Best Practices

Essential Applicant Tracking System Requirements for 2024

Brandice Payne | Author

Brandice Payne

Senior Manager, Content & Customer Marketing

Posted on

April 19, 2024

Recruiters use a host of hiring and recruitment software, but one particular platform is gaining widespread attention thanks to its utility. The applicant tracking system (ATS), which debuted in the 1990s alongside other business innovations, is now within reach of businesses of all sizes. 

An ATS acts as a central, unified hub for all things applicant-related, from organizing job posts, scheduling interviews, collecting information and feedback, tracking job applications, generating offer letters, and sending rejection notifications. 

The best Applicant tracking software also takes businesses from a reactive hiring position to a proactive one, securing top talent before they end up with the competition. Modern recruiting is also a different beast than even 20 years ago, requiring greater relationship-building, establishing and nurturing pipelines, and deeper candidate evaluations. 

As 2024 speeds by, your applicant tracking system should be more than up to the breakneck pace of modern hiring. Check out our guide on essential applicant tracking system requirements that boost productivity, save money, and secure the best candidates. 

Must-Have Applicant Tracking System Features  & Capabilities

While an ATS is a must-have system to streamline the hiring and onboarding process, several features are essential to making the most of the software. Many of these features focus on reducing time-to-hire and the quality-boosting capabilities that modern business relies on:

  • User-friendly interface – A great ATS offers a user experience that is easy to learn and intuitive to navigate. These tools should simplify your recruitment process, not add more admin for your HR teams. 

  • Automation – Modern ATS systems use artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms to automate portions of the hiring funnel, including resume parsing, cover letter analysis, candidate profile sorting, interview scheduling, creating applicant scorecards, assigning assessments, sending offer and rejection templates, and even collecting video interviews. 

  • Customizable workflows—An effective applicant tracking system adapts to your industry and business-specific needs. The ability to add and delete portions of the hiring process eliminates redundant, discriminatory, or unnecessary steps.  

  • Reporting – Get real-time analysis of your hiring metrics. Identify areas where you can make your hiring process more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, especially for candidates from underrepresented groups. Your reporting can illuminate stale recruiting practices, opening the door for significant change. 

  • Seamless integrations—Connecting your ATS with other HR software, such as a recruiting candidate relationship management (CRM) or HRIS, centralizes workflows and eliminates time-consuming application navigation. You can also connect messaging tools to interact with potential candidates or communicate with other departments for collaborative hiring efforts. 

Maximizing your applicant tracking system to take on more time-consuming admin tasks, like filtering candidates or sending rejection emails, allows hiring managers to make effective final hiring decisions. Where other industries want AI to replace employees, Gem’s ATS uses AI to empower them. 

Industry-Specific ATS Requirements

We touched on the importance of customization as a cornerstone feature of modern applicant tracking software. Not every industry has the same hiring funnel, and even within any given industry, the hiring practices can vary wildly from company to company. 

A flexible and adaptable ATS from a reliable provider, such as Gem, can shift to meet the needs of organizations operating in any sector. For example, recruitment agencies need a tool that can handle requisitions from multiple businesses while juggling multiple points of contact and diverse sets of job seekers. 

Staffing agencies benefit from the tools available in the Gem ATS, especially in maintaining organization and keeping stakeholders in the loop. The high-volume tools that assist agencies work well in other spaces, like construction, service, and manufacturing. 

Traditional blue-collar and service industry roles were marketed as pariahs, meaning many companies also need tools to boost employer branding. Manufacturers may also look for highly skilled talent with specialized experience to fill open positions, necessitating a tool that can filter for and score these candidates. 

Another industry looking for highly skilled individuals is healthcare, which often requires qualified candidates with advanced degrees, specific locations, or technical experience. Financial firms also need new hires with certifications, which means another layer of searchable candidate data to collect, sort, and filter. 

Your ATS platform's flexibility and customizability mean you can hire for all these use cases and more. It also fits into the tech stack of businesses of all sizes, from small businesses and start-ups to enterprise-level conglomerates.   

The Importance of Scalability and Support in an ATS

Growing your business can involve many unknowns, but with the help of an ATS, your hiring efforts don’t have to be one of them. An applicant tracking system supports business growth by helping recruiting team members stay organized, reducing the time spent on admin tasks, and handling expanding talent pools. 

Businesses can also take advantage of various pricing models that ATS providers use to support businesses with different hiring needs. For instance, an enterprise might rely on a flat-rate contracted price, while a mom-and-pop operation would benefit from a cost-per-hire structure. 

Regardless of which pricing model suits your needs, the ability to distribute job postings, connect with candidates through social media platforms like LinkedIn, and use automated tools makes an applicant tracking system well worth the budget space. 

However, before investing in any software provider, verify the training and customer support you receive to ensure uninterrupted functionality. That support could be everything from operating manuals to on-demand IT support and could even cost extra, depending on the provider. 

Making Data-Driven Decisions with ATS Analytics

Move over profit. Data is the new king in business, as more leaders turn to analytics for actionable insight on everything from candidate experience and product development to hiring and staffing. The results prove why. 

For instance, data-driven decision-making is so powerful the Fortune 500 company Google put the practice to the test by using performance reviews to find the common characteristics of high-performing managers. The results were a boost from 83% to 88% in mean favorability among management. 

That favorability translates into higher retention rates and an influx of new employee referrals, making your recruiter’s job easier. The best ATS platforms have customizable reporting dashboards that allow you to gain insights like Google’s. 

Leveraging data can reveal bottlenecks in the hiring funnel, illuminate non-inclusive portions of the application process, and identify common characteristics of top performers. This data paints a clear overview of your talent acquisition efforts, allowing you to project future hiring needs. 

Selecting the Right ATS: Questions to Ask Vendors

Traditional ATS software operated from an on-premise infrastructure, which required specialized equipment and employees to maintain. As such, these systems were often prohibitively expensive for the average business until cloud-based technology entered the scene. 

Today, businesses can choose from a variety of applicant tracking system vendors, but that doesn’t mean every provider is worth partnering with. Indeed, you should ask several questions to verify vendors on your shortlist meet your hiring needs. These questions can include:

  • What ATS pricing model do you use?

  • What security and compliance measures do you employ? 

  • How do you store private candidate information? 

  • What software can I integrate with your platform?

  • What scalability features do you offer?

  • What customizations can I use to make the ATS work for my team?

  • How do you handle software upgrades and maintenance?

Of course, these are but a fraction of the questions you could and should ask a potential vendor. The idea is to drill down as much as possible to identify potential pain points and features that will adapt to future recruitment challenges. 

Future-Proof Your Recruitment with Gem's ATS

None of us know what the future has planned, but one thing is certain: the ATS is the recruiting software of today and tomorrow. The comprehensive list of time-saving features and quality candidate verification makes it an essential tool for modern businesses. 

Gem’s ATS, in particular, leads the pack with unique capabilities, making it an asset for every hiring team. These features include a focus on DEI hiring initiatives, a wide range of industry-specific support, and a streamlined integration with a partner recruiting CRM. 

When paired together, Gem’s hiring software makes your human resources department a hiring machine capable of handling high volumes, strict qualification requirements, and inclusive hiring practices. Request a demo of Gem’s ATS today and experience first-hand the difference in your recruitment efforts. 


Request Demo Image

Get started today

See how Gem can help you hire with remarkable speed and efficiency