Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for Small Businesses

In most industries, job recruiting is conducted entirely online. This makes it easier to screen applicants and move the top candidates through your interview process. However, online job applications also mean stiffer competition—the average job posting gets a couple hundred applicants, if not more. Organizing all of those applications usually requires basic recruiting software like an applicant tracking system (ATS).

A whopping 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies use ATS tools to manage the application process. Even if you’re not fielding thousands of applicants, applicant tracking systems can help you narrow down the top candidates for a more streamlined selection process. To find the right ATS solution, consider your business’s unique needs as you compare the top vendors in this market. 

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What is applicant tracking software?

Applicant tracking software (ATS) organizes recruitment-related information throughout the hiring process. ATS is becoming an increasingly integral part of hiring strategies worldwide because of the efficiency and convenience it lends businesses of all sizes. 

From initial recruitment to interview scheduling to signing a candidate, applicant tracking systems provide an organized approach to recruiting. Sometimes applicant tracking capabilities are embedded within a broader HR software application, but they are often available as standalone solutions.

Read more: Top HR Software for Small Businesses

Top applicant tracking systems comparison 

 
Customizable career pages
Employee onboarding
All-in-one HR Suite
Referral Tracking
Zoho Recruit
Breezy HR
Workable
Freshteam
Bamboo HR

Zoho Recruit

Screenshot of Zoho Recruit software.

Zoho is a big name on the SaaS scene, and Zoho Recruit is the company’s all-in-one hiring and recruitment software. The platform is suitable for both staffing agencies and in-house recruiters. 

Its primary goal is to streamline the hiring process, whether that’s by ensuring safe and compliant background checks or automating the recruitment process through tools like LinkedIn auto-fill and drag-and-drop workflows. First-time Zoho Recruit users may encounter a bit of a learning curve, but users say it’s worth it for the features and customization offerings.

Pros:

  • Pricing is fair for what you get.
  • New integrations are constantly added with job boards, messaging services, and other third-party tools.
  • Integrations with other Zoho products come in handy for your business workflow.

Cons:

  • There’s a learning curve for new platform users.
  • Company career site functionality is limited if you don’t plan to bring in a developer.
  • Mobile app has limited functionality.

Pricing:

Note: Pricing varies depending on whether you’re looking for a corporate HR, staffing agency, or temporary workforce solution. Add-ons and a free version are also available, along with a 15-day free trial.

  • Corporate Standard: $25 per recruiter/month when billed annually
  • Corporate Enterprise: $50 per recruiter/month when billed annually
  • Staffing Agency Standard: $25 per user/month when billed annually
  • Staffing Agency Professional: $50 per user/month when billed annually
  • Staffing Agency Enterprise: $75 per user/month when billed annually
  • Temporary Workforce: $52 for 25 temps/month when billed annually (plus temp add-on prices)

Breezy HR

Screenshot of Breezy HR software.

Breezy HR helps you complete the recruiting process faster while also hiring top employees. The platform’s user interface might be familiar to some, as it features a Kanban board like those found on project management tools or customer relationship management (CRM) software. You can also automate each of the stages in the hiring process including questionnaires, follow-up emails, assessments, and background checks.

Pros:

  • The Kanban board makes it easy to track the candidate pipeline.
  • Collaboration is simple with @-mentions and notes available under each item.
  • A clean, user-friendly experience is the hallmark of Breezy HR.

Cons:

  • Company careers pages aren’t as customizable as some alternatives.
  • Breezy HR doesn’t integrate with as many job boards as other ATS solutions.
  • Users would like to see greater pricing flexibility.

Pricing:

  • Bootstrap: Free
  • Startup: $143/month when billed annually
  • Growth: $249/month when billed annually
  • Business: $399/month when billed annually

Workable

Screenshot of Workable software.

Workable is designed to fit a wide range of business needs, whether it’s your first time hiring or you’re frequently onboarding new team members. The platform’s AI-powered tools allow you to identify suitable candidates and shorten the hiring process. 

This ATS solution scales alongside your business and offers one-click job postings to over 200 sites plus employee referral capabilities. Workable’s main goal is to streamline the hiring process and reduce time-to-hire.

Pros:

  • Plenty of job board integrations help you recruit from a wide range of sources.
  • Candidate communication is easy to track.
  • The mobile experience is easy to use, comprehensive, and regularly updated.

Cons:

  • Requisition pages could be more customizable.
  • Employees can’t track the status of their referred candidates.
  • Workable doesn’t have additional HR capabilities.

Pricing:

Note: Workable has flexible pricing options depending on the number of full-time employees in your organization. You can sort pricing options by selecting the number of employees. For the sake of this pricing comparison, we’ll be comparing prices for companies with 51-100 employees.

  • Standard: $579 per month when billed annually
  • Premier: $1,159 per month when billed annually
  • Paygo (a pay-as-you-go solution): $129 per job per month

Freshteam

Screenshot of Freshteam software.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive HR suite with a stand-out free plan, Freshteam could be the ATS for you. A part of the Freshworks family, Freshteam modernizes and streamlines HR departments. 

The platform allows you to recruit and onboard new employees and manage time-off requests. Freshteam even features a self-service raise request portal. 

Although the user experience could be improved by further customizing the hiring process and updating the interface, Freshteam’s free solution is one of the best deals on the ATS market.

Pros:

  • The platform is a great free solution for companies with small teams who don’t hire often.
  • It’s easy to use and features user-friendly dashboards.

Cons:

  • Freshteam isn’t the best tool for tracking employee diversity, so it’s best to outsource that to a third-party platform.
  • Documents features require a paid upgrade, which can be pricey for startups.
  • Tech support is reportedly spotty.

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 for up to 50 employees
  • Growth: $71 platform fee per month, plus $1.20 per employee/month billed monthly
  • Pro: $119 platform fee per month, plus $2.40 per employee/month billed monthly
  • Enterprise: $203 platform fee per month, plus $4.80 per employee/month billed monthly

Bamboo HR

Screenshot of Bamboo HR software.

Bamboo HR is known for its wide range of features, which include employee data analytics, payroll, and performance management solutions. The platform ticks most “must-have” features for small businesses looking for end-to-end hiring solutions. Bamboo HR is also more affordable than many enterprise platforms. 

The software helps businesses narrow down candidates, create job listings, and design customized job pages. Its most recent addition is its Employee Wellbeing feature, which uses surveys and analytic tools to improve the employee experience.

Pros:

  • Bamboo HR sports an intuitive user interface and is an excellent resource for company information.
  • Useful integrations like Slack help users stay up-to-date with fellow employees.
  • It’s easy to manage user permissions for both supervisors and employees.

Cons:

  • Reports may be difficult to interpret for non-technical users.
  • More onboarding support could be useful for users just starting out with the platform.

Pricing:

Bamboo HR’s Essentials and Advantage packages are designed to fit your business needs. Although pricing information is not available online, you can get a price quote by contacting the Bamboo HR team.

Who uses applicant tracking software?

Applicant tracking software is used by a variety of professional profiles. The right platform makes life easier for recruiters, hiring managers, and employees alike.

Recruiters

The key contact point for most hiring processes is the recruiter. Some companies opt to use external recruiters, while others use in-house recruiters. Whether you use a staffing firm, agency, or an internal team, you always need to be on the same page with your recruiters. 

ATS screening and sorting tools allow the most qualified candidates to pass through the application pipeline and get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

Hiring managers 

Hiring managers can use a centralized applicant database to record job descriptions, interview notes, and provide feedback to candidates, all from one convenient platform. Hiring managers can also view employee referrals and manage background checks through an ATS portal.

Employees

Depending on the company, employees may take on responsibilities during the recruitment and interviewing process. Conducting team panel interviews and logging referrals are just a couple of examples of how company employees can make use of an ATS. They may also be able to collect rewards for referrals, share job posting links to social media, and provide interview feedback if applicable.

Read more on TechnologyAdvice: Recruitment Team Job Descriptions & Roles

Benefits of applicant tracking software

Applicant tracking software offers many benefits to businesses of all sizes.

Simplify recruiting

Rather than spending hours poring over resumes and juggling spreadsheets, you can focus on more important aspects of the recruitment process by leveraging an ATS. 

For starters, ATS can help you find high-quality applicants faster, thereby reducing the number of vacancies in your organization and saving you money associated with staffing shortages. An ATS solution also provides a centralized system for communications, application management, and employee referrals, no matter the size of your team.

Related: Top Tips to Hire the Best Job Candidates

Unlock actionable insights

When you use an applicant tracking system, recruiters and hiring managers benefit from an overview of applicant data. This frees up their time to focus on improving the recruitment and candidate sourcing processes, and it gives your organization deeper insight into recruitment patterns. ATS analytics help you identify which job search platforms are the most effective and how candidates stack up against each other in assessments.

Personalize and automate processes

It’s every company’s goal to make the recruitment process as smooth as possible through automation. However, it’s unwise to do so at the expense of personalized interactions. Candidates value companies that keep them in the loop about where they are in the interview process, so they aren’t left hanging or repeatedly following up with the hiring team. 

ATS provides templates and customizable responses to help you ensure no candidate slips through the cracks. Applicant tracking systems allow you to design a more personalized job hunt experience for candidates, while still taking advantage of analytics, built-in assessments, chatbots, and other emerging recruitment technology.

Important ATS features

Not all ATS solutions are built the same. When evaluating whether a particular tool is a good fit for you, keep in mind the features that are most important to your business.

Automation

The right ATS should allow you to automate emails and job postings. Automation allows your team to encourage applicants to complete an application, update them on their application status, and post your jobs to the right job boards without having to manually re-enter the listing each time. In the long run, this saves time and improves the accuracy of your recruitment processes.

Employee referral tracking

Your company’s current employees can be excellent resources during the hunt for the perfect candidate. A good ATS has an employee referral portal that allows employees to recommend candidates. Managers can then track those referred candidates throughout the recruitment process. That way, referral bonuses and updates on referred candidates are easy to manage.

Interview scheduling

Have you ever had to go back and forth over email to find an interview time that works for both the candidate and the hiring team? An applicant tracking system’s built-in interview scheduling tools can save you a lot of time when setting up interviews. Recruiters can set their availability in calendar format to simplify the scheduling process.

Analytics 

ATS analytics features can help you make sense of your recruiting-related data points by indicating which job sites yield the best candidates, tracking time-to-hire, and more. 

Although separate from the application process itself, demographic analyses are also useful in determining whether or not your company is meeting its diversity and inclusion goals.

Customize applications and career pages

Sometimes, it’s necessary to ask industry-specific questions on the initial application. You may also want to personalize application pages to fit your company’s branding. 

Career page customizations also help applicants navigate the ATS by controlling fields for employment history and personal contact information. Options for autofill make this process easier on the candidate as well.

Read more on TechRepublic: 10 ways companies can attract a diverse pool of job applicants

How to choose the right small business ATS

Applicant tracking software was built to help make the recruitment process as smooth as possible. However, choosing the right small business ATS comes down to a variety of factors. You may want to ask yourself the following questions when deciding:

  • Are you interested in an all-in-one HR solution or a recruitment-specific ATS?
  • What’s your budget?
  • How frequently do you hire for open roles?
  • What kind of feature offerings and integrations are you looking for?
  • Which solution fits best with your overall hiring needs?

After carefully considering these questions and reading over this article, you’ll be well-equipped to select the right applicant tracking system for your company.

Celita Summa
Celita Summa
By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in technology, marketing, sustainability, and a plethora of other topics. Nothing makes her happier than reading and writing well-researched content. By night, Celita can be found developing her talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.

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