What is an Applicant Tracking System? ATS Explained

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Hiring processes are notoriously inefficient. It can be very challenging to keep track of candidate information, interview notes, and other hiring-related matters. 

Applicant tracking systems have been developed to address this issue. Applicant tracking systems make hiring easy, enabling you to find the most suitable candidate for a position in your organization.

If you’re wondering what an applicant tracking system is and how it’s used, you’re not alone.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of applicant tracking systems, examples of these systems in use, and their many benefits.

These systems can be used by hiring managers, CEOs, and those intrigued by the potential and potency of hiring software.

Key Takeaways

  • Applicant tracking systems are simple to use, yet they tackle complex hiring processes.
  • ATS’s are able to perform functions such as planning your interviews and hire your next employee.
  • ATS’s are especially useful for large companies with hundreds (or thousands) of applicants.
  • The features of an ATS are based on automation, efficiency, and effectiveness.
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Improve your entire hiring process with Breezy HR. Their applicant tracking system (ATS) helps you attract & hire quality employees in less time.

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What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

what is an ATS

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is used by most employers to filter through applications quickly. It scans resumes and uses the information to determine whether or not the applicant is a good fit for the position they are applying for based on keywords that the employer input into the system.

Applicant tracking systems were born from the need for a simplified application process. 

Applicant tracking systems are software programs that manage the recruitment process for an organization. 

Applicant tracking systems have evolved over the last 30 years with the increase in reliance on technology. 

Currently, these software applications receive, sort, and rank job applications based on specific criteria that can be targeted toward the position you’re hiring for.

How do applicant tracking systems work?

Applicant tracking systems facilitate the hiring process through a variety of methods. 

Firstly, they sift through and store applicants. These systems can plan interviews, provide analytics, and manage candidate profiles – all in one place.

ATS’s can also be used to develop automated communication with potential candidates. You can craft an email that will go to all of the candidates who are wanted for an interview.

Applicant Tracking System Examples

When you’re hiring a large number of job candidates, applicant tracking systems can be really handy. 

Typically, HR professionals will put several job postings on different websites, which can yield too many applicant resumes to go through by hand. 

Applicant tracking systems will automatically collect and organize the applicants, placing the most suitable candidates at the top.

While ATS programs are flawed, there are many benefits to using them. I will talk about some of the benefits of using ATS programs below.

ATS Benefits

There are serious benefits to using an applicant tracking system, as detailed below:

  • Decreased workload – Going through hundreds (or even thousands) of applications is incredibly time-consuming for any company. Automation of this process (through applicant tracking system use) is the key to efficiency.
  • More efficient hiring process – As previously mentioned, automation leads to efficiency. Implementing a software program that automatically ranks applicants can cut your hiring time down by 20%.
  • Improved candidate experience – If your hiring interface is easy to use, your candidates will think more highly of the organization. They may even recommend the application to others.
  • Collaboration with your hiring team – The hiring team at your organization can specify exactly what you’re looking for in the applicant tracking system.
  • Enhanced recruiting technology – Recruitment can be challenging, but applicant tracking systems can filter for applicants with your desired experience, education, and skill level.
  • Hire better candidates – As the recruitment process is streamlined, candidates who are suited for the position will be placed at the top of the list in the applicant tracking system.
  • Increased workforce diversity – Diversity of background and experience is hard to find organically, but the use of an applicant tracking system means that diversity can be encouraged in the hiring process. 

Applicants with more diverse backgrounds can be placed higher on the list of potential recruits.

Key ATS Features

Applicant tracking systems offer a number of advantages throughout the hiring process (through applications, interviews, and onboarding):

  • Task automation – Eliminating items from your to-do list is a major bonus of using an applicant tracking system. Applicant tracking systems can send emails for you, rank your candidates, and even assist in crafting your next job posting. 
  • Resume parsing – Resumes can be long-winded and, occasionally, hard to decipher. Let the applicant tracking system review the resumes in your queue and provide you with only the worthwhile ones. 
  • Candidate management – Candidate management has multiple elements to it, but one time-consuming component is email sending. ATS’s can send emails for you to set up interviews or to let a candidate know that they were unsuccessful. 
  • Advanced search – HR personnel or other recruiters can quickly search through hiring databases (with keywords) to find the best candidates for a job.
  • Interview scheduling – Applicant tracking systems have interview scheduling components that can be connected to your professional calendar, ensuring that the interview is scheduled at a good time for both you and the candidate. 
  • Multi-channel candidate sourcing – Candidates with diverse backgrounds and expertise can be found through a variety of channels, such as job boards, Linkedin, and other websites. 
  • Job board posting – Applicant tracking systems can post jobs on multiple platforms so that a large number of candidates can apply. 
  • Custom pipelines – Hiring workflows can be customized using applicant tracking systems. This ensures that all candidates receive the same treatment and are required to provide the same level of effort to be hired! 
  • Email templates – Coming up with a professional email can be daunting. Fortunately, many applicant tracking systems offer email templates for a long list of hiring scenarios. 
  • Advanced analytics and reporting – After you’ve completed your first round of hiring for a position, you will likely be able to access hiring analytics to see the type of person applying to your company. If you would like to attract a different applicant, this data can assist you in making changes.
  • Integrations with other apps – Other apps, such as those in HR and payroll, can be integrated into the applicant hiring process. This makes onboarding much easier for the company and the applicant. 
  • Real-time collaboration – Multiple team members can access and change a job posting at once, allowing for greater collaborative efforts to get the best candidate.  
  • User-friendly interface – Most applicant tracking software is developed to make hiring easier, so their structures are often intuitive and user-friendly. 
  • Customer support – Customer support for applicant tracking systems is typically available at all times to ensure that there are minimal disruptions to the hiring process for companies. 
  • Security and stability – Employers and future employees can feel safe with these systems, as they incorporate robust security measures. 
  • Compliance – Hiring is subject to laws and regulations, which are taken into consideration by applicant tracking systems. 

These software uphold equal employment opportunity and data protection laws to ensure the hiring process is compliant and enjoyable for all.

3 Best Applicant Tracking Softwares

There are many applicant-tracking softwares on the market, so here are three of the best from my own analysis:

Breezy HR

Breezy HR homepage

Breezy HR is a great option for advertising and hiring. Breezy offers a 30-day trial that does not require a credit card with purchase.

Schedule your demo of Breezy HR


Workable homepage

Workable stands out because they offer tailored interview questions for each candidate based on their experience level and your job posting.

Schedule your demo of Workable


Recruitee homepage

Big names like KFC and Redbull rely on Recruitee for their hiring needs. This company aims to help you save 12 hours a week by using their service to close your job posting.

Start your 18-day free trial of Recruitee

Should your company use an applicant tracking system?

You’ve finished this article on applicant tracking systems – nice work. If you choose to employ a tracking system for your job posting, you will be amazed at the efficiency of this hiring method. 

Your company should use an applicant tracking system irrespective of organization size or number of applicants. If you’re still curious about this software, check out the FAQ below.

It is our belief that hiring organizations can benefit from applicant tracking systems.


How accurate is ATS software?

ATS software is as accurate as you program it to be. If you add descriptive criteria for your ideal candidate, it will ensure that it identifies any person that matches it.

Who uses applicant tracking systems?

Most companies use some form of digital applicant tracking or organization. Simply put, this method of hiring saves too much time to pass up.

What is an ATS-friendly resume?

An ATS-friendly resume includes standard fonts, clear formatting, keywords (as per the job description), and a compatible file type (Word documents are preferred). 

Additionally, seek out keywords from the job posting to include in your application so that your resume is flagged for meeting the criteria of the job posting.

Why do you need an applicant tracking system?

You need an applicant tracking system to simplify and streamline your hiring process in order to find the best individual for the position you’re hiring for.

Breezy HR

Improve your entire hiring process with Breezy HR. Their applicant tracking system (ATS) helps you attract & hire quality employees in less time.

Start free trial
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Donny is the founder of SMB Guide. He is a seasoned small business owner and entrepreneur, with over 17+ years of experience growing and building companies. He is a well traveled and multi-faceted individual with several successful six figure business exits.