Applicant Tracking Systems: Everything to Know & Look for in an ATS
By: ClearCompany
Updated: January 2020

Applicant Tracking Systems are a crucial element to any organization’s hiring process. A strong ATS enables users to track communications with candidates, automate organizing and scheduling interviews, and screen candidates. By implementing an ATS software in their hiring process, managers will find a more efficient pipeline and a system that hires more diversely and objectively. Find out everything you need to know about choosing which ATS system works best for your organization.

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What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system, called ATS for short, is an automated tracking system used by employers to manage job applications. Applicant tracking systems enable recruiting teams to hire faster and stay organized while doing so. Many of today’s applicant tracking systems have evolved to include numerous features that help recruiters source candidates, post open reqs to job boards, filter through resumes, screen resumes, and even schedule interviews. What began as a resume parsing software 15 years ago has evolved into a variety of choices for strategic hiring and recruiting platforms.

ATS include features like:

  • Resume importing
  • Resume sorting
  • Candidate stage tracking
  • Passive candidate sourcing
  • Job board management (some offer discounted postings, like ClearCompany!)
  • Branded career sites
  • Multilingual applications
  • Employee referral management
  • Mobile apply
  • Video interviewing
  • Interview scheduling
  • Interview feedback tools
  • Recruiting analytics
  • Predictive performance analytics
  • Background checks (ClearCompany has this down to one-click!)
  • Offer letter management
  • Quality of hire algorithms

Explore these key ATS features more!

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How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Applicant Tracking System Definition

“An applicant tracking system is a comprehensive software used to receive applications, parse resumes, organize and screen applicants, and track candidates through the entire hiring process to improve candidate experience and quality of hire, reduce costs and administrative burden, and speed up time-to-hire.”
- ClearCompany

In a basic sense, applicant tracking systems are mainly used to simplify the management of requisitions and candidates, but today’s ATS assist with far more. Web-based applicant tracking software can perfectly integrate within a pre-existing career site to provide a seamless candidate experience, while automatically collecting and organizing applicant information. Once the application is submitted, the ATS application can also rank the resume and application based on required education, experience or skills.

Aside from application submission and resume parsing, candidate tracking systems are also helpful in the next stages of the hiring process: screening and interviewing. Today’s evolved ATS have video interviewing capabilities and interview scheduling tools designed to help recruiters speed up their time-to-fill and provide candidates with a better experience. All of this data is stored into one database, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to easily collaborate.

Robust applicant tracking systems will also integrate with background check providers for easy checks and authorizations, send offer letters, and even predict an applicant’s potential performance at your company. While each applicant tracking system is designed to work in their own way, they all have the common goal of streamlining the hiring process.

Learn more about how ClearCompany’s Applicant Tracking System works and its key features.

Applicant Tracking System Benefits

Of applicants who have a bad experience:


63% say they would not accept a job offer


83% would never apply to that company again


59% would tell others not to apply to that company

Applicant tracking systems have come a long way in recent years, as new technology allows products and tools to evolve faster. Jobscan research found that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, while a Kelly OCG survey estimated 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on recruitment software. And 70% of employers either plan on or have invested in auxiliary resources meant to improve the candidate experience. There are many notable benefits to implementing a job applicant tracking system into your recruitment process.

Applicant Tracking Systems Improve Candidate Experience

Without the right system, it’s surprisingly easy to fall victim to an application process that gives your applicants a bad experience. Of applicants who have a bad experience, 63% say they would not accept a job offer, 83% would never apply to that company again, and 59% would tell others not to apply to that company. Applicant tracking software benefit the process by providing automated responses.

The ability to automatically update candidates as their resumes or application moves from one stage to another sets you apart on the candidate experience.

Kyle Lagunas

Director of Strategy, Beamery

Many of today’s applicant tracking systems are also mobile friendly, giving your applicants the freedom to apply anywhere, anytime.

Did You Know?

70% of individuals use a mobile device to search for jobs, yet in a 2018 SmartRecruiters test, only 30% of online applications were mobile friendly.

Applicant Tracking Systems Save Time and Money

On average, companies receive around 250 applications per job opening. If a company has just a handful of new openings, the wasted time and effort starts to add up.

Automation takes many of the small, repetitive tasks and leaves the recruiter time to spend on more meaningful processes. Using features like interview scheduling helps reduce time-to-fill, one of the most important metrics hiring teams consider in recruiting. Speeding up your time to hire is crucial in landing talent before competitors, and features that take the administrative work off your hands help reduce time in the hiring lifecycle.

Consider the back and forth that often goes into scheduling interviews, then multiply that by the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of positions you must fill. It adds up! With an applicant tracking system, interviews can be scheduled with the click of a button, on the candidates own time. It is estimated that an ATS can reduce the time needed for hiring by about 20%.

Did You Know?

20% of companies that implement an ATS report reducing their hiring time.

Applicant Tracking Systems Boost Recruiting Strategy

Applicant tracking systems benefit recruitment planning by providing the analytics needed to make strategic decisions. ATS give hiring teams the ability to analyze large data sets from recruitment activities (sourcing, screening, interview scheduling, etc.) to understand where they are efficient vs. where they are experiencing costly or detrimental bottlenecks in their processes.

Explore More Applicant Tracking System Benefits!

How to Find the Best Applicant Tracking System for Your Company

It can be intimidating to select a new software system for your company. Not only does it have to do everything you need it to do, but it also needs to be simple enough for your team to learn, a large enough value for your CFO to approve, and implemented in enough time to be useful. It can be especially daunting when it comes to applicant tracking systems, for the simple reason that hiring the right talent makes your business successful.

How well does it track and handle reqs?

At its core, the ATS was built so requisitions could be entered, worked on, and tracked. Despite the fact that Applicant Tracking Systems have evolved to include countless bells and whistles, you still need the system you select to align with how you work and not one that is counterproductive to your team. Make sure to ask specifically how you can configure the system to meet your needs.


Does it incorporate interview scheduling?

The majority of applicant tracking systems integrate with job boards, giving your team the benefit of distributing job postings across multiple job board platforms. The best applicant tracking software should use automation to assist in filtering applications, screen candidates, and schedule interviews. Applicant tracking software that incorporates interview scheduling helps:

  • Recruiters to coordinate multiple schedules at one time
  • Candidates to view availability and choose which date and time will work best for them
  • Recruiters dramatically reduce the chance of errors disrupting the interview process, and in turn, improving candidate experience
Read more on interview scheduling features in ATS.

Is this pleasant and attractive for candidates?

Ask the vendor for a company whose career page is supported by that ATS and go through the process. You’ll get a sense of ease of use, branding options, and functionality in one fell swoop. During your demo, make sure to ask your representative or salesperson if their ATS has any tools or options to track candidate experience or how they measure or define it.

Will this keep my team and our company data safe?

Compliance keeps many recruiters and HR pros up at night, and with good reason! There’s a lot of sensitive data inside many of the systems we use, and we’re frequently required to adhere to strict reporting policies. Ask how secure your data will be, and how frequently they’ve updated their safeguards and standards. If you work in a specific industry, ask for specifics about compliance and standards to mitigate risk.

Does this work with my other HR software systems?

Before you start evaluating ATS, list your tech stack and send it to the representative conducting the demo so he or she can answer specific questions or offer case studies of other clients utilizing this integration. Also, check out partner pages or portals to find out what integrates with the ATS you’re considering, as they may integrate with another solution you’re looking into.

Who is the team behind it?

Look for who is behind the technology. Do they have good customer reviews and ratings? Are they responsive to complaints or comments online? Do they charge for implementation and assistance? Do they take customer feedback into top consideration when developing their product? The product you select should help you meet your hiring goals, while providing top-notch customer service. To help make your decision, gather reviews from all over the web and consider asking some colleagues in specialty groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Applicant Tracking System Pricing


We believe in a pricing model that works the way you do. We’ve been helping companies hire for 15 years and our transparent pricing options are built specifically for you – no hidden fees, software costs, or tricky increases. Built with client feedback to be a lean, mean hiring machine, our Applicant Tracking System is ranked as the #1 system for small to medium-sized businesses!

In the market to perfect one part of your talent management process? Only pay for the portions of the system that your team will use. Chat with us today to get a clear quote for Applicant Tracking!

Applicant Tracking System Comparison

Are you aware that there are over 220 applicant tracking systems on the market today? Chances are there will be many more that evolve in the next few months or even years, but how are you supposed to make sense of which system to use when the market is so crowded?

Finding the right applicant tracking software out of the hundreds on the market can be difficult. Take a look at some of the key features the best ATS have to serve as a baseline.

What features should I look for in a best-in-class Applicant Tracking System?

  1. A customizable product to build employer brand and engagement.
  2. Job board management and candidate sourcing capabilities.
  3. The support of multiple languages for a great customer experience.
  4. Mobile apply and referral management to make application simple.
  5. Interview scheduling capabilities and interview feedback features.
  6. Data and recruiting analytics to determine recruiting effectiveness.
  7. Background checks and offer letter management.
  8. The ability to integrate with your other talent acquisition and management tools.

Expand on more applicant tracking system key features.

In 2016, our research with unveiled that only 10% of recruiting professionals feel their applicant tracking software helps them hire better people. It’s with this knowledge that we at ClearCompany have continued to develop our product suite to help our thousands of clients find, hire, and retain better talent.

Our ATS was the very first tool we presented to the HR and recruiting space, and though we have since developed an extensive talent management software suite, we never rest on our laurels. We have continued to add features to our award-winning Applicant Tracking System so that our users can provide the best candidate experience and hiring process possible.

See a full list of the awards ClearCompany software has earned, then click the button below to see a demo of the ClearCompany Applicant Tracking System.

Applicant Tracking Made Simple

Find, schedule, and engage the best future employees while staying organized and in-touch from anywhere.

As one of the core pieces of a recruitment and hiring technology stack, your ATS needs to be a comprehensive solution. Check out this Essential Guide To Buying an Applicant Tracking System!

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