Create your own ATS – Step-by-step guide6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
If you are reading this, you’ve probably grown tired of “Application Tracking Systems” (ATS) that overpromise, underdeliver and waste huge amounts of time.
Follow these simple instructions and in 30 minutes you too can build your an ATS for free. Trust us, it’s very satisfying to build something that works, saves you money and frees you from customer support limbo.
1. Build an Application Form
Let’s start with the job application form. We really like Typeform for this, it’s easy to use and always looks elegant. If you haven’t already, please sign-up to Typeform and head to the “Human Resources” template gallery. Select the template named “Job Application Form”. This template includes a lot of sample questions that you should tailor according to your own needs. Don’t change the first three questions however, they will be needed for later.
After updating the template, click the “Share” tab, copy the link to the application form and take it for a spin by submitting a test application. Hold on to that link because we’ll want to add it to your job post.
That’s it! We now have a very simple application portal.
Hot tip: The results tab provide details and some statistics on the submissions. But, if you love analytics like us, then integrate Typeform with Google Analytics for insights such as “which question is most likely to make my candidates drop-off” among other things.
2. Create a recruiting pipeline board
Before the applications start rolling in, let’s set up a way to manage our recruiting pipeline and track each applicant’s progress. We will be using Trello for this due to its easy-to-use Kanban boards.
Sign-up to Trello and start a new board by clicking “create a board”. Best to name it according to the position you are hiring, “UX Designer” for example. Now, let’s create a list of cards for each stage of the recruiting process you have. As an example, one could include steps like “Applications”, “Review”, “Phone screen”, “Interview”, “Offer”, and a “Reject” list. Applications will just be cards on a list, that will be moving between recruiting steps as the application progresses. We now have a very simple ATS.
Hot tip: you could include a hiring team to share the Trello board and engage all the team in the hiring process.
3. Load new applications to the board
To link the application form with the recruitment pipeline board, we will be using an integration tool named Zapier. You know the drill, time to sign-up to Zapier. Now click “Make a zap”, and name it something like “Submit Applications”.
To create an integration Trigger follow these steps:
- Pick the Application Typeform.
- Connect the Typeform account.
- Refresh the list and pick the form you have created, something like “Job Application Form (copy)”.
- Refresh fields and Continue.
- Do a submission test to activate the trigger.
To create an integration Action follow these steps:
- Pick the application Trello.
- Pick the action “Create a card”.
- Connect the Trello account, test and save.
- Pick the board you have created.
- Pick a name list, in this example “Sourcing”.
- For the card’s name pick the “What’s your first name” attribute followed by a space, and the “Hi, what’s your last name” attribute.
- For the description pick the “Form responses” attribute.
- On the “Custom Labels” field add the “And what’s your email address” attribute (needed later).
- Click “Continue” and test this integration.
Congratulations! You should now have your first job application loaded on your recruiting board. If you’re watching the clock for your next coffee break, now’s the time. You earned it!
Hot tip: you can use a Trello power-up to add custom fields to hold relevant data like the email address instead of keeping it in a misused label.
4. Automating tasks
Recruiting can be painfully repetitive. The more we automate the more time we can spend reviewing and finding great candidates. Let’s go through an automation example we’ll call “email rejection sending”. Later on, you can take these principles and automate other tasks that take up too much of your time. The general idea here is if an application ends the candidate should be notified. Don’t forget to add a warm appreciation for the effort devoted to the application, you never know how a little kindness can pay off down the line.
Again on Zapier, pick “Make a zap”, and name it something like “Send rejection email”. To create an integration Trigger follow these steps:
- Pick the Application Trello.
- If needed, connect the Trello account, test and save.
- Select a Trello trigger named “Card Moved to List”.
- Test it and Continue.
- Pick the Trello Board and the list of cards, in this example “UX designer” and “Reject”.
- Run the “Test this step”.
To create an integration Action follow these steps:
- Choose the action App as “Gmail” (explained here) or Office 365.
- Pick the action “Send email”.
- Connect an account, Test and Continue.
- Edit the template and click continue, particularly:
- Set the “To” to be the card fields “Card Labels name”.
- Add any relevant “CC”.
- Write the subject.
- Write the message body.
- Test this Step and click Finish.
If you moved your test application to the reject list, you should now receive a rejection email “Sorry you weren’t successful…”.
Hot tip: there are plenty of scheduling tools out there, like Calendly, that would make your interview scheduling easier.