How does an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) work?

When selected carefully and implemented effectively, an ATS is an incredibly powerful tool for any employer, saving time and money and helping you pick the best talent. Find out about the key features of an ATS and our top tips for successful implementation.

Fiona Kyle
Created on
August 15, 2023
Average time to read:

For a busy recruitment team, using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), is not a new concept. They have been around since the 1970s.

An ATS helps to streamline the hiring process by automating various recruitment tasks, making it easier for employers to find the best candidates for their open positions. In this blog post, we take a look at how an applicant tracking system works and provide crucial insights into what employers should know about ATS implementation.

What is an applicant tracking system?

An Applicant Tracking System is a software solution designed to automate, simplify, and optimise the recruitment process. It assists employers in managing job postings, screening candidates and organising the hiring workflow. An ATS can save time and resources, ensuring that the most qualified candidates are considered for job openings.

You’ll find there are endless different options on the market but not all ATSs are created equal. Before implementing an ATS, employers need to understand the differences between them. GeniusATS, for example, was the first system to harness AI to automatically fill out job descriptions. Need a developer in Romania or a bus driver in Richmond? GeniusATS can save recruiters time by filling out the job description in seconds with one click.  

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Key features of an ATS explained

There is a huge range of feature that an ATS might have. However, there are some key features that the majority of employers would look for. These include:

  • Job postings and application collection. An ATS allows employers to create and post job listings across multiple platforms, including job boards, social media and the company's careers website. It also collects and stores applicants' CVs and other relevant information, making it easy to access and review.
  • CV screening. ATS software can automatically screen CVs based on pre-set criteria, such as keywords, skills, education and experience. This process helps filter out unqualified candidates, allowing employers to focus on the most suitable applicants.
  • Applicant ranking. Based on the screening process, the ATS may rank applicants according to their qualifications and relevance to the job opening. This ranking system helps employers prioritise their review of resumes and identify potential candidates for interviews.
  • Interview scheduling. The smartest ATS solutions, such as GeniusATS, offer automated interview scheduling features, allowing employers to easily coordinate interviews with candidates. This functionality can save time and minimise scheduling conflicts.
  • Communication. ATS platforms can facilitate communication between hiring managers and candidates, streamlining the process for all parties involved.
  • Compliance and reporting. ATS software can help employers stay compliant with relevant employment laws by tracking and reporting key recruitment metrics. This feature can be particularly valuable for organisations required to adhere to strict regulations or reporting requirements.

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What employers should know about ATS implementation

Here are our top 10 tips for employers when they are looking to implement an ATS:

  1. Choose the right ATS for your organisation. Before implementing an ATS, it's essential to evaluate your organisation's specific needs and select a solution that aligns with those requirements. Research and compare various ATS providers and book a demo to ensure the system meets your expectations.
  2. Train your team. To maximise the benefits of an ATS, it's crucial to provide thorough training for all relevant staff members. This includes hiring managers, HR personnel and recruiters who will be using the system. At Genius, we provide training that helps everyone get up to speed with the software so that they can use its features effectively to improve the hiring process.
  3. Optimise job postings. An ATS can only be as effective as the job postings it processes. Ensure that job descriptions are clear, concise and accurately reflect the requirements and expectations of the position. Use specific keywords and phrases that candidates are likely to include in their CVs, which will help the ATS effectively screen and rank applicants.
  4. Set appropriate screening criteria. Establishing the right criteria for CV screening is crucial to identifying the best candidates. Avoid using overly narrow or strict parameters, as this could result in the exclusion of potentially qualified applicants. Instead, focus on the most relevant skills, experience and qualifications for the job opening.
  5. Monitor and adjust. As an ATS is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product, it will evolve and get new features. Regularly review the performance of your ATS to identify any areas where you might be able to use it more efficiently. Analyse key metrics, such as the number of qualified candidates, time to hire, and cost per hire, to assess the system's effectiveness. Adjust your screening criteria, job postings and other aspects of the ATS as needed to optimise its performance.
  6. Ensure a positive candidate experience. While an ATS can streamline the hiring process for employers, it's essential not to overlook the candidate experience. GeniusATS has been created with the candidate in mind and, as a result, produces clear, user-friendly job postings and a straightforward and accessible application process. Use your ATS to provide timely communication and updates for applicants and be prepared to offer feedback when appropriate.
  7. Keep data security in mind. Applicant data, including personal information and CVs, should be stored securely within your ATS. A reliable ATS, such as GeniusATS, will adhere to relevant data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for European candidates. Genius will work with you to help set up strong access controls, and regularly review and update your organisation's data security policies.
  8. Integration with other systems. To maximise the efficiency of your recruitment process, it's beneficial to integrate your ATS with other software solutions used within your organisation. This could include HR management systems, payroll systems, or even your company's internal communication tools. One of the latest features of GeniusATS, for instance, is an integration with TrustID which provides Right to Work checks within the ATS. Seamless integration ensures that data is easily accessible and can be used effectively across departments.
  9. Plan for future growth. As your organisation evolves, your recruitment needs may change. Choose an ATS that can scale with your business, offering flexibility in terms of features, pricing and capacity. This will ensure that your ATS remains a valuable tool for your organisation, even as your hiring needs grow or shift over time.
  10. Get help when needed. Implementing an ATS can be a complex process, and it's essential to have access to reliable support resources. GeniusATS comes comprehensive customer support, including training materials, troubleshooting guides, a dedicated project manager during implementation, responsive client support and quarterly reviews. This will ensure that you can address any challenges or issues that arise during the implementation process or ongoing use of the system.

An Applicant Tracking System is a valuable tool for employers looking to streamline their recruitment process and identify the best candidates for their open positions. Understanding how an ATS works and being aware of the key considerations for implementation can help organisations maximise the benefits of this technology. By choosing the right system, providing thorough training, and regularly evaluating performance, employers can leverage the power of an ATS to improve their hiring outcomes and enhance the overall efficiency of their recruitment efforts.

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