What is an Applicant Tracking System? A Complete ATS Guide

Meredith Wholley
11 min readFeb 9, 2022


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 ATSs, how they’re beneficial, and how to use your ATS to create more efficient recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes.

What is an ATS System?

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

Applicant Tracking System Benefits

Applicant Tracking System Pricing

Signs Your Business Needs An ATS

How to Find the Best Applicant Tracking System for Your Company

Applicant Tracking System Comparison

Applicant Tracking System Articles

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.

The top ATSs available today 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 applications
  • Text-to-Apply
  • Candidate texting
  • 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!

How Do ATSs Work?

Cloud-based applicant tracking software integrates with your 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 required education, experience, skills, or other relevant criteria.

ATSs are also helpful in the next stages of the hiring process: screening and interviewing.

How Do Applicant Tracking Systems 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 ATSs assist with far more. Cloud-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 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.

Learn more about ClearCompany’s Applicant Tracking System, its key features, and how it works:

Explore ClearCompany’s ATS

Applicant Tracking System Benefits

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.

Applicant Tracking Systems Improve Candidate Experience

Candidate experience matters more than ever at a time when top talent is hard to come by, 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.

“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

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 offers include:

  • Text-to-Apply — 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

Did You Know?

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.

Applicant Tracking Systems Save Time & 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%.

Did You Know?

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

Applicant Tracking Systems Boost Recruiting Strategy

Applicant tracking systems are 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.

Explore More Applicant Tracking System Benefits!

Signs Your Business Needs An Ats

ATSs benefit businesses of all sizes, across all industries. They help HR teams streamline recruiting and hiring processes and find the best possible candidate for every role. ATSs are also a strategic HR tool. They improve meaningful metrics like time-to-fill and time-to-hire, bring in more qualified applicants, and help companies establish a talent pipeline.

Here are some signs your business would benefit from ATS software:

  • You hire large numbers of candidates at once or are regularly hiring.
  • You want to save time and resources.
  • You want to recruit and hire more qualified candidates faster.
  • You want to improve the candidate and employee experience.
  • You want to build a talent pool of engaged potential candidates.
  • You want to gain more insight into your applicants and roles, including where top applicants are found and how time-to-fill varies by position.
  • You want to stay competitive and up-to-date with your recruiting, hiring, and onboarding strategies.

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’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 ATS, 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.

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.

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

  1. A customizable, scalable 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 applications and Text-to-Apply to make applications 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

Keep reading for more applicant tracking system key features.

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.

ClearCompany’s best-in-class, award-winning Applicant Tracking System 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.



Meredith Wholley

As a Digital Marketing and Events Manager for ClearCompany, Meredith coordinates best-practice content and brand-awareness events with HR practitioners.