Applicant Tracking System:
The Complete Guide to a System You’ll Use

From Google to Disney, today’s most successful companies are firmly focused on creating an unforgettable experience—and not just for customers.

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Why Should I Use an ATS?

No matter the shape or size, forward-thinking companies know one thing:

Employee experience matters.

In fact, disengaged employees cost an estimated $550 billion a year in lost productivity in the US alone. So how do you rally the right troops to your mission?

It all starts with the way you treat your job candidates.

Here's what we'll cover:

If you’re responsible for hiring in today’s highly competitive, candidate-driven talent market, you need to make the right impression with every applicant that lands in your inbox.

Unfortunately, most HR tech isn’t up to the challenge. For years, talent acquisition professionals have been forced to choose between inefficient manual spreadsheets, expensive enterprise software or bulky legacy systems that simply weren’t built with the candidate in mind.

We think it’s time to change that. 

With a user-friendly Applicant Tracking System (ATS), HR managers and hiring teams can smash the inefficiencies plaguing their recruitment processes and build a scalable system that saves time, money and wows the pants off their candidates. (Not literally, of course.)

This guide will help walk you through exactly what an ATS is, what it does, and how to find the one that makes the most sense for your growing business.

What Is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a type of recruiting and HR software that helps teams find, screen, organize and hire new employees.

Instead of spending hours reformatting Excel sheets or wading into the deepest depths of your inbox to find the hidden gems, an ATS can automate and streamline your recruitment process into one clear, repeatable system. 
With a scalable recruitment system in place, it becomes much easier for you to turn the hiring dial up or down based on your company’s current goals and priorities, without having to reinvent your process every time you want to post an open role.

You spend less time responding to applicant emails and more time engaging with top quality candidates.

A guy in an envelope reaching down shaking a woman's hand

An ATS screens, sorts and stores all your candidate information in one central place, making it  much easier to identify quality candidates quickly and keep your hiring process moving, even when your company is growing fast.

Kyle Maltz Dollar Flight Club
Kyle Maltz
Dollar Flight Club
The process is really clean, and it saves us a lot of time. Breezy just makes life easy.

How Does an ATS Work?

There are different types of ATS systems to cater to different types of companies. While there are some important differences between them, typically most ATS software will let you upload and post open positions automatically, without having to copy/paste your job ads on each job board manually. This is just one of many time-saving functions an ATS will provide.

Many ATS systems also offer a resume parsing function and/or automated prescreening questionnaires to help sort and organize applicants based on job criteria. Once your applicants have been sorted and your best candidates have been identified, some ATS tools may also offer a chat function, notes field, or other team collaboration features so that members of the hiring team can discuss and score candidates in one central place until a consensus is reached.

ATS systems also let you track your candidates via a pipeline so that each member of the hiring team can easily visualize each candidate’s status. With additional features like text messaging and email auto-responders, hiring teams can also save a significant amount of time communicating over email or Slack and respond to candidates more quickly.

Once a hiring decision has been made, some ATS systems can automatically send offer letters to new hires and help pave the path toward a smooth onboarding experience for your new employee.

What Features Does an ATS Include?

Today there are more than 4,000 HR tech firms to select from.

Given the sheer size of the market, it’s helpful to understand how ATS software has transformed over recent years and why certain ATS features may vary based on the business niches and verticals each tool was created for. 

For more information on the three core types of ATS software on the market, this article includes a clear breakdown of each.

Here’s a list of some of the baseline features you can expect to see in an ATS:

  • Customizable career pages
  • Drop and drag pipeline management
  • Automatically post to the top job boards
  • Analytics to track the views, visits, applications, etc.
  • Automated emailing and texting
  • Automatic pre-screening questionnaires
  • Simplified interview scheduling
  • Customizable stage action automations
  • Searchable candidate database to source talent
  • Candidate scorecards
  • Accurate, compliant background checks

Using an ATS: What Are the Benefits?

From saving hours or even days per week to making better decisions about how to attract and hire new employees, there are many benefits of using an ATS.

Here are some of the biggest problems an ATS can solve.

Problem: I’m spending way too much time posting and re-posting my job ads.

Solution: An ATS will include a vast library of job description templates and let you automatically post your open roles to all your favorite job boards (both free and specialty) at the click of the button.

Problem: I can’t handle all these applications flooding my inbox.

Solution: Setting up an automated prescreening questionnaire can help weed out irrelevant applications, while automated email responders and candidate nurture campaigns make sure no applicant ever feels ignored.

Problem: My hiring tools are outdated and I feel like my candidates are starting to notice.

Solution: An ATS with modern features like end-to-end mobile capabilities, responsive careers pages and instant SMS make it easy to make a good first impression.

Problem: I don’t have the time, energy or budget to build my own career page.

Solution: Done-for-you career pages are easy to customize. Simply upload your logo and content and you’re good to go.

Problem: My HR tools are clunky, complex, and difficult to navigate.

Solution: An ATS with a drag-and-drop candidate pipeline and customizable automated stage actions can make it easy to instantly put the right applicants in the right places.

Problem: Everyone at my company has their own way of hiring and I’m afraid bias could be creeping in.

Solution: The right ATS will be just as user-friendly as your favorite app. Now that the hiring team has a system they actually like using, everyone gets the visibility they need to make better quality hires.

Problem: My hiring process is taking up way too much time, but I don’t know which parts need fixing.

Solution: An ATS will give you easy tools for tracking your candidate pipelines, talent pools and best sources of qualified applicants.

Gianluca Binelli
Gianluca Binelli
Booster Box
The main reasons we picked Breezy were the automation of the communication that put us in a position to convey the right message at the right time to the candidate while making sure, in a fun and witty way, that the candidate sees our love for automation as a way to break free of tedious procedure.

Applicant Tracking Systems Price Ranges

ATS prices can range from free to multiple thousands of dollars per month depending on software’s pricing model and number of users you need.

There are some free ATS tools on the market that will help you automate some of your most time-consuming tasks like posting job ads and tracking candidates. For more advanced features like video interviewing, calendar integration and automated scheduling, prices typically range  from around $60 per month and increase from there based on feature set or number of open roles.

How Much Does Breezy Cost?

In the beginning, we charged like most other ATS systems—by number of active jobs. But as we grew and iterated the product, we realized that the real value of a business isn’t determined by the number of open roles they’re looking to fill. It’s about the sophistication of their hiring process, including how much time and money it saves the company, and how the recruitment process is viewed by a company’s applicants and candidates.

‍With Breezy, you pay for the features you need and only the features you need. 

Not sure which features you need? Keep reading for our ATS FAQs and Feature Checklist By Hiring Stage. You can also take a closer look at Breezy’s Pricing Breakdown here.

FAQs: How to Find the Best Applicant Tracking System for Your Company

With literally hundreds of HR tools to choose from, how do you know which ATS is right for your company?

Here are some questions to think about:

  • Does each department already have a rock-solid recruitment and hiring strategy or do you need to create one that can scale across the company?
  • Are your hiring tasks limited to signing off on hires, sending offer letters and getting people into the HR system? Or do you have a more active role in the hiring process?
  • Do you want to keep your hiring activities in the same place you do your payroll, taxes and compliance tasks? Or do you need a dedicated space to make group decisions?
  • How big are your current hiring goals? 
  • Are you filling hundreds of roles per week or per month?
  • What level of customer service and support will you and your users need?
  • How important is candidate experience? 
  • Do you want an ATS that was designed for backend HR systems or one with a strong CRM component?

Applicant Tracking System Comparison

If your HR department has limited involvement in hiring decisions at your company, you may want to use whatever default ATS function is currently included in your HR Information System (HRIS) software.

‍While these types of built-in ATS tools can be useful for HR teams that simply make turnkey hiring decisions such as posting positions and signing off on hires, they often lack many of the features needed to make a good impression with candidates during the in-between stages, from applicant prescreening to candidate interviewing and scoring.

Because many built-in ATS tools are part of a larger enterprise-grade system, the level of customer support may be limited depending on which customer tier you fall into. Even enterprise-grade ATS systems that are built solely for recruitment and hiring purposes come with a higher price tag and because these vendors are generally larger in size, customer service is often less attentive than with a smaller market ATS.

ATS Feature Checklist By Hiring Stage

Not all hiring processes are created equal. Think about each stage of your recruitment process, from the moment you post your open role to the moment you send your job offer letter, then circle or highlight your must-have features using the list below.

Finding qualified candidates

  • Customizable career and employee referral sites 
  • Searchable candidate database to source and engage passive talent
  • Automatically post to the top job boards
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Analytics to track the views, visits, applications, and quality hires you're getting from each source

Providing a great candidate experience

  • Automated emailing, texting and templates
  • Automatic pre-screening questionnaires
  • Simplified interview scheduling
  • Customizable stage actions to automatically organize applicants
  • Automate and assign tasks to team members
  • Candidate scorecards for apples-to-apples comparison
  • Automatic reminders
  • Drop and drag pipeline management

Securing your new hire

  • Fast, accurate, compliant background checks
  • Automated reference checking
  • Digital offer letters
  • eSignatures
A knight in full armor holding a pencil checking off a list

What Makes Breezy Different?

Before we started Breezy, we were involved with designing ATS software at the enterprise level. These products were often good at what they did, but because they were designed for large organizations (with equally large HR departments), the features and functionalities would often feel bulky, bloated or siloed to the SMB user.

‍Instead of using software to make better hires faster, users were wasting hours of their day switching from screen to screen or navigating a messy, patchwork hiring process consisting of multiple inboxes and spreadsheets.

It was a bad experience for ATS users and an even worse experience for candidates. 

We knew we could do better.

We decided that what growing companies needed was an ATS that could help them create a user-friendly hiring process—one that would be just as agile and scalable as the rest of their business. No more clunky UX. No more complex user permissions. No more mess.

And thus, Breezy was born.

We wrote our first line of code in August 2014 with a mission of building the most user-friendly ATS on the planet. The goal was to make it so simple and fun to use, hiring teams would actually, well… use it.

We pioneered the drag-and-drop candidate pipeline and quickly became known as the “Trello for hiring teams”. At the time, most of Breezy’s users had roughly 20 to 30 employees. Because we made the decision to cater to the SMB user first, we were able to work closely with our customers and gain deep insights into how hiring teams were actually using Breezy. This experience helped us grow organically by narrowing in on the right features and functionality, without trying to be all things to all users.

As our product matured, we began catering to companies with 200 to 300 employees, but our dedication to customer success never wavered.

Today, Breezy serves more than 10,000 fast-growing companies in over 72 countries across the globe. With several customer-led awards under our belt, such as G2’s Winter Leader 2020, Capterra’s Most User-Friendly and Most Popular ATS Software for 2018 and GetApp’s ATS Category Leaders 2019 to name a few, we've got a lot to be grateful for. And this is just the beginning.

Are You ready?

Start optimizing your recruiting process today.

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