What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

ATS Software Guide

Applicant Tracking Systems: Everything to know & look for in an ATS

Applicant Tracking Systems are a crucial component in every organization’s hiring process. An effective ATS enables users to track communications with candidates, automate interview scheduling, and screen candidates. By implementing ATS software into their hiring process, managers will create a more efficient pipeline and a system that uncovers best-fit candidates and enables better hiring.

Find out everything you need to know about applicant tracking systems, how they’re beneficial, and how to use your ATS to create more efficient recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes.


What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An applicant tracking system, or ATS for short, is an automated tracking system used by employers to manage job applications and candidates. Applicant tracking systems enable recruiting teams to hire faster by helping them stay organized. Many of today’s applicant tracking systems have evolved to include numerous features that help recruiters source candidates, post open requisitions to job boards, pick out best-fit resumes, screen resumes, and even schedule interviews. What began as simple resume parsing software 15 years ago has evolved into a plethora of choices for strategic hiring and recruiting platforms.

ATS software features

Key Features of Today's Top Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume Sorting
Employee Referral Management
Interview Feedback Tools
Candidate Stage Tracking
Mobile Applictions
Recruiting Analytics
Passive Candidate Sourcing
Predictive Performance Analytics
Job Board Management
Candidate Texting
Background Checks
Branded Career Sites
Video Interviewing
Offer Letter Management
Multilingual Applications
Interview Scheduling
Quality-of-Hire Algorithm

How Does ATS Software Work?

At their most basic, applicant tracking systems make it easier to manage requisitions and candidates by consolidating resumes and candidate information for each requisition. Today’s much more robust applicant tracking systems assist with far more. Web-based applicant tracking software can perfectly integrate with a pre-existing career site to provide a seamless candidate experience and simplify the application process while automatically collecting and organizing applicant information. Once the application is submitted, the ATS can also rank the resume and application based on the required education, experience, skills, or other relevant criteria.

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 software options 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 in one shared dashboard, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to easily collaborate and view up-to-date, accurate candidate information.

Robust applicant tracking systems will have advanced capabilities: they 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 has its own set of special features and extra tools, they all share the common goals of streamlining the hiring process and maintaining correct applicant records.


“An applicant tracking system is comprehensive software used to receive applications, parse resumes, organize and screen applicants, and track candidates through the entire hiring process. Using an ATS improves the candidate experience and quality-of-hire, reduces costs and administrative burden, and speeds up time-to-hire.” – ClearCompany

Benefits of Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant tracking systems have come a long way in recent years, with technology enabling a much faster evolution of software products and tools. A large majority — around 75% — of recruiters and hiring professionals use recruiting or applicant tracking software. And, it seems to be working: the vast majority of those recruiters and hiring professionals (94%) say the applicant tracking software has had a positive impact on their hiring process. There are many notable benefits to implementing an applicant tracking system for recruiters and HR teams, not least of which is making it easier to find and hire better candidates.

Real results with Applicant Tracking Systems


75% of recruiters and HR teams use an ATS.


94% of those say the ATS positively impacted their hiring process.

Key Benefit

Applicant Tracking Systems improve candidate experience

Candidate experience matters more than ever, and it begins before candidates even submit their applications — 60% of job seekers abandon applications that are too long or complex. The right applicant tracking system can help make things simpler, both for recruiters and HR teams, and for candidates, and help create a smoother candidate experience.

Applicant tracking software can send out automated responses to candidates to make their application status clearer — 83% of candidates say this small measure would greatly improve the overall hiring experience.

50% of candidates have turned down a job offer due to poor candidate experience. Implementing an ATS keeps your processes current so you don’t miss out on best-fit candidates.



Many of today’s applicant tracking systems support powerful mobile tools that give your applicants the freedom to apply anywhere, anytime, and enable fast, easy communication between candidates and recruiters. 70% of job seekers search for jobs from their phones, making it an ideal place for companies to get in front of the right candidates. Mobile tools an ATS can offer include:


  • Candidates can submit applications quickly via text message

Mobile Applications

  • Candidates can access and submit applications from their mobile devices

Candidate Texting

  • Recruiters and candidates can communicate via text message, with conversations saved in the ATS


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

Kyle Lagunas (@KyleLagunas)

Research Manager, Emerging Trends & Technologies

Key Benefit

Applicant Tracking Software saves time and money

Companies can receive as many as 250 applications per job opening, which means time spent parsing resumes quickly adds up. If a company has just a handful of open positions, recruiters can quickly get bogged down with screening, slowing down time-to-hire and increasing the likelihood that candidates will accept a job elsewhere.

Automation eliminates repetitive tasks, keeps accurate records, and gives recruiters access to powerful tools that make recruiting easier and leave them with more time to spend finding the best candidates, conducting interviews, and filling open positions. Using features like job board posting and interview scheduling helps reduce both time-to-fill and time-to-hire, two crucial recruiting metrics that are good indicators of the effectiveness of an organization’s hiring process. Speeding up your time-to-fill and time-to-hire is crucial in landing talent before competitors, and features that take the administrative work off your hands help accelerate both metrics.

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 candidate’s own time. It is estimated that an ATS can reduce the time needed for hiring by about 20%.


Candidates are responding more quickly to text messages than other forms of communication, with the average response time for texts sitting at upwards of 60x faster than for email.

Key Benefit

Applicant Tracking Systems boost recruiting strategy

ATS software is an asset to recruitment planning because they provide the analytics needed to make strategic decisions. ATSs give recruiters the ability to analyze large data sets from recruitment activities (sourcing, screening, interview scheduling, etc.) to better understand their processes. With a better understanding of how recruiting currently operates, teams can identify costly bottlenecks and obstructions and increase efficiency across their recruitment processes.

did you know?


86% of recruiters say an ATS helps them hire faster.

Applicant Tracking System pricing

We believe in a pricing model that’s transparent and personalized, and that’s why our 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 an award-winning talent management solution that can integrate seamlessly with other software you’re already using.

In the market to take the first step toward perfecting the first part of your talent management process? You only pay for the tools you’re using at ClearCompany. Chat with us today to get a clear quote for Applicant Tracking!


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 the ATS have to meet your company’s criteria and come with all the right tools, but it also needs to be simple enough for your team to learn, demonstrate enough value to win the approval of the CFO, and come with a painless implementation process and continued support. It can be especially daunting when it comes to applicant tracking systems since your team’s ability to find and hire the right candidates is a defining factor in overall business success.

How well does the ATS track and handle requisitions?

At its core, an ATS solution’s main purpose is to contain, edit, and track open requisitions. While today’s Applicant Tracking Systems have evolved to include countless bells and whistles, it’s more important to make sure the system you select aligns with how your teams work and that those bells and whistles can all be useful to recruiters and HR teams. Make sure to ask specifically how you can configure the system to fit your needs, both now and in the future.

Does the ATS offer interview scheduling and mobile tools?

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 also use automation to assist in filtering applications, screen candidates, and schedule interviews. Applicant tracking software that incorporates interview scheduling and mobile tools helps:

  • Candidates to easily apply via their mobile devices
  • Recruiters to coordinate multiple schedules at one time
  • Candidates to view availability and choose which date and time will work best for them
  • Candidates and recruiters to communicate effortlessly
  • Recruiters dramatically reduce the chance of errors disrupting the interview process
  • Better candidate experience is achieved

Is the application process fast and simple for candidates?

Ask the vendor for a company whose career page is supported by their ATS and go through the application 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 the quality of candidate experience.

Will the ATS 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 stored in 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 an especially security-conscious industry, mitigate risk upfront and ask for specifics about compliance and standards before making a final decision on which ATS to use.

Does the ATS work with my other HR software systems?

Before you start evaluating applicant tracking systems, list your tech stack and send it to the representative conducting the demo so they can answer specific questions or offer case studies of other clients that utilize the same integrations. Also, check out partner pages or portals to find out which software integrates with the ATS you’re considering.

Who is the team behind the ATS?

Pay attention to the company that’s 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 consideration when developing their product, and if so, can they show an example of a customer-prompted update? The product you select should help you meet your hiring goals and help make your recruiting and hiring processes more efficient while providing top-notch customer service. To help make your decision, gather reviews from all over the web and consider consulting colleagues and specialty groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.


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Applicant Tracking System comparison

Did you know that there are over 220 applicant tracking systems on the market today? There’s sure to be no shortage of new solutions as technology continues to advance —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 to look for to find the most capable, useful applicant tracking system to meet your organization’s needs.


key features In your ats

Which features should I look for in a best-in-class ATS software?

A customizable, scalable product to build employer brand and engagement
Interview scheduling capabilities and interview feedback features
Job board management and candidate sourcing capabilities
Data and recruiting analytics to determine recruiting effectiveness
The support of multiple languages for a great customer experience
Background checks and offer letter management
Mobile applications and Text-to-Apply to make applications simple
The ability to integrate with your other talent acquisition and management tools

did you know?


78% of hiring professionals say that candidates hired through their ATS are of higher quality than previous applicants. Knowing that ATSs truly help bring better people into your organization empowers us to continue developing our product suite to help our thousands of clients find, hire, and retain top talent.

A best-in-class Applicant Tracking System

ClearCompany’s best-in-class, award-winning Applicant Tracking Software helps take the burden off of your recruiting and hiring teams by ensuring you screen for, communicate with, and interview only the best candidates for your open positions. Let ClearCompany’s ATS help you make your recruitment strategy more efficient and effective, improve candidate experience, and bring the right candidates into your organization.

Check out the full (ever-growing!) list of awards ClearCompany’s leading software has earned, then click the button below to see a demo of the ClearCompany Applicant Tracking System.

The future of Applicant Tracking Systems

The ATS has come a long way from its beginnings as a simple candidate database and resume parsing tool. The applicant tracking systems market is valued at more than $2 billion and is expected to exceed $3 billion in the next few years. That anticipated growth means that more human resources teams will continue to adopt ATS systems, and ATS providers will continue expanding their software capabilities to meet users’ needs.

As ATS software continues to develop, we expect to see these trends growing across the market:

  • Mobile-first focus
  • Enriched user experience
  • Increased automation for recruiting processes
  • Improved ability to leverage social platforms
  • Amplified integration with and effectiveness of AI
  • Cloud-based, fully integrated ecosystems
  • More tools for increasing diversity and inclusion
  • Enhanced insights from robust reporting and analytics

Check out more articles on Applicant Tracking Systems

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Simple Ways to Create a Better Candidate Experience

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What is the Primary Purpose of an Applicant Tracking System?

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Why You Should Be Using Candidate Tracking Tools

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Applicant Tracking Systems Vendor Comparison Workbook

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