Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): A Complete ATS Guide

Best Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) A Complete ATS Guide

In the vast and intricate world of recruitment, there’s a revolution that’s been reshaping how employers and potential employees connect. This revolution is powered by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). If you’ve ever applied for a job online, there’s a high chance your resume first had to impress a machine before it got a chance…

In the vast and intricate world of recruitment, there’s a revolution that’s been reshaping how employers and potential employees connect. This revolution is powered by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). If you’ve ever applied for a job online, there’s a high chance your resume first had to impress a machine before it got a chance with a human. With a staggering 98.8% of Fortune 500 companies and an increasing number of small to medium enterprises relying on ATS, it’s evident that these systems have become the backbone of modern recruitment.

But what exactly are these systems? Why have they become so pivotal? And more importantly, how can both businesses and job seekers optimize their experiences in this ATS-dominated landscape?

This guide is designed to be your compass in the vast sea of applicant tracking. We’ll explore the top ATS systems in the market, dissect their features, and provide insights into their strengths and potential drawbacks. For job seekers, we’ll offer invaluable tips on navigating these digital gatekeepers, ensuring your credentials get the attention they deserve. And for businesses, whether you’re a burgeoning startup or an established enterprise, we’ll delve into how ATS can streamline your recruitment, saving you both time and money.

So, whether you’re a job applicant wondering why you’re not getting interview calls despite a stellar resume, or a HR professional looking to enhance your recruitment process, this guide promises a deep dive into the world of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Let’s embark on this journey to decode the digital gatekeepers of the job market.

Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

What is Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)?

The recruitment landscape has evolved dramatically and amidst the sea of resumes and the competitive hunt for top talent, the Applicant Tracking System, commonly known as ATS, has emerged as an indispensable tool for HR professionals and recruiters. But what exactly is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application designed to automate the recruitment process. From collecting and sorting resumes to managing candidate interactions and streamlining the hiring workflow, an ATS acts as a digital hub for all recruitment-related activities.

Key Functions of an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

  1. Resume Parsing: At its core, an ATS scans and extracts information from resumes, transforming unstructured data into a structured format. This allows recruiters to search for specific keywords, skills, or qualifications easily.
  2. Job Posting: An ATS can distribute job openings to multiple job boards, career sites, and social media platforms simultaneously, ensuring a wider reach.
  3. Candidate Ranking: Using algorithms, the system can rank candidates based on how well their resume matches the job description, ensuring that the most qualified individuals are prioritized.
  4. Communication: The system facilitates seamless communication with candidates, sending automated emails for confirmations, rejections, interview schedules, and feedback.
  5. Interview Scheduling: Integrated calendars and scheduling tools in an ATS help in coordinating interviews, reducing the back-and-forth emails and potential scheduling conflicts.
  6. Reporting and Analytics: Modern ATS systems offer detailed insights into the hiring process, from time-to-hire metrics to sources of best candidates, aiding in data-driven decision-making.

In essence, an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is not just a tool but a strategic asset in the modern recruitment toolkit. As the hiring landscape continues to evolve, understanding and leveraging the capabilities of an ATS will be crucial for companies aiming to attract, identify, and onboard top talent effectively.

Related: Best WordPress Job Board Plugins

Why is Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) Important in Modern Recruitment?

The recruitment landscape has become increasingly complex. With the surge in online job applications, the sheer volume of resumes that recruiters receive can be overwhelming. Enter the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – a game-changer in the world of hiring. But why has the ATS become such an indispensable tool in the recruitment arsenal? Let’s delve into the reasons.

1. Efficient Management of High-Volume Applications: In the digital age, a single job posting can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Manually sifting through this avalanche of resumes is not only tedious but nearly impossible. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) automate this process, ensuring that every application is accounted for and processed.

2. Enhanced Candidate Experience: Timely communication is key to ensuring a positive candidate experience. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) automate various stages of communication, from acknowledgment emails to interview schedules, ensuring candidates are always in the loop.

3. Data-Driven Decision Making: Modern Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) come equipped with analytics and reporting tools. These provide insights into various metrics like source of hire, time-to-fill, and cost-per-hire, enabling recruiters to make informed decisions and refine their strategies.

4. Reduction in Administrative Tasks: Recruitment involves a myriad of administrative tasks, from scheduling interviews to maintaining candidate databases. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) streamline these processes, freeing up recruiters to focus on more strategic aspects of hiring.

5. Consistency in Recruitment Processes: With multiple recruiters involved, there’s a risk of inconsistencies in the hiring process. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) ensure that every candidate goes through the same set of processes, ensuring fairness and consistency.

6. Improved Compliance: For many companies, especially those in regulated industries, maintaining compliance in recruitment processes is crucial. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help in storing data securely, maintaining records for audits, and ensuring that hiring practices adhere to relevant laws and regulations.

7. Strategic Talent Acquisition: Beyond just filling vacancies, recruitment is about strategic talent acquisition. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) allow companies to build talent pools, track past applicants, and even re-engage with potential candidates for future roles.

8. Cost Savings: By automating various stages of the recruitment process, reducing time-to-hire, and improving the quality of hires, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.

9. Integration with Other HR Tools: Many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can seamlessly integrate with other HR tools and platforms, from onboarding software to HRIS systems, creating a cohesive tech ecosystem.

10. Leveling the Playing Field: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) ensure that every application is evaluated based on merit, reducing unconscious biases. This ensures a more diverse and inclusive hiring process.

The importance of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in today’s recruitment world cannot be overstated. It’s not just about automation; it’s about enhancing the quality of hires, improving efficiency, and ensuring a holistic and strategic approach to talent acquisition. As the war for talent intensifies, having an ATS is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.

Choosing the Right ATS: Tailored Solutions for Every Recruitment Need

In the rapidly evolving recruitment landscape, the right Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can be a game-changer. With a myriad of options available, it’s essential to select an ATS that aligns with your recruitment needs, whether you’re a small recruiter or a large corporation. Let’s delve into the best ATS solutions tailored for different recruitment scales and budgets.

Small Recruiters: The Basics

Embracing Simplicity For small recruiters or startups, simplicity and cost-effectiveness are key. Instead of investing in a full-fledged ATS, leveraging tools like:

  • Google Docs: Ideal for crafting and storing job descriptions.
  • Google Sheets: Acts as a makeshift database, tracking applicants and their progress.
  • Google Drive: Perfect for storing resumes, cover letters, and other relevant documents.

Medium-Sized Recruiters: The Middle Ground

As recruitment needs grow, so does the need for a more sophisticated solution. For medium-sized recruiters:

  • JazzHR: Starting at $49/mo, JazzHR is a top recruitment software option for many SMBs, allowing users to post across various job site networks and organize suitable candidates efficiently.
  • Freshteam by Freshworks: With plans starting at $1.20/employee/mo. + $71 platform fee/mo., Freshteam offers a balance between functionality and affordability, allowing hiring managers to set up a career site and sift through candidate profiles seamlessly.

Big Recruiters: The Powerhouses

Large corporations or recruitment agencies require top-tier solutions to manage the vast influx of applications.

  • Workday: Known for its collaborations with giants like Bank of America and Target, Workday offers a robust ATS solution that can handle complex recruitment workflows. Pricing is custom and typically on the higher end.
  • Greenhouse: Used by notable companies such as DoorDash and Wayfair, Greenhouse offers a comprehensive ATS solution optimized for large businesses and intricate SMB needs. Pricing details are available upon request.

Free Options: Budget-Friendly Choices

For those on a tight budget:

  • Freshteam by Freshworks: Offers a free version for businesses with up to 50 employees and no more than three active job postings at a time.
  • Breezy: Provides a free plan that allows for one active job posting at a time, making it a viable option for startups or small businesses.

If you’re ready to invest in premium features and scalability:

  • Rippling: Starting at $8/user/mo., Rippling is lauded for its all-in-one capabilities, offering user-friendly hiring manager collaboration, candidate tracking, and candidate experience organization.
  • Pinpoint: With plans starting at $600/mo., Pinpoint offers a branded career website, simplifying the recruitment process and reducing costs associated with recruitment agencies.

ATS for WordPress: A Niche Solution

For those managing their recruitment through a WordPress site:

  • WordPress Plugin: While not a full-fledged ATS, this plugin offers a competent job board with AI-powered screening, integrating seamlessly with WordPress. The plugin is free and they offer paid plans starting at $19.99/month.

In conclusion, the right ATS is out there for every recruiter, irrespective of size or budget. It’s all about understanding your specific needs, budget constraints, and desired features. With the right system in place, the recruitment process becomes more streamlined, efficient, and ultimately more successful.

Recruitment ScaleATS SolutionDescriptionPricing
Small RecruitersGoogle DocsCraft and store job descriptionsFree
Google SheetsMakeshift database for tracking applicantsFree
Google DriveStore resumes, cover letters, etc.Free
Medium-Sized RecruitersJazzHRPost jobs across networks and organize candidatesStarting at $49/mo
Freshteam by FreshworksCareer site setup and candidate profiling$1.20/employee/mo. + $71 platform fee/mo.
Big RecruitersWorkdayRobust ATS for complex workflowsCustom Pricing
GreenhouseComprehensive ATS for large businessesPricing upon request
Free or Budget OptionsFreshteam by FreshworksFree version for limited employees and job postingsFree for up to 50 employees and 3 active job postings at a time
BreezyAllows one active job postingFree plan available; Paid plan starting at $157/month
Paid OptionsRipplingAll-in-one capabilitiesStarting at $8/user/mo.
PinpointBranded career websiteStarting at $600/mo.
ATS for WordPress PluginJob board with AI-powered screeningFree plugin; paid plan starting at $19.99/mo.
Overview of applicant tracking systems (ats) solutions

How Job Seekers Can Beat the ATS and Secure Their Dream Job

Our in-depth discussions so far prove how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can boost recruiters and organizations, but how can job seekers can job seekers navigate the world of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)? After all, we all aspire to land that ideal position that elevates our career.

Strategies to Beat the ATS

  1. Apply for Relevant Jobs: Ensure you only apply for positions that align with your skills, experience, and qualifications. The ATS is more likely to favor your resume if it matches the job requirements.
  2. Limit Applications per Company: Applying for multiple positions at the same company can be seen as a lack of focus. Be selective and target roles that best fit your profile.
  3. Incorporate Relevant Keywords: Analyze the job posting and integrate pertinent keywords into your resume. This increases the chances of your resume being flagged as a good match.
  4. Showcase Unique Experiences: While keywords are essential, they need context. Relate these keywords to your unique experiences and achievements in the workplace.
  5. Include a Skills Section: A dedicated section for skills allows you to highlight relevant keywords, making it easier for the ATS to identify them.
  6. Maintain Simple Language: Avoid jargon or unconventional terms. Stick to straightforward language that mirrors the job posting.
  7. Expand on Acronyms: For clarity, always write out acronyms in full, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, e.g., “Search Engine Optimization (SEO).”
  8. Customize Your Resume: Tailor your resume for each job application. Even if the roles are similar, different companies might emphasize different skills or experiences.
  9. Opt for a Clean Design: While creativity is appreciated, an ATS prefers simplicity. Avoid intricate designs or graphics that might confuse the system.
  10. Stick to Basic Formatting: Use universally accepted fonts and standard formatting elements like bullet points, bolded words, and underlines.
  11. Choose the Right File Type: Always adhere to the application portal’s guidelines on file types. When in doubt, opt for a .docx format as it’s commonly preferred by ATS systems.
  12. Update Online Profiles: Some ATS systems cross-check information from your resume with online profiles. Ensure consistency across all platforms.
  13. Leverage Referrals: If you have a referral from a current employee, mention it in your application. Some companies prioritize referred candidates, bypassing the ATS altogether.

Beating the ATS is about understanding its mechanics and tailoring your application accordingly. By following the strategies above, you’ll not only navigate the ATS successfully but also make a lasting impression on the hiring manager. Remember, the ATS is just the first hurdle; always prepare thoroughly for subsequent interview stages.

Future of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have revolutionized the recruitment process by automating and streamlining candidate management. With the majority of Fortune 500 companies leveraging this technology, the ATS market is poised for significant growth and evolution.

The ATS market has come a long way since its inception in the 1990s. Initially serving as a basic tool to manage applications, it has now integrated with the digital age, adapting to online applications and the rise of social media. The global ATS market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2020 to 2030.

  1. Integration of AI and Machine Learning: The future of ATS lies in the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These technologies can enhance candidate communication, improve screening efficiency, and rank candidates more effectively. AI-driven ATS can also provide insights into candidate performance, enabling more informed hiring decisions.
  2. Mobile Integration: With the surge in mobile device usage, there’s a growing demand for mobile-friendly ATS software. Recruiters are increasingly posting job notifications via mobile, and candidates are applying for jobs on the go. Mobile ATS solutions, like the Monster Jobs mobile app, are becoming more prevalent.
  3. Diverse Integration Capabilities: Modern ATS solutions are integrating with various platforms to streamline the recruitment process. This includes:
    • Job Boards Integration: Directly post job openings across multiple platforms.
    • Social Media Integration: Share job openings across social networks and gauge platform performance.
    • HR Software Integration: Seamless onboarding experiences for new hires.
    • App Integration: Collaborate with tools like Slack and integrate with email marketing software for mass outreach.
    • Company Website Integration: Simplify the application process for candidates by providing all necessary information in one place.

Key Market Players

Prominent players in the ATS market include SAP, ADP, Ultimate Software, Cornerstone, PeopleFluent, iCIMS, IBM, and Oracle. These companies have adopted various strategies, from mergers and acquisitions to product upgrades, to solidify their market position.


While ATS offers numerous benefits, it’s not without challenges:

  • Integration Issues: Ensuring compatibility with existing systems.
  • Recruitment Process Hurdles: ATS can’t fix a flawed recruitment process; it can only automate it.
  • Conversion Challenges: Transitioning from analog to digital processes requires a deep understanding of the recruitment lifecycle.
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensuring ATS solutions are mobile-friendly to cater to the growing mobile user base.

The ATS market is on a trajectory of rapid growth, with projections indicating significant expansion between 2022 and 2029. As the market evolves, it’s crucial for businesses to align their recruitment strategies with the capabilities of modern ATS solutions. Before investing, businesses should assess their needs, explore various options, and engage in demo sessions to find the perfect fit.


The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) has undeniably transformed the recruitment landscape, bridging the gap between employers and potential employees in an increasingly digital world. With its widespread adoption, from Fortune 500 giants to small and medium enterprises, the ATS stands as a testament to the evolving dynamics of modern hiring. For job seekers, understanding and navigating this system is paramount to ensuring their credentials shine. For businesses, selecting the right ATS tailored to their specific needs can lead to more streamlined, efficient, and successful recruitment processes.

As we look ahead, the integration of advanced technologies like AI and machine learning, coupled with the rise of mobile and diverse integration capabilities, will further refine and enhance the capabilities of ATS systems. However, like any technology, it comes with its set of challenges that businesses must be prepared to address.

In this ever-evolving job market, staying updated with the latest trends, understanding the intricacies of ATS, and leveraging its capabilities will be crucial for both job seekers and recruiters. As we conclude this comprehensive guide, it’s evident that the future of recruitment is not just about automation but about optimizing and personalizing the hiring journey for all involved. Whether you’re a job seeker aiming for your dream job or a business striving for top talent, the key lies in understanding and harnessing the power of the ATS.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that manages the recruiting and hiring process, including job postings and job applications. It organizes information about job seekers and makes it searchable. As its name implies, an ATS tracks candidates through the hiring process.

What is ATS or CRM system?

An ATS organizes and coordinates the actual application and hiring process, while a CRM system helps create and maintain a pool of active and passive talent for recruitment — both are valuable recruiting technology tools.

How do I know if my CV is ATS-friendly?

ATS-friendly resumes should be formatted correctly and should not include certain design elements such as columns, tables, graphics or special characters. ATS-friendly keywords are also important to include in the resume to ensure that the ATS can properly read through the document and find the relevant information.

What ATS do companies use?

The top ATS software preferred by Fortune 500 companies is Workday, Taleo, SuccessFactors, BrassRing, and iCIMS.

What is the importance of ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) streamlines the hiring process by automating and organizing each step. It helps connect with qualified candidates more efficiently, improves collaboration, reduces recruitment cycle, and scales your hiring pipeline.

What are the features of ATS?

The top features of an ATS include the ability to import and export data, universal search, tagging, Google Apps integration, collaboration tools, customization options, messaging capabilities, job distribution, and aggregator functions. These features help streamline the hiring process and improve data management.

What is ATS workflow?

An ATS allows you to automate repetitive tasks and track an individual’s recruitment journey. As well as saving time (and consequently money), an ATS enables you to provide an interactive, streamlined, and thorough service for applicants and clients.

What is the difference between ATS and recruitment system?

An ATS is generally used to manage and track applicants, while a recruitment automation platform is used to automate and streamline the entire recruitment process by leveraging the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing.

What is ATS software in HR?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a type of recruiting software that streamlines the hiring process from beginning to end. An ATS typically handles recruitment tasks including posting job openings to multiple job boards and storing applicant data.

Why do recruiters need ATS?

An ATS creates opportunities to automate manual processes, increase visibility into the hiring cycle for the entire recruiting team, and increase opportunities for communication throughout the candidate journey. 78% of recruiters using an ATS report that it has improved the quality of the candidates they hire.