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What Is an Applicant
Tracking System (ATS)?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) helps recruiters, staffing agencies, and human resources (HR) departments manage their hiring efforts and stay competitive in today’s talent market. These systems are critically important for companies that are recruiting top talent for their own businesses, and for staffing and recruiting companies looking to fill job openings with the best possible candidates.

At its core, an ATS is a valuable database of possible hires for both current and future openings. It makes it easy to collect, organize, and search through documents, such as resumes and cover letters. Many systems also have a component that allows job seekers to apply directly through the ATS, either via the web or on a mobile device. This minimizes the need for manual entry by job seekers and recruiters.

Most ATS systems have the same basic features, but the way these features work will vary depending on the architecture of the system, as well as the vertical markets the provider serves. An HR-specific applicant tracking system (and some advanced staffing ATS) makes tracking regulatory compliance easy, and human resources professionals will find OFCCP and EEOC tracking features particularly useful.

An applicant tracking system for staffing agencies clues recruiters in to where candidates come from: referrals from previous candidates, specific job boards, or specific job listings, for example. This enables recruiters to fine-tune their strategies for finding the right person by learning where they can find more or better candidates.

Software vs. Cloud-Based ATS Systems

There are two types of applicant tracking systems: software and online services.

Applicant Tracking System Software

This type of ATS is stored directly on the user’s
computer. You download ATS software from an online
source or upload it to your computer from a disc or
USB storage drive. Once it’s on your computer, you do
not have to use an internet connection to access it.

Recruiters who require use of the ATS on multiple
computers or in multiple locations need to install the
software on each device individually; likewise, any
software updates need to be installed on each device
separately. Sharing changes to the database across
devices with applicant tracking software may not be

Online Applicant Tracking Systems

An online applicant tracking system – where the
software is 100% web-based — can be used wherever
there is an internet connection. In fact, most ATS can be
used on mobile devices, including smartphones and
tablets, in addition to desktop and laptop computers.
Since data is stored in the cloud, as data is added or
changed, the information is automatically updated across
the system on all devices, not just on individual instances
of the applicant tracking system software.

Installation and maintenance are far easier with
cloud-based applicant tracking software. If the system’s
architecture is built properly, recruiters don’t need to rely
on an on-site technician to install software or additional
equipment, and updates roll out automatically across all
devices. This makes scaling a cloud-based ATS faster
and easier than with the installed software equivalent,
and also enables providers of cloud-based software to
innovate at a much faster pace. As a result, many online
ATS providers price their products based on the number
of users, which you can increase or reduce as your
company’s needs change.

Who Uses Applicant Tracking Systems?

Applicant tracking systems streamline the recruitment process for:


Staffing agencies


Recruiting agencies


Large enterprises


Small businesses

Any company not using an ATS to attract, identify, hire, and onboard top candidates is operating at a significant competitive disadvantage.

How ATS Software Handles Resumes

In the past, recruiters and other staffing professionals kept piles of physical resumes. They’d file them under “sales associate” and “office management,” for example, as applicants submitted applications for these positions. When a position opened, they’d reach for the appropriate file, read or scan each resume, gather those that seemed like a good fit, then either contact those candidates individually or forward their information to a hiring manager. The process could be incredibly tedious, depending on how many resumes and cover letters they had to sort through.

In an applicant tracking system, resumes are sorted and categorized automatically. A recruiter simply inputs the requirements for the open position, and within a few clicks has a list of qualified candidates harvested from the database that are ready for further vetting.

Just as a recruiter does, an ATS open for certain keywords in the text. The best systems can search the full database, pull back all relevant candidates, and rank them by fit. This means the system often offers faster search results, full of candidates who are often more relevant than those hand-selected by human recruiters.

How to Use Applicant Tracking Software


1. Create a job order from
within the ATS, and
optimize it for search engines


2. Automatically post it to
your website and on
other platforms through
the system


3. Review your ATS
dashboard to see a
list of qualified
candidates already in
your system’s database


4. Attract more of the
right candidates using
targeted application
questions that are not
usually answered on a
candidate’s resume


5. Check your ATS
dashboard to see an
updated list of qualified
candidates, ranked
by how well they fit
the open position


6. Collaborate with hiring
staff and managers, if
necessary, to narrow
the list before and
during the interview


7. When you find the right
person or people, act
quickly while the
candidate is available
to work
the open position


8. Provide a formal offer
for the role

Applicant Tracking System for Small Business

Many business owners mistakenly believe they’re too small to invest in and use an applicant tracking system because they don’t need to hire people very often. However, the truth is that companies of all sizes can achieve great ROI by using a fully integrated applicant tracking system.

Even with dedicated hiring managers, finding top candidates can be incredibly time-consuming without an ATS. Large corporations may have multiple open positions at a time and receive more than 100 resumes each day. Any size company can benefit from maintaining a well-organized and easily searchable database of candidates to fill positions quickly, easily, and with top talent.

While small businesses may receive fewer resumes for an opening, sorting through them pulls managers away from other important duties. Applicant tracking systems, especially those that are cloud-based, have high potential for streamlined scalability. As personnel requirements change and companies grow, the ability to quickly find the right candidate allows small businesses to:


Quickly fill positions to fuel
rapid growth


Stay agile in a hiring market
that’s constantly changing


Save money on the
recruiting process

Companies large and small can benefit from the time-saving and data-tracking features of an ATS system to:

  • Weed out unqualified candidates in seconds
  • Write better, more targeted job descriptions
  • Nurture potential applicants with regular status
  • Use match scores to provide objective
    measurements for hiring decisions

  • Automate social recruitment
  • Improve employee retention by hiring a better
    match for each position
  • Track and use ATS data to refine and improve the
    effectiveness of recruiting strategies

The Fully Integrated AkkenCloud ATS Helps Companies

  • &#x;&#x;
    1. Create targeted job
    descriptions to easily and
    quickly attract ideal candidates
  • &#x;&#x;
    2. Post jobs, with just a few
    clicks, to multiple job boards
    and social media
  • &#x;&#x;
    3. Sort resumes to streamline
    and speed up the initial
    qualification process
  • &#x;&#x;
    4. Prioritize and rank candidates
    who are the best fit

  • &#x;&#x;
    5. Update and alert your team to
    speed up the hiring process
  • &#x;&#x;
    6. Communicate with multiple
    candidates simultaneously through
    email, text, and voicemail
  • &#x;&#x;
    7. Empower candidates to submit
    paperless applications easily via
    desktop and mobile devices
  • &#x;&#x;
    8. Incentivize temporary employees to
    refer friends and act as brand
    agents, which allows them to earn
    financial rewards for helping you

Furthermore, the AkkenCloud applicant tracking system stays online and fully operational while updates are made. This eliminates downtime and enables your team to benefit from the innovative initiatives AkkenCloud continually delivers to customers.

To learn more about how AkkenCloud can help
you attract and hire more employees, contact
us today.