Blog Recruitment Performance The Ultimate Applicant Tracking System Checklist
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So, you’re looking to implement an applicant tracking system into your business? It can be tricky to know where to start, so we’ve put together the ultimate applicant tracking system checklist to help.


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There are numerous systems out there, all tailored for different recruitment objectives and business needs. The real question is whether they will be able to meet YOUR needs as a business.


This applicant tracking system checklist can be modified to suit your requirements, or help uncover what these may be. Simply select those which are important to you.

Attracting Candidates

Attracting the right talent in the first place is crucial for a successful recruitment process. This is because it helps you find the right quantity and quality of applicants, who are more likely to perform better and fit into your business.


The following are talent attraction features to look out for in your chosen applicant tracking system.


Job Advert Optimisation

Job advert optimisation involves designing your adverts to appear on the first page of results on job boards, and be appealing enough to entice clicks from the best candidates. This is done by using a well-researched and tested formula for the right structure, style and tone, and keyword optimisation techniques.


An ATS that offers a function such as a job advert generator or template to do this is hugely beneficial.


Copywriting Service

Some ATS (applicant tracking system) providers offer access to a team of experienced copywriters who can review your job advert copy, and advise on any amendments before they are posted onto the live job network. This is incredibly useful if your recruitment team has less experience writing copy, and could use an expert’s opinion.

Laptop with the words 'copywriter' on the screen

Job Posting

Access to job posting services as part of your ATS is a great way to save both money and time spent posting on each job advertising channel individually. The following are some job posting features to look out for.


Job Multi-Poster

Job multi-posters are tools connected to major job boards, that allow you to post across multiple boards with the click of a button. Access to one of these in your ATS helps increase your brand visibility and get your job shown in all the right places.


Free Job Posting Options

If you’re on a budget, a free job posting option is invaluable. Some applicant tracking systems simply make posting on the best free job boards easier in one click. These should include aggregators like Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Google for Jobs, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and professional Networks such as LinkedIn, plus hundreds of free to advertise job boards.


PPC Channel Access

The ability to post your jobs onto popular paid-for and aggregator job advertising channels helps you gain more visibility on your adverts, and hopefully generate more applications.


Check if the job boards provided include the top 10 UK national and generic job boards. This includes boards like Reed, CV Library, Monster, Totaljobs, and Gumtree.


Local Media Channel Access

To capture applicants who still use local media to find jobs, ensure your ATS has access to local media channels operated via Daily Mail Group, Daily Mirror Group and Johnson Press.


Social Media

If you want to give your job adverts an extra push for visibility, the option to quickly share jobs on social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook is useful.


the linkedin, facebook, and twitter icons



Screening candidates appropriately is a sure-fire way to quickly identify the most talented applicants for your roles, and avoid making the wrong hire into your business. The best applicant tracking systems come equipped with candidate screening tools that help you do this.


CV Parsing & Grading

CV parsing automatically inputs the applicant’s CV or profile against the job within the ATS, accurately placing each piece of information into the correct field without any human intervention. CV Parsing completely removes applicant drop off at the start of the application process, and is now considered one of the most critical aspects of recruitment automation.


AI Grading tools evaluate each applicant’s CV for relevant skills and experience needed for the role at hand, and places them into order of relevance for you. AI technology alone can take up to 80% of administration time out of the recruitment process that was previously spent reviewing unsuitable applications.


An ATS which provides these two features is incredibly beneficial to the recruiter, as it avoids human error and unwanted bias throughout the screening process, and fast-tracks you to the best applicants.


Behavioural Assessment Tools

Behavioural assessment tools are fantastic for ensuring candidates match up with your organisation’s cultural and behavioural benchmarks, and more importantly, help you to recognise areas of potential conflict.


Candidates who are genuinely motivated and engaged in the role they apply for are usually far more productive, and much less likely to leave the role, reducing attrition levels typically by 30 – 40%.


Video Profiling

Video profiling invites candidates to send you pre-recorded videos of themselves answering pre-defined questions. It’s a great way to get insight into an applicant’s presentation, communication skills, confidence, and personality.


Man laughing and waving in a gif


Background Checker

Background checkers do what they say on the tin, and are just a good method to check candidates are who they say they are. It’s also a good tool for finding out what previous employers think of them.


Blind CVs Feature

If you’re interested in making your hiring process as unbiased as possible, you might want to consider an ATS with a redacted CVs feature. This feature removes any identifying factors from CVs, such as the candidate’s name, gender, age, religion, or race.


Candidate Communication

Poor communication with candidates can create a high drop-off rate, and damage your employer brand. A high-quality applicant tracking system will come with at least some tools that make communication easier, and more effective.


SMS Services

Man in checked shirt with glasses on a phone Check if you’re able to use SMS services to communicate with candidates directly, and the number of credits allocated. Research has shown that SMS communication can improve candidate response times from an average of 48 hours using email, down to under 2 hours when complimented by an SMS text message. SMS will also ensure the applicant looks in spam for your email communications.


Automated Emails

The ability to set up automated emails within the recruitment workflow is key for creating a great candidate experience. This could be as simple as an acknowledgement email thanking candidates for their application, informing them of the next steps in your recruitment process, and starting the screening process.


Bulk automated personalised email is especially useful if you tend to have high volume or entry level roles, so you can essentially automate the first phase of the screening and shortlisting process, saving massive amounts of admin time.



The interview stage is of course one of the most important for impressing and engaging candidates. Some applicant tracking systems come with software that makes organising interviews much simpler.


Teams & Zoom Integration

Remote interviews are often the preferred option for many businesses in the initial interview stage. Having an applicant tracking system that can integrate with Microsoft Teams or Zoom is handy for keeping everything related to a candidate in one place.


Woman sat at a desk about to do an online interview


Additionally, some systems may allow you to save recordings from the interview securely against each applicant. This is useful if key decision-makers aren’t able to attend the interview.


Interview Scheduling Tools

Organising an interview date and time that suits everyone involved can be challenging. An interview scheduling tool makes the process much simpler, by offering the ability to create multiple interview slots, so that applicants can pick the times that work best for them, and that sync with calendars and diaries across the recruitment team.


Tracking and Reporting

Being able to track and report on each stage of your hiring process is priceless if you’re consistently looking for ways to improve your recruitment performance. A good reporting tool will allow you to identify areas for improvement and even display the basic analytics.


Real-Time Notification Settings

Getting regular updates on how your recruitment campaigns are performing is useful for quickly identifying any issues, or what is going well. Check if your applicant tracking system provider gives the option to set up real-time notifications, so your team can stay on top of things.


Reporting & Analytics Tools

If you want to track specific recruitment metrics like number and sources of applications, overall outcomes, time-to-hire, and average costs, an applicant tracking system with reporting and analytics tools is ideal.


When you’re able to generate and share these reports with your wider team, you can confidently measure against your KPIs, and adjust your strategy and budget to suit.


System Set up

Setting up your ATS shouldn’t be hard. The following part of this applicant tracking system checklist is aspects to look out for when choosing a system.


Minimal training required

Look out for systems that are simple to use and require minimal training for your staff. This is especially useful if you have a lot of people on your recruitment team, and don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to learning how to use a new system or lots of occasional users, because you don’t want to have to retrain people every time they have a new position.


Woman with headset on smiling


Open API

Applicant tracking systems with an open API to integrate with any other systems or tools you may use are incredibly beneficial and far more future proof. This means you don’t need to give up long-lasting tools you’ve used in the past, and when a new tool comes along, it can be quickly integrated for you.


Customisation & System Configuration Options

Most companies are not going to find a perfect match for what you need in an applicant tracking system. This is why it’s sensible to look out for those that offer customisation and system configuration options, and discuss with the provider what you need.


Perhaps you want to include more company branding, a custom reporting function, or display information in a different way. It’s worth asking how flexible they can be.


Cloud-Based Service

Cloud-based applicant tracking systems don’t require any IT integration, and you can get started using them relatively quickly with minimal effort. This also means the system will be easy to update over time.


Most cloud-based systems can be up and running within 48 hours. Even setting up the ATS with all your company assets, customisations, user permission groups, and setting up tasks can be done in a matter of hours.


Syncs with Outlook & Other Email Operating Systems

A system that is flexible to set up and sync with Outlook or other calendar or email systems you want or need helps keep everything you need in one place.


Free to Set Up

If cost is a concern for your business, check to see if the system is free to set up, and whether there are any joining fees or flexible contracts. Look for low cost or free to set-up charges and subscription contracts that allow you to pay monthly.



The security of your applicant tracking system is important, namely due to sensitive information on candidates being present. The following ATS features ensure your system is as secure as possible.


SSO and Dual Authentication Options

Single Sign-On and dual authentication options give you that extra peace of mind. Ensuring each user will be able to access these features protects you and your candidates’ data.


Full GDPR Compliance

Ensure your system provider is fully GDPR compliant, and continually review this and data security aspects for such compliance. This will save you security issues down the line.


System Security

System security aspects to look out for are SSTL certified, fully encrypted, GDPR compliant and independently tested to ensure the highest levels of security.


Back-Up Server Networks

Check if there are secure backup networks to avoid any unplanned downtime on the system.


Customer Support

Sometimes things can go wrong, or your team just needs a little extra support using your applicant tracking system. This is where having a good customer support team on-hand is invaluable. Find out if the support team work proactively to identify where they can help you, or whether they respond only to your inbound calls.



Look out for ATS providers with an efficient onboarding process. The entire process should ideally take no more than 2 days or a few hours of your time, with tailored training options to suit your needs. This ensures your administrators and users get the best out of the system, and can get started right away.


Ongoing Support & Training

Ongoing support and training is invaluable when choosing an ATS provider. For example, if you are having issues with a campaign’s performance, advice on areas for improvements is useful, especially if your team is just starting out using an applicant tracking system.


Proactive Support

Having an active support team that monitors usage and applications for every job you post is great for ensuring you get the most out of your system, and have a positive experience.


Internal Development Team

Providers who have an internal development team are likely to have rapid response times to issues and requests, often with no cost to the user.


A badge with the words 'best price' on it

Pricing Options

If price is your focus, there are a few aspects of a system worth adding to your applicant tracking system checklist.


Company Size

Check the number of users that are included in the cost of the system. This really depends on how big your organisation is. Most ATS charge by company size, but many also calculate cost against the number of users. You might not need many administrator subscriptions, but you should try and avoid restrictions to basic users working on specific jobs.


Monthly or Annual Subscription Fees

Check whether the system is paid for on a subscription basis, and the options for this depending on your needs.


Return on Investment

Consider the return on investment when selecting your ATS system. While some basic systems may be cheaper, if they don’t include many of the features mentioned in this checklist that you believe your business would benefit from, your hiring process may be impacted.


Price Match Option

Some applicant tracking system providers may offer to price match a like-for-like offering by a certain percentage. This is worth asking about if you can’t decide between two similar systems.


Get Started

Now you have the ultimate checklist for your ideal applicant tracking system, it’s time to get started. Why not see if Smart Recruit Online’s applicant tracking system matches up with what you need?


Book a demo and see how we can help.


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Smart Recruit Online

October 27, 2021

We offer an award-winning talent acquisition platform, that combines an ATS with a powerful job board multi-poster. Our platform helps you quickly find and hire the best talent online for less with a range of tools designed to help you run a successful recruitment campaign. We use extensive research and an understanding of human behaviour to keep our business and technology at the cutting edge.

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