The Unexpected Boon Applicant Tracking Systems Can Provide the Candidate Experience

Doug Horn on February 10, 2015 10:01:00 AM EST


Unfortunately, the candidate experience in the hiring process sometimes gets overlooked. Companies concentrate on getting the best candidates at the fastest speeds, with many disregarding how those very candidates go through the application process. Yet the candidates are the ones whose collective work will be building the company, so doesn’t it feel counterintuitive to mistreat them?

The answer, of course, is yes. The candidate experience is an important part of the hiring process and must not be relegated to the back of the priorities list. Some businesses believe that the failure to acknowledge a job application will not harm their company’s reputation, when in fact the opposite is true. A study by Career Builder found that 44% of workers who did not hear back from an employer when they applied for a job said they had a worse opinion of that employer. A separate study found that 32% reported that they would be less likely to buy a product from a company who did not respond to their job application. 

While we’ve spoken in the past about the potential for applicants to get lost in an organization’s applicant tracking system, ATSs can actually be a boon to the candidate experience. Surprised? We were too, so let’s examine some of the reasons this is true.


ATSs Can Make Applications Clearer

According to applicant tracking software reviewer Software Advice, 93% of jobseekers say that unclear information on how to apply to a job, such as a job posting not specifying what type of materials to provide, would negatively impact their experience with a company. “Using software can help recruiters avoid this very simple mistake,” Software Advice says. “Most ATSs allow businesses to store past job requisitions within the system, creating a database of postings. Recruiters can use the application instructions in these postings again verbatim, if nothing has changed, or use them as a template for future postings. This reduces room for error, and saves time—recruiters must only write directions once.”

  New Call-to-action

ATSs Can Shorten the Application Process

We live in a culture that values speed, and the hiring process is no different. In fact, the aforementioned survey by Software Advice found that 90% of jobseekers say that an extremely long job application would negatively impact their experience with a company. Applicant tracking systems can be integrated with professional social networks like LinkedIn and subsequently auto-populate fields like “name” and “work experience” to expedite the process. This will save a lot of time and frustration on the candidate’s end, and improve the overall experience.


ATSs Can Improve the Hiring Process Timeline

Most people don’t like being left in the dark, and the same rings true for job applicants. 74% of jobseekers say that providing a timeline of the hiring process that outlines what steps are involved and how long candidates can expect the process to take would significantly improve their candidate experience, while only 3% say it would have no impact. According to Software Advice, recruiters who use applicant tracking systems, even when pairing their use with manual methods, more reliably provide timeline information to candidates than recruiters using non-ATS software. ATSs break the stages of the hiring process into clearly defined phases, which recruiters can use to inform candidates of their progress. In a world that increasingly stresses the importance of transparency, companies that give jobseekers updates on their progress will ultimately have higher candidate experience ratings.


Applicant tracking systems can certainly lose track of job applicants from time to time, but when they are used correctly and with jobseekers’ best interests in mind, they are a phenomenal resource for improving the candidate experience as well as companies’ brands. The implementation of ATSs should be looked at not only as a strategic move to aid the tracking of applications, but also to improve relationships with the people who are submitting those applications.