Home > Software Categories > Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Updated Apr. 25, 2023: We added our expert recommendations and made stylistic changes for simpler page navigation.

What is applicant tracking system software?

Applicant tracking system (ATS) software allows recruitment teams to organize and track candidates for more efficient hiring. ATS solutions also enable the HR department to organize applicants, simplifying the process of searching and filtering résumés. This results in decreased time-to-fill for open positions.

Aside from managing the hiring process by collecting and sorting résumés, modern ATS platforms also have a comprehensive suite of tools to streamline recruitment operations. ATS software handles everything from creating and publishing job posts to screening and sourcing candidates, tracking application statuses, and monitoring all communications with candidates.

Every feature of an applicant tracking system is built to enhance the recruitment process for both the hiring department and applicants. Most ATS solutions have built-in, automated communication channels to facilitate consistent communication between recruiters and candidates. ATS software creates a centralized location where recruitment teams can submit feedback and collaborate when selecting candidates. Furthermore, it can provide features for interview scheduling, automated alerts, and sending email reminders.

Find your new ATS software

What is the best ATS software?

  • Breezy HR is the best stand-alone ATS for SMBs.
  • Bullhorn is the best stand-alone ATS for enterprise companies and staffing firms.
  • Freshteam is the best starter ATS for small businesses looking for a free solution.
  • JazzHR is the best ATS for midsize, fast-growing businesses that need recruitment software to hire fast.
  • BambooHR is the best HR suite that includes applicant tracking.
  • Workable offers the best all-around ATS feature set for the price and will work for most businesses of any size.

Breezy HR: Best stand-alone ATS system for SMBs

Unlike other HR software companies, which usually offer an ATS as an add-on or roll it into more advanced plans, Breezy HR is solely focused on the recruitment process. Plus, it has a forever-free version of its software, which makes it a great fit for small and midsize companies that already have their HR software stack figured out and are looking to add applicant tracking.

Breezy is committed to digitizing and automating the hiring process, from searching for candidates to scheduling interviews. Breezy allows users to set up custom pipelines for every step of the recruiting process and to view the pipeline visually, so they don’t lose track of where a candidate is.

Breezy pros and cons


  • The drag-and-drop interface is easy to navigate.
  • More than 800 HR and recruitment templates are available.
  • Dozens of integrations cover the majority of HR functions.


  • Interview scheduling lacks customization options.
  • The system will sometimes glitch or load slowly.
  • Features can’t be added à la carte, and it’s not always worth the jump to the more expensive recruiting plans.

Breezy HR features

Mobile app: In today’s competitive labor market, fast response times are essential to snapping up the best talent. Breezy’s mobile app allows recruiters to respond quickly, so the hiring process never stalls.

Job site posting: Not all candidates visit every job site, meaning hiring teams need to cast a wide net. Breezy allows teams to post to more than 50 job sites at once, significantly increasing the reach of a single job posting without any extra effort or time.

Custom questionnaires: Screening potential employees upfront can help talent acquisition teams find qualified candidates faster. Breezy gives users the option to create custom questionnaires for employee screenings, so they can ensure their most important recruiting criteria are satisfied.

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Bullhorn Recruiting: Best for enterprise businesses and staffing agencies

Bullhorn addresses many of the complex recruiting challenges large organizations and staffing firms face. The software suite’s ATS offers nearly every important functionality, including features like candidate sourcing, career portals, unlimited data storage, application programming interface (API) access, and pipeline management.

These advanced features come with a high price tag, even at the base level, which will likely deter smaller companies. But for enterprise companies looking for an ATS with robust analytics, automations, and integrations, Bullhorn should be a top consideration.

Bullhorn pros and cons


  • More than 100 third-party integrations are available.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) features are beneficial for staffing agencies.
  • Bullhorn enables personalized, automated candidate outreach.


  • Bullhorn is more expensive than competitors.
  • An upgrade is necessary to integrate with LinkedIn.
  • The mobile app lags behind those of competitors.

Bullhorn Recruiting features

Middle- and back-office solutions: As part of Bullhorn’s mission to provide applicant tracking software for large and enterprise-level companies, it offers middle- and back-office solutions that are helpful for recruitment agencies, staffing firms, large HR departments, and other big hiring teams.

Vendor management system automation: Large companies who rely on an outside staffing firm or hire many outside contractors will appreciate Bullhorn’s vendor management system (VMS) automation, which speeds up the data entry and recruiting process.

Integration with Bullhorn CRM: In addition to its ATS, Bullhorn also offers a customer relationship management platform that integrates with the ATS. This is helpful for agencies that need a way to manage clients as well as applicants.

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Freshteam: Best starter ATS for small businesses

Freshworks’ applicant tracking system was designed with small businesses in mind. As such, the ATS is included as part of its Freshteam HR software package, and the company also offers other software solutions for sales, marketing, chat, and more.

Freshteam has a forever free version of its system for small businesses with up to 50 employees, making it a great option for smaller businesses that aren’t sure if they need an ATS but want to explore the option. Freshteam will also scale with growing businesses so they don’t have to switch to a different ATS tool later on.

Freshteam pros and cons


  • Centralized dashboard allows HR teams to view all candidates in one place.
  • Automatic notifications are sent to the hiring team.
  • Career sites can be launched with little time or manual effort.


  • Automated reminders and triggers are relatively basic.
  • Integrations are limited.
  • User interface (UI) is not as intuitive and quick to load when compared to some competitors.

Freshteam features

Email and calendar sync: Freshteam integrates with Gmail and Google Calendar, so users can sync email communications and interviews with candidates.

Bulk actions: Users can perform some actions in bulk, like updating candidate profiles by advancing them to the next hiring stage, archiving them to the talent pool, or rejecting them. This helps reduce process redundancies and save time.

Job description templates: Freshteam offers templates with preexisting job descriptions for common positions. Users can customize the information and post the listings directly to popular job boards.

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JazzHR: Best ATS for fast-growing businesses

JazzHR offers an easy-to-use applicant tracking software, which boasts an intuitive interface and modern features like candidate texting and auto-rejection screening questions. However, businesses should be prepared to spend a sizable budget on JazzHR if they need more than a basic ATS.

Due to the unusual pricing structure, JazzHR is the best fit for midsize, fast-growing businesses that are willing to invest in the necessary tools to optimize their recruiting processes. Human resource teams should also note that JazzHR is primarily an ATS, so it won’t satisfy HR needs for the rest of the employee life cycle.

JazzHR pros and cons


  • All plans include unlimited users.
  • The software has an easy-to-use interface.
  • Customizable recruiting workflows optimize applicant tracking processes.
  • Automation is available for emails, job postings, offers, and more.


  • Limited features and job listings are included in the base plan.
  • There is a 6x jump in pricing from the base tier to the middle tier.
  • No dedicated mobile app is available.

JazzHR features

Custom branding options: Having custom-branded recruitment materials can increase a company’s appeal to job seekers. JazzHR makes it easy with white-label capabilities that allow businesses to replace the JazzHR branding with their own and improve the candidate experience.

Candidate profiles: The main dashboard includes all necessary information for each candidate, including contact information, internal ratings, comments, interview notes, email communications, and more.

Automated document management: Once a hiring team is ready to extend an offer to a candidate, the onboarding process can move faster with JazzHR’s automated document management features. Offer letters, compliance forms, and other documents can be generated with a few clicks, and all necessary paperwork can be managed from a single central location.

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BambooHR: Best HR suite that includes ATS

BambooHR is known for being an industry leader when it comes to HR software, and that includes its applicant tracking solution. BambooHR is specifically designed for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), making it a worthy option for growing companies that want a recruitment tool in addition to other HR software functions.

The software is user-friendly from both an employee’s and employer’s perspective. However, this simplicity may be a drawback for businesses with more complex needs. Some users noted BambooHR couldn’t provide every single ATS functionality they needed once their business grew to a certain size.

For SMBs that need a functional applicant tracking system plus core HR features, however, BambooHR is a fantastic option.

BambooHR pros and cons


  • Features like onboarding, offboarding, and performance management support the entire employee life cycle.
  • Offer letter templates add efficiency to the end of the recruitment process.
  • Data and analytics help businesses optimize their HR processes.


  • Custom recipient lists for mass emails are difficult.
  • Users report some issues with PTO (paid time off) requests being logged correctly.
  • Certain features are either U.S.-only or U.S.-centric, which is limiting for international companies.

BambooHR features

Automatic alerts: Recruiters can avoid missing out on potential applications with automatic alerts that notify users when a candidate is ready to advance. BambooHR also provides automatic alerts for other modules beyond just the applicant tracking system as well.

Communication tools: Messaging features within the app mean HR teams don’t have to use a separate email or chat function to collaborate. This keeps everything centralized within BambooHR and makes it easy to find conversation histories.

Self-onboarding: This feature makes it simple for new employees to fill out HR forms prior to their first day. It also means all documentation can be kept within the BambooHR app instead of having to switch over to a different one for onboarding.

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Workable: Best ATS feature set for the price

Workable is consistently named one of the top choices for the best applicant tracking systems — and for good reason: It offers a great balance of features for a price that works for most small and midsize businesses. Businesses that need more than entry-level applicant tracking software but aren’t yet ready for an enterprise-level system should consider Workable.

Workable’s features include branded career pages, multiple language options, in-platform texting, automated workflows, and more. It sometimes lacks minor functionalities, such as automatically saving candidate notes to an interview profile, but overall, Workable is a best-in-class recruiting solution.

Workable pros and cons


  • The pay-as-you-go pricing structure allows customers to pay per job instead of monthly or annually.
  • Proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) functionality optimizes recruitment processes.
  • More than 1,000 job description templates are available.
  • The software supports one-click posting to more than 200 job boards.


  • The user interface can be difficult to navigate.
  • The platform doesn’t include native onboarding functionality.
  • Pricing options are less flexible than some competitors.

Workable features

Chrome extension: Hiring teams that recruit candidates via social media will appreciate Workable’s Google Chrome extension. This feature allows users to import candidates from Twitter and LinkedIn into the applicant tracking software.

Internal job board: In many cases, promoting from within is the best way to fill a job opening. Workable makes this easier with an internal job board that is specifically designed to help hiring managers promote from within the company.

Emphasis on DEI: Workable has built diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into its recruitment tools. From finding a diverse talent pool to evaluating potential candidates fairly, Workable makes it easier to fulfill DEI hiring key performance indicators (KPIs).

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How to choose the best ATS software

An applicant tracking system can significantly improve recruitment processes, but it can be tough to find the right one for your company. The best solution depends on the size of your company as well as your hiring needs, both now and in the future.

BambooHR is an excellent option for growing companies looking for a full HR software stack in addition to an ATS. Similarly, Freshteam by Freshworks is an excellent first ATS platform for small businesses due to its forever plan, which accommodates companies with up to 50 employees.

Breezy HR is worth considering if you’ve already got most of your HR tools figured out and are looking for an ATS to supplement your existing systems. Workable is an excellent choice for businesses of all sizes that are looking for a reasonably priced ATS that offers the necessary core HR features.

JazzHR is beneficial for midsize, fast-growing businesses looking for an easy user interface that will help them hire quality candidates fast. If you’re a large business or staffing firm looking for a stand-alone ATS that can meet your complex needs, Bullhorn will likely fit the bill.

ATS software benefits

ATS platforms can be beneficial to organizations in numerous ways.

Increases efficiency

Saving time and increasing efficiency are some of the best advantages of using ATS solutions compared to traditional application and recruitment procedures. With ATS software, recruiters can automate different tasks in hiring processes, including posting job ads, sending emails and reminders, interview scheduling, and onboarding new hires.

Improves candidate sourcing

The software can help address mission-critical challenges, such as attracting and sourcing top candidates. Many ATS solutions are now enriched with AI and machine learning capabilities to develop a profile of an ideal candidate, assess and identify skills, and predict success factors. As a result, employers can better understand candidate behavior and target specific applicants across various platforms and channels.

Better candidate engagement

ATS software ensures better candidate engagement by promoting greater visibility across the candidate journey. It helps organizations prevent negative experiences — like lack of visibility and inconsistent communication — that can cause candidate frustration and disinterest. An ATS allows reliable communication and faster response times via automation.

Refines hire quality

Screening candidates standardizes applicant scoring and can help guarantee that hiring managers will only see qualified applicants. Moreover, ATS software maintains a database of people who may be prospects for future job openings.

Optimizes recruitment strategies

Hiring professionals can clearly and quickly communicate with other team members and candidates through ATS. Hiring teams can collaborate and share résumés securely within the platform, enabling an organized approach to decision-making. ATS solutions also come with analytic tools to gauge the success of recruiting and hiring strategies. Recruiters can use real-time data to predict staffing needs and build recruiting pipelines. Analytics equips organizations with critical metrics around costs, quality, and time spent on recruiting activities.

What is the business impact of ATS software?

The recruitment process can be challenging for hiring teams and job seekers alike. Manual applicant screening delays hiring procedures, increasing cost-to-hire and prolonging time-to-hire. Additionally, manual online job postings can prompt tons of applications from under-qualified job seekers.

ATS software automates and streamlines the hiring process from source to hire. It amplifies the capabilities of recruiters, hiring managers, and HR teams with a range of features to boost efficiency while attracting and retaining top talent.

First and foremost, ATS can screen job applications, scan résumés for the right qualifications, and select the qualified candidates to consider for an interview. This can lighten the load for hiring teams and cut down a significant amount of time.

On top of that, ATS platforms can assist recruiters in tracking interview processes, evaluating, making offers to, hiring, and ultimately onboarding new talent. The software promotes a smooth hiring process, enhancing the candidate experience and encouraging more skilled talent to join the organization.

ATS solutions allow organizations to recruit the best people, which is essential to any company’s success.

Read next: Must-Have Integrations for Your ATS


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