Whether you’re recruiting for fundraisers and partnership managers, or support staff and volunteers, if you’re a charity recruitment team, we’re betting you have A LOT to do.

We also know that it is essential for you to hire the best talent to support your cause.

So where does an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) fit into this? Today we’re focusing on three key ATS features every charity and third sector hiring team needs up their sleeve.



1. Customisable application forms and hiring processes

Many not-for-profit organisations will be recruiting for both paid staff and volunteer roles. These candidates will have different requirements and motivations for applying – so it’s important that you are able to provide an appropriate process for both.

An ATS designed for the charity sector should enable you to set up unique hiring processes for volunteers and staff roles. This could include different styles of application forms for each, so you need only collect relevant information (and are not asking your applicants to spend time on unnecessary steps!).

You might have different assessment tools or interview methods for volunteer roles vs. paid staff, or perhaps handle references differently.

Even your job requisition or approval process might require different steps for volunteering and staff positions.

Whatever shape your processes take, ensure your Applicant Tracking System has the flexibility you need to provide an efficient and engaging recruitment journey that meets the expectations of both your volunteer and employer candidates.


“Using Hireserve ATS has helped bring our volunteer recruitment into the 21st century. The team at Hireserve are fantastic.”


2. Bespoke careers sites

Is it possible to write an article about recruitment in 2022 and not mention the talent shortage?

A broken record I may be, but candidate shortages are still hitting certain industries hard – and with competition from corporates and budgets and activities potentially still reeling from the pandemic, the third sector is no different.

So, enhancing your candidate attraction and engagement should be close to the top of your list. How can an Applicant Tracking System support with this?

For starters, ask a potential ATS vendor whether they can provide separate careers sites to promote your volunteer and paid-staff roles. We all know that a professionally-branded careers site plays an essential role in candidate attraction, and this is no different for volunteer applicants.

In fact, it may be even more important. Potential volunteers are freely giving up their time and skills to support your cause, so your careers site (or volunteering portal – a better name, perhaps) needs to convey what the benefits are of volunteering. Why is it so rewarding? How can volunteers make an impact? And why should they donate their time?


Banner promoting Hireserve's employee volunteering guide


3. Dedicated Hiring Manager Portal

As a not-for-profit organisation or charity, it’s likely you have a wide range of internal stakeholders involved in your hiring process, and potentially across both voluntary and staff roles.

A powerful ATS for third sector organisations should provide specific functionality to support your Hiring Managers during the recruitment journey – and to help encourage them to self-serve throughout the process where possible.

This can be vital in saving busy charity HR & Recruitment teams time – especially if Hiring Managers can have autonomy over the shortlisting or interviewing stage, for example.



However, some Applicant Tracking Systems can appear complex at first glance. This is why we have designed a dedicated Hiring Manager Portal – developed specifically for users like time-poor, potentially non-technical Managers, who should require very little to no training.

Designed with a simple interface, Hiring Managers can view candidates at a glance, shortlist and comment, and manage interview schedules.

Recruitment teams often notice a significant reduction in admin and workload when Hiring Managers are engaged with the recruitment process, so it’s really key to have dedicated functionality for your Managers.

All our Hiring Managers use [Hireserve] ATS and find it very easy to use. It has simple functionality and [it is] easy to train them and get them using it from the off-set. 



Those are just three of many ATS tools we’d recommend to charity and not-for-profit HR and Recruitment teams.

Each feature should significantly reduce administration during key stages of your hiring process and improve candidate experience for both volunteers and staff applicants. This in turn should free up your time to focus on those hard-to-fill roles across your organisation, and to nurturing the talent your service-users so urgently needs.

So if you are considering a new Applicant Tracking System (whether your first or a replacement), we would urge you to look for highly configurable and flexible software that can support you long term and meet your challenges.

If you’re a not-for-profit recruiter and think you need a talent acquisition software refresh, why not talk to us? We have over two decades’ worth of experience in the third sector, and work with organisations such as the RNLI, Victim Support and Terrence Higgins Trust.



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.