There are several software applications in the market today that can help small businesses better track and manage their HR and Recruiting practices. As a buyer, one needs to evaluate these software based on several criteria such as costs, features, benefits, ease of use, support, free trials, and so on.

One of the most common applications in the market from a vendor or buyer point of view is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). An ATS allows a company to collect and store company, candidate, job, and recruiter related data, and track the process of candidates through all stages of the hiring lifecycle. It can also be used to post jobs, screen resumes, and schedule interviews with candidates. The key benefit is that recruiters don’t need to find, handle, and evaluate stacks or spreadsheets of resumes manually any longer.

Software Advice, which is a reviewer of HR and Recruiting software, analyzed data on 284 applicant tracking vendors in late 2014 along with prior research points to better understand what customers are really looking for.

The research showed that:
• 34% of vendors offered stand-alone ATS software, like Valuehire.
• 10% of vendors offered ATS and Sourcing software, which is more popular with companies doing volume or bulk hiring.
• Only 17% of vendors offered an integrated suite of products, which meant that buyers had to deal with multiple vendors.

Applicant tracking was one of the most common HR software applications that people wanted because its complex to manage the entire hiring process manually. This is also the reason why many vendors offer stand-alone ATS software (and no core HR products) due to limited budgets of small businesses.

The research also showed that 26% of buyers seeking an ATS were also looking for core HR applications, such as personnel tracking and benefits administration. But in reality only 19% of the vendors were offering such a combination of software. The reverse was also true, where some vendors were offering feature like onboarding but fewer buyers actually wanted it.

When evaluating vendors, buyers should first prioritize their pain points and document their needs clearly. Just because an ATS is affordable and you need one doesn’t mean it will work well for your small business.