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Applicant Tracking System Design Best Practices


Recruitment is a time-consuming and stressful task. You get dozens of resumes and become overwhelmed with data. Luckily, specialized applicant tracking systems (ATS) are designed to make this process more efficient. However, there is another problem that may arise. How to choose the best ATS on the market? There are ready solutions for businesses and companies willing to create custom ATS from scratch. To make the right decision, you need to be aware of the key ATS features and practices to improve your recruitment practices.

ATS: Definition and Main Principles

If you have never used an ATS before, it’s time for some theory. ATS is technology gathering and arranging applicants’ resumes. When a person applies for a job via this software, it uses complex algorithms to determine whether the candidate is suitable for the position. Ideally, a well-designed system can automatically track and present the best candidates. It also stores applicants’ data for a long time, allowing HR personnel to retrieve and use the needed data.

ATS applies many tricks to help companies find the best candidates. Let’s list some of them:

  • Advanced search. ATS may look for resume keywords corresponding to job descriptions. In this way, the system selects the most suitable candidates based on the presented information.
  • Analysis of resume format. Some ATS systems look for specific resume formats to find the best resumes.
  • Analysis of resume fonts. ATS can even sort resumes based on the font, prioritizing those with the most popular fonts (e.g., Helvetica).
  • Sorting by popular resume headings, file types, etc.

For example, imagine an IT company looking for a UX designer. According to this Eleken’s article, a hiring manager should conduct interviews with candidates. But what if there are too many of them? ATS helps sort resumes using intricate algorithms and job requirements (e.g., education, training, competencies, etc.) and suggests the best options to start with.

To put it differently, ATS does all the tedious work of sorting and scanning the resumes, thus saving precious time. As a result, hiring managers can prioritize the most qualified resumes and contact candidates ATS sees as optimal for the job.

Identifying ATS Best Practices

So far, we have discussed ATS systems from the users’ perspective. But what about the technical and design aspects of the software? There are several best practices that ATS developers and users prioritize, so let’s review them in more detail.

Automating Basic Recruitment Actions

The fewer work people are left to do, the better, so the best ATS products offer advanced automation. For example, they can send automatic emails and inform them about the status of their application. Emails can be branded and personalized to add a personal touch and establish better relationships with candidates.

ATS Should Be Mobile-Friendly

Another best practice includes responsive design. It means that the ATS can be used on any device, be it a smartphone or computer. Research shows that half of smartphone job seekers use their devices to fill out online job application forms. The majority of them face problems such as the inability to attach a document or fill in some forms. Imagine how many applicants you may miss by failing to use a responsive ATM!

Efficient Candidate Search

The best ATS products also contain an excellent candidate search. They help recruiters to locate and retrieve the data using advanced filters. The more filters the ATS offers, the quicker hiring managers can find the perfect candidates. For example, they can select resumes only from candidates living in a specific city or narrow down the recruitment process to those with 5+ years of experience.

Interview Help

Nothing can substitute a face-to-face conversation with a candidate. However, there are interview-related tasks that a god ATS should be able to help with. These include:

  • Schedule interviews
  • Provide structured interview kits
  • Inform applicants about the next steps

These features allow saving managers’ time while also creating a positive recruitment experience.

Customer Support

Even the most advanced ATS products may cause trouble. Applicants should access customer support via a live chat or a chatbot. Whatever option you choose, be sure to provide timely help. Otherwise, you risk scaring away the best applicants.


A well-designed ATS has detailed candidate profiles, which combine information from resumes and social profiles. Having all candidates’ information stored in one place gives recruiters faster access and helps save much time. It means that hiring managers no longer need to go here and there to collect the valuable information needed to understand the candidates better.

Smart Analytics

In this data-driven world, even such subjective and personalized process as employee recruitment is guided by data. The best ATS products collect and analyze hiring statistics, allowing managers to see whether the company is on the right track. Analytics can include the following information:

  • Time to fill a position
  • The cost and time per hire
  • The number of applicants for a job
  • The number of interviews per hire, etc.

If any of these parameters cause concerns, hiring managers can adjust the process to find the best employees with minimum effort.

Effective Data Protection

ATS collects and stores an immense body of personal data, and your company is responsible for keeping this information safe. Data breaches may undermine the company’s reputation and discourage candidates from applying. Therefore, ATS should be designed according to strict data privacy policies and laws.

Flexibility is the Key

Customized ATS may be the best option for a company having unique recruitment needs and standards. The best thing about customization is getting additional features and eliminating useless ones. For example, the level of automation may vary depending on the number of candidates and company receives regularly.

Summing Up

ATS products have revolutionized the hiring process and benefited both employers and candidates in the period of an overcrowded digital labor market, making it hard to find the perfect match for the job amid thousands of options. However, not all systems are equally effective. We highly recommend choosing the features and best practices that suit your unique needs. In this way, the ATS system will bring optimal results.


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