So you’ve braved the first date and embarked on your initial ATS research.

With a disarming array of systems to choose from, you’re likely to have had your head turned by at least two or three. Now we’re exploring the process of deciding on an ATS – how do you know you’re ready to commit to an Applicant Tracking System?

Define your deal-breakers

Recall the ‘would-likes’ and ‘must-haves’ list we discussed in Part 1. These are ideal when you’re starting out in your ATS research. Now you’ve shortlisted a few systems however, it’s time to transform that list into clearly defined criteria.

Do you need to manage an apprenticeship or graduate scheme alongside more typical hiring? If you’re a not-for-profit, are you also responsible for volunteer recruitment? Determine your non-negotiable features – and make sure your expectations for the system are mirrored by your colleagues, if you recruit as part of a team.

By using collectively agreed criteria, you can appraise each system fairly and consistently.

Ready to say yes? The systems which meet your criteria – or which have the scope to do so in the future, are the ones to take through to the next round.

Talk to your future partner

On paper, your shortlisted systems may look like a perfect match for you. But appearances can be deceiving.

That suited and booted global powerhouse of a system may not offer the flexible functionality you need, whilst a smaller supplier, although less dressed up to the nines, may be the one to provide you with outstanding customer support.

It’s at this point that you really need to find out about the people behind the Applicant Tracking Systems and talk to suppliers. Your criteria is likely to cover the technical aspects you’re looking for in a system, but make sure to also ask about out of hours support and ongoing customer care; understand their approach to bespoke requests and how upgrades are dealt with.

When you create your criteria, define how you and your team like to work and what level of communication you’d expect from your ATS supplier. Keep these points in mind when you’re talking to vendors.

Ready to say yes? Suppliers should make you feel confident that you’ll be professionally and proactively supported throughout your relationship.


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Time to demo

Things are getting serious. Perhaps initial conversations with suppliers have already sent a couple of prospective beaus on to the ‘no’ pile. Now you have the chance to spend quality time with your final choices before deciding on an ATS. It’s demo time.

The key to a successful demo is to go in with an open mind – but also refer to your key criteria. Try to measure the systems you see consistently, taking into account the technology, supplier’s attitude and the scope for change. Ask as many questions as possible.

Going from demo to demo can be an information overload, so arming yourself with a checklist type document for each can offer you the structure you need to compare systems. We’ve created an ‘ATS Demo Checklist’ that may prove useful (and is free to download!).

Ready to say yes? Was the salesperson you spoke to knowledgeable?  Can you see the system making a tangible difference to your recruitment processes? Did you leave feeling all your questions were answered?

Say yes:

Your recruitment processes and challenges are unique. The right supplier should recognise this and their ATS should respond accordingly.

Hopefully your ideal system will become clear after the demo, but do take some time to think about it afterwards. Go back to the office and consider how the system will fit in with your working day. Talk to colleagues. Go back to the supplier with further questions to see how they respond.

An Applicant Tracking System is a big investment, so make sure you’re confident in its ability to help your organisation today – and tomorrow.

This post was originally written by Hireserve for Ingenium People, a training and resources provider for in-house recruiters. It appeared on their blog May 2015.


For more guidance and information about defining your pain points beginning your research and selecting a new ATS, download your guide to Choosing an ATS: Interactive, practical and packed with guidance and advice!

Find out more

Read part one of this series: How to research an ATS

Discover why common ATS myths are just fiction

Get the 3 ways to reduce your recruitment software ROI



About the author

Tristan Potter

From candidate experience to flexible working, and from supporting graduates to ATS reports; Hannah's written it all over the years! Hannah has contributed to publications as diverse as The Guardian, UK Recruiter and University Business. She is also the wordsmith behind our whitepapers and guides, from GDPR to Employee Volunteering.