Applicant Tracking System (ATS)



An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application that automates and streamlines the recruitment process by collecting, organizing, and filtering resumes, job applications, and other candidate-related information. This tool assists employers in managing large volumes of applications, ensuring that the hiring process is efficient and consistent.


Originally designed to simply track applicant data, modern ATS systems have evolved into comprehensive recruitment software solutions. They help HR professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters sift through vast numbers of applications to identify qualified candidates quickly and efficiently.

Key Features

  1. Resume Parsing: Converts resumes into structured data, making it easier to search for specific skills, experiences, and qualifications.
  2. Job Posting: Allows recruiters to post open positions to multiple job boards and social media platforms simultaneously.
  3. Candidate Search: Enables quick search through the applicant database using keywords, qualifications, or other criteria.
  4. Interview Scheduling: Integrates with calendars to automate the interview scheduling process.
  5. Communication Management: Sends automated responses to candidates, keeping them informed throughout the hiring process.
  6. Reporting and Analytics: Offers insights into recruitment metrics like source of hire, time to hire, and cost per hire.

Benefits of ATS

  • Efficiency: Speeds up the hiring process by automating manual tasks.
  • Consistency: Ensures each candidate undergoes the same evaluation process, reducing biases.
  • Compliance: Helps organizations adhere to employment laws and regulations by maintaining required documentation and records.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Provides analytics to make informed recruitment decisions.
  • Improved Candidate Experience: Keeps candidates informed and engaged throughout the hiring process.

Challenges and Criticisms

  1. Limited Flexibility: Some systems may not recognize unique resume formats or unconventional terminology, potentially overlooking qualified candidates.
  2. Over-reliance: Sole dependence on ATS systems might lead to human judgment being sidelined, leading to missed opportunities.
  3. Impersonal Interaction: The automated nature of responses might come across as impersonal to some candidates.

Q&A on ATS

  1. Q: What is the primary function of an ATS?
    A: Its main function is to automate and streamline the recruitment process, including collecting, organizing, and filtering resumes and applications.
  2. Q: Can an ATS integrate with other software tools?
    A: Yes, many modern ATSs can integrate with other HR software, job boards, and calendar tools to enhance their functionality.
  3. Q: How does an ATS help in reducing biases in recruitment?
    A: By ensuring each candidate undergoes the same evaluation process, an ATS can provide a consistent and standardized hiring approach.
  4. Q: Are all ATS systems cloud-based?
    A: While many modern ATS systems are cloud-based, offering online accessibility, there are still some that can be installed directly on company servers.
  5. Q: Do candidates get feedback if they are not selected?
    A: This depends on the ATS and the company’s settings. Some ATSs can send automated feedback or rejection emails, while others might not.

Examples of ATS Systems

  1. Taleo: One of the leading ATS solutions, often used by large enterprises.
  2. Greenhouse: Popular for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features.
  3. Workday: Known for its integration with other HR functionalities beyond recruitment.
  4. iCIMS: Offers scalable solutions suitable for both small businesses and large corporations.
  5. Get.It: Leading zero-cost (free) solution for small and medium sized businesses.


An ATS is an invaluable tool for modern recruitment, especially for businesses handling high volumes of applicants. While it enhances the efficiency and organization of the recruitment process, human judgment and interaction remain crucial in selecting the right candidate. As with all tools, it’s essential for employers to ensure they’re using the ATS effectively and fairly to maximize its benefits and minimize potential pitfalls.

Find this article useful? Fine more like it in our Top 50 HR Terms Every HR Professional Needs to Know series.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Always verify details and features with specific ATS vendors before making any purchasing decisions. Written by Jacob Peebles, with research and assistance from chatgpt