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What is an ATS? A Guide to Applicant Tracking Systems

Vira Kostohlad

Vira Kostohlad

Head of Recruting

8 min

In today’s job market, finding the right talent is crucial for an organization’s success.

HR professionals and recruiters must adapt to the evolving dynamics. That’s where Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) become a powerful tool in modern recruitment.

As we explore ATS, we’ll discuss its inner workings and highlight its benefits, but first, let’s understand why such systems have become indispensable in talent acquisition.

Check out our bonus infographic for a pictorial overview if you prefer visuals.

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, is recruiting software that helps employers organize, sort, and communicate with job applicants.

What is an ATS? A Guide to Applicant Tracking Systems

It streamlines hiring tasks such as posting jobs, reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, and tracking applicant status.

This frees up recruiters’ time to build relationships with candidates and recruit top talent efficiently.

How Applicant Tracking Systems Work

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is the beating heart of modern recruitment, orchestrating a complex symphony of data, processes, and communications.

According to statistics, only, 20% of small and mid-sized businesses currently use an ATS.

To understand their significance, let’s delve into the intricate mechanics of how these systems operate.

At its core, an ATS is a digital platform that centralizes the entire recruitment workflow.

It starts with job posting, where employers create detailed job descriptions and requirements.

These ads are then distributed to numerous job boards and career sites.

In doing so, they reach a huge number of potential candidates.

ATS features

1. Resume parsing

As applications pour in, ATS uses cutting-edge technology to simplify the evaluation process. One of its most remarkable features is resume parsing.

This is a feature that extracts important information about a candidate from resumes and cover letters.

Such as work experience, skills, and qualifications.

This eliminates the need for manual data entry, saving HR teams valuable time and reducing the risk of errors.

2. Keyword matching

Keyword matching is another powerful tool in the ATS arsenal.

It automatically scans resumes and compares them to predefined keywords and phrases that match the job requirements.

This feature simplifies the selection process.

It identifies the most relevant candidates. It also ensures that HR professionals focus their attention on what matters most.

3. Applicant ranking

Applicant ranking is the secret sauce that enhances the efficiency of applicant evaluation.

ATS uses algorithms to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications, skills, and experience.

It assigns them a score or ranking based on how well they meet the job criteria. This process not only speeds up decision-making.

This also ensures that the most skilled candidates are chosen for the interview.

the image shows the explanation of hows ATS works

Understanding ATS Functionality and Mechanics

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are the technological backbone of modern recruiting.

It offers a seamless and efficient approach to managing complex talent acquisition processes.

Here’s an in-depth look at the mechanics and functionalities that power these systems:

1. Streamlining the Hiring Process

ATS serves as a centralized hub for the entire recruitment journey, beginning with the posting of job vacancies.

HR specialists can create detailed job listings in the system.

They can specify job requirements, qualifications, and other important criteria.

Once published, these ads are distributed to ensure maximum visibility.

These can be various job boards, career sites, and social media platforms. 

2. Automated Features

ATS leverages automation to simplify time-consuming tasks.

Resume parsing allows the system to extract important information from candidates’ resumes.

Such as contact details, qualifications, and work experience. Keyword search technology scans resume and applications for specific keywords.

This simplifies the process of the initial selection of candidates.

In addition, ATS uses applicant ranking algorithms to evaluate candidates according to predefined criteria.

This makes it easier to shortlist the most suitable candidates.

the image shows the explanation of ATS features

Real-World Benefits

The impact of ATS on HR teams and employers is profound.

For instance, consider a large multinational corporation with hundreds of job openings across various departments.

Managing applications and resumes manually would be a herculean task.

ATS not only simplifies the process but also enhances the quality of hires.

HR professionals can swiftly identify top candidates, significantly reducing time-to-fill positions.

In addition, ATS facilitates collaboration between recruitment teams.

Stakeholders can access and evaluate applicant profiles in the system.

This contributes to a more efficient and transparent hiring process.

As we delve further into the capabilities and advantages of ATS, we’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of how this technology is reshaping the recruitment landscape.

In the following sections, we’ll uncover the extensive benefits that ATS brings to the table and its pivotal role in the evolving world of hiring.

the image shows the explanation of ATS functionalities

4 Advantages of Using an ATS

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) offers many benefits to employers. While revolutionizing the way they approach and execute the hiring process.

Here’s a detailed look at the advantages:

1. Time and Cost Savings

Time is of the essence in recruitment, and ATS is the ally that ensures it’s used efficiently.

By automating manual tasks, ATS significantly reduces the time it takes to find and evaluate candidates.

This can include parsing resumes, selecting keywords, and ranking candidates.

This means that we respond to candidate requests faster.

And this is a critical factor in attracting the best talent before competitors do.

In addition, ATS minimizes the administrative burden on HR professionals.

It allows them to focus on the strategic aspects of recruiting.

From a cost-saving perspective, it is necessary to reduce the need for manual data entry, paperwork, and extensive administrative work.

It will lead to major financial benefits for organizations.

2. Enhanced Candidate Experience

In a candidate-driven job market, providing a positive experience is vital for attracting top talent.

ATS plays a pivotal role in this regard by ensuring timely and personalized responses to applicants.

Candidates receive confirmation that their applications have been reviewed.

They also receive information throughout the hiring process.

This fosters a sense of engagement and respect.

Streamlining the process also means that candidates spend less time waiting.

They spend more time interacting constructively with employers, which improves their overall experience.

3. Reduced Manual Data Entry

ATS eliminates the need for tedious manual data entry.

This has historically been a time-consuming and error-prone aspect of recruiting.

Data from resumes and applications is automatically extracted and organized in the system.

They reduce the risk of errors and ensure data accuracy.

It not only saves time but also improves the reliability of information about candidates.

This also leads to more well-informed hiring decisions.

4. Higher Quality Hires

The use of ATS is associated with improved hiring efficiency and the ability to identify top talent more effectively.

Statistics show organizations using ATS solutions significantly improve the quality of the hiring process.

Automated features ensure that the most qualified candidates are at the top of the selection pool.

This can include keyword search and applicant ranking. 

It results in a workforce that better matches the needs and culture of the organization.

In the end, it helps to increase productivity and reduce staff turnover.

As we continue our exploration of ATS, we’ll delve deeper into its impact on hiring efficiency and applicant selection.

In addition, we will look at how ATS is changing recruitment strategies.

We also discuss considerations that employers should keep in mind when introducing these systems.

the image shows the benefits of ATS

How ATS Boosts Hiring Efficiency

ATS tracking are catalyst for efficiency in recruiting.

They are changing the way organizations manage their hiring processes.

ATS Drivers of Efficiency

1. Reducing Administrative Tasks

ATS takes the burden off HR professionals and recruiters by automating a plethora of administrative tasks.

From data entry to document management. These systems handle the nitty-gritty details with precision and speed.

This reduction in manual labor frees up valuable time and resources.

These can be allocated to more strategic aspects of the hiring process.

Such as applicant engagement, interview preparation, and assessing cultural fit.

2. Data-Driven Hiring Decisions

ATS doesn’t just streamline the process. It also empowers organizations to make data-driven hiring decisions.

Analytics and reporting functionalities within these systems provide invaluable insights into recruitment performance.

Employers can track key metrics such as time-to-fill, source effectiveness, and applicant demographics.

This data-driven approach allows organizations to refine their recruitment strategies.

It also allows them to personalize their search channels and improve their candidate selection criteria.

In the end, it is leading to better hiring outcomes.

Collaboration and Transparency

 ATS fosters collaboration among hiring teams and stakeholders.

By providing a centralized platform, ATS promotes transparency and goal alignment.

Here, all stakeholders can access applicant profiles, scores, and communication history.

Hiring managers, interviewers, and HR professionals can easily collaborate.

They can share feedback and make informed decisions together.

This easier communication improves the applicant experience and reduces the chance of miscommunication or delays in the process.

the image shows the role of ATS in hiring efficiency

Success Stories

The impact of ATS on hiring efficiency is confirmed by numerous success stories from companies in various industries.

Consider the case of a tech startup that was struggling to keep up with the rapid flow of job applications.

After implementing the ATS solution, they significantly reduced the time it took to close vacancies.

This allowed them to attract the best specialists in a highly competitive market.

Similarly, a large corporation with many departments and decentralized recruitment processes.

It was able to achieve significant improvements in hiring consistency and quality.

They centralized their efforts with ATS.

In this article, we will continue to explore the multifaceted benefits of ATS.

Specifically, its role in applicant attraction, the impact on the selection process, and the considerations.

What organizations should consider when implementing these systems.

5 Top Applicant Tracking Systems for 2024

In the ever-changing landscape of recruitment technology, a few ATS recruitment stand out as leaders in the field.

They offer innovative solutions to optimize recruitment processes.

Below, we provide a comprehensive overview of some of the best CTS solutions available to employers.

We’ll also share more details about their key features, pricing, and success stories. 

1. ApplicantPro

  • Key Features

ApplicantPro is designed for small to medium-sized businesses. It offers applicant tracking, job posting to various job boards, pre-employment assessments, and interview scheduling tools.

  • Pricing

Affordable pricing plans cater to the budget constraints of smaller organizations.

  • Target Audience

Ideal for SMBs seeking a cost-effective ATS solution.

2. SmartRecruiters

  • Key Features

SmartRecruiters is known for its user-friendly interface and collaborative hiring capabilities. It offers a wide range of integrations, AI-driven applicant matching, and mobile recruiting features.

  • Pricing

Tailored pricing plans are available based on the company’s needs.

  • Target Audience

Suitable for organizations focused on collaborative hiring and seamless integrations.

3. Workday

  • Key Features

Workday is an all-in-one HR solution that includes ATS functionalities. It offers talent analytics, workforce planning, and recruitment marketing features.

  • Pricing

Pricing is customized based on the company’s size and requirements.

  • Target Audience

Geared towards larger enterprises looking for an integrated HR and ATS platform.

4. iCIMS

  • Key Features

 iCIMS is an enterprise-grade ATS with advanced features. Such as AI-powered applicant matching, video interviewing, and customizable dashboards.

  • Pricing

Pricing varies based on the size and specific requirements of the organization.

  • Target Audience

Geared towards large enterprises with complex recruitment needs.

5. Jobvite

  • Key Feature

Jobvite is known for its end-to-end recruitment suite. It includes applicant tracking, social recruiting, and onboarding. Also, It offers integrations with various job boards and assessment tools.

  • Pricing

Pricing is tailored to the specific needs and size of the organization.

  • Target Audience

Ideal for organizations that prioritize social recruiting and comprehensive recruitment suites.

These additional examples give a broader picture of the different options.

They are available to organizations when choosing an ATS. Also, tailored to their specific recruitment needs.

the image shows top ATS on the market


Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have transformed the recruitment landscape by optimizing every aspect of hiring. Proper implementation of an ATS provides a competitive edge in attracting top talent.

Every organization has unique requirements when it comes to talent acquisition.

Contact us to develop a custom ATS platform for your unique needs, or check out our case study on building a custom HR software platform.

Bonus Infographic

Here is a summary of our detailed guide. Here you will learn about how ATS helps businesses and how it improves its workflows.

the image shows the bonus infographic of the article

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