How to Use an Applicant Tracking System

Of all the decisions you make about your business, whom you hire may be the most critical. The people in your organization produce your product, provide service, and interact with your clients and the public. Your company’s reputation and, ultimately, its success depend on your employees.

So how can you find the right employees for your organization?

Fortunately, you can cast a wide net in the digital age. Thousands of job boards and networks offer you access to millions of job seekers. Unfortunately, when you post that job ad, you get slammed with too many applicants. Many of those applicants turnout to be unqualified candidates. You’re not exactly sure where your ideal candidate is hanging out in the digital world.

But you know the perfect candidate is in the pile somewhere. How can you find them? And how can you improve your hiring process to weed out poor candidates and attract higher quality applicants in the future?

As with every other business decision, making the right choice often depends on working with the best data. An applicant tracking system offers you easy access to hiring data and screening tools that help you avoid interviewing candidates who are a poor fit.

HRIS 101: Using An Applicant Tracking System

A human resources information system (HRIS) does more than manage your applicant and employee information. The right software will help you easily manage your hiring process from start to finish.

From keeping track of job ads for all of your open positions across multiple online platforms to finding the star candidate hidden in the heap of unremarkable resumes, an ATS will save you time.

An HRIS applicant tracking system can help you find the best candidates out of the hundreds of applications you receive. An ATS can scan resumes for the skills and experience you’re looking for. You’ll see your best candidates first.

With everything on your plate, you may be thinking you don’t have time to learn how to use an applicant tracking system. In fact, the right applicant tracking software is easy to learn and will save you time as soon as your first log-in. Applicant tracking systems often come with templates to get you started quickly.

Free Applicant Tracking System Implementation Template

If you’ve ever implemented new software, you know there’s a lot that can go wrong. However, a good provider will know how to implement an ATS without disrupting your business. This starts by choosing a provider that takes the time to understand your current hiring processes.

With the provider understanding your hiring process, your hiring team is more likely to be on board with implementation. Then, your provider can show your team how the software can make your HR processes more efficient. A good HR software provider should also encourage your hiring team to provide feedback on their suggestions.

Choosing a vendor that understands your hiring process and can provide suggestions to improve your HR processes is a good start. But you also need to ensure that the software is designed to help your team realize efficiencies right away.

The implementation of an applicant tracking system can be stressful if it doesn’t come with free templates–or default configurations. Without well-designed templates, your team will spend too much time creating fields and reports instead of using the software to manage applicant data. But be careful. There is no “one-size-fits-all” ATS, so look for a provider that will help you customize the system to fit your unique hiring needs.

Applicant Tracking Software that comes with free templates, yet has plenty of options for customization, is the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to see results quickly. And as you get to know the software, you can customize it to suit your needs.

Finally, make sure your provider will continue to work with your team to ensure success beyond the initial ATS implementation. Installing your new ATS and testing it to work out the kinks is only the first step. Your new software won’t do any good if your hiring manager is still clinging to spreadsheets and a filing system that doesn’t make sense to anyone but him.

Applicant Tracking System Training

The best practices for implementing applicant tracking software will include training for key stakeholders. It’s important that the company you choose provides applicant tracking system training and support.

The training should be focused on each role within the hiring team. For example, training your HR administrator is going to be a little different than training you hiring manager.

An applicant tracking software’s ability to organize documentation is one of its most useful features. When you use an ATS, you get the benefits of a well-organized and digitized knowledge base to replace clunky Excel files and loose paper stuffed in manila file folders.

The basics of an applicant tracking system will funnel applicants through your hiring process so you can choose the best candidate. Over time, your software will collect more data. You’ll be able to use this data to discover the best strategies for attracting quality applicants.

You’ll be able to create custom reports to help you know everything from the most effective screening tools to which job boards netted poor quality candidates. For example, you’ll be able to see performance statistics for all the job sites you’ve used on one screen. You’ll know which online platform works best for your industry and area.

Recruitment Tracker Checklist

You can use your new ATS as a recruiter tracker and so much more. Applicant tracking software will give you the power to manage and organize your entire hiring process.

ExactHire HR software allows you to create users with differing security levels associated with their applicant tracking system login. Your administrative department can enter data and run reports, while your hiring team uses a robust search engine to find the best applicants.

When you use ExactHire Applicant Tracking Software, you’ll be able post your job ad to multiple job boards with a single click. You’ll also be able to track applicant activity for all those online platforms side-by-side, on one screen.

Sort candidates using built-in status codes or create your own. Store applicant data to create a job pool for future openings. You can even flag low quality applicants to prevent them from being considered for future positions.

Finally, robust reporting features are the secret for how to use recruitment software to make hiring more successful and efficient. In addition to easy-to-use, built-in compliance reporting, ExactHire software also features source reporting. Using this feature, you can discover the hiring strategies that lead to successful, long-term employees.


Your company’s future depends on the people you hire. Your employees play a part in everything from implementing your business strategy to working with your customers. In short, your company won’t be successful if your hiring methods fail to find good people. An applicant tracking system will give you the tools to control your hiring process and uncover the strategies that lead to great, long-term employees.


How Do I Attract More Job Seekers?

There’s no question that the quest to find enough, qualified applicants is frequently a priority for employers–particularly those with positions that traditionally have high turnover. Are you interested in a “chicken or egg” debate? In HR that question is always, would we rather have a large quantity of applicants or a batch of high quality applicants.

Employers obviously want both, but when they have to pick one or the other, in today’s pandemic-sensitized hiring environment, our clients are asking for quantity. Maybe they’ve decided that finding the perfect applicant is like finding the needle in the haystack and they want to hedge their bets? Maybe their organization decided years ago that having a specific, “middleman” recruiter wasn’t worth it given all the accessible hiring software platforms?

Whatever your reason, we hear you! You want more applicants! Here are five tips to get more applicants based on our team’s experience helping clients leverage technology to improve hiring experiences.

Darythe Anne Taylor
1. Share your job posting to multiple sites.

Share. Share. And share some more. Simple math will tell you, if you are interested in bringing in more applicants you must first reach more applicants. One of the best benefits of using the ExactHire ATS is that it can be your one-stop-shop for posting your job to your own career site AND pushing your job to other third party job boards.

The ExactHire ATS will automatically push your jobs to numerous job boards such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Google for Jobs. There is more evidence that sponsoring job postings on these job boards can increase your applicant flow by 5X (Indeed)  ExactHire can work with you directly (and your third party job board representative) to make this work. In addition, you should not put all of your eggs in one basket!  ExactHire’s applicant tracking system “Promote” feature will increase your job’s visibility to:

  • state workforce development / unemployment offices,
  • colleges and universities,
  • diversity-specific job boards,
  • social media sites,
  • Potential referrals from existing employees
  • emails and newsletters with tracked links that may be customized within our ATS.

Kathleen McCoy-Anderson | ExactHire
2. Increase your chances of being found by job seekers.

Your job is now posted everywhere – various job boards, your website, newsletters, social media, on the highway billboard, etc. The next step is to make sure applicants are finding your job listings based on the content you included in the description. You don’t have to be a top salesperson or great at marketing to implement these few tricks, although, if you have someone on your team who is – ask that they take a look at your posting and provide suggestions.

Write distinctive and descriptive content

Start by making sure your job titles are unique. Job boards will often clump together similar job titles to prevent job seekers from encountering seemingly duplicated job descriptions. What’s the end result of this clumping, you ask? Well, some of your job listings may not be shown as often as others in search results–perhaps because you have two Server positions listed for the same location without much variety in their description text.

Do whatever you can to differentiate these titles and their descriptions. Consider adding your location, company name, ID number of the position, hours, or team name to the body of the description and/or the job title. If you are hiring two “Servers” the postings may be lumped together, but if you are hiring one “Server, Green Team, Weekdays only” and one “Server, Night Shift, North”, those two postings are less likely to be placed together as one.

Use hashtags on social

Use creative and professional hashtags to promote jobs on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Unsure of which hashtags to use? Start by adding the basics to the bottom of your posts and only use 2-4 hashtags total per job posting. Here is a standard list:

  • #nowhiring
  • #jobopening
  • #employment
  • #jobs
  • #hiring
  • #work
  • #career
  • #jobposting
  • #jobsearch

Job description keyword density matters

Writing repetitive keywords is crucial if you want job seekers to encounter your job listings on external job sites when they do specific, job-related keyword searches. “Enjoy food and people? Our position allows you to work with our great team and our loyal customers,” can be improved to read, “As a Server with Acme Co. not only will you become part of the Serving Team, but you will also get to serve and interact with our loyal customers.” This may seem extra silly and a bit extreme, but this example does demonstrate how you can swap words to make a bigger search engine optimization (SEO) impact (ie work with other teammates is replaced with work with other servers). The more often you can repeat the position title and other related job-specific keywords that align with the potential search queries of job seekers, the greater your chances of being found.

Nancy Meyer
3. Make it easy for more job seekers to show interest.

If quantity is really what you’re looking for, then make it easy for more job seekers to say they are interested in your positions. The ExactHire ATS makes this simple and customizable by allowing clients the ability to create multi-step employment applications! Implementing a short, initial application step is the quickest, easiest way for an applicant to raise his/her hand and show interest. In this hiring climate, think: contact information and a resume; or, contact information and no more than five job-specific questions. After you’ve screened the first step of the application, you can decide if you want the applicant to go to the next step.

Chantel Hatch
4. Over-communicate to job candidates.

Once you have an applicant’s information, keep him/her on the hook by quickly responding with professional communication. The ExactHire ATS allows you to utilize an instant ‘Thank You’ email template. Using the multi-step application process, you can invite the applicant to complete another section of the application seamlessly, and with little effort on your part.

Want to “talk” to an applicant quickly? No problem! The ExactHire ATS features two-way emailing and text messaging with candidates directly within the platform. This leaves you with no excuses for not quickly engaging applicants to start the interview process…or, for ghosting applicants when it comes to rejection messaging.

Randi Renee Shuck
5. Know what NOT to do with third-party job boards.

And last but not least, knowing what not to do when pushing your job listings to external job boards can be as important as knowing what to do. Job boards will often provide blogs or newsletters on how to operate most efficiently within their own platform. Because Indeed is typically one of the more popular websites for job seekers to search job openings, it’s critical to understand how its job content quality control process may impact the visibility of the job listings you share with Indeed.  To see if you may be excluding your jobs from Indeed inadvertently, review our tip sheet: How to Exclude a Job From Posting to Indeed.


Don’t fall into the trap of placing all of your eggs into one basket when it comes to creating visibility for your employer’s career opportunities. As I’ve discussed here, you have many avenues for creating awareness for the positions available within your organization–it just takes some attention to detail to make these tools work in your favor.

Need help strategizing on how to increase applicant flow for your company? We are dedicated to helping you utilize our ExactHire ATS to provide you with more AND better candidate results. Change doesn’t always come easy, but having the right team in place can certainly make it more pleasant. Let us know how we can help!