Choosing an appropriate applicant tracking system is a challenge for organizations of all kinds. For VCs or private equity firms, however, challenges beyond the norm can come into play.

Dealing with recruitment across a number of portfolio companies requires a centralized approach to HR that is beyond the ability of many applicant tracking systems available today. Therefore, VCs and private equity firms must consider carefully how to meet their unique applicant tracking needs.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing an ATS for your portfolio companies.

1. Ease of Use

While ease of use is an issue for any company choosing an ATS, it is of paramount concern to VC/PE firms. With a variety of HR departments across all your portfolio companies, you must ensure that the learning curve for using your chosen ATS is not a steep one. Because key personnel in each of your portfolio companies will have to adopt the system, choosing an ATS that is intuitive and easy to maintain is essential.

Here are few important questions to ask:

  • Is there a dashboard for recruiters or hiring managers?
  • Can you take us through the process of searching candidates and tracking applicants?
  • Can you take us through the process from the point of view of a potential candidate?
  • Can we configure the system ourselves, or do we have to place an order to make changes?
  • Does the system have customization for the employment laws of other countries (very important for VC/PE companies handling global job candidates)?

Three key questions that should be added to that list for VC/PE firms are:

  • Is there functionality in place for collaboration of key personnel across multiple portfolio companies?
  • Does the ATS dashboard provide a global view of all positions across the entire portfolio?
  • What reporting features are available, and are reports customizable?

2. Level of Searchability and Integration with Social Platforms

While one might assume that all applicant tracking systems have a robust option for matching and searching in place, this is not necessarily the case. VC/PE firms must ensure that the ATS they choose will support their current best practices regarding searching and matching candidates and positions.

For instance, if LinkedIn is a major player in your current search practices, you need to confirm whether your applicant tracking system integrates fully with LinkedIn. If there are certain job boards to which you regularly post, ensure that your chosen ATS integrates with those particular boards. A great applicant tracking system harnesses the power of social media platforms to help you find both active and passive candidates for C-level positions.

Similarly, if a large portion of your sourcing takes place through employee referrals, your ATS must have internal hiring functionality.

3. Scalability

The scalability factor is highly important for VC/PE firms. Because the breadth of your portfolio is inherently in a constant state of flux, your applicant tracking system must be scalable to be worth your investment. If your ATS can handle thousands of applicants with the same ease with which it handles a hundred applicants, it is likely that it will continue to meet your needs as your portfolio grows.

4. Help with Compliance


Applicant tracking on a global scale involves maintaining compliance with all applicable local, regional, national, and international laws in the lands in which you do business. Therefore, your applicant tracking system should enable you to easily maintain all necessary compliance documentation and uphold all applicable regulations.

5. Excellent Customer Support

No matter how wonderful your ATS is, at some point, you will need customer support. Downtime may be a factor for cloud-based solutions or performance issues can cripple an IT-based solution. In any event, your ATS should offer excellent customer support. Look for 24/7 phone support, updates and upgrades, knowledge libraries for the system, and training programs.

The Takeaway

While these factors are not the only things to consider when choosing an applicant tracking system, they are some of the most important considerations. To recap, ease of use encourages adoption across all your portfolio companies. Integration with social media allows you to find active and passive candidates more easily. Scalability ensures that your investment works for you over the long-term. Help with compliance keeps your organization operating legally on a global scale. Excellent customer support enables you to handle inevitable hiccups in the process with ease.