Applicant Tracking System

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Applicant Tracking System Overview

Historically, Applicant Tracking Systems have been helping companies source job candidates since the mid-to-late 1990s. ATS solutions began as a way to view scanned resumes. Now, they have become an essential tool for businesses hoping to grow their workforce.

In today’s fast-paced world, Applicant Tracking Systems eliminate the need for manual processes.  This saves recruiting professionals time by managing all engagement and hiring tasks digitally.

Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to help simplify the challenge of finding the right candidates at the right time. This is done through the use of automation software.

As a business owner, HR professional, or recruiting specialist, it is your responsibility to automate your recruitment process. This will save time and effort for candidates, clients, and other team members. 

This Article Covers:

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application designed to automate and streamline recruiting and hiring procedures.  Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) is designed for one purpose: tracking job applicants. This tracking occurs from posting a job to the final hiring decision and, in some cases, after a candidate is rejected.

The system assists employers in making better hiring decisions. It scans resumes stored in the system for specific criteria, such as work experience, education level, professional skills, certifications, and licenses. This make it easier for employers to source the right candidates that should move on to direct interviews.  

Most applicant tracking systems provide task management functionality, which helps to manage the hiring process. This includes resume screening, scheduling interviews, sending email correspondence, and tracking applicant status.

Who uses applicant tracking systems?

Applicant Tracking Systems are used by both large and small companies. These systems will

75% of recruiters use Applicant Tracking Software for best practices

 vary based on the need of the business, but most work to solve one of the following issues:

Create a faster hiring process

Build a better process of posting and advertising job openings

Reduce the cost per hire for each position

Improve the quality of employees hired

Improve the candidate hiring experience

Streamline the collection of paperwork

As a result of providing solutions to these issues, ATS solutions are becoming extremely prevalent in many organizations regardless of size.

How can an applicant tracking system improve the candidate selection process?

While every organization has different requirements, they all need to recruit the right talent to ensure continued success and growth. The challenge is finding that talent.

Applicant Tracking Software works to tackle this challenge. It manages the data for the entire hiring process to deliver necessary information to administrators, management, sales, and recruiting departments. This data can then be used to identify top candidates that meet your organization’s needs.

Applicant-tracking software is used by human resources and staffing professionals. It provides flexibility and adaptability to help with manual tasks, such as finding the best candidates for a job, uploading resumes into the candidate database, and tracking where a candidate is in the hiring process. How much or how little this information is used is based solely on the user’s or users’ goals.

Some ATS solutions are taking automation to the next level. They incorporate Artificial Intelligence to make the process easier for end-users. AI can observe past activities and use this data to improve and make decisions.

Employers can use data to match candidates to jobs. This data can include educational level, work experience, and professional skills. Additionally, users can customize the data fields to their own requirements.

How does an applicant tracking system aid HR professionals?

94% that use ATS software report an improved hiring processAn Applicant Tracking System (ATS) helps hiring professionals in larger corporations by streamlining the hiring process. Each task is assigned and tracked in digital workflows, from publishing job descriptions to managing outside recruiters.

Applicant Tracking Software is used by human resources and and members of corporate recruiting teams who need help with manual tasks. It provides flexibility and adaptability to help reduce time to hire. These tasks include:

Posting to different digital job boards

Pulling in important candidate information from resumes and applications

Helping to select qualified candidates from job seekers that apply

Coordinating interview scheduling through digital calendars

Tracking where a candidate is in the selection and hiring process

Transitioning selected candidates into the onboarding process

How much or how little these processes are automated is based solely on the user’s or users’ goals.

Some solutions take this automation a step further by connecting to other systems within the HR tech-stack. Automation between different systems, such as HRIS, Accounting, Payroll and Onboarding Software, can be incorporated into an ATS. This helps to start the corporate recruiting process in the correct direction.

ATS systems are becoming so prevalent in larger corporations that as of 2019, 99% of Fortune 500 companies used an ATS in their hiring process.

Need Help Selecting Your New ATS?


Learn how the right Applicant Tracking System can create an integrated and engaging experience for candidates. Our free guide contains information on:

Key ATS system capabilities

Top ATS software solutions

Must have system integrations 


How does an applicant tracking system aid professional recruiters?

While every organization has different requirements, they all need to recruit the right talent to ensure continued success and growth. Some recruiting firms use their Applicant Tracking System to run the entirety of their business. 

Recruiting firms and executive search firms use Applicant Tracking Software to source candidate information and select suitable candidates for assignments. This software also tracks the candidates’ progress, from onboarding to the end of their assignment.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can manage the data related to recruitment. This information can be delivered to administrators, management, sales, and individual recruiters. This helps ensure that everyone has the necessary data to complete the recruitment process.

Recruiters can use the data stored in an ATS to automate manual tasks. This includes uploading resumes, collecting signed RTR letters or other documents, and locating candidate records that meet a job description.
Notifications for interviews can be sent via email or text, and contracts can be sent to clients and candidates. The ATS can even initiate the onboarding process.

Some ATS solutions are taking their automation to the next level. They incorporate Artificial Intelligence to make the process easier for end-users. AI can observe past activities and use this data to improve and make decisions. These can include matching candidates to jobs based on their educational level, work experience, professional skills, or any data field the user or users set.

How can an applicant tracking system improve compliance?

Using applicant tracking can help ensure compliance with local, state, and federal legal regulations.  Automated recruitment can help improve diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. It does this by providing a more equitable and comprehensive review of applicants. An example of this is with the American’s with Disabilities Act.

Automated recruitment helps U.S. employers stay compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It ensures that applicants’ unique needs are recorded and met. This includes those who require additional accommodations during the interview and employment process.

This ensures that all candidates have an equal opportunity to be selected for the role. Additionally, they will have the resources they need to be successful.

A recent challenge for employers who wish to remain compliant with local legislation is with Pay Transparency

Pay Transparency Laws are now active in four states of the U.S. They are gaining popularity in other states too. Employers must post job openings with the pay scale for each position and submit pay reports for all current employees.

An applicant tracking system can help ensure compliance with regulations. It does this by requiring certain information before approving a job post. Additionally, it provides customizable reports that can be exported for submission to different state boards.

How do you choose the right applicant tracking system?

Review your current processes for candidate sourcing, reviewing profiles, submitting offers, hiring, and onboarding new employees.

Next, examine the results of the review with your hiring team or teams. 

It is essential that you complete these steps before considering any ATS software solution.It does not matter if the process is manual or digital. When auditing your recruiting, onboarding, and retention processes, keep the following in mind: 

Growth Capabilities 
Team Member Connectivity 
Education and Support 
Compliance & Reporting 

Growth Capabilities: We may set goals from current metrics, but change is inevitable. Growth Capabilities allow us to adjust to these changes.  Assess your current situation and goals for your chosen ATS.

Ensure the solution is committed to consistent improvement, and check their track record to support this commitment.

Team Member Connectivity: An Applicant Tracking System is not meant to manage every aspect of your business.  It will need to connect to other software and communicate with other departments outside of human resources. 

Audit your current process. Account for all departments involved in recruiting, payroll, onboarding, and employee retention. This includes both simple tasks such as email communications, as well as more complicated tech integrations.

Education & Support:  Evaluating new hire retention requires understanding how they are being educated and supported. This applies to their first day and every day after with the company. When evaluating ATS solutions, ensure that those considered provide the necessary training on all system functionalities.   

Compliance & Reporting: It is essential to examine how well a tech solution has improved your process. To do this, you must ensure the system has the right reporting capabilities and security measures to ensure compliance.  The proper reporting functionality visually represents whether goals are being met or exceeded.  The appropriate compliance functionality ensures that all communications remain within company standards.


What are the 3 essential functions of a top ATS?

Thousands of different ATS Systems are available throughout the global market, making selecting the right solution even more difficult.  Luckily, there are industry leaders that provide essential functions which separate them from other competitors.   

Candidate Engagement

Recruiters and hiring managers must engage with candidates from the beginning of the recruitment process. This starts when a job seeker submits their resume for one of your job openings. The engagement continues until the day the candidate signs the paperwork for their new position.  The best ATS systems either have an existing candidate engagement system or they integrate well with this software. 

ATS systems ensure that all information gained from interacting with a candidate is tracked and stored in the database. This information is stored and accessible in the candidate’s record.    


An Applicant Tracking System is only one component of an top hiring tech stack.  This means that the best ATS solutions rely on connectivity with accounting, engagement, and applicant-sourcing solutions to help source the best candidates.

By connecting with these different software systems, your ATS can trigger automation in different software saving users time and effort when working with multiple candidates at once.    

Data Collection & Reporting:

Accurate data leads to better decisions, which produce better results.  Real time data is an important factor for a successful recruiting and staffing process. 

The right Applicant Tracking System (ATS) collects data from the job application, resume review, and interview processes. This information is stored in searchable fields. This allows employers to select the right candidates for current and future roles.

Once acquired, the information will need to become a part of your companies reporting process.  This can help to ensure all team members within our organization have a clear picture for every job candidate and every placement.  

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Which systems should you integrate with your ATS?

Most Applicant Tracking Systems are built to track applicants and only track applicants. While other ATS systems like SmartSearch can do much more, no system can completely solve all the problems faced by talent acquisition professionals.  

One of the best features of any recruiting tool is their ability to connect with other software systems to create a customized tech stack. In contrast, one system cannot fix all your problems. Many systems working together can get close.
The effectiveness of these different systems will require you to consider the following:

  1. What will be the system of record?
    Your system of record is the database that will be seen as the source of truth for your data. This system must feed information into the other software in your tech stack to trigger automation and coordinate reporting.
  2. What issue does the software address?
    Whether an HRIS system or social listening platform, you need to understand what problem the solution is solving and whether it earns its space within your hiring tech stack.
  3. Is there any overlapping functions between systems?
    Certain system functionality is duplicated across different platforms. An example is if your accounting software has payroll processing and timekeeping functionality. In this instance, no separate payroll processing or timekeeping software is necessary. The accounting software already has the required features.

Below are just some of the options different companies use within their own hiring tech stacks. While there is some overlap between these systems, it is important to understand the different services each of these software provides.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM):

A Customer Relationship Management System is a software solution that manages all the interactions and communications between your recruiters and hiring managers.  These systems are designed to help develop, track, and automate all communications to nurture these relationships and drive business.  CRM systems can also help recruiters engage with hiring managers through different social channels.      

Candidate Engagement System:

A Candidate Engagement System (CES) is a tool used by recruiters. It helps them stay connected with the most talented job seekers in their talent pool, also known as the A-Players.  This can be through different social media platforms, email, or text messaging.  Building integrations between a CES and ATS systems allows recruiters to easily source candidates in their current database.  


Payroll software automates the process of managing employee wages and tax deductions.  It is also used for tracking time off and benefits, creating an accessible portal for employees to manage their information.  Integrating payroll software with your ATS optimizes the onboarding process.


Accounting software is one of the primary pillars of any business’s tech stack, tracking cash flow, purchase orders, budgets, and other financial statements.  Integrating these systems with your ATS helps automate financial management by eliminating the transfer of paper statements.  

LMS Software:

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are designed to support your employees in their learning and development of different skills and subjects.  Integrating Learning Management Systems with your Applicant Tracking System helps build a better candidate experience.  By building learning management into your hiring process, you increase employee retention.  

VMS Software:  

Vendor Management Systems help HR teams manage their relationships with third-party contractors.  These solutions facilitate the contracting and management of these third-party relationships to deliver proper evaluations.  Integrating VMS software with ATS solutions helps create a better system for evaluating and tracking the performance of temporary and contract employees.  

Skills Testing:

Skill testing is essential in today’s competitive job market. Skill testing software enables recruiters to accurately evaluate and assess the skills of potential candidates. These systems have a natural need to integrate with your ATS as it ensures that you can correctly match the right candidates with the best positions.  

SMS Texting:

SMS Messaging or Texting software sends bulk or single automated communications to a contact’s cell phone.  By integrating this software solution with your ATS, recruiters can schedule message delivery, analyze response rates, and maintain their contact database.  

Background & Reference Checks:

Background and Reference Checking Software help recruiters and HR professionals manage the process of requesting and collecting background checks and references for candidates.  These tools work well with Applicant Tracking Systems as long as the ATS features customizable hiring and onboarding automation that can store the results of the completed background and reference checks.   

HR/Workforce Management:

Human Resources Software is designed to help businesses manage their workforce in a way that is efficient and compliant with business, state, and federal guidelines.  These systems are often designed to streamline the payroll, employee L&D (Learning & Development), and communications which naturally integrate with ATS solutions.

E-Signature Software:

Digital Signature Software or E-Signature Software provides a secure portal for capturing signatures through cryptography, helping verify signatures throughout the document-singing process.  Building this integration with your Applicating Tracking Software and document management software helps speed up the hiring process.  

Document Management Software:

Document Management Software assists recruiters in storing essential documents, from cover letters and resumes to background checks and employment verification records.  By incorporating this tool into your Applicant Tracking Software capabilities, recruiters can easily access essential records and request updates throughout the recruiting process. 

Ready to build the recruiting tech stack of your dreams?  

Why should you consider using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

The main reason to consider implementing an Applicant Tracking System is that it gives recruiters and hiring managers the chance to automate many manual processes, create clarity for areas of the hiring process that needs improvement, and build options for creating better engagement between all parties.

If you are struggling with your reliance on inefficient processes, poor collaboration between different departments, and breakdowns in communication with key players in the hiring process. You should consider implementing an Applicant Tracking System.

Hiring professionals can gain a competitive advantage when looking to attract and retain talented employees. This is possible through collaboration with an ATS software provider. This provider offers a customizable solution to take care of their customers.

As of 2019, 99% of the Fortune 500 companies used an ATS in their hiring process. A top Applicant Tracking System can level the playing field for recruiters. It does this by creating the right engagements with candidates, which can help build your business.