Recruitment Terms & Definitions

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application that helps streamline and automate the recruitment process for organizations. Its primary purpose is to manage the entire lifecycle of recruiting, from receiving and sorting resumes to the final selection of candidates. Here are the key functions and features of an ATS:

  • Resume parsing: ATS can automatically extract relevant information from resumes, such as contact details, work experience, education, and skills. This makes it easier for recruiters to review and compare candidate profiles.
  • Job posting: Recruiters can use an ATS to create and post job openings on various job boards and company websites. The system can also track the source of applicants, providing insights into the most effective recruitment channels.
  • Candidate management: ATS allows recruiters to organize and manage a large volume of candidate data efficiently. It provides a centralized database where recruiters can search, filter, and sort candidates based on specific criteria.
  • Application workflow: The system facilitates a structured workflow for managing applications. Recruiters can set up predefined stages, such as application review, interview, and offer stages, to track the progress of candidates through the hiring process.
  • Collaboration and communication: ATS often includes communication tools that enable collaboration among hiring team members. Recruiters can leave comments, share feedback, and communicate with each other within the system, promoting efficient teamwork.
  • Interview scheduling: Some ATS platforms offer features for scheduling interviews, sending automated reminders to both candidates and interviewers, and managing the logistics of the interview process.
  • Analytics and reporting: ATS provides data and analytics on various recruitment metrics, including time-to-fill, source effectiveness, and candidate demographics. This information helps recruiters make data-driven decisions and optimize their hiring processes.
  • Compliance and reporting: ATS systems assist in maintaining compliance with hiring regulations by providing features that support reporting and documentation of the entire recruitment process.

How the applicant tracking system process works

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) process involves several stages, from the initial posting of a job opening to the final selection of a candidate. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how the typical ATS process works:

  1. Job posting: Recruiters create a job posting within the ATS, specifying details such as job title, responsibilities, qualifications, and other relevant information. The ATS allows recruiters to publish the job opening on various platforms, including company websites, job boards, and social media.

  2. Application submission: Interested candidates discover the job opening and submit their applications through the designated channels, such as the company’s career portal or email. Resumes and other application materials are automatically parsed by the ATS, extracting key information for easier review.

  3. Resume screening: The ATS automatically screens and filters incoming resumes based on predefined criteria set by the recruiters. Recruiters can quickly review a shortlist of candidates generated by the system, focusing on those who meet the specified qualifications.

  4. Candidate management: The ATS organizes candidate data in a centralized database, allowing recruiters to search, sort, and manage applicants efficiently. Recruiters can add comments, notes, and tags to candidate profiles for better collaboration and communication within the hiring team.

  5. Interview scheduling: Some ATS platforms offer features for scheduling interviews. Recruiters can coordinate interview dates and times, send automated invitations to candidates, and manage the logistics of the interview process.

  6. Interview and evaluation: Candidates progress through the defined stages of the hiring process, including initial interviews, assessments, and any other evaluation steps. Recruiters and hiring managers can use the ATS to track candidate progress, share feedback, and make collaborative decisions.

  7. Offer and onboarding: Once a suitable candidate is identified, the ATS assists in generating and managing the job offer. Some ATS systems integrate with onboarding processes, helping streamline the transition from candidate to employee.

  8. Analytics and reporting: The ATS generates reports and analytics on various recruitment metrics, providing insights into the effectiveness of the hiring process. Recruiters can use this data to identify areas for improvement, assess the success of different recruitment channels, and make data-driven decisions.

Importance of ATS in recruitment and hiring

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) plays a crucial role in recruitment and hiring processes, offering numerous benefits that contribute to the overall success of talent acquisition. It not only automates time-consuming tasks but also provides tools for collaboration, analytics, and compliance. Its role in enhancing efficiency, improving candidate quality, and contributing to data-driven decision-making makes it a valuable asset for organizations looking to build a strong and competitive workforce.

Benefits of applicant tracking systems

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) offer a range of benefits that significantly impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment and hiring process. Here are the key advantages:

Time savings: Automation features in ATS streamline time-consuming tasks such as resume parsing, screening, and interview scheduling. Recruiters can focus their time on more strategic activities, accelerating the overall hiring process.

Efficient candidate screening: ATS automatically screens resumes based on predefined criteria, allowing recruiters to quickly identify qualified candidates. This ensures that only the most relevant applicants move forward in the recruitment process.

Centralized data management: ATS serves as a centralized database for all candidate-related information. Recruiters can easily organize, search, and retrieve data, improving data management and reducing the risk of information loss.

Improved collaboration: ATS facilitates collaboration among hiring team members. Recruiters and hiring managers can communicate within the system, share feedback, and work collaboratively to make informed decisions about candidates.

Enhanced communication: ATS systems often include communication tools that automate email notifications, interview scheduling, and status updates. This ensures timely and consistent communication with candidates, providing a positive experience throughout the recruitment process.

Better candidate experience: The streamlined and organized process offered by ATS contributes to an improved candidate experience. Applicants receive prompt responses and updates, creating a positive impression of the organization and its hiring practices.

Increased quality of hire: By automating initial screening and focusing on qualified candidates, ATS contributes to a higher quality of hire. Recruiters can more effectively match candidates to job requirements, resulting in better-performing employees.

Comprehensive reporting and analytics: ATS provides reporting tools that offer insights into recruitment metrics, such as time-to-fill, source effectiveness, and diversity statistics. Recruiters can analyze this data to identify areas for improvement and optimize the hiring process.

Consistent job postings: ATS allows recruiters to create and publish standardized job postings across various platforms. This ensures consistency in messaging and branding, helping to attract the right candidates.

Talent pipeline management: ATS enables recruiters to build and maintain a talent pipeline by storing candidate information for future use. This reduces the time and effort required to start the recruitment process from scratch for each new opening.

Legal compliance: ATS helps organizations maintain compliance with hiring regulations by documenting the entire recruitment process. This documentation is valuable for audits and ensures fair and legal practices.

Cost savings: Through automation and efficiency improvements, ATS contributes to cost savings in the recruitment process. Reduced time-to-fill and improved candidate quality can lead to lower overall recruitment costs.

Key ATS features

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) come with a variety of features designed to streamline the recruitment process and enhance the overall efficiency of talent acquisition. Here are some key features commonly found in ATS platforms:

Resume parsing: ATS can automatically extract and organize information from resumes, including details such as contact information, work experience, education, and skills. This feature simplifies the initial screening process.

Job posting and distribution: Recruiters can create, edit, and post job openings directly from the ATS. Some systems also offer distribution capabilities, allowing simultaneous posting across various job boards and social media platforms.

Candidate management: A centralized database within the ATS stores candidate information, making it easy for recruiters to search, filter, and manage applicants. This feature enhances organization and ensures that no candidate falls through the cracks.

Customized application workflow: ATS allows recruiters to define and customize the stages of the recruitment process. This includes stages such as application review, interviews, assessments, and final selection. Recruiters can tailor the workflow to match the specific needs of their organization.

Collaboration tools: Many ATS platforms include collaboration features that enable communication and feedback among members of the hiring team. Recruiters and hiring managers can leave comments, share notes, and collaborate on candidate evaluations within the system.

Interview scheduling: Some ATS systems offer tools for scheduling interviews. Recruiters can coordinate interview dates and times, send automated invitations to candidates, and manage the logistics of the interview process.

Automated communication: ATS automates communication with candidates throughout the recruitment process. This includes sending acknowledgment emails, updates on application status, and interview invitations, contributing to a positive candidate experience.

Analytics and reporting: ATS provides reporting and analytics tools that offer insights into various recruitment metrics. Recruiters can analyze data on time-to-fill, source effectiveness, and other key performance indicators to make informed decisions and optimize their hiring strategy.

Integration with other tools: Many ATS platforms integrate with other HR and recruiting tools, such as background check services, onboarding platforms, and HRIS (Human Resources Information System) software. This integration streamlines the end-to-end hiring process.

Mobile accessibility: Some ATS systems offer mobile applications or responsive design, allowing recruiters to access the system and perform essential tasks on the go. This is particularly beneficial for managing recruitment activities outside the office.

Candidate relationship management (CRM): ATS may include CRM features that help recruiters build and maintain relationships with potential candidates. This is valuable for creating talent pipelines and nurturing connections for future opportunities.

Compliance and audit trail: ATS assists in maintaining compliance with hiring regulations by providing features that support documentation and auditing of the entire recruitment process. This ensures that the organization adheres to fair and legal practices.

Popular applicant tracking systems


Known for its comprehensive human capital management (HCM) suite, Workday includes an ATS module that integrates seamlessly with other HR functions.


iCIMS is a widely used ATS that offers features for applicant tracking, candidate engagement, and reporting. It is suitable for organizations of different sizes.


Greenhouse is known for its focus on improving the hiring process. It offers features for recruitment planning, sourcing, and analytics.


Jobvite provides a comprehensive platform covering applicant tracking, recruiting marketing, and onboarding. It is often chosen for its social recruiting and employee referral capabilities.


JazzHR is a user-friendly ATS designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It includes features for job posting, applicant tracking, and collaboration.


BambooHR is an HR software that includes an ATS component. It is known for its simplicity and is often chosen by small and medium-sized businesses.


SmartRecruiters is a cloud-based ATS known for its modern and user-friendly interface. It offers features for sourcing, collaborative hiring, and analytics.


Workable is an ATS designed for simplicity and efficiency. It includes features for job posting, candidate sourcing, and interview scheduling.


ApplicantPro is an ATS focused on providing affordable solutions for small and midsize businesses. It includes features for job posting, applicant tracking, and communication.


Lever is known for its collaborative hiring features, offering a platform for sourcing, interviewing, and managing the entire hiring process.


GreenJobInterview is an ATS that emphasizes video interviewing and collaboration. It allows for virtual interviews and assessments.

Oracle Taleo:

Oracle Taleo is part of the Oracle Cloud HCM suite and is known for its scalability. It is often used by larger enterprises for end-to-end talent management.

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