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Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

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Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Overview

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of software used to manage recruiting operations. It is generally available as a cloud or web-based service. The hub of the software is a database of candidates. Connected to the hub are job listings on job boards and the company website, which feed candidates’ applications into the hub. Recruiters can post and manage job listings from within the hub. Recruiters can also communicate with candidates from within the hub via email or social networks like LinkedIn.

However, since it’s often associated with old-school passive recruitment methods, the term "ATS" has been phasing out in favor of "recruiting software." The shift in language indicates a market trend towards software allowing recruiters to better manage the recruitment process, from recruitment marketing to job applications and hiring. It typically has four major functions:

  1. Facilitating sourcing of job candidates
  2. Collecting and managing resumes
  3. Managing interaction with job candidates
  4. Candidate Relationship Management

Today, ‘ATS’ may refer to the whole recruiting platform, or just the piece that stores submitted applications.

Resume Parsing Software

Resume Parsing is a specific activity that falls under the umbrella of application tracking and recruiting operations. Tools designed for resume parsing automate the process of gathering, analyzing and storing resume data. There are three common types of resume parsing tools: Keywork-based for simple keyword and phrase recognition, grammar-based for deciphering each sentence, and statistical for leveraging numerical models of text in the entire resume.

Some vendors offer recruitment software or ATS suites that include some resume parsing or functionality. However, there are a few resume parsing point solutions available as well.


These include:

Applicant Tracking System Features & Capabilities

ATS and recruiting platforms assist with each stage of finding and hiring new employees. Basic ATS platforms aggregate and manage resumes. Today, it’s typical for recruiting software to include features around:
  • Job requisition management

  • Company website posting

  • Social media publishing

  • Job search site posting

  • Customizable applications forms

  • Resume management

  • Duplicate candidate prevention

  • Candidate search

  • Applicant tracking

  • Collaboration

  • Task creation and delegation

  • Email templates for communication with candidates

  • User permissions

  • Notifications and alerts (particularly for interviews

  • Standard reports on key recruiting metrics


More advanced recruiting tools may include additional features, such as:
  • Integrated background checks
  • Experience/education verification
  • Candidate screening tools
  • Video interview capabilities
  • Integration with onboarding/talent management software
  • EOE compliance checking

Recruiting is a core component of talent management. Most of the products listed in the talent management category offer recruiting capabilities as part of a broader suite that includes onboarding, performance management, compensation, learning, etc.

Recruitment Management

This is the core functionality that allows users to manage the recruitment process. Common capabilities include:

  • Email and resume parsing

  • Scheduling and calendars

  • Analytics and reporting (to assess which approaches work)

  • Mobile accessibility/mobile apps

  • Referral programs

  • CRM-type features for storing candidate information


ATS vs. Active Recruitment

Taking a candidate relationship management approach to recruiting changes the paradigm of hiring. It holds that candidates should be treated much the same way as customers, and emphasizes providing a good experience for candidates. It’s the job of recruiters to actively market to prospective employees, to get them interested in the company and job opening, and make sure they have a smooth experience with the company.

Most traditional applicant tracking systems (ATS) simplify the hiring process for the employer. At the same time, some make it more difficult for the applicant. This is where the candidate experience and engagement strategies of modern recruiting software come in.

Tools designed for an active recruitment strategy focus on searching for and communicating with candidates who might not have applied yet, or even be actively seeking a new job yet. Software solutions like SmashFly act as a kind of recruiting CRM platform, to store candidates’ contact information and a history of past communications. LinkedIn Talent is another major player in this arena. Some vendors specialize in aggregating this information to make it easily searchable, including:

Applicant Tracking Systems Comparison

To compare different ATS products, you likely want to consider evaluating these aspects of the software:

  1. Recruiting agency vs. In-house recruiting focus: Some applicant tracking systems focus on servicing recruiting agencies and firms, with scaling for high volume and white labelling for recruiting clients. Other ATS products are designed more for in-house recruiting, including more personalization and automated processes. While most ATS offer capabilities for both groups, trends in which user groups prefer a given product are usually identifiable in reviewer demographic information.
  2. Support for Candidate Relationship Management: With an increasing focus on attracting talent that isn’t actively job-seeking, Candidate Relationship Management features are an essential component of inbound recruiting. CRM capabilities enable long-term candidate tracking to build out your talent pool, as well as recruiting campaign management. Determine how you want to go about establishing relationships with passive candidates, and what specific CRM features support that kind of relationship, be it email communications, advertising/job marketing content, social media content, etc.
  3. Core applicant tracking vs. full recruiting cycle support: There are still some ATS products that focus solely on tracking candidates’ application materials, but most have expanded to support other aspects of the recruiting process, up to the full recruiting lifecycle. Common differentiation points in feature lists include support for interviews, note taking, document signing and management, scheduling, and integration with onboarding systems.

Pricing Information

Pricing for ATS and recruitment software varies depending on the focus of the vendor and the size of the company/candidate pool. Specific pricing is available by a custom quote from most vendors. Costs can range from thousands of dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, depending on the number of features, integrations, recruiting users, and applicants you need in the system.

More Resources

Applicant Tracking Products

Listings (51-75 of 191)

MightyRecruiter, from Bold Limited, is described by the vendor as an intuitive recruiting solution that aims to help companies recruit better. Users can post to job boards, source passive candidates, manage applicants and hire the most relevant candidates.

2 Ratings

Lanteria HR is a SharePoint solution for Human Resources and Talent Management. This solution facilitates and automates the entire HR management cycle in a company. It allows for a central storage of all HR information and guides and supports various HRM processes. Talent Management Features Onbo…

3 Ratings

Smashfly is a recruiting solution built around features such as search engine optimization to attract more candidates, engagement tools such as career sites and referrals, and lead nurturing features such as customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing.

4 Ratings

Sage People enables mid-size, multi-locational companies to manage workforces through its global, cloud HR and people system, transforming how organizations acquire, engage, manage and develop their employees. Sage People is described by the vendor as quickly implemented, simple to use, and designed…

4 Ratings

iSmartRecruit is a customizable ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and Staffing Software solution designed for use by corporate recruiters or recruiting business owners. iSmartRecruit aims to be an affordable staffing software for small and mid-sized Corporate HR and staffing Agencies. The vendor says …

3 Ratings

Freshteam aims to help growing businesses attract, hire and onboard new hires, off-board exiting employees, manage employee information and time off in one place. According to the vendor key business benefits include: Freshteam helps attract top talent through various channels - a quickly creatabl…

4 Ratings

Avatar CRM is a candidate relationship management platform that enables businesses to build talent networks by sourcing and importing passive candidate profiles from job boards, databases and the web. Users can fulfill workforce objectives through engagement workflows and communication automation. …

4 Ratings

Vettery, from the company of the same name in New York, is a recruiting and hiring marketplace, a way to locate vetted candidates for skilled and credential-gated jobs in software and finance, in a clear, automated, and recruiter-free forum.

1 Ratings

TalentSorter pairs leading-edge psychometric science with an optional ATS, to screen an unlimited number of candidates at a flat monthly price. The vendor says that because the assessment is part of the application process, every candidate appears in the user’s dashboard with a FitScore beside their…

1 Ratings

SkyRecruit is the suite of integrated recruitment tools that underlies all of Cielo, Inc.'s global recruitment process outsourcing services. It is designed to facilitate communication between recruiters, candidates, and hiring managers. The SkyRecruit technology platform is maintained by engineers a…

1 Ratings

According to the vendor, Talent Intelligence Platform (TIP) is the first AI-powered platform, and revolutionizes the talent acquisition process to challenge systemic issues related to hiring, retention, and engagement. Eightfold's TIP integrates with HRMS and ATS allowing teams to amass rich and cur…

1 Ratings

Relational Systems in Westlake, Ohio offers WinSearch, the company's flagship recruiting platform supporting contact management, resume processing, and workflow management, as well as Microsoft Office integrations.

1 Ratings

Oleeo (formerly World Careers Network, or WCN) headquartered in London offers their suite of applicant tracking and recruiting solution, featuring candidate CRM, recruiting event management, interview management and workflow, and machine learning driven candidate assessment tools.

1 Ratings

Beamery headquartered in London offers the Beamery Talent Operating System, an applicant / candidate tracking and recruiting CRM with a range of features designed to support action to recruit desired level of talent.

Powered by the Kronos D5 platform, Workforce Dimensions offers an emphasis on employee experience and a focus on operational insight into managing the workforce. The suite features modules including Kronos Workforce Dimensions Timekeeping, Workforce Dimensions Scheduling, Workforce Dimensions HR, a…

TrustRadius Top Rated for 2019

2019 Top Rated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

There are plenty of options out there, but here's our shortlist of the best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These products won a Top Rated award for having excellent customer satisfaction ratings. The list is based purely on reviews; there is no paid placement, and analyst opinions do not influence the rankings. To qualify, a product must have 10 or more recent reviews and a trScore of 7.5 or higher, indicating above-average satisfaction for business technology. The products with the highest trScores appear first on the list. Read more about the Top Rated criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) allows a business to track the records of candidates for positions in their business. ATS’s at their core should store and organize candidates’ application materials, such as resumes and references, but frequently support other aspects of the application process, such as skills assessments and interview notes.

What’s the difference between inbound and outbound recruiting?

Outbound recruiting is a method of recruiting conducted in response to specific, immediate hiring needs, including posting the opening on job boards and other job marketplaces. In contrast, inbound recruiting is a more long-term strategy that emphasizes building your company’s brand and image among candidates. The target audience in inbound recruiting also includes potential candidates who are not currently job-seeking but would still be a desirable hire.

How do ATS’s read resumes?

Applicant Tracking Systems use variations of Resume Parsing technology to read resumes. The sophistication of this technology can range from simply scanning resumes and application materials for various keywords, to employing Natural Language Processing to measure the quality of a candidate’s application and how close a match a candidate is to the job description.

What’s the difference between Applicant Tracking Software and Recruiting software?

Applicant Tracking Software is a subset of Recruiting software. While historically, ATS’s were clearly distinct from other recruiting software, such as video interview, background checking, and resume parsing products, these functions have been consolidating into unified products for managing the full applicant lifecycle, with ATS as the foundation for the rest of the processes.

How much do ATS’s cost?

ATS’s prices are impacted primarily by whether it is a standalone product or part of a larger HR suite, which would increase the overall cost but could be more efficient for your broader HR functions. Standalone ATS’s rarely advertising exact pricing on the front end, but the price frequently scales by the range of processes supported, the number of candidates’ data are stored, or the number of job postings being managed.