Workforce Technology

In-Depth Guide to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Explore the functionalities of applicant tracking systems (ATS) with our detailed guide, uncovering the tools and features that streamline your recruitment process.
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Recruiting is often a time-consuming job that requires soft skills, planning, due diligence, and established processes. The applicant tracking system (ATS) makes recruiting manageable, faster, less arduous, and more efficient.  

With the tracking system’s help, recruiters can find top candidates for a fraction of the time because the hiring process is guided and automated.  

Thus, for most recruiters today, software solutions are a standard in the industry. 

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

The applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a software solution that manages and organizes recruiting activities from start to finish. It’s a platform that provides HR professionals with guided recruiting.  

According to Get App, 78 percent of recruiters say that using an ATS improved the talent pool’s quality. The main question is how?   

An ATS can help HR departments by: 

  • Skipping the expensive job adverts and agency fees 
  • Shortening the selection process 
  • Minimizing administrative work  
  • Cross-checking and synchronizing the job description with the applicant’s skill set and previous work experience 

Application tracking systems are prevalent in the HR industry because they keep the recruitment process structured, and the data is easily sharable across the organization. 

guide to ats

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

The ATS process is straightforward, fast, and efficient because it’s an automated version of the recruiter’s manual work. 

In short, the ATS comes with a built-in solution that can cross-reference the job description with the candidates’ skillset and work experience. Doing that eliminates candidates that are not a good fit and surfaces candidates that are most likely to meet the job requirements.  

Moreover, the system can schedule meetings and interviews and organize the hiring team’s internal decision process. Depending on the ATS, some include features that guide the recruiter through the onboarding phase as well.   

The data for each job posting is saved and stored. So, if a similar position opens, recruiters will have an in-depth poll of eligible candidates and silver medalists to interview. The information for each applicant remains in the ATS database. 

guide to ats

What should You Look for in an ATS System?

1) A Simple Online Application Process

One of the most popular features of ATS is that it’s a mobile and user-friendly platform. Today, people spend most of their time on their smartphones, and when they see a job ad, they want to apply instantly. According to Indeed, 78 percent of people in the U.S. would like to apply for jobs on their smartphones if the process was simple.  

Hence, making online job applications only 10 percent easier to complete causes a 2.3 percent increase in mobile users’ job applications and a 1.5 percent increase from desktop users. If more people apply for a position, the talent pool gets larger. 

2) Optimized Job Postings

The software algorithm seeks out job boards that perform best for specific positions and automatically publishes the job ads. An applicant tracking system with a built-in AI can get the highest ROI, especially for job boards that charge per post. 

3) Job Templates

A great ATS comes with innovative job templates and a transparent vacancy approval process that can be configured by role. This feature gives the HR team flexibility to tailor the application process for every vacancy individually.   

4) Scheduled Interviews

ATS can schedule interviews according to calendar availability for everyone involved in the hiring process; recruiters and hiring managers. The system also sends timely reminders. 

5) Dashboard & Analytics

ATS provides easy-to-read dashboards that show the status of the hiring process. With this feature, the hiring manager could log into the system and see how various job openings are progressing.  

The analytics and reporting tools provide the team with vital insights into the process. Recruiters can use the system for generating reports, time and cost of acquisition analysis, and check the diversity compliance guidelines.   

6) Security

When dealing with personal data, security is a priority. The best approach is data stored in an ISO27001-compliant data center. The same goes for stability; it’s essential to have reliable software, so the vendor’s uptime guarantee, prompt and professional support are crucial.

7) Paperless Onboarding & Training

The moment the candidate is hired, the ATS sends out W2 forms, employee handbooks, and links with training videos and onboarding materials.

The whole process is streamlined and paperless.

What are the Benefits of an Applicant Tracking System?

  • Multiple job boards & automated posting  
  • Candidate screening   
  • Instant messaging and collaboration  
  • Leveraging social media channels to attract more candidates  
  • Personality Test and Pre-employment assessments  
  • CV parsing feature  
  • Candidate Database Search  
  • User-friendly analytics dashboard 

How can Applicant Tracking Systems improve the Selection Process?

ATS gives the hiring process speed and accuracy.  

Moreover, the system gets regular updates that correspond with the current law regulations. That’s a handy feature because companies need to implement equal employment opportunity laws that prevent discrimination and other unfair hiring practices. In most companies, hiring managers cannot accept e-mail or physical resumes without submitting them to the ATS.  

Referrals, social media, and LinkedIn applications all must be submitted to the ATS as well.  

ATS makes it simpler for the recruiter to evaluate the application. 

Resumes are parsed into components so an ATS can show all applications in the same format. This provides the recruiter with a better view of what the candidate has to offer compared to other applicants.  

The applicant tracking system is designed to streamline the hiring process. It uses software to rate and rank candidates according to the provided job description.  

With a click of a button, ATS identifies the top applicants for the position. 

ATS Pros & Cons

Like all systems, ATS has its advantages and disadvantages.

If the company is unsure whether to invest in this software, here are some pros and cons that will help with the decision.

Pros of ATS 


Cons of ATS 


Customizable screening criteria. This allows you to keep or drop applications that trigger a flag.  


Automatic elimination of every resume that the ATS can't read and interpret. Even great ones can be eliminated. 

Gives the recruiter pre-selected more qualified applicants for each job opening. 


Missing out on potential great employees and great talent pool candidates when resumes are eliminated. 

Less time spent on reading applications. 


Misread resumes when in PDF format. 

Automatic posting to online job boards. 


Incorrectly categorized data from applications in an unconventional format.  


Tracking to measure and follow application progress. 


The inability to read graphics. 


Important data to measure the effectiveness of the process. 



Access to previous applicant data, which helps build the talent pool. 



However, 75 percent of qualified job applicants are rejected by ATS for incorrect resume formatting.   

For example, one company created a perfect application for the ideal candidate. It scored only 43 percent relevance because of the ATS. The application was submitted intentionally to assess the ATS filters.   

If a recruiter wants to see all the submitted resumes, including those that did not make the cut, it is possible. They just have to adjust their optics, and the system delivers the ones that were not compatible with the posted job description. 

ATS Cost

Purchasing an ATS can cost from $5,000 to $50,000 per year. It varies in price for two reasons:

The size of the business
The features
Some of the providers can offer free services for companies that process under 20 jobs a year. Most platforms fall under the range of $10,000 per year.

There are three standard pricing models for an ATS:

Pay per recruiter/user 

Charges companies based on the number of employees that have administrative access to the ATS 


Pay per position 

Vendors offer to price based on the number of open requisitions. 

Pay per module 

Vendors that offer this kind of platform provide onboarding, training, and talent management solutions. In other words, clients must buy the vendors' Human Resource Management Software HRMS. It gives the option to either pay for the whole suite or individual modules. 


What are the Best Applicant Tracking Systems?

At Shortlister, we have many companies using our site every day to find the best applicant tracking system. We analyze our internal traffic data and proprietary search data and compare them to publicly available sources to identify what ATS software solutions are on demand. 

1. Clear company

Clear company is an award-winning talent management software provider.  

It has a 99 percent customer retention rate, and they sell an ATS software that includes video interviews, scheduling, career site, referrals, and more. The company’s recruiting software is integrated with a robust HCM suite, allowing employers access to insights across the entire employee lifecycle. 

2. Adventure

Adventure is suitable for mid-level and large organizations. It is an ATS with fully custom-built software that includes:

  • Custom-made dashboards
  • Automated workflow
  • All-in-one ATS + CRM

Also, this can be managed through a no-code interface that allows non-technical users to modify the system. Adventure is a robust ATS that collaborates and handles recruiting for companies like Siemens, Cisco, Tesla, L’Oreal, and Nike.

3. Smart Recruiters

This software is best suited for large and high-performing companies. It has integrated recruitment, marketing, and collaborative hiring on a modern cloud platform. Many practitioners say that Smart Recruiters is terrific at taking feedback from their customers and quickly integrating that into the product.  

Smart Recruiters is used by companies like Visa, Skechers, Kelly Services, Equinox, and Alcoa. 

3. Smart Recruiters

This software is best suited for large and high-performing companies. It has integrated recruitment, marketing, and collaborative hiring on a modern cloud platform. Many practitioners say that Smart Recruiters is terrific at taking feedback from their customers and quickly integrating that into the product.  

Smart Recruiters is used by companies like Visa, Skechers, Kelly Services, Equinox, and Alcoa. 

4. Workable

Workable is an excellent fit for small and large organizations. With over 20,000 customers worldwide, what makes Workable attractive is the built-in AI and powered sourcing capability integrated into the ATS. Workable gives recruiters access to over 400 million candidate records.  

5. Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a fast-growing company that upgrades its ATS features constantly. Almost every HR tech vendor that integrates ATS starts with Greenhouse. In fact, Greenhous has clients like Airbnb, Pinterest, HubSpot, and more.  

Greenhouse offers API solutions, allowing their customers to use third-party applications with no upcharge. This system is user-friendly, with an array of tools, and it uplifts recruiting to a higher level. 

On a Final Note 

Using an ATS results in a 30 percent increase in the recruiter’s productivity at work. Hence, the company gets more effective employees and carefully selected future employees.  

Choosing a proper ATS gives the company advantage.  

It’s worth considering purchasing an applicant tracking system to automate time-consuming manual tasks, allowing the recruitment team to focus on innovating that attracts top talent. 

Written by Shortlister Editorial Team

Applicant Tracking Systems

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