ATS Evaluation Assistance

Mar 1, 2006

Many of you may be going through the laborious and frustrating process of evaluating a new ATS (Applicant Tracking System) for your office.

I know this because in my role as the technology columnist for this publication I continue to receive many calls and emails from subscribers asking for my advice in this endeavor. While nothing I can say or do can alleviate the majority of your anxiety, I have developed the list of questions below that are in no particular order of importance, to help guide you in your decision-making process. Anything you can do to make the process based more on logic and less on emotion the better increases your odds of a satisfactory conclusion.

Before you begin the process ask yourself the questions from the first list. Write down the answers. Talk about them with others in your office. Be a “systems analyst” for a day. Decide as best you can before you begin your search what you are looking for. Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want, use the second list to whittle down your possibilities.

Look at the second list. Delete those questions of no importance to you. Add a few of your own as you see fit. Ask these questions of all the vendors you interview. Write down the answers … compare one to another. Once you have only a few contenders do a few demo’s. Ask more questions, check a few references. Unfortunately, you never know if you made the right decision until after you have already made your decision and have been using the new product for a few months, however, you should at least give yourself the best chance you can for success.

The top twenty questions you should ask yourself:

1. Why have you made the decision to consider another database?
2. What are your major objectives in making a change?
3. Why are you unhappy with your current database? What is it lacking?
4. Can your existing solution be modified to serve your expanded needs?
5. Have you surveyed other recruiters for their comments on database usage and approach?
6. Do you have the time and inclination to do a proper search?
7. Do you need a shared-data system (are you solo, one-office, multi-office)?
8. Are you comfortable with your candidate/client data stored on the Internet?
9. Do you need to access your data from more than one location?
10. Do you want a database for resume searching or an entire office solution?
11. What is your one-time, annual, and/or monthly budget for a database?
12. How large is your existing contacts database and are you going to convert or start over from scratch?
13. What growth are you anticipating over the next 12 months … 24 months.
14. Are you willing to do your own backups and other database maintenance?
15. If you are not a solo operation, is everyone in the office committed to using a database and sharing data?
16. Do you need to have your database integrated with your website?
17. Do you need to create email lists from your search results?
18. Do you need to have your personal contacts in the database?
19. If you do staffing, do you need integration with payroll, etc.
20. Can the database you are considering make you money or save you money?

The top twenty questions to ask your prospective vendor:

1. Does your product have a resume-parsing feature … what does it parse … duplicate checking?
2. How much data entry is required after parsing? How many data fields per candidate?
3. How many screens do you have for each candidate?
4. Do you allow an unlimited number of attachments, phone numbers and email addresses?
5. What are your start-up, monthly, annual and on-going costs for service, support, and/or training by type of service?
6. Are all the drop-down and other data fields user-definable?
7. How does your product handle searches … simple search/advanced search/text search?
8. Can you create email lists from your search results?
9. Do you offer a mail/merge feature for letters and/or emails?
10. Is your product web-based, web-enabled, local or available in different formats?
11. Do you have a built in task manager – calendar?
12. What are your training procedures for new clients … new hires?
13. Does your product track the placement process … new candidates … interviews… offers … placements?
14. Are you able to save letter/email templates or forms and/or other repetitive communication?
15. Do you have a data field for the source of the candidate?
16. Do you offer data conversions … how much does it cost?
17. Do you offer scalability … what if my office grows/expands?
18. How is reporting handled … user configurable … static?
19. How is support handled … guaranteed response … extended hours?
20. How long have you been in business … number of clients/users … references?

These questions are excerpted from my new book, Recruiter Computer Report – Applicant Tracking Systems – Identification, Evaluation, and Selection, which will also include a directory of dozens of ATS vendors. I have written this book to ease the process determining which ATS is best for your office. You can learn more about this book by visiting my Swat Recruiting web site at, or you can also email me at

WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Directory of Employment-Related Internet Sites

A couple of months ago I wrote about Peter Weddle’s new resource on association web sites, which I felt was an excellent guide for recruiters targeting candidates belonging to specific industry groups. This month I am reviewing yet another great resource for recruiters…his directory of employment-related Internet sites. This CD contains thousands of listing, many included for the first time. You can treat this as an “Internet Address Book” of job boards and career portals. It contains Internet addresses/URL’s for over 8000 web sites that specialize in online recruiting.

From his web site:

• sites that support recruiting in a broad array of positions and those that specialize in a specific career field, industry, geographic location, or affinity group;
• sites in every state of the USA, plus those in over 25 countries;
• sites that attract active job seekers, and those that appeal to passive prospects;
• sites that millions of job seekers visit regularly, and sites that are known to only those in a select field or specialty.

I took at long look at this resource and found it is organized by career/vocation, industry, and geography. Anyone that purchases this can also get free updates at Peter’s website. I would encourage anyone that utilizes online resources for recruiting in any way to find out more about this item by visiting

I recently received an email from announcing their service to support the hiring needs of the environmental and safety career fields. I have not used their service nor do I know much about it except the information excerpted from their email below:

“ is dedicated to helping companies source and hire qualified EH&S professionals in a timely & efficient manner. Our database of information on over 50,000 EH&S professionals gives our customers access to the leaders in this field.”

For only $250 a month you receive unlimited job postings, unlimited resume searches, automatic candidate notification agents and immediate access to over 5,000 Active EH &S Job Seekers.”

Anyone with needs in this field should look them up.

Press Release 1
Bullhorn Advances Staffing and Recruiting Through
Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Boston – December 19, 2005 – Bullhorn, the global leader in On Demand Staffing and Recruiting software, today announced that its Bullhorn API Toolkit supports Really Simple Syndication (RSS), enabling staffing and recruiting firms to syndicate new jobs directly to candidates, dramatically decreasing the time to source and fill job orders. Bullhorn customers also realize greater client service efficiencies by using RSS to syndicate job management information from within Bullhorn directly to their customers, or for customers to make new job orders immediately available to their staffing and recruiting firms. To view a live use of RSS to syndicate job opportunities, visit

“According to the American Staffing Association, over 90% of employers expect flexibility in the fulfillment of job orders, and 78% cite the need to fill those orders quickly,” said Arthur Papas, CEO and co-founder of Bullhorn. “Bullhorn’s mission is to give customers the flexibility and speed needed to enable the real-time, on demand matching of candidates to job orders at anytime from anyplace.”

By using RSS, Bullhorn customers can leverage the real-time flexibility of an industry standard syndication service to deliver any information directly to candidates and clients, using widely available RSS Readers to view the information. The flexibility and power of the toolkit enables a customer’s Web developer to quickly and easily add RSS to their Web site and job board, while leveraging information in Bullhorn.

“Bullhorn outpaces the staffing and recruiting software industry with innovation that addresses the real-time, on demand delivery of candidates for jobs,” said Dan Donathan, chief information officer of PrideStaff. “As a national staffing firm focused on delivering innovative staffing and recruiting solutions that are specific to our clients, we view Bullhorn as a critical business partner.”

The Bullhorn API Toolkit is available immediately by contacting Bullhorn Customer Support at or 617-478-9126.

Press Release 2

HireAbility and iXmatch:
Complementary Technology for the ATS/HRIS Industry

ALEX resume processing pairs with advanced search and matching engine iXfind. Companies co-write visionary human capital article for Fordyce ATS guide.

Salem, NH – December 20, 2005 – HireAbility(r), a leader in integrated recruiting software and services, announced today that it signed a partnership agreement with iXmatch(r), a leader in advanced search and matching technology. Under the agreement, the companies will integrate and co-market their solutions: HireAbility’s ALEX(sm) automated resume processing, and iXmatch’s iXfind(r) matching engine. The partnership recognizes the high value that the two companies’ products can deliver synergistically to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), job boards, and Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). It will combine highly accurate document processing with intelligent matching that takes into consideration individual preferences at a very granular level. The companies also collaborated to produce an article that will be published in the forthcoming Fordyce(r) Letter’s ATS Guide.

The integration of ALEX and iXfind creates a solution that is greater than the sum of its parts. iXfind searches and matches any permutation of HR-XML formatted data that ALEX extracts from resumes, and it lets users weight various factors to reflect their personal preferences in order to provide the best match. For example, if a recruiter cares most about finding a candidate who worked in development at Oracle Corporation, and cares little about the candidate’s location, iXfind is able to weight those factors with its patented technology to locate candidates that are the best matches. It learns from users’ stated preferences and adjusts its matches accordingly, as well. The hybrid approach of using structured and relative matching delivers the best search results, and should be an important decision criterion for any forward-looking company evaluating new HRIS solutions, as mentioned in the upcoming Fordyce(r) Letter’s ATS Guide.

“It’s a perfect combination of smart product technologies that deliver immediate ROI for our customers, who see their human capital as a key competitive lever,” remarked Ken Smith, Director of Business Development for HireAbility. “When Fordyce approached us about writing a technology article for their ATS Guide, iXmatch was a logical company to tap for a collaboration.”

Automatic resume processing minimizes time spent on manual data entry by extracting detailed information from resume files, accurately and quickly. ALEX clients gain the convenience of accepting e-mailed cover letters and resumes, while greatly reducing their administrative effort. The high quality of the resulting structured data makes searches even more powerful and accurate.

iXmatch’s matching engine provides a giant step up in finding data and making it available to recruiters at the right time. iXfind does more than just search for documents via arbitrary or global criteria. iXfind enables candidates and recruiters to specify all their skills and requirements easily, and delivers a ranked list of matches based on how well each fits a request. iXfind provides this personalized match while learning user requirements dynamically.

Daniel Bork, Chief Technology Officer for iXmatch, remarked, “iXmatch recognized the customer-demand for a variety of resume document processing technologies. Further, it recognized that HireAbility does the best job of providing it. We welcome the opportunity to associate our two complementary technologies.”

Tip – Google Extras

Most of us know the value of Google for search for everything and anything, especially resumes but they have little known “extras” that maybe some of you can use:

date: – used with keywords searches for related documents within a recent date range – “date: hurricanes 3” searches for documents on hurricanes posted within the last three months

safesearch: – used with keywords searches for documents but excludes adult sites –safesearch:movies returns results about movies but leaves out the adult movie sites.

filetype: – used with keywords to limit search results to specific file types – filetype:pdf limits your search results to Adobe pdf files – aside from html and pdf files, you can search for any MS/Office files, PostScript, WordPerfect, Lotus 123 and others

Q&A – type your question into the search box and your answer will be at the top of the box – typing “population of USA” (without quotes” returns the answer 295,734,134

weather – tells you the current weather in a given location – typing “weather st. louis, mo” gives you the weather in St. Louis, MO

currency conversions – Type in “5 USD in GBP” (without quotes) then click the search button. You get back the answer: 5 U.S. dollars = 2.83221933 British pounds.

calculations – Type in any addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentage or power calculation you desire and get a quick answer. Typing in 235 + 879 then clicking search give you: 235 + 879 = 1114.

book searches – type in Once on the page type in the keywords of your choice and you will be returned a list of books with those keywords.

define: – put any word after the colon and you will get the definitions of that word, probably several.

Mark E. Berger, C.P.C., AIRS CIR has been in recruiting since 1979. He is currently a partner in Ramsey Fox, Inc., an IT services firm and its predecessor, M.E. Berger & Associates since 1986. He has been heavily involved in Internet recruiting and is an expert on recruiting and sourcing products, services available on the Internet and how these products add to the bottom line. Mark’s interests include successfully integrating both computer and Internet recruiting technology into a traditional recruiting environment. He has taken AIRS I and II training and has obtained the AIRS CIR designation. Mark is also on the board of directors for the Missouri Association of Personnel Services. He can be reached at

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