Applicant Tracking Systems 101: How to Recruit and Manage Prospective Employees

Brianna Barcena
March 21, 2019

Applicant Tracking Systems 101: How to Recruit and Manage Prospective Employees

Finding talent today can be quite the feat. When a job listing is posted online, hundreds of people will see the listing and apply even if they aren’t qualified. Filtering through all these resumes can be a headache for HR. This is why companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS).

ATS and recruitment software solutions have changed how HR approaches the entire hiring process — making every step simplified, collaborative, and effective for finding the best employees for your company. 

What is ATS Recruitment?

ATS recruitment is the use of software to help streamline the recruitment and hiring process. ATS solutions help companies post job listings, monitor applications, and communicate with other team members. These solutions help HR teams gather, screen, and store thousands of resumes.

When it comes to tools that facilitate recruitment and hiring, there can be some blurring of the lines between different software terms. Fortunately, ATS and Recruitment software can be mistaken for each other, but at the same time are morphing into one.

ATS traditionally refers to job posting, filtering through resumes, and tracking applicants through the hiring pipeline. Recruitment software refers to modern, all-in-one software suites that include these features plus scheduling, email marketing, search tools, and multiple integrations. Sometimes ATS can refer to just the application storage hub, and sometimes it can refer to the whole recruiting platform.    

An ATS and recruitment software automate tasks and organize candidate profiles, making the hiring process more efficient. Recruitment solutions offer many features that accomplish three major functions:

  • Sourcing talent
  • Organizing and storing candidate information
  • Communicating with potential hires

Hiring new employees can be a huge undertaking. Recruitment software and ATS solutions help simplify this process.

Why Do Companies Use ATS?

Hiring today is exciting but also complicated. There are several job boards and channels HR representatives can post to. On those boards, hundreds of underqualified applicants may see the application and apply despite the requisites. Resumes can come in all different formats and styles. It can take a lot of time keeping those resumes organized and keeping track of applicants who do progress through the pipeline.

ATS solutions help HR teams manage all of this in one central platform that is accessible across different devices. This can free up the team’s time to focus on interviews, plan onboarding strategies, and build relationships with applicants and new hires. Companies that switch to ATS Recruitment software not only save time, costs, and energy, but make the shift from passive to active recruitment methods.

Passive Recruitment vs Active Recruitment

Passive recruitment refers to the traditional method of hiring. This approach involves a company announcing there is an open position, waiting for applications to roll in, interviewing applicants, and then selecting the best candidate. The defining characteristic of passive recruitment practices is that companies would largely wait for job candidates to come to them after announcing a job opening.

However, with remote and freelance work growing in popularity, as well as the importance of company culture, there has been a shift in hiring practices. Companies are now treating potential hires like customers. Recruiters actively look for potential employees, grab their attention, and try to give them the best candidate experience with their company.

Active recruitment means that companies actively go seeking talent even when the talent isn’t looking for a new job. They pique prospective employee interest and try to maintain that interest throughout all of their interactions. Some ATS solutions act as a CRM for hiring, where the software keeps track of all the targeted individual’s qualifications, contact information, and the communication they have had with the company.

Passive and active recruitment are not to be confused with passive and active candidates, as these are important terms for understanding the modern hiring mindset. Passive candidates are candidates that are typically gainfully employed and are not currently seeking new positions. Recruiters may want to woo top passive talent because they fit the job qualifications the company is seeking in an employee.  

Active candidates are individuals who are actively looking for a new job. These candidates often find the job listing without the help of a recruiter because they are seeking work.

In contrast, active recruitment is the process of giving prospective employees a great candidate experience with their company. Part of active recruitment may involve seeking out and wooing passive candidates. Recruitment software can help HR manage relationships with all prospective employees, whether or not they are passive or active candidates.

Key Features of ATS and Recruitment Software

ATS and Recruitment software feature tools to help HR representatives along the entire hiring process.

In the initial job posting stage, solutions typically feature:

  • Job requisition management
  • Distributing job postings across multiple channels like company websites, social media, and job boards
  • Templates for custom job listings and applications

As the applications come in, products offer capabilities like:

  • Resume management
  • Resume parsing
  • Applicant tracking
  • Candidate/Keyword search
  • Email support and templates
  • Analytics

To move more qualified applicants further along in the process, products feature:

  • Scheduling
  • Team collaboration and communication tools (i.e. for assigning tasks and collecting feedback on candidate interviews, etc.)
  • CRM-like features to record communication histories

ATS Solutions also incorporate advanced analytics to examine what elements are working or are not working in their hiring process. For example, products enable professionals to investigate which channels produce the most qualified candidates. Companies can incorporate insights gained from advanced analytics into their overall talent management strategy.

ATS Tools For Recruitment

ATS and recruitment tools are essential for HR teams today, and it’s important to choose a solution which will be the best fit for your company. But finding the right ATS software for your company can be a difficult process, especially given the large number of options available. One of the best ways to research different solutions is by reading customer reviews and rankings. These five solutions are the five highest-rated ATS products listed on TrustRadius.


Workable is an all-in-one cloud-based recruitment software. This solution allows companies to automatically post their job opening on over 50 job boards and social media platforms, create beautiful career pages on company websites, and provides a central dashboard for hiring processes. This product features all the tools companies need to source, screen and communicate with talent. This tool can be used across all devices.

Users consistently say that Workable is used across their entire organizations. It aims to frame the hiring pipeline and enable teams to give the prospects the best candidate experience. This tool allows teams to communicate clearly over candidate feedback, rather than relying on emails or Slack.

“Workable is used across the organisation with all managers having access to rate candidates and add in comments. It has streamlined the recruitment process and enabled us to build a pipeline of future talent.”

~ Nicola Young | HR Manager | Sandfield Associates


JobDiva is a fully featured ATS. This solution includes candidate search, candidate match, CRM, and reporting capabilities. JobDiva also has a candidate portal and can help employees automate filtering resumes for the qualifications they are looking for.

Reviewers use JobDiva across their organizations. They say that this solution saves them time, helps them manage candidates, and is great for people new to hiring.

“It’s an easy to use tool, even a beginner can use this in two days and it can make recruitment fun.”

~ Vicky Sahu | Account/Client Delivery Manager | Net2Source Inc


SmartRecruiters is enterprise-grade recruitment software that offers a full range of features. This solution is unique because it offers a native AI-powered “smart assistant” to find external talent and manage high-volume hiring. This assistant enables companies to efficiently find the best fit for the job. In addition to AI capabilities, this solution features everything from job requisition management to interview scorecards, collaboration, reporting and more.

Users ranging from self-employed to employees of larger companies say that SmartRecruiters helps them make hiring more efficient. It helps keep track of candidates across the entire lifecycle and enables strong communication among teams.

“It is well suited for entrepreneurs with small or big business to run as it helps at getting the right candidate for any type of job vacancies available.”

~ Christine Hailey | Information Technology Specialist | Self-Employed


JazzHR is a user-friendly ATS and recruitment software that helps users streamline the entire hiring process. This product offers the key features that make up a comprehensive recruitment software — candidate sourcing, employer branding, interviews and assessment, compliance, collaboration and more. JazzHR can be customized to fit the company’s needs and processes.  

Users love that JazzHR is customizable and makes the entire hiring process easier. It is great for communicating with mass applicant pools, organizing and tracking applicants, and helping colleagues collaborate.

“JazzHR is well suited to track candidates and organize the information that is captured in the interview process… It helps me coordinate with colleagues the tracking and progression of a candidate through the hiring process.”

~ Morgan Stevenson | Account Director | Hoverstate


CATS Applicant Tracking System is an ATS that helps breakdown the hiring process. This solution provides users with  tools to organize all applicant data, customize hiring workflows, create career portals, post job openings to boards, and offers integrations with third-party software

Users find CATS ATS to be a useful tool for recruitment — from sourcing talent to placing them in their positions. Reviewers on TrustRadius like that this solution is customizable, easy-to-use, and affordable.

CATS ATS is a good tool for creating pipelines, tracking candidate status and connecting with talent. However, it could improve their search features. Searching candidates with specific skill sets.

~ Ashley Thompson| Senior Public Sector Recruiter | NewFound Recruiting

ATS Makes Recruitment Simpler, But It Doesn’t Make the Final Call

Recruitment solutions are now an essential part of the recruitment process, but they have not replaced the role of human judgment. These tools only make the process of finding prospects, filtering through their qualifications, and communication on all fronts easier. When it comes to the final interview, however, it will be a team of people making sure that the candidate is a good fit for the job.

Recruitment software helps you get to that final decision quicker. Curious about what other professionals think about their recruitment software? Read user reviews to gather honest insights from recruitment professionals who use these tools daily.  

About the Author

Brianna Barcena
Brianna Barcena is a Content Specialist at TrustRadius. When she's not in the office, she enjoys reading, watching a good historical drama, doing yoga, and going on adventures with her dog, Deeks.

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