Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Market Update 2021
12.5 million software buyers use TrustRadius each year—and over 650,000 of them are exploring HR software. Applicant tracking systems are one of the most important products on their list.
Applicant tracking systems are a crucial part of the HR software whole. Historically this market has been dominated by enterprise-level HR suites and disrupted by a growing number of ATS point solutions. Today, we’re seeing that dichotomy play out against the backdrop of a global pandemic and the “great resignation.”
To understand the state of today’s ATS market, we took a closer look at our data to see which products attract the most attention. This is the 2021 ATS market update.
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Quick Snapshot of the ATS Market
- The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) market is expected to reach USD 2.22 Billion by 2027. (Research and Markets 2021)
- 99% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems. (Jobscan 2019)
- 93% of ATS buyers are happy with the feature set of their ATS product. (TrustRadius 2021)
- Oracle Cloud HCM has the leading applicant tracking system in 2021, commanding 19% of the top 10 market on TrustRadius as part of its Human Capital Management platform. SAP SuccessFactors is a close second with 18%. (TrustRadius 2021)
- 91% of ATS buyers would purchase that product again in the future. (TrustRadius 2021)
- CEIPAL ATS has the highest customer support rating out of all leading ATS products (9.07 out of 10). (TrustRadius 2021)
- Across the ATS market, buyers spend the most time comparing Greenhouse and iCIMS. Buyers on TrustRadius spend 12 minutes on average comparing software. (TrustRadius 2021)
- 100% of reviewers for SmartRecruiters and CEIPAL ATS think these products provide good value for the price. (TrustRadius 2021)
- Only 63% of buyers say that their ATS lives up to its sales and marketing promises. (TrustRadius 2021)
- On average, only 69% of ATS buyers say that implementation went as expected. (TrustRadius 2021)
Who’s Winning ATS Market Share In 2021?
According to buyer interest (as measured by total pageviews on TrustRadius), the top 10 leaders in today’s ATS market are:
- Oracle Cloud HCM
- SAP SuccessFactors
- Cornerstone OnDemand
- Bullhorn Applicant Tracking & CRM
ATS is a long-standing and well-established market. However, the 2021 list of leaders is surprisingly well-rounded with a number of challengers.
At the top you’ll find legacy players like iCIMS and Bullhorn, up-and-comers like Lever and Greenhouse, and companies like Oracle that have recently succeeded through acquisition.
It’s important to note that both Oracle Cloud HCM and SAP SuccessFactors are core HR management products, and Cornerstone OnDemand is best known as a Talent Management system. All three players offer products that go beyond pure ATS. Part of their market share is driven by that fact.
The following graph shows the combined pageviews for these 10 leaders:
Other Key Players in Applicant Tracking
There’s a lot more to this market beyond the top 10 companies.
The players who currently sit at #11-20 on TrustRadius command an additional 17,000 pageviews per year. Those pageviews come from buyers who are actively comparing software beyond the top market share leaders.
Those products under consideration include:
- Zoho Recruit
- Jazz HR
- LinkedIn Talent Hub
- IBM Kenexa
- CEIPAL ATS
- SilkRoad Recruiting
As with our top 10 list, this group of products is pretty varied. We’ve got older companies like IBM Kenexa and SilkRoad alongside newer contenders like LinkedIn Talent Hub.
It’s also interesting to see the rise of service + SaaS combo offerings from ClearCompany and CEIPAL on this list.
The Top ATS Comparisons in 2021
Buyers spend an average of 12 minutes comparing products side-by-side on TrustRadius—which indicates that they’re very close to making a purchase.
In the ATS space, most buyers spend time comparing Greenhouse vs iCIMS. This faceoff shows a clear dichotomy between the old guard and the new.
iCIMS was one of the first ATS-specific products on the market, and still commands a lot of attention as a well-established leader. In contrast, Greenhouse is one of the most popular “newer” companies on our top 10 list. They’re a clear disruptor.
We’re also seeing strong comparison volume between Entelo and Hiretual.
Neither company attracts enough pageviews to make our Top 20 list. But Hiretual has made significant moves in the past year, and are heavily advertising new AI sourcing capabilities. It’s clear that they’re getting some buyers’ attention.
How Top Applicant Tracking Systems Stack Up
Since the ATS market is so varied, we pay close attention to how all of these products differentiate themselves in the marketplace. The ATS market leaders of the past and present are fighting for mindshare in a hot market with plenty of disruption.
That’s why we collect feedback from real buyers about their experience with applicant tracking software.
We typically ask:
- How would you rate this product’s customer support?
- Do you think this product has good value for the price?
- Does this product live up to its sales and marketing promises?
- Did product implementation go as expected?
- Are you satisfied with the product’s feature set?
- How likely are you to repurchase this product?
You may be surprised to see which products rise to the top.
CEIPAL Dominates in Customer Support
In the ATS market, it’s clear that some of the smaller players’ customer support teams are beating out the market leaders.
CEIPAL ATS, JobDiva, and Jobvite are currently leading the market in customer support.
We were surprised to see some of the biggest market share leaders near the bottom of the list.
Bullhorn ATS has the lowest customer support rating of all leading ATS players in 2021 (with a 5.35 out of 10). Other low scores go to SAP SuccessFactors (6.41) and Cornerstone OnDemand (6.57).
SuccessFactors isn’t known for being particularly user-friendly, and Cornerstone OnDemand has historically had some issues with performance and training resources. It’s unfortunate that buyers also find their customer support function lacking.
However, we acknowledge that both of these products tend to serve enterprise customers with larger in-house recruiting teams. These companies may have more nuanced and complex needs that require more support. Improved CS could be a wise investment for both of these companies as they seek to grow their enterprise customer base.
SmartRecruiters and CEIPAL Bring the Best Value for Price
100% of SmartRecruiters and CEIPAL ATS reviewers think these products provide good value for the price.
SmartRecruiters is an interesting pick at the top of this list. They offer fairly standard ATS functionality. The big selling point could be that their modules are easy to self-serve and reconfigure to meet your specific needs. With 87% of buyers wanting to self-serve their buying journey, this could be seen as a huge value add.
The CEIPAL win is easy to understand. They provide a white-label recruiting service in addition to a widely-used ATS software. The combination is clearly doing well for their customers.
As the ATS market continues to move toward centralization, we expect to see more SaaS + service combos in coming years.
Zoho Recruit Lives Up to Its Sales and Marketing Promises
We’ve seen a wide range of ATS marketing promises over the past two years—especially from up-and-coming players like Greenhouse and Lever.
But overall, only 63% of buyers say that their ATS lives up to its sales and marketing promises.
We were surprised to see Greenhouse at the bottom of this list. Only 57% of reviewers think that Greenhouse lives up to its promises. Only Jobvite takes a lower spot with a rating of 47%.
Gusto Shines in Product Implementation
Gusto leads the ATS market when it comes to implementation.
79% of Gusto users say that their product implementation went as expected. That percentage clearly stands out when compared to market leaders like Workday (60%) and ADP (48%).
This is a clear point of differentiation.
Zoho Recruit rises to the top at the other end of the spectrum. Zoho is currently focused on marketing themselves as a total-package SaaS solution. They offer apps for basically every business need.
Zoho Recruit is a fairly basic, low-cost, and effective ATS solution. Zoho doesn’t market their recruiting software heavily, which could explain its top spot here. This is a simple software that works.
We were also interested to see LinkedIn Talent Hub at the top of the value list.
LinkedIn has the unique drawback of only recruiting on their proprietary platform. That could be seen as a huge limitation compared to other ATS players, which allow you to post jobs everywhere. But clearly users think that LinkedIn Talent Hub lives up to their heavy marketing claims. Maybe LinkedIn really is the future of recruiting?
Lever Struggles Most With Implementation
The ATS market has a clear implementation problem. On average, only 69% of ATS buyers say that implementation went as expected.
That low average is partly driven by players like Lever, with the lowest implementation score of 53%.
Lever positions themselves as a next-generation ATS. They promise extremely easy plug-and-play implementation. While the software isn’t difficult to implement overall, we imagine their low score is due to not meeting buyers’ expectations.
At the upper end, CEIPAL ATS, Zoho Recruit, and SmartRecruiters maintain high implementation scores over 90%.
Most ATS Users Are Happy With Their Feature Set
93% of buyers are happy with the feature set of their ATS. That’s surprisingly high.
It’s even more surprising to see that 100% of reviewers for Zoho Recruit, Workable, SmartRecruiters, and CEIPAL are satisfied with their feature sets.
These three software solutions are fairly simple with standard functionality. But maybe those features are the only ones that are necessary for many use cases. Most small and mid-sized businesses might find that this feature set gives everything they need.
Who needs bells and whistles (and the marketing claims that go with them) when you could just get a good software that works?
Most Buyers Would Purchase Their ATS Again
91% of ATS users would purchase that product again in the future. This is great news, especially in light of the “great resignation” of 2020-2021.
Demand for HR software is at a major high this year. But ATS vendors clearly don’t have to worry too much about customer churn. Their users are well satisfied.
In particular, 100% of users for Cornerstone OnDemand would purchase that product again. Since Cornerstone currently sits in our list of Top 3 ATS in 2021, we assume they’ll have no trouble holding onto their market share in 2022.
Other 100%-earners include Zoho Recruit, Workable, SmartRecruiters, and CEIPAL ATS.
Your Guide to Applicant Tracking System Pricing in 2021
|ATS Software||trScore||Starting Price||Free Trial||Free or Fremium||Premium Services||Setup Fee|
|Zoho Recruit||8.6/10||Contact Vendor||Optional|
|LinkedIn Talent Hub||8.4/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|IBM Kenexa||6.1/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|CEIPAL ATS||8.9/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|SilkRoad Recruiting||6.6/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|UKG Pro||8.5/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|Ceridian Dayforce HCM||8.0/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|Oracle Cloud HCM||8.4/10||$4||Required|
|Cornerstone OnDemand||8.4/10||Contact Vendor||Required|
|SAP SuccessFactors||7.1/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|Saba Cloud||8.9/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|Saba TalentSpace||6.2/10||Contact Vendor||Required|
|SumTotal Talent Development||6.5/10||Contact Vendor||None|
|SilkRoad Life Suite||8.0/10||Contact Vendor||None|
If you’re looking for your next applicant tracking solution, check out reviews on TrustRadius. You’ll see 100% authentic reviews from buyers just like you.
Spotlight on Talent Management Systems
So far in this post we’ve highlighted products that lean solidly in the ATS direction. But plenty of companies choose to purchase a larger enterprise talent management system instead.
Talent management systems include far more than just an ATS. These are powerful business-wide tools that help you hire, develop, train, and reward your team members through the entire employee lifecycle.
Key players in the talent management category include:
The HR software market is moving quickly toward centralization. Companies are quickly building new features and taking on new products through acquisition. The talent management space will not look the same in 2025 as it does today.
At that time, point solutions for functions like ATS or payroll may not be as relevant to future buyers. Centralized products make more sense in a world where every business values a full-cycle HR approach.
We predict that larger HR management, HCM, and talent management suites will become even more popular in coming years.
We’re eager to see which leading point solutions will get consolidated. Or, on the other hand, whether those players will end up being imitated by the talent management leaders.
Investment News in the ATS Market
COVID-19 influenced a serious decline in investment for recruiting technology. The pandemic caused many companies to suspend hiring, and many more reduced their workforces.
But now that we’re witnessing the “great resignation,” there’s clear and new demand for HR software. These are the investments that stand out.
Big market player SmartRecruiters raised a strong $110 million in July 2021. This saw the company’s valuation rise to $1.5 billion dollars. SmartRecruiters intends to use the money to invest in conversational interface solutions and automation for its product—next-gen features that show the rapid influence of AI on the HR market.
The importance of AI-driven HR tech can also be seen with investment in Hiretual. The company raised $13 million in 2020 and plans to use the money to scale its AI-driven talent data systems.
Talenthub.io also raised $955k for its work in candidate experience improvement. The Danish company seeks to use the power of employee referrals to help companies drive more intelligent recruitment.
ATS Trends to Watch in 2021
Remote Recruiting Is Here to stay
While remote hiring existed before the pandemic, it exploded due to COVID-19. Now, even high-paying jobs are searching for fully remote applicants. This trend will hold steady even as new workers enter the applicant pool and we slowly try to move back to the office. 54% of Gen-Z won’t even consider applying for a job if they feel the process is outdated.
For organizations, this means a change in the way recruitment is handled. Fully virtual interview processes have gone from a quirky exception to a full-on expectation. Applicant tracking systems must provide solutions. The trend of remote hiring is here to stay, and will continue to evolve in 2021 and beyond.
Applicant Experience is Everything
50% of candidates won’t buy from or recommend a company after a bad recruitment experience. And a better recruitment experience makes an applicant 38% more likely to accept the offer. Those who do not get a job offer are 80% more likely to apply again if the experience was good.
Clearly, the candidate experience matters—and not just to the single prospective employee. Applicants talk to their friends and family, and will even post online if the process was bad. Not a great look for your organization.
Applicants want faster response times, shorter application processes, and clear communications. Applicant tracking systems are well-positioned to help all of these areas. Improvements to resume processing and optimization of the application process can help in areas beyond HR.
The “great resignation” is ongoing. Remote work fueled an explosion of employee turnover, which will eventually result in a much higher number of applicants for other positions. For HR professionals, these changes accelerate the need to find better ways to evaluate resumes. Like most markets, the HR software world is turning to AI.
Research shows that 42% of applicants are unqualified for the job they are applying for. Smarter AI tools can help HR teams sift through these faster. Studies also suggest that AI can be used to reduce bias and prejudice in hiring practices—which is understandably a core goal for HR professionals in 2021.
Hiring from The Inside
With the hiring world exploding and remote work bigger than ever, it can feel like resumes are coming from every direction. One place where some might not expect to look is inward. Internal employee mobility is up 20% year-over-year, and many companies are finding that the best candidates may already have a company email account.
The reasons for this are clear. Reskilling is easier than rehiring. Job training is simpler, and soft skills like communication and interpersonal capability are easy to measure. For applicant tracking systems, it’s vital that internal applicants do not get lost in the weeds.
This means integrating all methods of application into a common pool. If your staff member hands you a resume, rather than applying on your post, they should get their fair chance. As the pandemic slows and hiring continues to recover and evolve, internal mobility will continue to be a priority for HR professionals around the globe.
9 More Applicant Tracking Statistics
- On average, a third to half of candidates who apply for all position types are not qualified for the jobs they’re applying to. (TalentBoard 2020)
- 82% of job seekers would share a positive candidate experience with friends or others in their network. (Talentegy 2019)
- 69% of job seekers who had a negative experience would rarely or never apply to that company again. (Talentegy 2019)
- Enterprise sourcing of employees is up by 165% in Q4 of 2020 as compared to Q4 of 2019. (Hiretual 2021)
- 97% of companies are looking to source talent internally in their ATS/CRM. (Hiretual 2021)
- 55% of hiring professionals are currently using an ATS or HRIS to assist in the hiring process. (CriteriaCorp 2019)
- 70% of staffing firms expect double-digit growth in 2021. (StaffingHub 2021)
- 36% of North American candidates applied for jobs via mobile device in 2020. (TalentBoard 2020)
- In 2020, 33% of North American candidates reported that they had not heard back from employers two months after they applied. That’s slightly higher than in previous years. (TalentBoard 2020)
- Applicant Tracking System Market By Deployment, By Offerings, By Organization Size, By End-User, And Segment Forecasts To 2027 (Research and Markets 2021)
- 99% of Fortune 500 Companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (Jobscan 2019)
- 2020 North American Candidate Experience Research Report (TalentBoard 2020)
- 2019 Candidate Experience Report: Perceptions & Behaviors (Talentegy 2019)
- 2021 Recruitment Outlook Report (Hiretual 2021)
- What Percentage of Companies Use an ATS or HRIS? (CriteriaCorp 2019)
- 2021 State of Staffing Industry Growth (StaffingHub 2021)
- Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Market Update 2021 (TrustRadius 2021)