September 27, 2017

6 Tips for Recruiters Who Are Shopping for an Applicant Tracking System

Written by
Rachel Blakely

Automating aspects of recruiting can be a huge time saver. When you have a software solution to help you source and sort through candidates, you don’t need to worry about manual entry or lost applications.

The majority of recruiters (75 percent) use some form of applicant tracking system or recruiting software to handle their day-to-day responsibilities. Because ATS streamlines your hiring processes, it can save you both time and money.

But how do you choose a software solution that works for your recruiting business? Follow these tips when you are shopping to choose the best tool for you.

1. Decide between standalone ATS and recruiting software

There are different types of applicant tracking systems to choose from. Many recruiters prefer to use recruiting software that combines a customer relationship management (CRM) system and an applicant tracking system for recruiters. But you can also purchase a standalone software solution.

Decide whether you need the additional features of recruiting software. Base your purchase on your needs. For example, an HR manager for a small company might prefer a standalone ATS while a recruiter with dozens of job orders may want a recruiting software.  

2. Know how much you are willing to spend

Don’t buy the first system you see. Do a price comparison to see if you are getting a good deal. Take the number of features into account. Typically, the more features, the higher the cost.  

Set a budget before you begin shopping. See how much you can spend without hurting your recruiting business’s bottom line. Pricing can be up to hundreds of dollars a month, so determine your needs and set a limit.

Most solutions charge on a per month basis and follow a pay-per-recruiter model, meaning that the more recruiters using the system, the more you pay. Your cost might also be based on how many job orders you receive.

3. Determine whether you want a web-based or desktop system

Depending on the applicant tracking system, you can either download it onto your desktop or access it through the internet.

With a desktop system, you can only use your tool on the computer(s) that it is downloaded on. On the other hand, a web-based system lets you access your database from any device with an internet connection.

Whether you buy desktop or cloud ATS software depends on your preferences and recruiting needs.

If you travel frequently, you might consider a web-based solution. Also, keep in mind that your database is safe if your computer crashes since the information is stored on the web.

If you prefer to have your information stored on only one computer, you might consider a desktop solution.

4. Consider which features are important to you

Don’t forget to compare features before you decide to determine which are necessary and which you can live without.

Most solutions have the same basic features. Your should import and parse resumes so all candidate information will be displayed in a uniform format and integrate with job boards so you can receive applications directly from job posting websites.

If you want the ability to work with other recruiters in a split placement situation, purchase a software solution that allows collaboration.   

ALSO READ: 4 Creative Ways to Use Your Applicant Tracking System

5. Measure the possible learning curve

The point of using an applicant tracking system is to save yourself time by automating processes. But if your tool is too difficult to onboard, you might end up spending more time figuring it out than using it.

Check to see every option you’re looking at has free support. Support can help you setup your software and answer any questions you have.

There might be a small learning curve with purchasing a new system, but it should not take you weeks to decipher. Don’t purchase something with a lot of bells and whistles if it means you will have trouble using it.

6. Find out if there is a commitment

You don’t want to commit to an ATS before you know what you’re getting into. Luckily, some systems offer a free trial. These typically last 30 days and give you the chance to get a feel for the software. With a free trial, you can determine whether you like the software as well as its usability within the trial period. A free trial is especially important if your ATS requires a long-term contract.

Some solutions allow you to sign up on a month-to-month basis. You can stop using the software at any time. However, others require a long-term contract. If you want to stop using the software before your contract is up, you might have to pay for the rest of the year even if you don’t use it.

Decide if you are okay with signing on to a long-term contract. Or, you might prefer not having a contract.


As a recruiter, using software to simplify and organize your responsibilities can be a huge time saver. If you’ve decided to purchase an applicant tracking system, first weigh your options. Consider the above tips to help you decide.

The more research you put into your shopping process, the better chance you’ll be satisfied with your purchase. Because all systems are different, select one that fits your recruiting business and personal preferences.

Rachel Blakely is a content writer at the Patriot Software Company, the parent company of Top Echelon, LLC and Patriot Software, LLC. Top Echelon offers recruiting software with both an applicant tracking system and CRM to help recruiters make more job placements. Patriot Software provides affordable online accounting and payroll software for small businesses.