From social services to transport workers, we know that if you’re a public sector recruitment team, you’re probably handling a vast range of roles.

We also know that hiring the best talent – across all areas – is essential to meet the needs of your local community and to continue providing the services upon which they rely.

So where does an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) fit into this? Today we’re focusing on three key features every public sector hiring team needs in their toolkit.



1. A dedicated portal for Hiring Managers

As a local authority or other public body, it’s likely you have a wide range of internal stakeholders involved in your hiring process, and across multiple different departments.

A powerful ATS for public 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.

This can be vital in saving busy public sector HR & Recruitment teams time.

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 non-technical users.

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

HR and Recruitment teams often notice a significant reduction in admin and workload when Hiring Managers are engaged with the recruitment process.


“The Council has reaped significant time and cost benefits from empowering Hiring Managers to take control of recruiting new staff … In our Recruitment Administration team, we have been able to save c. £25,000 through automation and a refreshed team structure.” Lincolnshire County Council


2. Pre-employment checks and onboarding tools

In our experience, there’s often a worrying gap between when a candidate is offered a role, and when they begin their first day.  This can often be when HR and Recruitment teams are trying to process new starter data, assign internal actions to prepare for a new hire’s first day, or undertake reference requests and background screening checks.

But, as you well know reading this, for highly sought-after public sector talent, it’s crucial to complete these pre-employment and onboarding actions quickly and effectively – to avoid delays as much as possible.

We’ve also heard from clients that this pre-first day period is traditionally when information begins to be processed outside of the ATS. New starter data is often collected and managed in spreadsheets, resulting in increased administration, a higher chance of data duplication and information security risks.



So, what’s the solution? Well, often Applicant Tracking System functionality stops at the point of hire – but some, like Hireserve ATS, provide a pre-employment checks module.

Hirechecks is designed to help in-house recruitment teams to collect, record and store new-starter data and actions.

From recording evidence of Right to Work checks, to assigning tasks to internal stakeholders, Hirechecks enables a public sector recruitment team to keep track of all new starter and onboarding processes. This can significantly reduce the gap between offer and first day, reducing the risk of counter-offers and losing talent.


3. Automated reference requests

For busy local authorities or public bodies, collecting references can be a significant drain on time and resources.

With such a diverse range of vacancies open at any one time, it’s likely you’ll need different referencing processes for different roles. If you’re managing this manually – or using an outdated Applicant Tracking System – it’s also likely therefore that this results in A LOT of paperwork and manual processing for you.

An ATS designed for public sector recruitment teams should provide automated reference requests. And it should work something like this:

You can trigger the reference collection from within the system. This automatically emails a reference request to the referee. Reminders to referees can also be automatically generated at certain points throughout the process.

The referee can then complete the reference via an online form, which feeds back into your Applicant Tracking System.

Crucially, and as we mentioned before, you should be able to create different types of reference request for your different roles – so you can enable bespoke processes for educational vacancies, environmental, care and more. This also means you can request references at different stages of your hiring journey, such as pre-interview or at the point of offer.

Of key importance is that this entire process takes place within the Applicant Tracking System, so it’s efficient, connected and secure.


One city council saved £23,000 per annum by using the Hireserve ‘Reference requests’ feature, which “utterly revolutionised the way [the Council] works”.


Those are just three of many ATS tools we’d recommend to local authority and public body HR and Recruitment teams.

Each feature should significantly reduce administration during key stages of your hiring process. 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 community so urgently needs.

Crucially, as each public sector organisation is different, you’ll have your own unique and potentially complex recruitment needs – not to mention budget considerations!

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 public sector recruiter and think you need a talent acquisition software refresh, why not talk to us? We have over twenty years’ worth of experience in the local authority and public body arena, and work with organisations such as Lincolnshire County Council, Southampton City Council and Shropshire Council.


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.