The Great CRM Hoax

For more than ten years, CATS has provided software for thousands of recruiters from across the globe. As a result, we understand that selecting an applicant tracking system (ATS) in today’s world is a tedious, time-consuming process that recruiters have every right to dread.

While the software itself is typically easy to acquire (most systems are sold in a low-touch format), sellers seldom clarify whether or not the product has the specific features you need before asking for your card information.

The fact of the matter is: low-touch often turns into a frustrating post-purchase evaluation period, during which you discover if you just wasted money on an ATS you can’t use.

This is especially frustrating for the professional recruiter, who relies on customer relationship management (CRM) functionality, but finds it lacking in the majority of tracking systems in an already oversaturated market.

Pulling apart and analyzing every useful feature in an ATS would prove a monumental task for anyone. However, by boiling the software down to the way it handles the sales desk, the market becomes easier to navigate.

In the end, only a handful of offerings have true CRM functionality baked into the software.

Let's be clear: Candidates are not your customers.

Candidates are the people you set out to find for your customer, the employer.

Your applicant tracking system already has the tools you need when interacting with candidates: mass emails, automatic status updates, communication logs, resume parsing, and pretty much anything else that would prove useful when sourcing said candidates.

In fact, the number of candidate-related tools in an applicant tracking system is often disproportionately larger than the number of features centered around your actual clients.

Of the 320 or so ATS listed on Capterra, little more than a dozen (about 3%) of products on the market have any truly built-in CRM functionality:

  • AkkenCloud
  • BigBiller
  • Bond Adaptsuite
  • Brightmove
  • Bullhorn
  • CATS
  • Crelate
  • Erecruit
  • Exelare
  • JobDiva
  • JobScience
  • PCRecruiter
  • SmartSearch

Note: The selections above were found using the resources available to me and were determined based upon evidence of substantial CRM capabilities and may not represent every applicant tracking system with minor CRM inclusions.

Their powerful CRM tools make them ideal for the professional recruiter, who understands the difference between client-recruiter and recruiter-candidate relationships and the distinct importance each of those relationships have.

In short, the entire ATS universe can be boiled down to the two primary types: those made only for the corporate market (like HR) and those made for the professional recruiter (staffing agencies).

It should be noted that of the two products mentioned, the latter is usable for in-house recruiters. While every vendor is sure to have some sort of mix between first and third-party recruiters who use their product, some of them deliberately avoid selling in both markets as strategic choice rather than the result of shortcomings in their software.

There is a clear distinction to be made between the kind of built-in functionality an ATS has and the type of recruiter it tries to appeal to.

The next time you're in the market for a new ATS, research your options. Take a look at G2 Crowd's highest rated applicant tracking systems and cross-reference them with the list above. If your ATS of choice isn't on the list, make an effort to speak with one of their representatives and ask: “Does this product have built-in CRM functionality?”

Depending on their answer, you will know if that particular software is going to work for you.

CATS is built with you, the professional recruiter, in mind. Take our product for a spin and discover efficiency.