What Are Applicant Tracking Software?

By OrangeHRM | Published on Jul 4, 2024 | minute read

Attracting and retaining top talent is a critical challenge for businesses of all sizes. The traditional recruitment process, often relying on manual resume screening and scattered communication, can be time-consuming, and inefficient, and lead to overlooking qualified candidates. Imagine sifting through hundreds of resumes, identifying the most relevant skills and experience, scheduling interviews, and managing communication with candidates, all while juggling other HR responsibilities. This is where applicant tracking system (ATS) emerges as a game-changer.

What Are Applicant Tracking Software?

An applicant tracking software is a powerful software solution designed to streamline and optimize the entire recruitment process, from attracting qualified candidates to onboarding new hires. It acts as a central hub for managing all aspects of your talent acquisition efforts, offering a range of functionalities to improve efficiency, enhance candidate quality, and empower data-driven decision-making.

How Does an ATS Streamline the Recruitment Process?

Here's how it can revolutionize your recruitment workflow:


  • Automated Workflows - Manual tasks like resume screening and filtering through applications become automated. They use intelligent algorithms to parse resumes, extract key skills and experience, and match them against pre-defined criteria for each job opening. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to identify top candidates.


  • Improved Candidate Pool - Gone are the days of relying solely on job board postings. These systems allows you to leverage integrations with various platforms to expand your reach and attract a wider pool of qualified candidates. You can easily post jobs across multiple job boards, social media channels, and your company career site, ensuring you reach the right talent for your needs.


  • Enhanced Candidate Matching - Move beyond basic keyword searches. They utilize sophisticated skills-based matching to identify candidates who possess the specific qualifications and experience required for the job. This ensures you're focusing on candidates who are most likely to be successful in the role.


  • Efficient Communication - Bid farewell to email chaos! They facilitate streamlined communication with candidates throughout the entire recruitment process. Automated emails and notifications keep candidates informed about their application status, interview scheduling, and next steps.


  • Streamlined Collaboration - Break down silos and foster better collaboration among hiring teams. The software provides a centralized platform for sharing feedback on candidates, managing interview schedules, and tracking the entire recruitment pipeline. This improves transparency and ensures everyone involved is on the same page.

The Benefits of Using an ATS

Implementing an applicant tracking system offers a multitude of benefits that go beyond simply filtering resumes. Let's delve deeper into how they can empower your business to achieve its recruitment goals:

Enhanced Efficiency and Time Savings

  • Imagine the time saved by eliminating manual resume screening. The software automates repetitive tasks, freeing up valuable time for HR teams and hiring managers to focus on strategic initiatives and candidate nurturing.


  • Faster time-to-hire is another key advantage. By efficiently identifying and engaging with top candidates, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to fill open positions. This translates into cost savings and minimizes the impact of vacant positions on your business operations.

Improved Candidate Quality

  • Attract the best talent available by expanding your reach through diverse job board integrations.


  • Leverage the power of skills-based matching to identify candidates who truly align with your specific job requirements.


  • Foster a positive candidate experience with automated communication and clear communication throughout the recruitment process. Top talent has options, and recruiting software helps you stand out as an employer who values their time and effort.

Streamlined Collaboration and Data-Driven Decisions

  • The software acts as a central hub for all recruitment activities, fostering better collaboration and communication among HR teams and hiring managers. Everyone involved has access to the same information and can share feedback seamlessly within the platform.


  • With robust reporting and analytics features, it provides valuable insights into your recruitment process. You can track key metrics like application sources, time-to-hire, and candidate quality to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your recruitment strategy.

Increased Compliance and Reduced Risk

  • Mitigate the risk of bias in the recruitment process. The software ensures standardized screening and evaluation criteria are applied consistently for all candidates.


  • Maintain detailed audit trails that track all candidate interactions and communication within the system. This ensures compliance with recruitment regulations and protects your business from potential legal issues.

Common Features of an Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking software equips businesses with a comprehensive suite of features designed to manage every stage of the recruitment process. Here's a closer look at some of the most common functionalities offered by these solutions:


  • Job Posting and Distribution - Simplify the job posting process by creating compelling job descriptions and easily distributing them across various platforms. Most software integrate seamlessly with popular job boards, social media channels, and your company career site. This allows you to reach a wider audience of qualified candidates with minimal effort.


  • Resume Parsing and Keyword Searching - No more manually sifting through resumes. They utilize intelligent parsing technology to extract key information from applicant resumes, including skills, experience, education, and keywords. This extracted data is then stored in a centralized database, enabling you to search and filter candidates based on specific criteria.


  • Candidate Ranking and Scoring - Move beyond subjective resume reviews. Many solutions on the market offer candidate ranking and scoring features that utilize pre-defined criteria (e.g., skills, experience, education) to objectively assess each applicant's suitability for the role. This helps you prioritize the most qualified candidates and streamline the shortlisting process.


  • Communication Tools - Enhance communication and keep candidates engaged throughout the recruitment process. They allow you to send automated emails and notifications to candidates regarding their application status, interview scheduling, and next steps. You can also use the platform to send personalized messages and engage in two-way communication with potential hires.


  • Scheduling and Interview Management - Streamline interview scheduling and eliminate the hassle of back-and-forth communication. The software offers features to schedule interviews with available team members according to their preferences and availability. Candidates can easily view their interview schedule and confirm attendance through the platform.


  • Onboarding Workflows and Document Management - Facilitate a smooth onboarding experience for new hires. Some systems offer built-in onboarding workflows that guide new employees through the necessary steps, such as completing paperwork, signing documents, and accessing company resources. You can also utilize the system to manage and store onboarding documents electronically for easy access and future reference.


  • Reporting and Analytics Dashboards - Gain valuable insights into your recruitment process with robust reporting and analytics features. The system provides customizable dashboards that track key metrics such as application sources, time-to-hire, candidate demographics, and the effectiveness of your job postings. Analyzing this data allows you to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your recruitment strategy.


These are just some of the core functionalities offered by most applicant tracking software. The specific features and functionalities may vary depending on the chosen platform and its pricing tier. However, these core features provide a solid foundation for streamlining your recruitment process, attracting top talent, and making data-driven hiring decisions.

Understanding the Applicant Tracking System Workflow

The top applicant tracking systems in the world transforms the recruitment process from a scattered series of tasks into a well-defined and efficient workflow to improve the candidate experience.

Pre-Application Stage

Before candidates even submit their applications, the system plays a crucial role in laying the groundwork for a successful recruitment process. Here's how:


  • Configuring the System for Different Job Openings - The solution allows you to create customized job postings for each opening. This involves defining the job title, location, responsibilities, and required qualifications. You can also use the platform to set up specific screening criteria, such as keywords, skills, and experience levels, to ensure only relevant applications are shortlisted.


  • Setting Up Custom Application Forms and Screening Criteria - Go beyond generic application forms. The system empowers you to tailor application forms to capture the specific information you need for each job opening. You can include targeted questions, skills assessments, or even video interviews as part of the application process. Additionally, you can configure pre-defined screening criteria within the system to automatically filter out applications that don't meet the basic requirements.


  • Integrating the Solution with Job Boards and Career Sites - Extend your reach beyond traditional methods. The software seamlessly integrates with popular job boards, social media platforms, and your company career site. This allows you to publish job postings across various channels with minimal effort, maximizing your visibility to potential candidates.

Application Stage

Once the groundwork is laid, applicants begin submitting their applications. The system steps in to manage the influx efficiently:


  • How Applicants Submit Their Resumes and Applications - Candidates submit applications through the designated portal. This can be done directly on your company career site or through job board postings that link to the system. The platform captures all application data electronically, eliminating the need for physical resumes or scattered emails.


  • Resume Parsing Process (Extracting Skills and Experience) - Manual resume review becomes a thing of the past. The system uses sophisticated parsing technology to extract key information from uploaded resumes. This includes skills, experience, education, keywords, and contact details. The extracted data is then stored in a centralized database, allowing for easy search, filtering, and candidate comparison.


  • Automatic Resume Screening Based on Keywords and Criteria - Ensure qualified candidates rise to the top. You can configure the system to automatically screen resumes based on pre-defined criteria. This could include keywords, skills, experience levels, or specific certifications. Resumes that don't meet the minimum requirements can be automatically filtered out, saving valuable time and resources.

Evaluation Stage

With a pool of pre-screened candidates, it's time to delve deeper into their qualifications.  Here's how the system facilitates objective and efficient evaluation:


  • Reviewing Shortlisted Candidates and Their Qualifications - The software presents a consolidated view of shortlisted candidates, including their resumes, extracted skills and experience data, and any additional application materials. This allows hiring managers and recruiters to quickly assess each candidate's suitability for the role.


  • Assigning Scores and Ratings Based on Pre-defined Factors - Move beyond subjective assessments. The software allows you to establish a scoring system based on pre-defined criteria such as skills, experience level, and education. Hiring managers can then assign scores to each candidate based on their resume and application details, ensuring a more objective evaluation process.


  • Using Skills Assessments or Testing Tools (if Integrated) - Some solutions offer integrations with skills assessments or testing tools. This allows you to go beyond traditional resume reviews and objectively evaluate a candidate's specific skills and knowledge relevant to the job requirements.

Selection Stage

Once you've identified the most promising candidates, it's time to move on to the interview stage. The software facilitates a smooth and efficient selection process:


  • Shortlisting Top Candidates for Interviews - Based on the evaluation stage, the system helps you identify the top candidates who deserve further consideration. You can easily shortlist these candidates and move them forward to the interview stage.


  • Scheduling Interviews with Available Team Members - Eliminate the hassle of coordinating interview schedules. The system allows you to schedule interviews with available team members based on their preferences and availability. Candidates can also access their interview schedule through the platform and confirm attendance with a few clicks.


  • Sending Automated Communication to Candidates about Interview Details - Keep candidates informed throughout the process. The system allows you to send automated emails and notifications to shortlisted candidates regarding interview details, including the date, time, location, and who they will be meeting with. This ensures clear communication and reduces the risk of missed interviews or confusion.

Hiring and Onboarding Stage

The system doesn't stop at selecting the best candidate. It can also facilitate a smooth onboarding experience for your new hire:


  • Managing Interview Feedback and Candidate Selection Decisions - The system provides a centralized platform for hiring managers and recruiters to share feedback on interviewed candidates. This allows for collaborative decision-making and ensures everyone involved is on the same page when selecting the top candidate for the position.


  • Sending Job Offers and Managing Acceptance or Rejection - Once a final decision is made, the system streamlines the offer process. You can utilize the platform to send personalized job offers to the chosen candidate and manage their acceptance or rejection electronically. This ensures a clear and professional communication process.


  • Initiating Onboarding Workflows and Document Collection Through the System - Some solutions offer built-in onboarding workflows that guide new employees through the necessary steps during their first few days on the job. This could include completing paperwork, signing documents electronically, accessing company resources, and attending training sessions. They can also be used to collect and store onboarding documents electronically for easy access and future reference.

Benefits of Using an ATS Throughout the Recruitment Workflow

By utilizing them throughout the entire recruitment workflow, businesses can experience a multitude of benefits:


  • Increased Efficiency - They automate numerous tasks, freeing up valuable time for HR teams and hiring managers to focus on strategic initiatives and candidate nurturing.


  • Improved Candidate Quality - They ensure a more objective and skills-based screening process, allowing you to identify the best talent for your needs.


  • Enhanced Candidate Experience - Automated communication and a streamlined application process contribute to a positive candidate experience, fostering a strong employer brand.


  • Streamlined Collaboration - They provide a central platform for communication and collaboration throughout the recruitment process.


  • Data-Driven Decision Making - With robust reporting and analytics, it equips you with valuable insights to optimize your hiring strategy.

Choosing the Best Applicant Tracking Software

Selecting the best applicant tracking software is a crucial decision for businesses of all sizes. With a plethora of options available, navigating the selection process can feel overwhelming.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an ATS

Understanding Your Business Needs

The first step is to gain a clear understanding of your unique recruitment needs. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting an ATS:

  • Company Size and Hiring Volume - The needs of a small startup with occasional hiring will differ from those of a large enterprise with frequent recruitment needs. Consider the number of positions you typically fill per year and the anticipated growth trajectory of your company.
  • Budget and Pricing Models - Applicant tracking systems come with varying pricing structures. Some offer subscription-based models, while others charge per user or per open position. Evaluate your budget constraints and choose a system that offers a pricing plan that aligns with your needs.
  • Features and Functionalities - Not all systems are created equal. Identify the specific features and functionalities that are most critical for your recruitment process. Consider factors like job board integrations, skills-based screening, interview scheduling tools, onboarding workflows, and reporting and analytics capabilities.

Prioritizing Functionality and User-Friendliness

  • Focus on Functionality - Don't get overwhelmed by fancy bells and whistles. Prioritize features that directly address your pain points and streamline your recruitment process. For example, if skills-based hiring is crucial, ensure the system offers robust skills-matching capabilities.
  • User-Friendliness for All Stakeholders - Consider the user experience for both HR teams and hiring managers who will be using the system. Choose a platform that is intuitive, easy to navigate, and offers training and support resources to ensure user adoption.

Integration Capabilities and Scalability

  • Integration with Existing Systems - Evaluate how well the software integrates with your existing HR systems like payroll, benefits administration, or learning management platforms. Seamless integration eliminates data silos and streamlines workflows.
  • Scalability for Future Growth - Consider your company's future growth plans. Choose a software that can scale with your needs and accommodate an increasing number of users and recruitment activities over time.

Security and Data Privacy Compliance

  • Data Security - Applicant data is sensitive. Ensure the software you choose prioritizes data security with robust encryption measures and compliance with relevant data privacy regulations.
  • Compliance with Recruitment Regulations - Regulations around recruitment practices vary by region. Choose a software that helps ensure your compliance with relevant laws and regulations to avoid potential legal issues.

Additional Considerations

  • Customer Support - Reliable customer support is crucial for a smooth user experience. Evaluate the level of support offered by the software vendor, including response times, training resources, and troubleshooting assistance.
  • Free Trials and Demos - Many vendors offer free trials or demo versions of their software. Take advantage of these opportunities to test the platform's functionalities and ensure it meets your requirements before committing.

Tips for Implementing an ATS for Successful Use

  • Define Clear Goals and Expectations - Before implementing a software solution, establish clear goals and expectations for its use. This could involve reducing time-to-hire, improving candidate quality, or increasing the efficiency of the recruitment process.
  • Involve Key Stakeholders - Ensure buy-in from key stakeholders across HR, hiring managers, and IT departments.
  • Training and User Adoption - Provide comprehensive training for HR teams and hiring managers on using the software effectively. User adoption is crucial to maximize the benefits of the system.
  • Develop a Data-Driven Approach - A system provides valuable data and insights. Utilize this data to refine your screening criteria, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your recruitment strategy over time.

Investing in the right applicant tracking system can be transformative for your recruitment process. By carefully considering your needs, evaluating features, and ensuring user adoption, you can leverage the power of a sophisticated hiring software to attract top talent, improve efficiency, and build a strong workforce for the future.

Why OrangeHRM?

Feeling overwhelmed by the recruitment process? OrangeHRM's Recruitment (ATS) module is your one-stop solution to automate and streamline your hiring efforts. From attracting top talent through job board integrations to customizable questions, OrangeHRM empowers you to take control of your recruitment process. Boost efficiency, reduce time-to-hire, and focus on what matters most, building a high-performing team. Book a FREE demo today to see how OrangeHRM can revolutionize your recruitment strategy!