In working with HR professionals and hiring managers over the years, I’m often asked, “how many applicants should I be receiving per year to justify purchasing an applicant tracking system?” Each time I hear this, I more firmly believe that the answer to this question isn’t really a great criterion for determining an organization’s need for applicant tracking software. Instead, I believe there are three key sub-components of this question that ultimately will help you determine your stance on the ATS software implementation decision:
Who is involved in your hiring process?
To me, this is a big one. Let’s look at two extremes. In one example, the hiring process never goes beyond a single hiring manager. In the other example, the hiring process includes a recruiter/HR Generalist, then a hiring manager, then two other management-level staff members.
In the single hiring manager scenario, things are simple and an ATS may not be that important. With multiple people involved (even more importantly, if multiple locations are involved), having a tool to collect and organize multiple sets of notes and feedback is much more critical.
How valuable are your applicants?
Believe it or not, this actually isn’t a rhetorical question. If you fill the same types of positions frequently, and those positions always attract a good number of applicants, you may have the perspective that each applicant is of lower value to the organization. The thought process may be that “we’ll always get plenty of applicants for these positions.”
If that is how you view it, then applicant tracking software may not bring much value to your organization. Now, an argument could be made in that scenario that trying to manage large volumes of applicants makes an even better business case for an ATS. However, if the mindset is that the large number of applicants is only a means to an end, ATS likely still doesn’t resonate. On the other end of the spectrum, if your organization views applicants as an ongoing resource to be tapped, an ATS can be invaluable.
Leveraging the right applicant management solution in this case allows you to keep a detailed record of notes, applicant progress through your hiring steps, interview feedback, etc. In other words, you can leverage the ATS the way organizations leverage CRM to manage clients and prospects. Neither view here is right or wrong, but recognizing your organization’s view of this scenario goes a long way toward establishing whether an ATS makes sense.
What opportunity costs exist without applicant tracking software?
This question ties back to each of the prior points. If your process is simple and applicants aren’t of relative great value to the organization, that likely equates to less time spent in the hiring process. In turn, there are few lost opportunities for that time. If, however, the process is more involved and/or it’s important to the organization that good applicants be readily available for future openings, things are much different. Here, multiple opportunity costs exist. Examples include:
- What time savings may be realized by better organizing the process?
- What can management-level staff do with that time?
- How much is lost with a hasty or poor hiring decision?
- What is lost when candidates who “slip through the cracks”?
Take a couple of minutes and consider the answers to these questions for your organization. Be honest with yourself. Yes, hiring and applicant volume need to have some critical mass to consider hiring software. However, I believe the answers to these three simple questions will more readily guide you to whether an applicant tracking system is right for you and your company.