For some in HR, the technology behind the application process is seen as a necessary evil – a tool you’re going to have to wrestle with, if you want to recruit in the 21st century. But a well-managed, properly-implemented ATS offers a range of opportunities to improve both the efficiency of the recruitment process and the quality of the results. The cost of your ATS doesn’t have to be an overhead: it can (and should) be an investment.

More applications from better applicants

It’s something we’ve said before: your ATS shouldn’t stand in the way of a great candidate experience. By designing the application process in the same way that e-commerce giants like Amazon design their purchasing process – with an intuitive user experience and simple, iterative steps – you’ll provide a much better experience for applicants.

It’s not simply a matter of looking good. By making the application process as clear and simple as it can be, it’s both faster and easier for the candidates – so less people drop out or put it off for later. You could argue that a determined applicant would persevere, but it’s hardly the sifting process you want.

Learning from every application

As the saying goes, what’s measured is managed. And your ATS should offer a huge variety of different metrics to look at and analyse. At the simplest level, you can find out how which roles are popular and which aren’t –what factors matter? Geography? Function? Salary? But you can also look at the process itself – what’s working and where could you improve? Are candidates dropping out at a certain stage? Are the right people reaching the interview? Which attraction strategies are bearing the most fruit?

Of course, that’s exactly the sort of business intelligence that can have a profound impact on the future. Quantitative analyses can offer all sorts of trends and insights, as well as highlighting areas for a more qualitative evaluation. The upshot is that you’ll not only have the understanding to forecast, manage and plan for the next recruitment project, but the tools to make lasting improvements.

Delivering a return

Harness your ATS for a more effective application process and, ultimately, you’ll have less recruitment to do. It may be because you don’t have to rerun unsuccessful campaigns, or because you can break free from a cycle of returning to the same roles time and again when poor hires don’t last.

Your ATS can play an important part in your employer brand too – both in terms of creating the right impression for applicants externally, and in providing the tools and data to support better employee engagement for onboarding and even offboarding.

With the chance to grow both talent pipelines and talent pools, you have the foundations for cost-effective direct resourcing. But, perhaps most importantly, by providing a steady stream of intelligence and insight, your ATS also offers an invaluable platform for continuous improvement and development.

In short, use it right and an ATS is more than a tool. It’s a path to much more cost-effective recruitment.

John Campbell is the MD of Spider online, a digital agency that specialises in developing and integrating technology for the HR sector. If you have questions about harnessing your ATS to improve efficiency, please get in touch.