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Woman using an applicant tracking system's features to streamline her candidate search Here’s the harsh reality: not all applicant tracking systems (ATS) are created equal.

Applicant tracking system software is a valuable tool for businesses of any size, but selecting the right one for your specific recruiting needs isn’t as simple as you might hope. Each and every ATS out there has been built by different development teams and offers different features as a result. If you’re looking for a tool to help you in your candidate search, how are you supposed to know where to start?

Start here – we’ve put together a list of five individual features that you should be looking for in any ATS, regardless of the brand behind the software. If you can’t check all five off your list, keep looking!

1. Applicant Tracking

This one’s a no-brainer. Any ATS worth its development cost should offer users the ability to automatically sort and track applicants through each step of the recruiting process. Got a huge pool of candidates? Make sure your ATS has an advanced search function that lets you filter applicants by keywords, ratings, tags, job skills, and any other relevant criteria.

2. Mobile Functionality

It’s a fact: 70% of job seekers now use mobile technology to search for jobs. Based on recent trends, you should only expect that number to rise. Complete mobile responsiveness makes the hiring process efficient and easy for both employers and job seekers – check candidate status updates, shoot your future employee an email, or post an open position on the fly. If the ATS system you’re considering doesn’t offer mobile functionality, you might as well revert to posting a “Help Wanted” sign on your office window.

3. Calendar and Email Communication

Easy communication might be the most important factor in increasing the efficiency of your hiring process. Look for an ATS that offers you the ability to create customized email templates, automatic responses, trackable communication logs, and an intuitive calendar that you can share with candidates. Bonus points if the ATS offers integration with email services like Outlook and Gmail. The more open your communication with applicants, the better chance you have of making the optimal hiring decision in the least amount of time.

4. Pre-screening Questions

A huge time saver! Find an ATS that lets you set up an initial screening process that every applicant must go through. This feature automatically delivers high-quality applicants and filters out those who don’t meet the minimum requirements. With a relatively small amount of setup time on the frontside, you can cut out virtually all of the wasteful applicant screening time with this one function. Quality candidates only, please!

5. Systems Integration

A truly great ATS is not a standalone product. Just as the best ideas come from human collaboration, the best ATS systems leverage the power of other software products. Your ideal ATS can fully integrate with background check services, HRIS, payroll services, and online job board websites, giving you an even more robust toolkit than the ATS’s built-in features alone would provide.

Surely this can’t be all the ATS features you should be looking for? You’re right. For a full breakdown of how you should be navigating the ATS selection process, download our free white paper written by TAM CEO Edna Nakamoto.