QUESTION: Do you think it is an absolute requirement to have an applicant tracking program (ATS)? Currently I put my resumes in a Word file that is searchable through a program I have called Copernic.

ANSWER: My original ATS was a card file, a 3 x 5 for candidates and 5 x 8 by companies. After that we had an old fax with the thermal paper that we had to photocopy and then they alpha filed. Then I automated to an old Unix based system. Regardless, I have never operated without some form of defined system.

You have a defined systemic place, so is it absolutely mandatory to have an ATS? It sounds like you are successful or moderately successful without it.

If you ever grow a firm, your current system will not work because it relies on people being as diligent as you. If you grow your database by hundreds and thousands, it will become overwhelming because if you are going to look for a chemist, and come up with 1,000 when you might want only want to see 100 or only want to see some specific ones.

There are many different ATS options. The one that I prefer is PC Recruiter, which is an investment of about $100 a month. They have a great customer service operation, but for about $1,200 a year, which is a fraction of a placement.

When you have a good ATS and you use it the right way, you are going to find placements. By that I mean, by being able to fine tune a search to a higher degree, mostly with your matching assignments, those things that you really do not want to search on, but you can submit on. Honestly, I think that the investment in an ATS, and I use that word on purpose, will provide you a return in more placements.

I do not know enough about your operation, but you asked if having an ATS is an absolute requirement, I am going to say no because I know people that are successful with a yellow legal pad system.  However, I feel that they are also leaving a lot of money on the table under the guise of “saving money.”