5 Essential Capabilities of Applicant Tracking Systems

Bonus Content:

A key theme for software solutions in 2021 is eliminating manual processes. Applicant Tracking System providers have been applying this principle to their software for some time, but the global pandemic has sped up the development. There are a number of features in ATS that are important to recruiters and hiring teams. 

The crucial components are typically organizational capabilities. These features being ones that allow for a high degree of automation in your day-to-day, to have the most efficient process. Following organizational capabilities, tools that allow for easy communication are the next priority. 

In a recent survey conducted by HR.com, where Human Resources professionals were surveyed to understand the top 5 key elements of high performing applicant tracking systems. Here are the 5 ATS capabilities considered most important to recruiting teams: 


Easily add and export candidate information 

It’s no surprise that the exporting of information and data came in as the key element of an ATS. With digital transformation well under way, recruiter’s systems need to be able to communicate with one another. 

The transferring of candidate information from one system to another (i.e. sourcing software, to applicant tracking system, to background check software, etc.) is a painstaking manual process for recruiters. An 

Most ATS are quite capable of exporting data. The majority respondents to HR.com’s survey agree, but there could be improvements. Further integrations with other recruiting tools will continue to bolster this capability. 

Send and organize emails/messages to candidates 

A single recruiter can be tasked with communicating, scheduling, interviewing, and evaluating hundreds of candidates at any given time. Being able to automate certain communication with candidates is a necessity when you’re conducting high-volume recruiting. 

You want to have as much direct communication as possible, but there are a few stages in a traditional interview process that can (and should) be automated. Unless it’s a strategic position, the communication while scheduling candidates shouldn’t be done manually. There are plenty of tools, like calendly, that allow candidates to schedule time with recruiters directly. 

It’s important that the candidate experience feels personalized. Hiring teams should strive to provide an experience that feels hyper personalized, while being automated to the utmost. 

7 Features to Look For in a High-Volume ATS

Permit scheduling and calendaring 

We mentioned calendly above as a tool that allows candidates to schedule time directly onto your calendar. Further integration of this type of tool to applicant tracking systems is a win-win for candidates and recruiters. 

Manually scheduling an interview can take 2-3 touch points to align schedules. When you’re dealing with a high number of candidates who are doing multiple interviews, the time really starts to add up. Not only will it save you time, but it saves the candidate time. 

This capability is also key contributor to the candidate’s experience, allowing them to schedule an interview at their convenience with certain time constraints). 


Provide access on mobile devices 

Smartphones and other mobile devices are no longer a commodity, they are a necessity to participate in the world. As we continue down this path, it’s inevitable that they begin to play a more prominent role in our working lives.

It’s been contended that communication between recruiters and applicants/candidates via mobile devices. Prior to the pandemic, mobile communication with candidates was already prominent in the gig economy. Take ride share as an example. 

Workers in this space typically are working multiple jobs at any given time (many are utilizing Uber and Lyft simultaneously), and their smartphones are the catalyst that allows them to do this. The events of 2020 have only sped up this transformation for other industries as well. 

Allow easy collaboration among recruiting and team members  

The transition to remote work as a result of the pandemic is a key reason why this capability surpassed other important features (i.e. integrations with other systems and applications, enhanced search and matching, etc). This capability is an area where many applicant tracking systems are lacking. 

In an office environment, it’s much easier to have face-to-face conversations with your team members to go through candidate pipelines, interview structure, feedback, etc. Now that we’re in a predominately remote environment, it’s much more difficult to facilitate these discussions. 

There are substitute tools, like slack and zoom, that can mitigate these issues. Still, with digital transformation top of mind and the consolidation of software tools, systems that are able to provide this capability are going to start separating from the competition. 

Other important applicant tracking system capabilities

Here is a list of the rest of the key ATS capabilities featured in the top ten by respondents:

  • Integrate with other needed systems and applications
  • Permit enhanced search and matching
  • Consolidate and show authorized information on a given candidate
  • Distribute job ads 
  • Allow for employment branding

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