An Applicant Tracking System is a software that makes hiring easier and streamlined for recruiters, hiring managers, and HR departments.

With thousands of applications received per open job role, find out how an ATS makes the job 10X easier.

Heads up: This is going to be a long and comprehensive read for both recruiters and candidates. In case you want to skip to the most relevant parts, use the index table.

What is an applicant tracking system?

An applicant tracking system is used by recruiters, hiring managers, and recruiting teams to manage and streamline the ENTIRE hiring process. Think of it as a digital gatekeeper that helps you source, attract, evaluate, and hire the best candidates for the job listings.

Here are 5 main jobs of an ATS. We’ve broken them down further in the next section.

1. Filters resumes: This feature is like your own personal assistant. It scans resumes for you, picking out the ones that match your criteria—be it skills, education, or experience.

2. Ranks candidates: An applicant tracking system ranks candidates based on how well they fit the job description, saving you time and effort.

3. Tracks applicants: Ever wonder where a candidate is in the hiring process? This feature keeps track for you, so you’re always in the loop.

4. Improves collaboration: Teamwork is smoother than ever. You can share notes, provide feedback, and collaborate efficiently with your team members.

5. Ensures compliance: This feature is your safety net, ensuring that you always stay compliant with hiring laws, so you can focus on finding the right candidate.

applicant tracking system benefits infographic

Now that you have seen an overview of an ATS let’s move on to understanding how it works.

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How does an applicant tracking system work? Top 5 steps explained

Step 1: Filters resumes based on keywords

Almost a decade ago, recruiters faced a dilemma.

A staggering number of resumes were either irrelevant or not up to the mark for the jobs they were posted for.

This is a big deal, especially when you’re sifting through hundreds or even thousands of resumes for multiple job openings.

Before applicant tracking systems, recruiters would manually scan each resume to see if it contained the qualifications and experience needed for a job.

But because these resumes were so varied and often filled with jargon or irrelevant information, recruiters were left scratching their heads. 

So they took a shot in the dark.

Enter ATS.

Now, instead of manually filtering through each resume, the ATS does the heavy lifting. 

It scans and filters resumes based on specific criteria like keywords, skills, and experience.

And even ranks candidates based on how well they match the job description.

No more guesswork. 

No more wasted time. 

Just a streamlined process with fewer margins of error that mimics human thought and helps recruiters find the right candidate every time.

Step 2: Uses a series of “knockout questions”

Now that your mountain of resumes has undergone the first level of filtration, it’s time for the second round. 

Note: This is an optional step that you can set up in any ATS software. Sometimes recruiters tend to skip it…totally depends on your hiring needs. 

So what are “knockout questions”?

These are straightforward questions, often checkboxes or short answers, that help eliminate any candidate who is not a right fit.

If a candidate doesn’t answer these questions to your company’s standards, their resume is automatically set aside. 

It’s like they’ve been quietly escorted out of the application process. 

But if they answer correctly? 

They move seamlessly to the next stage of your hiring cycle.

Step 3: Scans & sorts applicants

It’s time to now pull out important information from a candidate’s CV and lay it down neatly in front of you. 

Most of the ATS’ in the market have in-built resume parsing features that act as your co-pilot.

These resume parsers not only study information in a resume but also allow recruiters to hotlist standout candidates. 

You can even jot down short notes right on their profiles. 

It’s like having a digital sticky note that makes collaboration with your team a breeze.

In case you want to go more specific, the system allows you to set custom keywords for scanning—be it educational background, specific skills, or any other criteria you deem important.

This scanning and sorting feature allows you to glance through resumes quickly and schedule interviews accordingly.

You might also like: Candidate sourcing 101- Uncover the top strategies and tips to recruit the best talent

Step 4: Tracks candidate journeys

You’ve sifted through resumes and are done sorting. 

What next? 

The applicant tracking software acts like a dashboard, helping you track where candidates are in the hiring cycle.

For instance– if you are recruiting 10 candidates, your ATS will show you whether each candidate is a new applicant or they’re in the first or second interview stage.

Even if a candidate doesn’t make the cut, they will still stay in your recruiting database for future positions.

Step 5: Maintains timely communication

Once your hiring process is up and running, the next challenge is keeping everyone informed. 

Between applicants, hiring managers, and your own team, the communication demands can quickly become a juggling act.

ATS comes in handy here. 

This tool automates your communication tasks, making it easier to update clients about job openings or send follow-up emails to candidates. 

The result? 

A more efficient communication process that requires minimal effort on your part.

You might also like: 8 quick tips for highly effective candidate communication

how does an applicant tracking system work? a visual representation

The differences between an ATS and a CRM no one told you about

So far we’ve established that an applicant tracking system is a gear that keeps your recruitment machine running smoothly, but how about CRMs? 

What are they?

Can the terms ATS’ & CRMs be used interchangeably?

The answer is no.

While they might seem similar at first glance, they serve distinct purposes in the recruitment process. 

Before we show you the differences, let’s talk a bit about what CRMs are.

CRM stands for Candidate Relationship Management System

Think of a candidate relationship management system as your hiring wingman, keeping job applicants interested while an ATS scans through the resumes.

A CRM nurtures relationships with candidates, facilitates ongoing client and candidate communication, keeping them engaged and informed.

It also allows you to maintain a pool of potential candidates for future opportunities, creating a valuable resource for proactive recruitment.

Now, here are the 3 key differences

1. Purpose: ATS is focused on managing and streamlining the application process, while CRM is about building and sustaining a robust talent pipeline.

2. Target audience: ATS zeroes in on active applicants, while CRM engages a broader spectrum– both active and passive candidates.

3. Functionality: ATS automates the full hiring cycle, while CRM emphasizes communication and engagement.

So, does that mean one is better than the other?

Absolutely not!

TOGETHER they form a powerful duo that can transform your recruitment strategy.

ATS & CRM difference

You might also like: How does a recruitment agency choose an ATS or CRM?

Debunking 7 major misconceptions about applicant tracking systems

Sure, applicant tracking systems have been around for a while, and you might think you know all there is to know about them.

But here’s the kicker.

How many of those “facts” are actually myths?

Time to find out.

Misconception 1: An ATS eliminates human involvement

No, it doesn’t. 

Rather, it enhances it. 

Recruitment automation allows recruiters to focus on evaluating candidates’ soft skills, cultural fit, and other human-centric factors, which otherwise wouldn’t have been feasible if they were focused on manually sorting and tracking.

Misconception 2: An ATS only considers keywords

So, while keywords are essential, an ATS considers various factors such as work experience, education, and skills.

It’s not just about keyword stuffing; it’s about presenting a well-rounded and relevant resume.

Misconception 3: Candidates are treated unfairly with an ATS

The biggest myth of all! 

ATS levels the playing field by treating all resumes equally. 

It ensures that every application is seen and evaluated based on the same criteria, promoting a fair and unbiased process.

Misconception 4: An ATS is only meant for large companies

ATS’ are scalable and can be tailored to fit businesses of all sizes. 

Whether you’re a small business or a multinational corporation, an ATS can streamline your hiring process in several ways. 

The key is choosing a relevant ATS vendor that suits your business needs, size, and goals. 

You might also like: Everything you need to know about recruiting software for small businesses 

Misconception 5: The hiring process becomes impersonal

An ATS can enhance the candidate experience by allowing recruiters to stay organized and responsive. 

Candidates can feel more connected and informed with automated but hyper-personalized follow-ups and messaging.

Misconception 6: An ATS is too complex and challenging to use

Nope, nope!

Modern ATS solutions are designed with user-friendliness in mind. 

With intuitive interfaces and ongoing support, recruiters can easily navigate and leverage the system’s capabilities.

Not to mention, the best ATS providers will ensure top-notch customer support and demos so that you can get the most out of your system, even if you’re not the most tech-savvy recruiter.

Misconception 7: An ATS only supports certain file types

While some older systems may have limitations, most modern ATS’ can handle various file types, including PDFs, Word documents, and more. 

Candidates must always check the application guidelines to ensure compatibility.

By now, we’ve established that an ATS is not a mysterious black box. 

So, let’s move on to noting down some of its most powerful features.

What are the benefits of an applicant tracking system?

benefits of an applicant tracking system

1. Saves time for value-added work

The days of drowning in a sea of resumes with 75-88% not even fitting the bill are gone. 

By eliminating the manual posting, listing on job boards, and filtering out irrelevant applications with the help of an ATS, this whole process is done in a matter of seconds rather than spending hours on it.

2. Flexible system for both recruiters & hiring managers

Imagine the efficiency if you do not have to deal with loads of emails and Excel sheets and remember notes or appointments that are now handled on a single platform!

Recruitment agencies obviously gain a lot by using an applicant tracking software. 

It is a blessing even for hiring managers as listings, interview feedback, and all other co-ordinations can seamlessly be handled online.

3. Better overview of candidates

Keeping all the documents in your recruiting database gives you all the necessary details you need in one location.

You can easily switch between apps, compare candidates, change candidate status, and select and scan candidates without leaving the system.

This removes the risk of a submission being missed or trapped on a team member’s desk.

ATS providers like Recruit CRM come equipped with a simple Kanban view to make data viewing easier and visually appealing.  

4. Automated job posting

You’re juggling multiple social media accounts, manually posting jobs, and then tracking the performance of each one. 

It’s maddening.

However, with an applicant tracking system, you can upload your job openings on several platforms with just a single click.

You don’t even have to track each social media platform and the results generated from each post individually.

The software will gather the analytics from each platform and collate them together for you.

Platforms like Recruit CRM even let you set up a dedicated careers page on your website. 

You can then use this page to collect online applications from candidates in a quick and streamlined manner. 

This leads to some serious cash-saving in marketing. 

5. Improved cost-per-hire

On one hand, you cannot invest hundreds of dollars in the screening process whenever you hire new talent.

On the other hand, the cost of a bad hire can be a blow to both your budget and team morale.

But, with the introduction of the ATS in the market, the cost per hire has significantly reduced.

A recruiter can cost you between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, whereas an ATS is a mere $100 to $150 per user per month. 

You might also like: Figure out the ROI of an applicant tracking system [Calculator inside]

6. Improved quality of hire

80% of recruiters claim to have an improved quality of hire ever since they incorporated an applicant tracking system in their businesses.

Research also states that the shelf-life of a qualified candidate is approximately 10 days.

By speeding up the recruitment process with the help of ATS, you can easily grab these talented candidates that your competitors could have otherwise poached.

7. Improved inter-departmental communication

No doubt, recruitment can resemble a circus pretty easily.

At times messages get lost, departments are out of sync, and hiring managers and clients are left in the dark. 

It’s a recipe for chaos.

Using an ATS allows improved communication among the recruiting team members and with other stakeholders involved in the process. 

It also allows you to send messages easily, schedule emails in bulk, and assign tasks in an organized timeline.

All team members can partake and leave notes, ratings, and feedback on each applicant.

Most ATS software nowadays integrate seamlessly with calendars and other email systems too, leaving you with fewer scheduling conflicts and paperwork.

8. Faster and more informed hiring decisions

A single misstep in onboarding can hit both your financials and team functioning.

So, how does an ATS come to your rescue here?

The software gives TA specialists complete access to all applications, presenting them on the same front. 

This helps recruiters compare candidates objectively and easily, allowing faster and more data-driven decision-making. 

GetApp, a comparison site for small business software, found that respondents who used an applicant tracking software were seeing clear benefits! 86.1% said an ATS increased the speed at which they hired candidates

In fact, we did a poll recently on LinkedIn where we asked recruiters to weigh in on the effect ATS’ had on the speed at which they hired candidates. 

The results will blow your mind!

Impact of ATS on hiring

In short, ATS’ work. And it’s here to stay. 

9. Promotes collaborative hiring

Collaborative hiring allows companies to have an organized approach to developing a diverse and talented team.

Applicant tracking systems like Recruit CRM come with 5000+ integrations with all your favorite recruiting tools, making it easier to work collaboratively. 

This makes it easier for hiring teams to efficiently exchange feedback and reviews on each candidate and lead a joint decision-making process in which everyone has a voice.

10. The recruitment process speeds up

The benefit of having all applicants’ information centralized and organized in a single platform is that it allows you to optimize the full recruitment cycle.

Once an ATS automates everything from receiving applications to narrowing down the best candidates, scheduling interviews, and hiring the right person for the job, everything catches up at a pace and speeds up the process. 

Features like bulk emailing, email sequences and automated email follow-ups improve the recruiting process, allowing faster communication.

11. Improved candidate experience

Whether someone is hired or not, they’re bound to have the best candidate experience as long as you have an applicant tracking system in place.

Not kidding.

Paired with human touch, an ATS can significantly improve your candidate experience, making your talent pool speak favorably about your business in the market. 

You might also like: Your essential guide to crafting a powerful recruitment communication strategy

12. Improved employer branding

By offering a top-notch onboarding experience, an ATS not only streamlines the hiring process but also amplifies your employer brand.

The bottom line? 

An ATS does more than just sort resumes; it turns your brand into a magnet for top talent, even for those who weren’t actively looking.

13. Lower bounce rates on job ads

Nothing is more frustrating than a job advertisement that gets bounced every now and then. 

This tosses away all the hard work in the trash can.

Applicant tracking systems are a simple and improved solution to a better understanding of how to post and carry out job advertisements and in what ways you can have better results.

Using an ATS will help you maximize the time spent on the careers page and further increase the number of applications.

Note: In case you want a reference chart for bounce rates for job ads, we analyzed the top 20 careers pages of our clients to come to this conclusion below.

bounce rate on job ads

14. Streamlined recruitment process

With a streamlined development between successive tasks, the HR department can easily manage and review multiple applications in a few hours, which could otherwise take days.

This helps recruiting agencies work faster and at an efficient rate. 

15. Riddance from unnecessary resumes

Most of the time, candidates apply to jobs blindly, without paying heed to the job requirements and whether they meet all of them.

In such cases, there is a lot of frustration on a recruiter’s end, who has to sift through these applications, filter out the relevant job applicants, and then screen the best ones for the task.

An ATS + CRM will manage the resumes you collect and display applicant data to make comparisons short and convenient.

Boolean search can be a powerful tool as well to help you with shortlisting. 

Here, you can enter your own criteria for search every time and save that directly in the software.

16. Easy interview scheduling

We explored the logistical maze of interview scheduling and found that it’s often more time-consuming than the interviews themselves. 

Specifically, we looked at how agency recruiters juggle time slots, avoid clashes, and try to give each candidate a fair shot—all while navigating a sea of confusion and potential mishaps.

However, with an ATS’ automated email feature, it informs shortlisted candidates about their interview times, effectively cutting through the noise.

The result is a streamlined scheduling process that frees up your team to focus on what really matters: finding the right candidate.

You might also like: 10 practical interviewing tips for recruiters

17. Better utilization of budget

When it comes to recruiting solutions, it is difficult to identify the right direction as to where to spend your recruitment budget

This confusion can lead to a lot of unnecessary cash burn by a company, leading to losses.

You can spend a lot of money by posting job advertisements to multiple mediums when it should have only been invested in the right social platform.

An applicant tracking software finds the most suitable platform to invest in through several personalized data collection techniques, making your tech stack scalable.

18. Wider scope of talent

A limited reach will only bring limited talent.

This is no new news.

If a company wants to hire the best candidates, it needs to spread its wings in the market and let the hiring team know how they are looking for a compatible individual. 

And widening your scope in today’s competitive world is a tough task.

An applicant tracking system makes reaching the right candidates possible easily through Chrome extensions and other add-ons.

It can source CVs from various social media platforms & job boards with automated integrations.

An ATS helps you tap into the world of social recruiting too. 

For instance– Recruit CRM comes with social media integrations, where you can post a job from your system directly to your favorite social media sites in just one click.

19. Auto-generation of accurate reports

Applicant tracking systems also keep checks on recruiting metrics and the efficacy of your talent acquisition process. 

It considers all recruitment metrics and creates auto-generated reports in real-time.

This is done by collecting data from different segments of the process. 

The data then collected by the ATS helps companies identify loopholes and implement strategies to improve their business. 

20. Improved GDPR & EEO

We can’t really unsee one of the most pressing issues in recruitment today– the trust gap around data privacy.

Especially since the whole recruiting procedure is automated, most candidates are not convinced that their data would not be revealed to any other sources or made public. 

This often makes them hesitant to proceed with this medium.

Despite new GDPR regulations being enforced and data security being more internationally regulated, it is important to find a way to manage personal data safely and efficiently. 

Read how Recruit CRM handles compliance with GDPR & EEO.

Having a secure cloud-based applicant tracking system lets businesses stay safe and away from all unnecessary and unwanted applications that waste a lot of time and resources.

You might also like: 10 awesome Recruit CRM features that our customers love | Recruitment made easy

8 features you must look out for in an applicant tracking system

features of an ATS system

1. The best customer support

We dug into the initial hurdles recruiters face when adopting a new applicant tracking system. 

The learning curve can be steep, and questions are bound to pile up. 

So, what’s the lifeline here?

Stellar customer support— immediate and professional.

Look into an ATS with built-in live chat support or via email or phone.

The ATS should also provide you with a training or onboarding program that lets you understand its features in detail. 

So, if you’re not the DIY type, remember: the right customer support can make or break your ATS experience.

2. Allows customizability & configuration

Every recruitment agency or company has its own specific needs. 

So, choose an ATS that can be customized as per your requirements.

See if you can change the user settings, add more users and candidate requirements, or personalize each search. 

An ATS software that can be tweaked to make your own will be the ultimate winner.

3. Helps source candidates

Imagine a circumstance where your client has asked you to hire for them, but you don’t have a talent pipeline in place. 

How do you even manage to recruit?

A powerful ATS with a good candidate sourcing feature will allow you to enrich your talent pipeline and help you hire for roles that are hard to fill.

Can the ATS can connect with candidates in a few clicks? 

Does it have all the aggregate information regarding the prospective candidates?

Is the search accurate?

Systems like Recruit CRM even have a Chrome extension that allows recruiters to automatically source candidates from platforms like LinkedIn, Xing, and more without all the hassle.

4. Automatic interview scheduling and management

A good ATS will integrate candidate interviews seamlessly with everyone’s calendar. 

As a result, the calls end up being more structured, and there’s a greater chance of receiving positive real-time feedback.

Once your ATS lets you integrate other small features like interview scorecards or ready-to-use interview kits, it will help you provide every single candidate a positive candidate experience.

No room for unconscious bias as well. 

5. Insightful reports & dashboards

To make more informed hiring decisions and to improve your recruitment strategy, you’ll need to take the help of reports and analytics.

The right ATS can provide you with powerful reports on your KPIs, which will definitely help you in the long run.

6. Excellent customer relationship management

Get your hands on an ATS that lets you properly manage your candidates and nurture meaningful relationships with them.

With the right ATS, tagging, filtering, and note-taking becomes a breeze. 

You can easily stay updated on each candidate’s record

Viewing related contacts and job openings is just a click away. 

And finding the perfect match? 

A robust Boolean search has you covered.

If you can do all of this without any hassle, then you’ve definitely landed on the right leaf.

Always remember any exceptional CRM will help you in contact management, documentation, pipeline management, and most essentially, will strive towards assisting you in automation.

7. Top-notch security

When dealing with data, high-grade security, and stability is a must.

Research whether the ATS meets all the security standards. 

Always look for uptime guarantees and ensure that SSL sessions and passwords protect all the interactions.

8. Mobile-friendly application

Whether you want to hire on the go or your schedule is jam-packed, your HR software should be mobile-friendly. 

With 77% of job applications now done via a mobile device, the need for a flexible ATS is more crucial than ever. 

The ATS you’re eyeing should be designed flawlessly to fit the criteria to be mobile-friendly and easily adapt to every device.

Not only will this improve the candidate’s application process, but it will also allow recruiters to work remotely

You might also like: We’ve launched our own recruitment app & the features will blow your mind! 

Till now, we’ve unpacked the must-have features. 

Let’s move ahead to mastering the art of negotiating with software vendors before picking your choice.

It’s a tricky terrain, to say the least.

And we don’t want to leave you alone.

So, make sure to ask the following questions to find an applicant tracking system that fits like a glove.

What are the top questions you should ask before selecting an ATS?

questions to ask before buying ATS software

Questions about ATS functionality and features

1. Can you send bulk emails? 

Ask about the ability to send mass emails to candidates and clients. 

This feature streamlines communication, ensures timely updates, and can be vital for large-scale recruitment campaigns.

2. Does the software allow email scheduling? 

Scheduling emails in advance can help you reach candidates at optimal times. 

Inquire how the ATS handles this, including customization and tracking scheduled communications.

3. Does it allow interview scheduling? 

Automation in scheduling interviews can save valuable time. 

Explore how the ATS coordinates between parties, handles rescheduling, and integrates with calendars.

4. Does the system help with resume parsing? 

Resume parsing enables quick filtering of CVs. 

Understand how the ATS’ parsing algorithm works, what criteria it considers, and how it ranks candidates.

5. How much time does the ATS help save? 

Assess how the ATS’ automation and efficiency features can save time for more strategic tasks. 

Ask for specific examples or case studies demonstrating time savings.

6. Does the software help with recruitment marketing? 

Explore how the ATS supports employer branding, job promotion, and social media integration to accelerate hiring efforts.

7. Does it allow updating resumes and candidate profiles?

Flexibility in updating information ensures accuracy. Ask about the ease and limitations of updating candidate data within the system.

8. Can you customize your job boards? 

Customization can align job boards with your brand. 

Explore the extent of customization, including visuals, content, and integration with your website.

9. Does it personalize outreach messages? 

Personalized communication makes candidates feel valued. 

Understand how the ATS handles personalization, including the use of email templates and dynamic content.

10. What AI capabilities does the ATS offer? 

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing recruitment lately. 

Explore how the ATS leverages AI, including features like intelligent resume parsing, predictive analytics, automated candidate matching, and personalized engagement. 

Ask how AI integrates with the overall system, what algorithms are used, and how it can enhance efficiency, accuracy, and insights in your talent acquisition process.

Questions about candidate search and engagement

1. How does the ATS manage the talent pipeline? 

Explore how the ATS keeps potential candidates engaged, tracks interactions, and helps you keep your talent pool warm for future opportunities.

2. Can you make searches within the database? 

Efficient searching is vital. Ask about search capabilities, filters, saved searches, and how the ATS handles large databases.

3. Can you do searches within the candidate profiles? 

Specific searches enable targeted recruitment. 

Understand how the ATS allows for detailed profile searches, including skills, qualifications, and history.

4. Is Boolean search and radius search available? 

These functionalities enable precise and advanced search capabilities within your database. 

Ask about the flexibility and accuracy of Boolean and radius searches within the ATS.

5. How does it help with candidate engagement? 

Engagement is key to a positive candidate experience. 

Explore how the ATS facilitates continuous engagement through emails, notifications, and feedback.

You might also like: 20+ questions to ask while evaluating an applicant tracking system 

Questions about reporting and compliance

1. Can you view performance reports and analytics of your team? 

Insights are crucial. 

Ask about the types of reports available, customization, real-time tracking, and how the ATS helps align strategies with goals.

2. Does the system meet diversity standards? 

Compliance is non-negotiable. 

Understand how the ATS ensures adherence to EEO and diversity standards, including tracking, reporting, and auditing features.

3. Are chatbots available? 

Explore how the ATS’ chatbots function, their customization, and how they integrate with the overall communication strategy.

4. Does the system come with a Chrome extension? 

This feature aids sourcing. 

Ask about how the extension works, what platforms it integrates with, and any limitations or requirements.

5. Does the ATS allow integrations? 

Understand the ATS’ integration capabilities with other tools, apps, and platforms you use, including APIs and compatibility.

6. Can you manage your invoices? 

Learn how the software handles invoicing, including customization, tracking, reminders, and integration with accounting systems.

How much do applicant tracking systems cost?

The cost of an applicant tracking system can be as diverse as the features it offers. 

For smaller operations, you might find budget-friendly options starting at around $25 per user per month. 

These usually cover basic functionalities like resume parsing and interview scheduling.

However, if you’re a larger organization with more complex recruitment needs, be prepared for costs that can easily climb into thousands per month. 

These premium packages often include advanced analytics, integration capabilities, and even AI-driven candidate matching. 

It’s crucial to assess your specific recruitment challenges and volume to choose an ATS that offers the best value for your investment.

How to go about ATS implementation?

If you’ve reached so far in this guide, you must be bringing an ATS into your hiring process– smart move!

Take a good look at your existing recruitment process. 

Identify the bottlenecks, the inefficiencies, and what you absolutely must have in an ATS. 

This is your roadmap to picking a system that doesn’t just look good on paper but works wonders in practice.

Now, let’s talk data migration

It’s like moving houses but for your candidate data. 

You’ve got years of resumes, notes, and whatnot.

A quality ATS provider will help you pack up and move all that valuable info without losing a single byte. 

Trust the process; it’s easier than you think.

Last but not least, let’s chat about training.

Imagine handing someone a high-tech fishing rod but not showing them how to use it. 

They won’t catch much, right? 

The same goes for your ATS. 

A couple of solid training sessions can make the difference between a tool that gathers digital dust and one that becomes your recruitment MVP.

So invest that time upfront; you won’t regret it.

What are the best applicant tracking systems in the market? [Updated for 2024]

Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Some ATS platforms are jacks-of-all-trades, offering a wide array of features, while others specialize in certain areas.

Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, there’s an ATS out there that fits your specific needs like a glove.

We’ve curated a separate one-stop guide for this because we wanted to get into the REAL deets. 

Click here to access it.

best applicant tracking systems list

Now that we’ve talked a lot about how recruiters can make or break their hiring strategy with the help of an ATS software, let’s move on to how candidates can make the most out of it.

What’s an ATS-optimized resume?

An ATS-optimized resume isn’t your run-of-the-mill CV.

It’s literally your golden ticket through the applicant tracking system. 

This resume speaks the ATS language, with keyword-rich content and easy-to-scan sections. 

Why should candidates care? 

Because mastering this format can catapult your resume straight into the hands of the hiring manager. 

Stick around, and you’ll learn how to make this powerful tool work for you.

How candidates can make an ATS friendly resume? 

When your resume is ATS-friendly, the chances of it being seen by recruiters significantly improve.

Luckily, getting past an ATS is much easier than you’d think. 

So to help you frame the best and most ATS-friendly resume that’ll sail right through, here are some essential dos and don’ts to follow.

Steps to make ATS friendly resume infographic

1. Use an ATS friendly resume template

Fancy fonts and templates more than often confuse an ATS. 

As much as you may want to opt for something fancy, these systems won’t process your CV with these elements.

To avoid this, go for a simple, minimal structure without complex components.

It’s best to use traditional ATS-friendly fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman for readability.

If you’re searching for ATS-friendly resume templates, check out websites like Indeed.

2. Avoid tables and graphics

An ATS cannot read images, tables, or other graphics. 

Tables and charts might increase the readability for human readers, but an ATS will simply not recognize these.

It will only capture information if it appears written within another section. 

So as a best practice, avoid using resume templates with any graphics or tables.

3. Customize for keywords

An applicant tracking system searches for specific keywords set by the employer. 

So if you’re not including keywords, your CV won’t be parsed properly.

One of the best ways to find what keywords to use is to read the job description thoroughly. 

Look for role-specific terms that are repeated multiple times. 

The more prevalent a specific keyword is, the more it should be emphasized within your resume. 

Just make sure you’re not stuffing it with too many keywords.

You can also search for common keywords employers use for specific job roles.

Apart from keyword usage, including the right abbreviations and their long-form term. 

For example, if you use the term “Search Engine Optimization,” include the term “SEO” as well. 

Otherwise, your CV won’t appear for the keyword SEO.

4. Use the right file format

Not all file types are compatible with an ATS. 

In fact, 43% of resumes submitted are sent in incompatible file types. 

In this case, your best bet is to submit your CV in a DOC or DOCX file format.

While PDFs are excellent at preserving file data, they’re not always ATS compatible. 

So always upload an additional DOC version if you’re submitting a PDF file. 

But as a thumb rule, check for a list of acceptable file formats before uploading.

5. Consistent formatting

Most CVs are removed from the equation because of improper formatting. 

What does improper formatting include? 

Complex titles, headers, and footers that lead to a poorly structured CV.

Your safest option is to stick to standard titles instead of eye-catching sections or headers like “What Motivates Me” or “Where I’ve Been,” which ATS’ won’t pick up.

Job applicants often make the mistake of including key details in headers and footers.

25% of applicants have contact information buried in headers, causing them to go unnoticed by employers. 

Instead, avoid adding headers altogether, as the information can get lost or cause parsing errors.

Always remember, less is always more. 

Try running an ATS resume compliance test to get a better overview.

You might also like: Why CV building workshops are the best gift recruitment agencies can give their candidates

The future of applicant tracking systems

1. ATS’ will begin to look and act more like a social network

Recruitment tech has evolved, elevating applicant tracking systems to the industry’s backbone. 

They’re not just about tracking resumes anymore; they’re embracing the social and interactive aspects of hiring. 

Imagine an ATS that feels more like LinkedIn, where a candidate’s profile is a dynamic portfolio, not just a static resume in a database. 

As social media becomes a recruitment cornerstone, expect your ATS to get a lot more social too.

2. Rise in AI-based applicant tracking systems

AI-powered recruitment software makes it easier for recruiters to navigate time-consuming recruitment tasks by providing intuitive features, including interview scheduling, intelligent assessments, and feedback mechanisms, substantially boosting their hiring endeavors.

Applicant tracking systems will also be able to assess candidates much more accurately using AI capabilities, giving recruiters a competitive edge. 

Consequently, hiring staff and recruiting professionals can quickly source exceptionally skilled candidates, fill vacant positions faster, and significantly improve the overall hiring process.

3. Rise in cloud-based applicant tracking system solutions

Previously, ATS’ were only accessible to a certain number of users and limited to some systems.

With the rise of modern-day technologies in the hiring landscape, most applicant tracking systems are now cloud-based. 

With virtually hosted software, this paves the path for more flexibility and accessibility.

Cloud-based technology allows recruiters to access recruitment solutions from any location with a steady internet connection.

4. Predictive analytics

When AI and applicant tracking systems come together, each and every detail of a candidate is automatically entered into its system.

This makes it easier to spot inefficiencies within the recruitment process and pinpoint exactly which processes require improvement.

5. Emotionally intelligent applicant tracking systems

The next wave of ATS tech aims to be as human as you are, engaging in meaningful conversations and making connections that count. 

It’s not just about algorithms; it’s about creating a tech-human synergy that attracts the top job applicants. 

So, the future isn’t just automated; it’s personalized, making your hiring process not just efficient but also genuinely engaging. 

5 reasons why Recruit CRM is the best applicant tracking system for your business needs!

With Recruit CRM, you have your next-generation ally in talent acquisition. 

From sourcing to onboarding, discover how Recruit CRM is redefining recruitment and why it’s the ultimate applicant tracking system for recruiters across 100+ countries. 

1. Chrome sourcing extension

Recruit CRM’s Chrome sourcing extension takes candidate sourcing to a whole new level. 

Our Chrome extension helps recruiters get more done faster and easier. 

Apart from greatly enhancing user experience, this minor add-on application personalizes the way a recruiter approaches candidate sourcing. 

It helps you become much more productive and automates the whole process. 

Using Recruit CRM’s sourcing extension, you can now source candidates, clients, or companies from various platforms, including LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Xing, and so on, with just a single click.

2. AI capabilities 

The future of recruitment is here, and it’s powered by AI! 

Recruit CRM’s AI capabilities offer intelligent resume parsing, candidate matching, and a GPT integration. 

Recruit CRM’s AI candidate matching meticulously sifts through your talent database, pinpointing potential matches based on a comprehensive range of factors, including bimetric scoring. 

Our AI resume parser also offers multilingual support. 

3. Reporting and analytics

Recruit CRM’s robust reporting and analytics tools provide real-time insights into your team’s performance, candidate engagement, and overall recruitment metrics. 

With customizable reports and intuitive dashboards, you have the power to align strategies, track progress, and make informed decisions.

4. Excellent customer support

Exceptional customer support is not just a promise; it’s a commitment at Recruit CRM. 

With a dedicated team ready to assist you at every step, you’re never alone in your recruitment journey. 

Whether it’s technical assistance, feature guidance, or just a friendly chat, Recruit CRM’s support team is there for you!

5. Customization and integrations with 5000+ apps

Your recruitment process is unique, and so should your ATS. 

Recruit CRM offers extensive customization options, allowing you to tailor the system to fit your specific needs and workflow. 

From job boards to email templates, everything can be aligned with your brand’s identity and recruitment goals.

We understand how integration is the key to seamless workflow, and our ATS + CRM excels here. 

With over 5000+ integrations, you can connect various apps, tools, and platforms directly into your ATS. 

Whether it’s social media, accounting software, or collaboration tools, Recruit CRM ensures that everything works in harmony.

Ready to transform your recruitment process? 

Join the thousands of recruiters who have already discovered the power of Recruit CRM. 

Schedule a demo now

Applicant tracking system FAQs

1. What is an applicant tracking system, and how does it differ from other recruitment software?

An applicant tracking system is a specialized type of recruitment software designed to streamline the hiring process. 

Unlike general recruitment agency software or a recruitment CRM software, an ATS focuses on managing applicant data, automating mundane tasks, and improving the candidate experience in recruitment. 

2. How can an ATS in recruitment benefit a recruitment agency?

An ATS software automates many manual tasks, freeing up your recruitment team to focus on what they do best—finding top talent. 

Some of the benefits include:

Streamlined recruitment tracking: An ATS offers real-time tracking, making it easier to monitor job openings and candidate statuses.

Automated workflows: A recruitment automation software takes care of repetitive tasks, freeing up your recruitment team for more strategic work.

Enhanced candidate experience: Features like automated messaging improve the candidate experience in recruitment, making your agency more appealing.

Integrated recruitment management: An ATS easily integrates with other recruitment agency software and other tools, creating a unified hiring platform.

Efficient candidate sourcing: Using advanced search options like recruiting boolean search strings allows faster candidate sourcing, ensuring you find the right talent faster.

3. What are the best applicant tracking systems for remote hiring?

Remote hiring has its own set of challenges, but the best applicant tracking systems are up for the task. 

Look for software that offers robust recruitment tracking and candidate sourcing features, as well as tools specifically designed for remote hiring, like virtual interviews and onboarding. 

Some of the best ATS software integrates with other recruitment automation tools to provide a seamless hiring experience.

4. How can a recruitment CRM software enhance the candidate experience in recruitment?

Recruitment CRM software is that one tool that makes everyone, including clients and candidates, feel welcome and important. 

It helps manage interactions with candidates, ensuring timely follow-ups and personalized communication. 

This not only improves the candidate experience in recruitment but also helps your recruitment team stay organized. 

With a candidate relationship management software, you can automate candidate communication so that nothing slips through the cracks, giving you more time for more value-added tasks. 

5. How important is a careers page and job description template in an applicant tracking system?

A recruitment software that allows customization to your careers page and comes with in-built job description templates is the icing on top for any hiring solution. 

Think of your careers page as the storefront of your recruitment efforts. 

It’s the first thing candidates see, so it needs to be inviting. Job description templates, on the other hand, ensure consistency and help you adhere to best practices. 

With these built-in features in your ATS, you no longer need to spend extra time on maintaining the quality of your careers page and job descriptions. 

6. Can you integrate applicant tracking software with other recruitment automation software?

Most popular ATS systems can easily integrate with other recruitment automation and different types of staffing agency software, including your CRM software. 

These integrations help create a unified system that streamlines the entire recruitment process, making life easier for your recruitment team.

Applicant tracking systems like Recruit CRM come with over 5000+ integrations so that you can connect all your favorite recruitment tools in a centralized platform.