Build your own no-code Applicant Tracking System (ATS) using Airtable

No matter the stage of your company, hiring is important. Even if you are only hiring that one extra person this year, it's important to get it right.

In the early days, hiring is completely the responsibility of the founders and the hiring manager. You've got to do it all while, perhaps, getting a little help from an expensive outside agency.

When do you invest and up your game? It's best to think about recruiting in terms of "load". How much load is recruiting adding to team members and managers each week? Load is a function of headcount growth rather than headcount itself. So, figuring out when you need your first recruiter and, by extension, the tools a recruiter demands, like an ATS, is predicated on how many heads you plan to add in the next 12-months.

I'll plug that if you anticipate your headcount growth rate to be spiky, you may want consider an RPO, like Beacon Talent or Binc. They are expensive, but they allow you can buy fractions of a recruiting team.  This is often the best route to go if you aren't sure if your hiring demands will be consistent.

Back to the question: When do you need a recruiter? A good, ramped recruiter will fill on their own (full-cycle) 20 heads a year. This can vary greatly, but it gives you some idea of when you should start looking to add a recruiter head: Will I be adding near 20 heads a year? AND I feel like that will be flat or increasing every year going forward? If thats your plan, hire your first recruiter.

In the meantime, everyone on the team is moonlighting as their own recruiter. Every head that is hired has to be sourced, interviewed, closed and onboarded. It's a lot of work, especially for folks who are already wearing a lot of hats.

One way you can deliver a high quality recruiting experience efficiently is by keeping things organized in an ATS, or applicant tracking system. The ATS is essentially the CRM of talent acquisition; it houses all candidate data and helps interviewers keep track of who is interviewing who, when.

The best ATS on the market for sub-IPO companies is Greenhouse. It is a great piece of software, but it isn't cheap (~6k/year for their lowest plan) and it can be overkill when there isn't a person (a recruiter) really staying on top of things.

There are a few other, cheaper solutions like RecruiterBox, JazzHR, and Bamboo that can cost as little as $100 per month. If you are using an HR platform that has a cheap ATS add-on, that can be a good way to go.

In lieu of that, you can build your own no-code ATS for essentially free (or $20/month, if you want custom branding) using Airtable. Airtable even has its own template called "Applicant Tracking System" that you can find when you sign up.

Through Airtable, you can even embed an application form directly onto your careers page (see an example here).

There are some real limitations to using Airtable in this way - there is a bit of setup and you probably need to use a CMS, like Webflow, to build an actual functional careers page, but it beats the hell out of distracting your engineers every time you need to add or remove a job requisition.

Over the next 2 months, I'll be posting on how to build-out a free ATS that not only managing inbound applications and interviews but also drives candidates organically through Indeed and Google search results.

The goal of these entries is to lay out simply the best ways to build a no-code ATS for early stage founders and managers so that you can still recruit while managing all of your other responsibilities,.

Trent Krupp

Founded Threaded: The personal rolodex built from your existing data. Previously, Head of Product at Impact, a market network serving the entertainment industry as well as Head of Revenue at Triplebyte and Hired. Founded an agency in my 20's, sold it to Hired and became employee 5. Recruited for VCs, growth and public companies. Helped the founders of recruitment tech startups, Trusted Health, Terminal and Beacon in the early days.