serve your candidates and clients. An applicant tracking system helps store information about candidates and helps staffing agencies search and place candidates at open jobs, as efficiently as possible. While that’s the baseline for an ATS, the features offered by each system will vary, with some offering an impressive suite of features. Which ATS features do you actually need, and which ones will never get used?

Staffing agencies have unique needs to find qualified candidates in a fast time period, place them, and retain them. The ideal ATS that’s right for your staffing agency can help all of this come into reality and improve your overall staffing operations.

Key Features of an Ideal ATS for Staffing Agencies

Features that are important to your staffing agency will be different from the next staffing agency. There are some general ATS features though that you should look out for when evaluating the possible choices for your company.


Recruiters, sales executives, HR executives, accountants, and managers all have a unique workflow. They have different responsibilities and will use the ATS features that are important for their job. A one size fits all system will not effectively accommodate everyone’s role at your company. The ability to customize individual workflows, dashboards, and screens is important so each person can maximize their use and productivity when using the system.

ATS Customizable WorkflowsFor example, a manager may want to see if their team(s) are meeting their quota, what their gross margin is, what their markup % is, the number of billed hours each month, etc. An HR executive on the other hand is interested in tracking drug screenings, background checks, workers comp and unemployment claims, etc. A recruiter isn’t as interested in any of these items and is focusing more on applications being submitted, interviews being conducted, emails and calls being made to candidates, and more. Each role is unique and the more the system can be customized per role, the better it will be for everyone using the system.


One ATS feature to strongly consider is the strength of its search features. The more robust the search features are, the better you can match candidates with the right job opportunity. When demoing a system, see how detailed the search criteria is and how granular you can get based on searches that would be helpful for you. Some popular searches for candidates include searching by skills, position, employment history titles, location (if there is a specific location Powerful-Search-for-Seeking-Qualified-Candidatesyou need to recruit for), and time of last contact (if you want to narrow down your search based on the last time you contacted a candidate).  Additionally, ask if there is a Full Text Search. A Full Text Search scours your database for certain keywords in a candidate’s profile, including their resume. This is handy if you want to search by position to see what candidates have held a similar role. A Full Text Search can also search for synonyms, which can be imperative when searching for specific skill sets.

Built-in pipelines and favorite lists can also help match candidates to roles. Pipelines and favorites lists can be used to build lists of top candidates by position and can be referred to when you need to fill a role for a similar position. Some ATS’s may even allow you to rank the candidates, so you remember who the top candidates are and you can refer to them first when you have a position available. Being able to sort and filter the candidate database with this level of detail will make finding the right candidate that much easier, saving you time and letting you move onto more open roles.


Being able to easily manage open job orders is also important, whether you can view all open jobs on a dashboard or there is a specific hub within the tracking system to view all open job orders. The ability to view and manage job orders in one place will help your entire team stay on top of open orders, so none are missed, and they are filled as quickly as possible. When evaluating an ATS, ask about ways you can manage job orders in the system.


Resume Parsing in an ATSResume parsing is a tool that is used often in an ATS because it parses a candidate’s resume into the system and creates a profile for them. A strong resume parsing tool is important for importing accurate information onto a candidate profile. See what resume parsing tools are available and the different ways you can parse a resume into the system. Some ATS solutions even allow you to parse the resume right from your email platform.


When you have a new job order, if you are not using your internal database to fill the position, you will want to get that job posting out to the public as quickly as you can. See how you can post job orders from the ATS onto job boards and social media. Ideally, you want to be able to get that job out there in just a few clicks.


Seamless Integration with Other Tools

Background checks, skills testing, texting, and automation tools are all important to staffing agencies. The more this could be integrated within your ATS the better to help streamline your processes. When looking at an ATS, see what partners they integrate with to avoid needing to toggle in and out of the system too much.

Various automation tools should already be available in the ATS to complete tasks in just a few clicks. Automation of texts and emails are of growing importance now as well to enrich engagement with your candidates and clients. See if the ATS provider integrates with any AI/Automation tools to help you stay ahead of the curve. You may also ask about mobile app capabilities, to ensure that you’re always able to access the candidates you need and allow those candidates more clarity into the hiring process.

Benefits of Using an ATS for Staffing Agencies

There are many benefits of using an ATS for staffing agencies, especially an ATS that is designed for staffing-related needs. If you are already using an ATS, then you are probably already well aware of the benefits. If you are still manually keeping track by hand though, here are some of the main benefits of using an ATS solution.


An ATS will help you track your candidates every step of the way from the time they apply to placement. Depending on if you have an all-in-one staffing software solution, you can even link your job board back to your ATS so candidates can flow right into your ATS when they apply.

Streamlined Recruitment Process with an ATSOnce candidates are in your ATS, you can track their status to see where they are in the recruitment process. All candidate information is also stored in your ATS, so everything you need is in one place. Right from your ATS, you can send emails or texts to candidates, search for candidates with specific skill sets, add them to pipelines, rank candidates, and more. The entire recruitment process is streamlined and made efficient using an ATS. Additionally, integrating background checks and skills testing within your ATS will allow you to streamline the recruitment process even further.


A streamlined recruitment process also allows you to improve the candidate experience. By tracking their status in the recruiting cycle, you can see if any follow-up is needed along the way to ensure the candidate is having the most optimal experience.

ATS features focused on communication also allow you to quickly send an email or text to candidates and push out job offers. Candidates can stay engaged with your staffing agency every step of the way leading up to their placement. If the ATS solution has a candidate mobile app, this too can increase engagement with your staffing agency. Candidates can stay informed with where they are at in the recruiting process, view all important information, and even communicate with your staffing agency.


Another significant benefit of using an ATS is access to reports and analytics.  This allows you to see key insights into your staffing business. What’s working well? Where can improvement be made?  Informed decisions can be made for your staffing agency to improve your recruiting process and ultimately help grow your staffing business. Reports vary by ATS, so see what reports and analytics are available with each ATS provider.

How to Choose the Right ATS for Your Staffing Agency


Assessing Your Agency's Specific NeedsEvery staffing agency has different needs when it comes to software. If you are a smaller company or a startup, perhaps you don’t need all of the bells and whistles. If you are a medium to enterprise-size company, then you might want to look for a more robust tool. The first step in finding the right applicant tracking system for your agency is making a list of must-have features and nice-to-have features. Make a rubric and after each software demo note which features they have. As soon as you begin doing multiple demos, all of the systems will quickly blur together so it is essential to make detailed notes on the features they have right after each demo.


As noted above, one of the main items you will need to evaluate are the ATS features. Pricing is also a factor. Every ATS provider has a different pricing system. Compare the prices based on the features and everything you receive with the system. You may also want to consider investing in an all-in-one staffing software solution that includes CRM, OnBoarding, Employee and Client Web Portals, and more. An all-in-one staffing software solution will streamline your entire system. It can also help you eliminate extra costs, save time by eliminating multiple data entry and toggling between multiple solutions, and provide self-service tools to your customers and candidates.

Scalability should also be a big factor. You want a system that you will grow with. Changing your ATS takes a lot of time and commitment.  Ideally, you want to find a solution that you can use for many years to come and one that you can grow your business with. Scalability is a great topic to bring up to the ATS provider. What are some examples of successful customer growth stories?


Customer support plays a large role in the success of an ATS. When questions or issues arise, you want to be able to turn to a customer support team that is responsive and knowledgeable. Be sure to ask the ATS provider what their turnaround time is when responding to questions and what customer resources are available. Ongoing customer resources, such as webinars or newsletters with tips, help you and the team continue to learn and develop new skills in the software.

Evaluating Customer Support and Implementation Services for ATSYou will also want to ask about the ATS implementation process and training. Are you assigned a project manager? What are the steps between now and going live? What is the turnaround time? Training is also essential when adapting to a new ATS. For a smooth implementation, the whole team must receive in-depth training, so they know how to use the software and best practices when using it. Lacking this proper training can quickly lead to a failed implementation.


As you can see there are many advantages to using an ATS. The main advantage is the ability to streamline your recruitment process and increase your team’s efficiency. If you have explored ATS software solutions in the past, you know there are many out there. The key is choosing the best solution for your staffing agency based on your needs and one that will help you continue to grow. Additionally, don’t forget to consider an all-in-one solution that will also provide CRM, Back Office, OnBoarding, and Web Portals to you. A solution that provides all of this and your ATS will bring your team the ultimate efficiency and recruiting process.

Interested in checking out an all-in-one staffing software solution? Schedule a demo of Ultra-Staff EDGE Staffing Software.