Applicant Tracking System Design: How to Make Recruitment Better for Everyone
mins to read
Do you know how long the best candidate stays available? On average, ten days only 🤯. That means recruiters should be very nimble to hunt successful candidates and win them over. But that is easier said than done.
An immense workload and poorly organized hiring process exhaust recruiters, and they can easily miss appropriate job seekers by losing candidates’ resumes or failing to reach out timely. Things become much easier with the recruitment process automation or so-called applicant tracking system or ATS.
Being a SaaS design agency, Eleken embraces design trends from various industries to be able to help our clients with even the most specific requests. Thus, we have some insights to share with you regarding the recruitment industry as well.
What benefits ATS offers, which features an effective ATS should include, and how to build applicant tracking system design - these questions we will discuss in this blog post.
What is an applicant tracking system, and how to know if you need one?
Applicant tracking system or ATS facilitates collecting and processing data of specialists applying for a specific position. The ATS’s primary purpose is to streamline the recruitment process by workflow automation and optimization. Although the recruitment tools market is quite saturated, offering various services from common recruiting platforms to technology-based services like Textio, you can still build a unique ATS solution that will perfectly fit your niche needs.
The time to think about implementing an ATS comes when you find your business in any of these conditions:
- Your business is rapidly growing, and you lack hands in a people’s management department to handle all new openings.
- Your employee turnover rate is high, and the staffing process gets out of control.
- You have issues with reporting and legal compliance due to the applicants’ data being scattered chaotically.
- Your HR staff is running with sweat in an attempt to fulfill the positions.
- You’re hiring during pandemics and need the help of AI-driven analytics tools to find the best candidates.
Applicant tracking system benefits
If you’re still considering building an applicant tracking system, 94% of recruiters will tell you - yes. Just look at the advantages the ATS system brings to your organization.
- Saving time
The reality is that around 80% of submitted applications don’t match job openings and just waste recruiters’ time spent for the analysis. Thanks to workflow automation, recruiters don’t spend tons of time on application screening, which is the most time-consuming part of the recruitment process.
- Saving cost
Without an ATS, you’d probably need to expand your recruiters’ headcount to handle the staffing process. That means you have to increase your monthly payments by thousands of dollars, whereas the ATS cost is around a hundred dollars a month per user. Isn’t it attractive mathematics from a business perspective?
- Recruitment simplification
The ATS layout visualizes each candidate’s interview stage and makes it easy to track progress by moving cards on the Kanban board. You won’t lose resumes. And you don’t need multi-sheet Excel files to keep the hiring process on track.
- Legal compliance
This ATS’s functionality keeps recruiters aware of changes in laws and regulations that can impact hiring decisions. Besides, the system preserves all the information about an applicant and justifies the refusal in hiring if someone, for example, has lawsuits.
- Quality candidates
Usually, the best candidates are taken first. According to the research, the brightest professionals stay on the market only for ten days before getting hired, so the quickest company wins. The ATS system allows you to be quick.
Industry experts state that to be effective, the applicant tracking system should include the features that really matter.
What’s that? Let’s figure it out.
ATS features that matters
Who knows better about ATS features than people engaged in recruiting daily? Hung Lee, the CEO of WorkShape.io, the talent matching service, shared his opinion with the experts of Workable, the all-in-one hiring solution. Mr. Lee named the top features an applicant tracking system should have.
Here are some of them:
- Candidates data import and export;
- Universal search (the possibility to find a record by any part included);
- Messaging (customized messages functionality);
- Tags (or data segmentation);
- Collaboration (involvement of other team members in recruitment);
- Google apps integration.
To complete the picture, the experts from Workable add some more ATS desired features they believe play an essential role in the recruitment process optimization.
Perhaps the least expected one is...
- Employer branding
Even being not that obvious, brand consistency conveys confidence and makes a positive impression on potential employees.
- Multi-sourced data aggregation
Sometimes, to compile a full picture of a candidate, a recruiter should pull the information from various sources. If the ATS can collect all candidate’s data in a unified profile, it enables recruiters to work more efficiently.
- Interview management
It’s nearly impossible to handle dozens of interviews smoothly without seamless calendar integration for both a recruiter and a candidate. The more structured and organized the interview process, the better overall impression a potential employee will have about the company.
- Candidates’ data hub.
If the information chunks about the candidate and their interview performance are scattered across spreadsheets, emails, and social media messages, it can be quite a hassle to assemble the comprehensive picture. An ATS enables building well-organized candidate profiles to keep all necessary information at your fingertips.
- Mobile application
In a fast-paced world, contacting potential candidates only when you’re in front of your PC or laptop is a sort of unattainable luxury. The hire-on-the-go is a new norm, so building a mobile app is a must if you’re concerned about your customers’ great user experience.
How to build (and design) an applicant tracking system?
Despite the abundance of software tools on the recruitment market, finding a suitable solution seems to be not such an easy task. Either the feature is lacking or UX is bad, the reality is almost half of the companies that implemented ready-to-use ATS are not satisfied with their choice.
The same situation happened to our client that came to Eleken for UI/UX design of his own ATS called Hirerise. While all the existing ATS tracking solutions on the market were a bit outdated and complex, we wanted to design an app that is both appealing and functional.
So, if you decide to tackle this challenging task and build your in-house ATS, here are some tips on arranging the process and creating the applicant tracking system we learned while working on Hirerise project. .
Define your expectations from ATS
You basically have to answer three simple (relatively) questions:
- What are those issues you want to address with the help of the new ATS?
- What frictions do you want to avoid in your future applicant tracking system?
- And what features do you want to add to/remove from your current ATS (if you have any)?
To make the process of answering the above questions more effective, it’s crucial to conduct a competitive analysis. It will give you a clear understanding of what customers expect to find in your applicant tracking system, as well as it will allow you to define your competitive advantage.
Once you’re confident with the expectations from the new ATS, it’s time to outline a features’ list. Not to base such important design decisions on bare assumptions you’ll need to question your recruiting team (that is, conduct user research). Together with the specialists directly involved in working with recruitment tools, you’ll be able to shortlist the must-have features and then rate them in order of importance.
Going through user research helped us to make very important decisions on how to streamline team communication in Hirerise. The thing is that the whole hiring process consists of many stages that require the involvement of various people from different departments (consequently they need to communicate with each other). Recruiters complained that the hiring flow they got was complex and confusing, as each time they wanted some feedback from other team members they had to somehow contact them.
To make this process simple and straightforward, Hirerise users can create a team, add the needed members, and together easily comment on candidates, tag each other, or set tasks. Besides, we placed comments on the same screen with the applicant’s bio, so users don’t have to switch between tabs.
Build your ATS MVP
The next step after the brainstorming sessions is to create a minimum viable product or a pilot version of your new ATS. With such a fundamental product, it’s wise to start small and check if you go right before making huge investments.
What features can you include in your MVP?
Social sharing (LinkedIn integration is a must-have!)
Once a job description is ready to go, you can quickly distribute it with a few clicks to different social media.
Fast CV download
You can effortlessly download a candidate’s resume to the database with just one click. You just need an API (an application programming interface) to integrate your applicant tracking system with job search platforms and social media websites.
Typically, ATS includes a large applicant database, so you can make a keyword or a boolean search within. The keyword search means you can quickly find a necessary candidate by typing in specific skills or experience. The boolean search allows you to search for several parameters simultaneously. Search functions help significantly reduce time spent on candidates’ pre-selection.
When talking about scheduling, a Google Calendar integration comes top of mind enabling you to have all set appointments in one place. A smart scheduling tool extracts data from participants’ calendars so a recruiter can see free slots and suggest appropriate timing for an interview. It’s as easy as pie to set up the interview just with a couple of clicks.
Here’s how the calendar looks in Hirerise:
That’s already a common thing for a modern ATS to have analytics and reporting capabilities. It’s a great feature to quickly see hiring statistics to know whether you need to improve the hiring process..
For Hirerise, we added the analytics report to the dashboard’s overview tab. We designed it with a lot of white space and only the most crucial indicators so that users can spot the needed information in a few seconds.
In the era of smartphones, when most people spend five-six hours daily on their mobiles, it’s no wonder that a job search also moved to mobile devices. So, mobile hiring can be fairly named one of the most noticeable trends in recruitment. Your ATS should be easily used on smartphones. Thus, make sure it fits any size’s screens and loads fast.
Ensure your ATS is user-friendly
To be successful, the app has to be beautiful inside and outside. That is, it has to provide both great UI and UX. As a customer-focused design agency, we approach UX design with special responsibility as the experience customers get when using your ATS literally decides the product’s success. Taking care of the UX, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition since lots of current staffing tools don’t pay due attention to the ATS user experience.
Here is what you should consider when designing your ATS:
It should be intuitive and easy to use. What would be your first impression if you look at the system with an unbiased eye? Does it evoke a desire to try using or better closing it? Go with your guts and mind that with high probability other users may feel the same way.
It should be a no-brainer for recruiters. Do you know that it takes more than four months to hire new staff? If you plan to expand your recruiters’ team, they should be able to learn fast and hit the ground running as soon as possible. The self-explanatory ATS will ultimately reduce time and cost for long introduction training.
It should be mobile-ready. As we’ve already discussed above, the reality is that recruiters often work on the go. Thus, it’s crucial to design your ATS the way evenly usable on desktops and mobile devices.
And here’s how we took care about Hirerise’s look and feel:
- To perfectly think out clear structure, logical and convenient design elements placement, we used wireframing.
- To create a clean and intuitive user interface for Hirerise, we, together with the client, created a moodboard that put our design ideas in the right direction.
- As a result, we managed to design an app that makes the hiring process hassle-free and pleasant.
The applicant tracking systems constantly evolve. They bring immense value to businesses by optimizing the recruitment process and bringing the best professionals on board. Even though building and designing your own ATS is not that simple, this game is worth the candle. Let us know if you need any design help on the way. And here we have more about systems’ design - check out our article about how to design a CRM.
What Is Product Management: Comprehensive Overview
Product industry is blossoming and all sorts of digital products are being created and subtly merged with our businesses and daily routines. The creation of digital products is an exciting, yet a very complex process. And this is where product management comes to save the day. You might have heard of it and may even believe that this business process is pretty simple to get. Believe it or not - there’s still a lot to learn what product management is all about.
As a design agency for SaaS companies, we at Eleken are lucky to be a part of digital products creation and work together with various product teams. In this article we would like to share what we have learnt about product management and its undeniable importance for successful products.
What is product management?
To figure out what product management is we first need to tackle the history a little. The concept appeared way before products got digital. In 1930th Neil McElroy, a young employee of Procter & Gamble, wrote a memo that suggested hiring more people for running the company's products.
The note uncovered the new approach according to which `brand men` had to focus on a product’s packaging, positioning, distribution, and sales. These employees were expected to be fully responsible for a full life cycle of a specific product. Responsibilities described in the note resemble modern product managers' role in many ways.
Mr. McElroy’s memo turned out to be influential and defined the future of product management for several generations. A lot has changed since then, but the idea of having a dedicated process and role responsible for managing products remained.
The further development of software companies led to Agile methods of management, main principles were gathered in Agile Manifesto. And even though this paper is more often associated with project management, it became in fact the turning point from where modern product management rises.
You are probably aware that product management is often confused with project management. And in general sense, we can say that these concepts are close. Yet if you zoom in, you will see that product and project management bear different responsibilities and key deliverables.
The main thing to get the difference between these two is that product management covers the whole product creation, while project management focuses on a specific stage of product development.
For project management tactics, strong organizational and time-management skills are more important, while product management is more strategic, requiring broader business vision and analytical thinking. Building, communicating and implementing the strategy for the product is one of the most important goals of product management.
Modern product management is responsible for the product’s strategy, development and performance from start to finish. The ability to see the bigger picture and make informed decisions necessary for product development are crucial for product managers that aim to create stunning products.
Achieving the goal of product success requires a deep understanding of technology behind the product, as modern digital products need to be flawless to win the competition and satisfy users. But product management is not just tech, it’s also profound understanding of users, their needs and satisfaction. And of course, product managers have to ensure all business goals are met. Thus, product management is best defined as the intersection of business, user experience, and tech.
To understand product management better, below we will talk about the product`s lifecycle, typical product manager`s activities, as well as tools used for effective product management. We will also look into product management roles and different organizational models of product companies to see how they influence the prduct management. And of course our favorite one, the collaboration of product management and design.
Product management lifecycle
Let’s take a look at life cycle of digital products as it directly influences the product management. When we talk about the lifecycle of product management we mean the way a particular company runs its product development.
The four main stages of a product life cycle are Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. Let’s look at them more closely.
Introduction. This phase starts a couple months before release and continues while your product is entering the market. During this stage product management needs to make sure that the product will be introduced to its users properly. At this stage you don’t hope to have the revenue yet. The job here is to deliver the idea of your product or service to potential customers and gather feedback from your users to correct your direction if needed.
Growth. At growth stage, the significant number of users are aware of the product, benefit from it and ready to invest in it. If everything goes well you increase your revenue, client base and sales at this stage. The competition is growing and you need to mind it by continuing to enhance the product. As the name hints, it is the phase of the most rapid growth of your product.
Maturity. The maturity phase means your product has been established on the market. Hence you can see some slow-down in sales and growth. The reason is that the majority of target audience already uses your product, so it is time for diversification of your product, finding ways to involve new audiences and strong marketing efforts. For successful products, the maturity stage can last for decades.
Decline. Eventually every product reaches the decline stage. In this phase sales, market share and demand naturally decline. To create new demand and revive your product experts recommend product redesign and revamping.
Product management here goes step by step along with the product life cycle, following its introduction, growth, maturity and decline stages. Now, let’s learn what product managers do day to day to ensure their products longivity and success.
Product manager’s activities
Daily product management functions balance between the strategic and tactical sides of the product. It doesn’t mean that product managers have to take care of every single detail related to product development. We can describe their job as “keeping a hand on a pulse of a whole process, and curating its direction.”
You can think of two directions of product management activities: inbound and outbound. First direction includes the strategic product management block of product vision, strategy, product roadmap, and such, and development block of UX research, design, coding, and release. The outbound activities are everything about marketing and sales of the product, such as positioning, branding, sales processes, feedback from customers, and so on.
Of course, there’s no strict line between inbound and outbound product management activities and daily product managers’ tasks are a natural balance in pursuit of product success. And modern tools are a great help to maintain this balance.
Main product management tools
Product management toolkits vary from company to company and are personally selected by a product manager based on their experience and needs. Luckily, we grew out of the spreadsheet era and nowadays the market has plenty of solutions to offer.
Brainstorming, prototyping, and product design are those big fields of responsibility that product managers and product designers share. We know this from our personal experience, so we would like to share some recommendations on product management tools.
For idea validation phase it’s good to rely Lean Canvas with its numerous templates or Figjam, a digital whiteboard from Figma. It encourages team collective brainstorming and helps organize the creative process with tailored templates. As an alternative designers suggest Figjam.
You probably associate Figma/Adobe/InVision/Sketch with design work only. In fact, it’s a go-to tool for product managers who work with the design team or build simple prototypes on their own. Our designers recommend Figma. Easy file sharing and commenting options are just what you need for effective product management and concept visualization.
Product management as well as product design is a lot about analyzing users' behaviour. So professional tools like UXcam or Hotjar are necessity for product managers that want to understand how users interact with the solution.
And of course, you can’t manage the product without organizing information and documentation and talking to other team members. Use Notion or Google Suit to keep your files in order and Slack, Rocket chat, Jira, Todoist, or Toggle for communication and task management.
What production management solutions to use depends a lot on the range of product managers’ responsibilities, as well as the company’s organizational structure.
Organizational structure in product companies
It’s quite obvious that the product management in a small startup and giants like Google is not the same. All the processes within a company, including product management, are determined by its organizational structure.
Departments can build different products from start to finish or focus on one process such as design or marketing for several products.
Startup or any product company’s organization structure often looks like on the chart above. Any business can have a centralized or decentralized structure. But the majority of product companies choose a decentralized model since it allows more flexibility.
Another thing to note here is that the organizational structure influences not only processes and tools, but also the product management roles within company.
Product management roles
Some of the main product management roles are:
Product Manager, the most typical and at the same time the most essential role for product management. Especially in smaller organizations this person is responsible for full product management scope.
is the role that defines what is the right product. Product Owner works closely with stakeholders and product team. There can be only one Product Owner in the team. It doesn’t mean that this person does all the work but this role holds the responsibility for managing all important product-related decisions.
User Experience Researcher Don’t get confused, even though this title doesn’t include `product` word it is a very important role for product management that focuses on user experience and collaborates with other product managers as well as design, development and marketing teams.
Product Marketing Manager this role is part of bigger product teams and focuses purely on marketing side of the specific product while collaborating closely with other Product Managers.
There are also leading product management roles:
VP of Product - Vice President of Product is a team leading role that holds ownership of the product decisions and works closely with Chief Technical Officer.
Chief Product Officer (CPO), or head of the product, is the person responsible for product-related activities. CPO is more likely to appear in bigger companies with multiple products and product managers in the teams.
Now when we know most of the product management roles let’s explore the close collaboration between product management and design roles, one of the determining for product`s success.
Product management and design collaboration
Product Management and Design, working with Engineering, are responsible for defining a winning product` said Marty Cagan in his interview for UX Design Institute. And we could not agree more.
Designers create products' look and feel. So it is essential that product managers and designers work closely together. They need to have a transpaent and effective communication to make sure the business goals, user needs, and the solution functionality combined with the design technological possibilities will meet and result in a great product.
Eleken designers work closely with clients` teams. Our role in the client's team depends a lot on the size and organization type of the company. In smaller teams we work directly with the founder and do a lot of UX research on our own. This was the case with Cheerity, where our designers suggested important changes to the product`s UX.
In bigger companies Eleken designers work directly with UX researchers and niche experts, development team and stakeholders. That’s the model we use in our ongoing cooperation with Greenventory. Our designer is part of all important meetings there. Such approach allows product designers to be a part of the product management process in order to thoroughly understand the future product before designing it.
And of course, if there’s a product manager or a product owner in the team we work the most closely with them. And this always gives fruitful results.
It’s also quite common when our designers take part in user and competitor research, participate in product team meetings, and make suggestions valuable for product development. Strong understanding of the product management and product goals allows our product designers be a valuable part of clients` product teams.
‘Eleken's support has been instrumental in improving the quality of the client's user interfaces, resulting in an increase in new businesses and interest from investors`. We will add that it was the result of the great product management as well.’
From our experience with various teams, we value two aspects of product management the most. Those are clear strategic plan and general team attitude.
It is the most important product management responsibility to provide the strategic and Agile plan for the future product. Product vision, strategy, product roadmap, success metrics, all this is part of product management that turns product success from a desired but blurry goal into an actionable step-by-step journey.
As for the team, product management plays a crucial role as well. It’s like everyone is on the same page, knows what the team is doing and how to get to the goal. With good product management, everyone in the team feels more confident, focused and relaxed. And such an attitude leads to better performance and greater results.
Every product is unique, so is the product management in different organizations. We hope that reading our overview helpled you get a more structured understanding of why product management is important for digital product success.
Interested in learning more about product management? Then consider reading our article about how to shape your product value proposition. Or get in touch and let's design a great digital solution together!
Product Development vs Product Management: Visual Guide
When we talk about building a digital product I can’t help but think of parallels with construction, as creating a digital product is similar to building a house in many ways. And such parallels seem especially obvious when we talk about product management and product development. Product management is close to planning and managing construction while product development is similar to the construction process itself.
But enough metaphors! As a product design company, we at Eleken work directly with both product management and product development. So in this article, we will break down and visualize these concepts, talk about their differences, product management, and product development responsibilities and roles.
What is product management?
Product management is a strategic process of managing the creation of a product.
It's a holistic process that encompasses all aspects of a product, from conception to delivery and post-launch support. In other words, product management is responsible for ensuring that a product is successfully built and launched and meets the needs of its target market.
Product management role is often defined as the intersection of business, user experience, and tech. Its main goal is maximizing the potential of a product. This means that the product nager is responsible for overseeing the entire life cycle of the product, from ideation to post-launch analysis and refinement.
To achieve this goal product managers work with teams of engineers, designers, and marketers to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered and that the final product will be of high quality, meets customer needs, and delivers good business results.
As we can see in the visual model above, the product management process is multifunctional and keeps an eye on different aspects of product creation and performance at the same time. It is the ongoing management of the product and its life cycle. Product management’s responsibility is seeing the big picture, making strategic decisions, and aligning the product team toward the main goal: a stunning product.
Some people may wonder: is product management a part of product development? Let’s explore product development to answer this question.
What is product development?
Product development takes the product from idea to final solution step by step. The process is focused on designing, building, and testing the solution.
Simply put, product development is the process of creating a new product or service. It begins with an idea and then moves on to research, prototyping, design, execution, and testing.
Once the product is finalized, it goes into production and then deployed. The product development role is crucial for creating a product that meets customer needs and exceeds their expectations.
Goals and main deliverables of product management and development define their main responsibilities.
Product management vs product development: main responsibilities
As you already know, product management is a highly strategic process. That’s why its responsibilities are analytical and strategic by nature: creating product roadmap, strategy, defining product requirements, analyzing product performance and aligning the team around product goals.
Product development is on the contrary, a structured step-by-step process that takes the product from point A (idea) to point (B) launch. So its main responsibilities are focused on creating the working product. That includes defining the product, creating and testing its prototype, UX and UI design, building and launching a working version of the product.
Such differences between product development and product management responsibilities lead to very different approaches to tasks. Product managers focus on strategizing, prioritizing, planning, setting goals, and product knowledge base. So, in their work they rely on roadmapping templates, product management tools, brainstorming strategies and documentation tools.
Product development team builds a product itself from creating a concept to working version, organizing the creative process and execution into iterations. They break down the scope into clear steps and test the results. That’s why, apart from design and prototype and code editors, designers and developers rely on task trackers and user testing tools.
Different responsibilities and approach to work of both processes determine the setup of the product team.
Product management and product development roles
Product management roles typically include product owner or product manager. On the bigger projects, it’s both. Some teams have dedicated UX researchers or several product managers. Regardless the set-up, the product management team works closely with the product development team.
The product development team, depending on the size of the company or the product the team is building, can be bigger or smaller. In general, a product development team should consist of a product or UX/UI designer and developer plus a product manager. But usually, product development team consists of several designers and software developers.
What makes effective product management and product development
There are many factors that determine the success of both processes: setting the right goals and deadlines, size and skill level of your product team, other resources.
You should also keep an eye on various metrics that allow you to measure the effectiveness of your product management and product development processes.
Effective product management lies on three pillars:
1) Ensures that your product meets customer needs
2) Pursues the product’s business goals
3) Allows the team to develop and deliver the product efficiently
An effective product development process allows:
1) To efficiently build a high-quality product.
2) Create the look and feel of the product
3) Deliver tech implementation of the idea, which is a ready-made product
In the software world, product development and product management are two essential concepts that work together and create products that solve users’ pains.
I’m sure that by this point you noticed that design is a big part of product development and product management concepts.
Product management vs product development: the role of design
No doubt that by now you see that design is deeply incorporated into both product management and product development. Both concepts do interact with the design, but from different perspectives. Product management is responsible for the overall product strategy, defining user needs, and setting goals for the product design. Product development focuses on solution delivery which implies prototyping, designing, and testing a product.
Product management, design, and engineering are the three main pillars of the product.
In the software world, this triad model is the most effective when it comes to delivering outstanding digital products. At Eleken we rely on the same model and work hand in hand with product managers and lead developers throughout the whole product design process.
If you want to enrich your product team with a designer experienced in close collaboration of product management and product development, drop us a line.