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What is an applicant tracking system (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is software that automates various hiring administrative tasks. It’s used by business owners, hiring managers, and recruiters to optimize the recruitment process. The system aids in scheduling, communication, candidate evaluation, employer branding, and provides valuable metrics to improve hiring.

Alternative names for an applicant tracking system include: ‘hiring software’, ‘talent acquisition software’, ‘hiring platform’, and ‘recruitment software’.

Who uses applicant tracking systems? 

Everyone involved in recruiting, such as business owners, hiring managers, and recruiters, will use applicant tracking systems at some point. Understanding the costs of traditional hiring methods, both in terms of time and money, makes companies turn to an ATS. With the help of this system, organizations can optimize their hiring process.

What should an applicant tracking system do?

Some areas an ATS system can help in are:

Each ATS may specialize or excel in specific recruiting areas. Before purchasing an applicant tracking system, it’s useful for organizations to compare several options with each other. To do so correctly, they may map their individual hiring methods, analyze the problems they need to resolve or identify opportunities for improvement. Then, they can evaluate available systems based on important criteria.

This list of best applicant tracking systems in the market today can also help you make an informed decision.

Why should you use an applicant tracking system software? 

It’s not out of sheer luck that applicant tracking systems (or generally recruiting software) keep gaining popularity in the recruiting world. They take a huge burden off the shoulders of hiring teams and give them time to focus on what matters – connecting with candidates and making hiring decisions. More specifically, some important benefits of applicant tracking systems are:

Boosted productivity and efficiency: Gone are the days of sifting through piles of resumes manually. An ATS automates many of the time-consuming aspects of recruitment, from sorting applications to ranking candidates based on specific criteria. This automation ensures that hiring teams spend their time where it counts the most.

Enhanced candidate experience: A swift and smooth hiring process is not just beneficial for employers; it’s crucial for candidates too. With faster scheduling, timely communication, and a streamlined application process, candidates feel valued, leading to a positive perception of the company.

Centralized application management: With the proliferation of job boards and platforms, managing applications can become chaotic. An ATS provides a unified platform where all applications, regardless of their source, are aggregated, making it easier to review and manage them.

Strengthened employer brand: In today’s competitive job market, an employer’s brand is paramount. An efficient hiring process, facilitated by an ATS, sends a strong message about the company’s professionalism and its value for potential employees.

Data-driven insights: Beyond the immediate hiring process, an ATS offers invaluable analytics. These insights, ranging from the effectiveness of different hiring channels to the time taken to fill positions, provide actionable data that can refine and optimize recruitment strategies.

Ensured legal compliance: Recruitment is fraught with legal intricacies. Whether it’s ensuring non-discrimination in hiring practices or adhering to data protection regulations, an ATS can be configured to assist companies in staying compliant, reducing the risk of legal complications.


Interested in an ATS for your company? Request a Workable free trial to see how it can help you improve your hiring process. 

Did you find this applicant tracking system definition useful? Visit our library of HR Terms to find more definitions.

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