Applicant Tracking System Design: Your Ultimate Guide

Vladislav Gavriluk

Vladislav Gavriluk

CEO & Founder at Arounda

Have you noticed that it’s become harder to find the right fit for a job opening, with or without an applicant tracking system? That’s not just a feeling. In the U.S. only, the ratio of unemployed to job openings dipped below 1:1 in July 2021. Unfortunately, it has been staying there ever since.

That means the competition for talent is more cutthroat than ever. So, to help you beat your competitors, your recruiting process has to be as efficient and productive as possible. And according to 68% of recruiting pros, tools like an applicant tracking system are the best way to make it so.

But what is it, exactly? And why do 99% of Fortune 500 companies use one? To answer these questions, let’s dig deep into our experience with these systems and define:

  • What an applicant tracking system is;

  • How it can benefit your business;

  • What features it has to include;

  • How to create an applicant tracking system from scratch.


Considering developing your own applicant tracking system?Let`s have a talk.

What Is an Applicant Tracking System?

Commonly referred to as an ATS, an applicant tracking system is a digital tool that automates recruiting as much as possible.

Its features are many, but they all come down to one goal: streamline the process. That’s why an ATS typically allows:

  • Posting one job ad to multiple platforms in one go

  • Parsing resumes and social media profiles

  • Filtering information based on keywords

  • Keeping track of each applicant’s status

6 Signs Your Company Needs One

Everyone wants to convince you that your company should start using an applicant tracking system. But how do you know when it’s genuinely the case?

Take a look at this list. If at least one of the statements rings true, it’s a sign you need to invest in an ATS:

  1. Your recruiters still spend hours posting the same job ad to different platforms one by one.

  2. They waste their time looking through tons of irrelevant applications.

  3. The hiring team’s spreadsheet has become too overwhelming to manage.

  4. Your hiring team struggles with knowledge sharing, information exchange, feedback, and/or decision-making.

  5. The talent you found earlier slipped through your hands because no one could find their contact details later on.

  6. You have no available data to analyze how well your company’s recruitment efforts go.

4 Main Ways an ATS Improves Recruitment

What can you expect from an ATS if you implement it? Here’s a quick overview of this tool’s four key benefits for your hiring team.

It Saves Everyone’s Time

Posting the job ad on multiple platforms, updating the careers section on your website, screening the applications… Recruiting software like an ATS automates all those menial tasks.

The result? Your human resources team will have more time for the tasks that matter: contacting the applicants, scheduling and conducting job interviews, and decision-making. This increased productivity, in turn, will reduce your average time-to-fill.

It Facilitates Collaboration

A good ATS works as a central database that lets no one forget a thing and allows commenting and adding notes. So, any team member can consult this database to make an informed hiring decision.

That, in turn, means two things: 1) no information will slip through the team’s hands, and 2) hiring decisions will be faster and easier to make.

It Gives You Insight into Your Recruiting Process

You can track all sorts of recruitment metrics with the help of an ATS. Here are just six examples of such metrics:

  • Time-to-hire

  • Time-to-fill

  • Source of hire

  • Applicants per opening

  • Cost-per-hire

  • Selection ratio

This data is vital for assessing the quality of your hiring process. Without it, you won’t be able to improve it.

It Reduces Cost Per Hire

Yes, no ATS comes for free. But in exchange, your company benefits from enhanced productivity, reduced time-to-fill, and comprehensive recruiting metrics.

The first two, by default, reduce your cost-per-hire. The analytics, in turn, allow you to make data-driven decisions to bring it down even further. For example, if one hiring platform is proven ineffective, you can stop wasting your money on job ads there.

6 Features Any Applicant Tracking System Should Have

If you’re shopping for a new ATS, its features should be the main thing on your mind. But which ones are a must-have?

To answer that question, let’s break down six essential features that the best applicant tracking systems 2022 have in common.

Job Ad Distribution

Your human resources team should be able to create a job ad in the ATS itself and then post it to your Careers page, multiple boards, and social media in one click. That requires integrations with all those platforms.

Resume Parsing & Search

The ATS should centralize all the applications in one database. But to help you to find anything quickly, the software should be able to make sense of the resume files and detect the keywords you’re looking for. Achieve that with AI-powered natural language processing technology.


There are two parts to this module. First, team members should be able to leave comments and discuss applications without switching to another app. Second, the recruiters should be able to reach out to applicants within the ATS, too – that’s where the email integration comes in.

Interview Scheduling

You can either let the applicants select a time slot themselves or leave it to the recruiters. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need a module for it. All the scheduled meetings should automatically sync with the calendars of the people involved.


You'll need the analytics module to keep track of all those crucial metrics. It should also visualize all that data in easy-to-comprehend charts and graphs – and allow your recruiting team to generate reports in a couple of clicks.

Security & Privacy

Any applicant tracking system handles a lot of sensitive data. So, you’ll have to ensure it’s safe. That means your ATS has to encrypt the data, restrict access to it, and regularly back it up to the cloud. Plus, you’ll want the software to be compliant with privacy regulations.

How to Build an Applicant Tracking System

At some point, you may realize there’s no off-the-shelf solution that meets your needs to a T. If that’s your case, developing a custom system is the best option on the table. Here’s how it’s done, in four main steps.

If you want to find out more about the development process, check out our detailed blog post on creating and launching a digital product.


Any custom software development starts with zeroing in on the requirements for the final product. To do that, you’ll have to gain an intricate understanding of the challenges your hiring team faces every day, as well as the global business issues you want to solve with the ATS.

At Arounda, we accompany you from this very moment, as any trustworthy development partner should.

Once you conduct the user interviews and gather the team’s feedback, you’ll need to identify the key features of your future ATS. Group them into two categories based on their importance:

  • Deal-breakers – an ATS would be useless without them.

  • Good-to-have features – they would be helpful but can be sacrificed in the short term.

You and your development partner will have to answer these three questions, too:

  • What platforms should your ATS be available on?

  • How many user roles will you need?

  • What development technologies and methodology should you opt for?


Applicant tracking system design starts with brainstorming, creating mood boards, and defining the style guide for the application. Then, one or several UI designers move on to wireframing.

These specialists prepare rough black-and-white sketches of the user interface and how the flow should go from one screen to another. The wireframes are then used to create mockups that show exactly what every screen should look like.

At this stage, aesthetics isn’t the only priority. The interface should be intuitive and easy to use, just as much as sleek and modern. To ensure this, a UX designer gets involved at this stage, too.

Development & Testing

Once the design is approved, the development itself begins. Coders do their magic to build the front-end and back-end of your future ATS.

At every point throughout this stage, the code is tested for any unexpected behavior. Tests are also run to ensure that the software is:

  • Secure enough to handle sensitive data

  • Compliant with privacy regulations

  • Stable and scalable

  • Performing well under different loads

As soon as possible, every module’s early version goes through usability testing. This is how we ensure the final product is as intuitive and straightforward in use as intended.

Rollout & Maintenance

Once the product is ready to see the light, it’s time to roll it out. During this stage, the development team closely monitors how the rollout goes and listens closely to the final users’ feedback.

The rollout doesn’t mean the end of your cooperation with your development partner. Someone will have to maintain the ATS. This maintenance team will be responsible for security and compatibility updates, feature updates, and day-to-day backend maintenance and support.

Final Thoughts

When done right, an applicant tracking system boosts your hiring team performance, improves your time-to-fill, and reduces your cost-per-hire. It also helps you make data-driven decisions to improve your recruitment process.

Even though the market is full of off-the-shelf ATS solutions, you may quickly find out none of them suit your needs. In this case, you don’t have to put up with a bad match; you can get a custom ATS instead.

Looking for a development partner to make your custom applicant tracking system a reality? Arounda is here for you.

Drop us a line to discuss your challenges and needs, and we’ll design and develop an ATS that will improve your hiring process.

Vladislav Gavriluk
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

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