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6 Signs You Need a New Applicant Tracking System

Allie Kelly

Applicant tracking systems are an incredibly useful asset for HR leaders. The software not only saves time and resources, but also gives stakeholders the ability to more easily identify high-quality candidates.

According to industry research, nearly half of all HR departments rely on software that is more than seven years old. You probably wouldn’t want to use a smartphone that was considered cutting-edge seven years ago, so why would you use an aging ATS? Here are six signs it’s time to upgrade:

1. Your candidates are getting hired by the competition

Research from StandOut CV revealed that the average job seeker spends 6.5 hours per week searching and applies to approximately 16 jobs each week. It takes an average of 27 applications to get invited to a single interview.

In short, your candidates have applied elsewhere. If they’re quality candidates, there’s a good chance that someone else has noticed. In a tight job market, it’s therefore only a matter of time before some employer snaps up quality applicants. A poor ATS slows down internal processes, thus increasing the chance that candidates will be out of the market by the time you schedule an interview. To stop losing out to the competition, you need an ATS that supports your ability to find and source candidates efficiently.

2. Your business has grown since you found your current ATS solution

If your business has grown since the the last time you purchased ATS software, it may not be able to support your current needs. Managing a dozen roles is much different that managing 20. Likewise, if the HR department has grown, there will be much more data to share.

You should consider speaking with a consultant to learn more about how new software can change the way you source candidates. In the old days, you may have been able to manually manage a small number of candidates. Today, your plate may be much more full, and you won’t be able to devote enough time to each candidate to make an informed decision. A more robust solution may be able to offer the support you need to manage business growth sustainably.

3. Your current solution doesn’t automate processes

Automation can be a scary word, but there’s nothing to fear here. An ATS won’t be vying for your HR job anytime soon. In this case, automation can make the work day much more efficient for HR leaders. Manual tasks can eat up much of the day, and it’s easy to make mistakes when transferring data by hand.

A modern ATS automates tedious, time-wasting tasks to empower the HR team to focus on finding the best people for each open position. An effective ATS should be able to automatically sort and score candidates based on the criteria of each specific opening.

Your ATS should be able to automate outgoing tasks as well as incoming candidates.

For instance, rather than posting job descriptions to multiple job boards, HR leaders should be able to post the job once and have it automatically appear on the rest. A modern ATS does this with ease.

4. Your candidates aren’t completing the application

Do your job postings have high engagement, but generate low numbers of leads? This could indicate that your application process is too complicated or time-consuming. Research from Indeed found that applications with more than 20 questions are abandoned 40 percent of the time. And the longer an application takes to fill out, the more likely candidates are to lose interest.

Job seekers have limited time, and if they feel it’s being wasted, they will leave. Your ATS should make it easy for applicants to provide their information in a reasonable amount of time. Applicants should not have to submit the same information over and over again. There are few things job seekers find more annoying than having to submit a resume only to fill out the same information on the application.

5. Your current solution can’t determine candidate quality

Having a lot of candidates in your recruiting pipeline may actually cause more problems than it solves – especially if you have to determine their quality manually. A good ATS will provide guidance by scoring candidates as they enter the pipeline. Then, HR stakeholders can spend their time and resources on the most promising candidates, rather than attempting to sort through the pipe by hand.

Furthermore, HR leaders should be able to combine the software’s assessment of candidates with data gleaned from human interactions. Your ATS should provide a way to look at the complete picture of each candidate, from their initial score to interview notes and beyond.

6. Your main candidate selection criteria is keyword-based

If the only thing separating qualified and unqualified candidates is the presence of certain keywords in their resumes, your process is not only unfair, but also inefficient. A candidate may be perfect for a position, but get filtered out if their resume lacks an instance of a keyword. Even if the resume contains an adjacent keyword, your ATS may not have the ability to determine the context of related keywords. Furthermore, bad candidates who stuff their resumes with keywords could be getting through, wasting the HR department’s time and resources.

Keywords can be helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story. If you’re not sure if your current ATS uses other criteria to categorize candidates, you should take the time to delve into the software and learn more. You may be surprised by how many great candidates are slipping through the cracks.


To summarize, you should consider replacing your current ATS if:

  • Your candidates are ending up at competing organizations.
  • Your business has grown since you last purchased an ATS.
  • You’re still sorting candidates manually.
  • You’re not happy with application completion rates.
  • Your ATS can’t determine candidate quality.
  • Your current solution relies too heavily on keywords.

Ready to optimize your recruiting pipeline? Schedule a free demo of JazzHR today!

Allie Kelly


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