Nominations for the 2024 GTM Awards, sponsored by TrustRadius and Pavilion, are open! Now through July 19, nominate top go-to-market leaders, teams, and companies in the B2B tech sector.  Learn more.


6 Free Small Business Recruitment Tools in 2021

Harry Lees
May 19, 2021

6 Free Small Business Recruitment Tools in 2021

For small businesses, recruiting is already an expensive endeavor- anywhere from $1,000-5,000 per hire. Those preexisting expenses can price some companies out of using an ATS, despite how valuable they are for recruiting.

Fortunately, there are a host of open-source or free versions of paid Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) platforms available for small businesses. This software tends to be limited in volume or scope of features, but the products we’ve listed here can provide the support small businesses need to find quality candidates on a very limited budget. The best free recruitment software can allow small businesses to find the best candidate on smaller budgets for their team. 

Is Free Recruitment Right For You? 

Free ATS software is typically a cloud-based service that supplies many essential recruiting capabilities and features. You should consider a free ATS tool if: 

  • You are only hiring a limited number of people.
  • You’re hiring for relatively basic/unskilled positions that aren’t very specialized.
  • You only need an ATS for a very limited period of time (note: if you need an ATS once, odds are you’ll need it again later).

Free products often mean there are certain limitations or drawbacks tied in. For example, free ATS products often mean that 1) it lacks some, or all, of the extended recruiting features, such as interview and offers management, integrations, and CRM capabilities, and 2) the software is limited by time period trial or a number of concurrent job postings.

The Top 6 Free ATS Products

Below are 6 of the best free software in this category. The order is based on their number of reviews. Each of these are very different software and will work for different people. As each use case is unique, the best product for you will come down to which best fits your needs. 

1. SmartStart

SmartStart is the free version of the SmartRecruiters recruiting software. SmartStart offers an unlimited number of users and candidates. It allows recruiters or businesses to easily track, email, and manage applicants, while also enabling various multi-platform integration so you can easily post your job listings on over 200 job boards and social media. It also allows candidates to easily apply, track their application progress, and build a customized web portfolio or career website. 

SmartStart’s key differentiator from SmartRecruiters is that it limits the number of job listings/roles to ten at one time. It is also important to note that it does not allow access to a number of multiple recruiting, application and management features that are accessible via a paid plan, such as internal job widgets, job alerts, saved searches, custom rejections, SSO, custom candidate and job fields, calendar integrations, offer templates or integrations with DocuSign. 

SmartStart is an excellent tool if your current recruiting volume is low, but foresee expansion in your company’s future. Users can easily upgrade to add on additional features if you grow to need more capabilities over time. SmartRecruiters’s paid offering has significant review volume across company sizes, demonstrating the vendor’s ability to support your business’s growth over time. Prices vary depending on your custom feature bundle and the number of employees at your business.  

“SR’s SmartStart product is perfect for a small company hiring a few people a year.”

Josh K. | Co-Founder & CEO | Marketing & Advertising Firm

2. Zoho Recruit

Zoho Recruit is a leading, all-in-one, cloud-based recruiting software tool. It is a recruiting CRM, providing integrated solutions for companies that wish to connect both sales and recruiting in one unified platform. 

Zoho Recruit’s free plan offers a number of beneficial candidate, job, and communication management tools, such as access to one free recruiter, career site, interview and event tracking, simple search technology, 5 free email templates, 50 search tags, 256MB of free storage and much more. 

Unlike Zoho Recruit’s paid plans, Zoho Recruits’ free option only allows one active job listing, one candidate/contact form, integrations with only Zapier and only one user profile. It also does not offer the mass email capabilities, analytics and tracking, social media integrations, or the resume parse technology that the paid plans offer.


If one chooses to upgrade, standard annual paid plans start at just $22.50 a month. Zoho Recruit offers a 15-day free trial for the enterprise plan. 

Zoho Recruit is an ideal option if you also want to utilize Zoho’s other business applications, such as the sales CRM, mail app, and project management software. If or when you scale beyond Zoho Recruit’s free version, consolidating your software into one ecosystem can yield substantial cost savings and efficiencies down the road.

“Zoho Recruit is an exceptional software designed for anyone large or small. This software allows you to add the things that matter most to your business. Its custom features and pre-design outline provides a platform that is user-friendly and easy to train your team and the best part is that it’s super affordable.”

Melissa R. | CEO | Staffing and Recruiting Company

3. Freshteam

Freshteam, a Freshworks product, is an easy-to-use free version of a paid software. It is important to note immediately that this software has a limit of 3 job postings. The software also only supports companies up to 50 employees. 

Where Freshteam shines is in its visual, easy applicant tracking for small businesses. The applicant tracking system can be managed in a Kanban board system. For smaller businesses, this streamlines the recruitment process by allowing hiring managers to quickly sort candidates. The rating system allows you to mark top talents with ease. The hiring team, other HR professionals, or would-be managers can check-in and provide input.

This system is great for those who will have many candidates for a few jobs. Freshteam is also a Freshworks product, and those familiar with the vendor will be comfortable with the layout. 

The mobile app is strong for this tool, lending itself to smaller companies that are on the go. This is perfect for quickly making notes about the best candidates for those whose interview processes take place in public places. 

Freshteam offers some basic employee management, such as a time off management system and employee directory.

“FreshTeam is used by one department at a small non-profit to help us recruit & hire interns year round. Prior to FreshTeam, we were using Google Sheets and email. FreshTeam has helped us streamline workflow by >40%!”

Verified User | Contributor in Human |Resources Non-Profit Organization Management Company, 1-10 employees

4. MightyRecruiter

MightyRecruiter is a free ATS system that offers easy-to-use candidate and application management software for companies all small as one employee all the way up to enterprise-level businesses. It gives users access to unlimited open jobs, unlimited resume searching, and unlimited user accounts. Users can post job listings on over 29 job boards, source passive candidates, utilize a Chrome extension, auto-publish jobs to social networks, create a customizable career site/page, boost job postings, schedule interviews and easily manage referrals, candidate communications, and candidate ranking.

“[MightyRecruiter’s] free preliminary is genuinely free. Their poll wiped out resumes that didn’t have any significant bearing to my employments…I additionally like the way that they incorporate a sweep for your activity posting. This dispenses with somebody from applying from another postal division or time zone so far as that is concerned. I anticipated working with a rep later on and found the experience, all in all, to be superb.”

Verified User | Social Media Manager | Event Services Company

5. iKrut

iKrut is an applicant tracking system that provides all the functionality you need for hiring and recruiting services. iKrut offers three service plans for users: free, premium, and premium+. The free version gives users access to an unlimited number of users and applications, an unlimited number of live job listings, a branded career site, basic reporting and tracking, online interview scheduler, ability to post social media networks, telephone and email support, mass email rejection tool and mobile compatibility. 

Users can upgrade to the premium account for $210 a month. Users are given access to four complimentary weeks of premium functionality upon sign-up. The premium and premium+ plans give users access to a variety of additional features, such as employee referral tracking, job widgets, adjustable workflow, video interviewing, detailed reporting metrics, custom email tools, job alerts, master user training and much more.  

iKrut is a great option if you are new to recruiting processes and aren’t sure which premium features and functions are most important to you. iKrut’s 4 weeks of premium trial give you room to see whether the extra cost is worthwhile, while leaving the free version as an option if you don’t need to scale up yet.

6. OpenCATS

OpenCATS is a totally free, open-source ATS. It is designed to assist businesses or individuals in organizing and tracking the recruiting and hiring process. The software can be installed via a web-based browser, a local network or on your local computer. 

OpenCATS users are given access to resume, contact and applicant storage and tracking tools, skills-based tagging, built-in calendar system, website integration tools for easy candidate application, candidate and client management tools, reporting, various user access levels, built-in email functions, and a notification system. 

OpenCATS is the only truly open-source software on this list. If you or your team already has a knack for implementing and managing open source software, OpenCATS may be right up your alley. If you’re not as comfortable with handling open-source on your own, there will be less support for you than the other products listed. Be mindful of which side of that divide your business and team falls on.

Graduating From The Free Tools

As you can see above, every option has its limitations, and as your organization grows, you will likely feel those limitations more and more. Certain ATS software restrictions, such as the volume of job postings allowed at one time and access to detailed reporting and analytics, can end up costing you more resources than you save by using free software. 

There are a variety of options available to you when those growing pains become untenable. If you’re using a free version of a paid software, upgrading to the paid version can be the smoothest transition since you won’t be moving any data between systems. 

If you want or need to explore what other vendors have to offer, check out the larger range of paid ATS products to see which system can best support your growth. You can also check out the TrustRadius Buyer’s Guide to Applicant Tracking Systems for more insight into the leading paid ATS products and trends that will impact your recruiting strategy.

For those looking to improve their recruitment game, check out the video below. These tips and tricks will help you improve your talent acquisition and help you fill vacancies faster.

About the Author

Harry Lees
I am a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, with a Comprehensive Honors degree in Political Science and Journalism. Go Badgers! A dual-citizen with the U.S and U.K, in my free time I support Liverpool Football Club, obsessively follow politics and do extremely nerdy things with my friends.

Sign up to receive more buyer resources and tips.