Simplify and streamline your company’s recruiting and hiring process with the right applicant tracking system that fits your company’s needs.
- What is an applicant tracking system?
- Top applicant tracking system comparison
- Common features of applicant tracking systems
- Why your company needs an applicant tracking system
- How to choose an applicant tracking system
What is an applicant tracking system?
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software tool that automates, centralizes, organizes, standardizes, and generates reports on a company’s hiring and recruiting process. It assists HR professionals and those involved in the interview process with posting job openings, searching for qualified talent, and tracking applicants as they progress through the recruiting process.
An ATS is different from recruiting or HRIS software in that it has more limited functions that are specific to recruiting and hiring. Recruiting platforms and HRIS software are more comprehensive solutions that meet the complexity and volume of enterprises’ hiring needs. An ATS uses fewer resources across the organization. A standalone ATS solution is therefore more suitable for SMBs or businesses with specialized hiring needs. As the business grows, the ATS may integrate with third-party recruiting or HRIS software. However, you’ll find that the solutions below are nested into a larger HR software platform that goes above and beyond ATS functionality to include payroll and benefits administration, performance tracking, timesheets, and even customer relationship management (CRM).
There are many ATS options on the market today, so we’ve compiled a list of the best applicant tracking systems to help you find the right solution for your company’s budget and size. All of the vendors below offer ATS tools that can either be purchased on their own or are bundled into a comprehensive recruiting/HRIS package.
Top applicant tracking systems comparison
Freshteam is an ATS that helps HR professionals manage job openings, source candidates, screen the talent pool, engage and assess candidates, make offers, and more. It has the following features:
- more than 100 built-in job description templates and customized workflows
- brandable, shareable job postings
- resume parsing and tagging to easily find applicants
- automated email responses and workflow reminders
- video conference software integrations
Freshteam’s standout features include its robust reporting capabilities with at-a-glance analytics and the option to post jobs to specific locations for multinational enterprises. As job seekers prioritize where they work, it’s useful to easily find a company’s openings at a particular office location.
Greenhouse offers an ATS as part of its comprehensive hiring solution. Greenhouse helps your HR team
- source the right candidates
- create an equitable hiring process
- craft a professional hiring experience for applicants
- improve the hiring process with robust data and reports
- recruit on the go with the mobile app
- scale your hiring as needed
The feature to highlight here is Greenhouse’s dedication to eliminating unconscious bias from the hiring process. Before evaluating candidates, users agree on a scorecard of top attributes and create a plan that helps assess for the right skills and background. With Greenhouse, candidates have the option to pre-record their names to ensure correct pronunciation and indicate their personal pronouns.
Greenhouse has a mobile app like many other ATS on the market today, however, Greenhouse’s Events app allows hiring managers to work with prospect data at in-person events, such as job fairs and recruiting events, eliminating the hassle of keeping track of business cards.
Users frequently cite issues with Greenhouse’s reporting and analytics features, so if that ranks highly in your selection criteria, Greenhouse may not be the best choice. However, it is a solution built for scalability. It offers three product tiers–Essential, Advanced, and Expert–so that your company doesn’t have to commit to more tools than it currently needs but can level up in the future.
JazzHR’s applicant tracking capability is one of many offered in its comprehensive, yet cost-effective solution. It allows users to:
- build customized workflows
- stay organized
- facilitate collaboration supported with real-time information
- manage documents and track version history
- sync the ATS to email
In reviews, JazzHR offers a lot of value for the price, and users like how easy it is to use but note issues with the reporting function.
Manatal is a recruitment software solution featuring a cloud-based ATS that streamlines the hiring process through applicant matching, candidate management, and AI-driven insights.
Users love Manatal’s AI capabilities that make it stand out from competitors. Its recommendation engine, for instance, provides up-to-date candidate recommendations based on collected data and scorecards. So if you interviewed a strong candidate in the past who didn’t get the job, Manatal may suggest that candidate for future openings.
Other functionalities with Manatal include:
- automatic profile linking from networking outlets
- Automatic addition of aggregated social media information to a candidate’s profile
- Resume parsing
- Advanced search capabilities
- reporting and analytics for real-time insights on your hiring process
- “all language support” to engage candidates in their native language, including right-to-left reading languages like Arabic
Paylocity is an all-in-one product suite oriented towards a range of HR activities. The ATS is one of the features of its talent management system that assists in inclusive recruiting of top talent for job openings.
Paylocity contains several features that save users and applicants time:
- automatic posting to job boards
- candidate profiles
- auto-fill for fields in the application
- templates for job offers
Paylocity enables inclusive recruiting by empowering candidates to share their preferred name and mask information that may open the door for bias in the hiring process. At the same time, however, Paylocity poses optional identity questions in the application that may work against anti-bias measures your company seeks to implement.
Paylocity likely won’t be a good fit if you’re looking for a robust, standalone ATS. However, it may be a strong contender if you’re an enterprise looking to invest in a comprehensive HRIS solution that includes recruiting and onboarding tools.
Rippling is a one-stop hub for all HR needs, including talent management. Rippling offers standard features that a company needs in finding and management applicants:
- simultaneously publish job postings to major online job boards with one click
- create custom hiring workflows, processes, and alerts
- easily schedule interviews with Outlook, Google, and other calendar tool integrations
- build custom reports
As is the case with Paylocity, Rippling is a great fit if you’re looking for an ATS that’s part of a comprehensive HRIS solution that helps you manage payroll, time sheets, benefits, and more.
Workable provides a comprehensive solution, part of which is an ATS that is designed to save HR teams time, simplify decision making, and streamline the hiring process.
- over 700 search-optimized job description templates
- automatic posting to more than 200 job sites
- an AI-powered recommendation tool that scans up to 400 million candidate profiles and suggests good-fit candidates
- Document management and collaboration tools
The AI recommendation tool sets your company up well for passive recruiting, as recruiting managers know to whom they should reach out and begin building a relationship.
Read more: Hiring Crunch Hits IT
Upon selecting candidates for interviews, Workable facilitates a seamless, virtual interview process, which is a must at a time when remote hiring is at its peak. Workable makes it easy to schedule one-way (or asynchronous) virtual interviews where candidates can pre-record their answers to your interview questions. This eliminates the need to find a common meeting time among all involved in order to have a live virtual conversation. However, if that’s the route your HR team wants to take, Workable supports live video interviews with built-in integrations for Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other popular teleconferencing software.
Workable’s built-in features help mitigate bias in this phase of the decision-making process through anonymized screening and interview kits that ensure fairness and consistency in the hiring process. The anonymized screening tool masks the candidate’s name, address, and phone number from their profile and resume. The interview kits and scorecards allow your team to establish a set of questions and evaluation metrics prior to interviewing candidates.
Workable has a dashboard feature that provides a comprehensive overview of each candidate’s progress through the hiring process. However, once hired, it doesn’t have its own onboarding solution at this time, so it routes users to an integration for onboarding.
Zoho Recruit is another comprehensive recruiting software solution that features an ATS. The Zoho Recruit ATS caters to in-house recruiting teams, staff agencies, and temp agencies by helping with sourcing, tracking, and hiring the best candidates.
Zoho Recruit’s standout feature is its suite of AI-powered tools to streamline the recruiting and hiring process. For example, Zoho Recruit’s source boosters put talented candidates on the fast track to speed up the recruiting process.
Through the source booster’s search function, users have access to candidate profiles who match basic requirements, such as job title or skill set. The search function goes a step further with advanced search filters to narrow down the pool even more. The quick-view function provides recruiters with a snapshot of a candidate to enable faster decision-making. Recruiters can simply drag and drop candidates into the Zoho Recruit database where their profile can then get nudged forward to the next stage if they progress into the later interview stages of the hiring process.
To complement the active searching performed with source boosters, Zoho Recruit’s Zia Candidate Matching tool helps with the following:
- identifying talent according to how closely they match the job advertisement’s criteria.
- mapping candidate behavioral assessments
- performing routine tasks that free up your hiring team to use their time more effectively
- matching ideal candidates based on desired qualifications
Resumes come in all shapes, sizes, and formats. To save applicants’ time by reducing the need for manual resume segregation, Zoho Recruit’s resume parser uses algorithms to standardize and align the parsed resume structure to the form that your company supports.
Zoho Recruit uses several other AI-powered tools in its ATS, such as Zia the chatbot, Smart Search tool, and more, making it a top contender with Manatal and Workable.
Common features of applicant tracking systems
Common ATS features include a career site builder, interviewing tools, templates, and social networking integration.
Career site builder
The ATS of choice should allow you to build and customize a brandable portal of job openings at your company along with forms, pre-screening questions, assessments, automated resume screening, and email syncing. As an added bonus, the ATS’s career site builder may have a separate portal for internal employees to apply for positions and refer outside candidates. Depending on how much control you want over your portal, check whether the ATS allows you to host the career site on your own website or on their platform.
Having the right interview tools will not only simplify the hiring process for your HR team but will also make or break the candidate’s experience of your company. Look for features such as automatic scheduling, video interviewing capabilities, and the ability to record, track, and share notes from interviews. Having these features reduces the need for back-and-forth emailing to find a common meeting time with an applicant. Plus, interviewers can easily re-watch the interview and not have to rely on memory to make judgements about a candidate’s abilities.
Having templates onhand for job descriptions, interview invitations, rejections, offer letters, and other documents save your hiring team a lot of time, especially if these are all stored and managed in one place and are customizable to different types of roles.
So much of job hunting and recruiting takes place on professional and social media networks these days that you’d be missing out on a huge opportunity if your ATS does not integrate with one of the major outlets, such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Your job descriptions should be postable and shareable to these networks to maximize reach. It’s possible with some ATS’s like Freshteam to track which sites generate the most traffic and applications.
Why your company needs an applicant tracking system
An ATS on its own will most benefit small to medium sized businesses, as it does not require an IT team for implementation, it’s user friendly for HR employees and hiring managers, and it’s more cost effective than recruiting software or HRIS systems.
However, as your company grows, an ATS will become all the more important for automating and optimizing the mundane hiring-related tasks at a larger scale.
The benefits of implementing an ATS include:
- Streamlined end-to-end hiring workflows
- Automated tasks, such as job board postings and notifications
- Robust analytics and reporting tools to improve your hiring process
- Reduced unconscious bias in the hiring process
- Better performance on diversity, equity, and inclusion metrics
- More enjoyable candidate experience
How to choose an applicant tracking system
The type of ATS to choose will depend on your company size, type, and budget. Some of the vendors offer the ATS as a tool on its own, while for others, it’s bundled into a comprehensive HRIS platform. It’s therefore important to check the ATS integrations and compatibility to ensure that the ATS plugs in seamlessly to your current HR tools or, if your budget allows and your needs require, consider purchasing a platform solution.
Staff agencies and enterprises will likely need an integrated ATS for high-volume recruiting, but agencies will also need CRM functionality that Greenhouse, Manatal, and Zoho Recruit offer.
For small and medium-sized businesses, scalability should be a key criterion, so that the chosen product can grow with your company and accommodate its changing needs. Freshteam, Greenhouse, Manatal JazzHR, and Workable offer multi-tiered product plans that allow you to upgrade as needed and not have to pay for features you don’t need.
Based on all these considerations, Freshteam, Workable, and Zoho Recruit cover most if not all of the criteria. However, if you’re looking for a particular feature or feature combo, start by looking at the vendors who offer your top criterion or top three criteria.