What Applicant Tracking System Recruitment Software is right for your business in 2020?


What Applicant Tracking System Recruitment Software is right for your business in 2020?

The free recruitment software guide for small/medium business.

Suitable for business owners & managers, Human Resources staff, Office Managers, Business Analysts, Project Managers... or anyone else involved in recruitment & Talent Acquisition.

Hi, Joseph here. I hope you enjoy this free applicant tracking system (ATS) business guide.
If you like it, please do me a favour and share it - thanks!
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This  guide will save your business a small fortune on recruitment and employer branding costs!

It gives an overview about what an ATS is, and the factors that are most important when researching Applicant Tracking systems.

It's pretty extensive.

Throughout, I’ll give real-world value examples and also links to related recruitment research.

I researched the related science extensively when writing my masters HR thesis, which was based around online recruitment.

My practical contract & permanent recruitment experience allowed me to focus on research that had real-world value.

The ideas and concepts below will give your business an edge in the talent market, whether you’re hiring or not.

There's lots of actionable advice throughout, for all types of recruitment stakeholders.

So, if you’re looking to:

  • Find out what’s really important when choosing an Applicant tracking system for your small or medium sized business.
  • Save money
  • Save on admin time for all involved
  • Recruit faster and better than your competition
  • Build (and protect) your employer brand
  • Hire better staff and retain them for longer
  • Learn about how talent pools can revolutionise your recruitment

... you’ll love the actionable techniques in this new guide.

Let’s get started!

Connect with me on Linkedin

Applicant Tracking System free trials I recommend


Recruitee Applicant Tracking System

All features, with a choice of free trial plan - five or ten job-slots & talent-pools. Totally Free for 18 days, no commitment.

0/ Days Free Trial

Breezy Applicant Tracking System

Free Trial covers everything you need for one job campaign, including a fully branded careers site, totally free forever.

0 + Days Free Trial

What is an applicant tracking system? 

Section 1.1

Deciding on the best applicant tracking system for your small or medium business might seem like a total pain, but it doesn't have to be. Spend time working through this guide, and if you have any specific questions that I haven't covered, ask in the comments below.

Let's get started with a few basics.

Applicant tracking systems help businesses track and organise all activities around recruitment and talent attraction. They are also your built-in employer branding hub, where you communicate to the market what working for your company is all about.

An ATS is basically a recruitment software, where everyone involved in hiring meets up to do business more efficiently. You won't have to install it locally - there are almost no technical steps needed. You'll generally login through a web-app on your internet browser (Chrome, or Firefox for example).

Hiring managers, team managers, HR & Recruitment staff, marketing, and candidates all feed into this one central system. All applications from external job boards will also feed into your ATS.

You'll use it for all recruitment tasks, things like creating a job-spec and publishing your jobs online. Or managing to the application and scheduling interview process and communicating with candidates and offering them jobs.

Everything recruitment-related lives in your ATS. It will also filter CV’s/Resumes, and help you organise your process and automate repetitive tasks.

A well-configured ATS is worth its weight in gold.

Simplicity, transparency, and a funnel-narrowing mindset will be at the heart of every action we take in researching and configuring your ATS.

Most ATS will also create valuable retention benefits across your organisation.

They will also help grow your business by building your employer brand.

What is Employer Branding?

Section 1.2

All organisations have, consciously or otherwise, an employer brand. It's the way in which organisations differentiate themselves in the labour market, enabling them to recruit, retain and engage the right people.

A strong employer brand helps businesses compete for the best talent and establish credibility.


Keep the concept of employer branding top of mind throughout this guide. As you work through, you’ll see how every action we take compliments your brand in some way.

A strong employer brand saves and makes you money - making talent attraction of the right staff easier.

What are the main benefits of an Applicant Tracking System?

Section 1.3

Chances are, right now you’re either stuck with an ATS system you don’t like; or you’re looking for a new and better way. Maybe you’re even starting a new business and want to get off with a solid foundation.

Maybe you have a mix of recruitment solutions? Multiple standalone systems–

  • like shared inboxes
  • lots different hiring managers with their own ways of doing thing
  • shared excel spreadsheets

And they’re all fine and will do the job (to a point).

Unfortunately, they are all costing you serious time and money versus having a unified cost-effective system.

Utilising an ATS is a better, easier, and cheaper way to recruit and build your employer brand.

Ten reasons your business needs an Applicant Tracking System

Section 1.4

The main goal of this guide is to give you the benefit of my recruitment experience for over one hundred different companies to date.

Some companies I have recruited for seemed almost wilfully wasteful when it came to recruitment.

Some made recruitment so unnecessarily complicated that it left every stakeholder frustrated.

One major investment manager I worked for had a shared HR inbox and used over 30 recruitment agencies to supply them with candidates. The result was thousands of pissed-off candidates (who were lost in that shared inbox) who heard nothing back on their applications.  This was horrible for their employer-brand. And it costs them reputational damage to the day (nothing has changed).

Disputes over cv-ownership when someone was hired through an agency. And it meant that company received the worst CV's from most of their supplier agencies (because who would put their best candidates into a process like that?).

They also had no applicant tracking system!

Most of my other recruitment clients required me to use their ATS when sending them candidates for their open jobs.

Some systems were great, others…not so great.

Below, I am combining that experience with my time setting up other ATS systems and websites for myself and for clients.

Here’s just ten brief reasons you should use an ATS (there’s actually lots more).

  1. Save on recruitment agency and paid job board fees. By intelligently setting up your In-house Recruitment function to include all internal stakeholders, you can reduce the need for agencies and expensive job-boards that cost tens of thousands. More on that later.
  2. Screen CV/Resumes faster. Automate rejection of unsuitable applicants using branding and intelligent application forms and stop them applying to begin with (always be narrowing the funnel)!

    Then smartly store the ones you want to keep on a nice warm shelf to interview or talk to later.

  1. Build and Improve your employer brand (which is an extension of your business brand). In the labour market, you have an employer brand whether you've worked on it or not. Why not ensure it's a brand you can be proud of? Employer branding is critical for better skills recruitment and retention, which saves your business money and drives revenue. Your free and easy-to-configure careers site (which is part of all the ATS systems we recommend) will be a major part of this.
  1. Facilitate collaborative hiring across your organisation. With a well-configured ATS, hiring managers and HR are always on the same page. One of the toughest challenges HR face in hiring new staff is getting stakeholder buy-in to review CV’s and arrange interviews and feedback. Your ATS should make this seamless, allowing collaboration and easy interview scheduling.


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A good ATS will push relevant decision making and scheduling notifications to hiring managers, easing the HR or management admin-load. If it’s a user-friendly system, you get even faster buy in.

It’s really so simple. And a good ATS solution can cost less than 1000 euro or dollars per year – seriously!

When recruitment is mis-aligned, the cost of wasted time all adds up, especially on management salaries of 50-100k per annum. There's a case-study coming up below.

  1. Empower unsuitable applicants to filter themselves OUT. By combining employer branding and intelligent job-application questions, you put unsuitable people off. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people – just not the right people for your business. Your ATS will help you filter unsuitable candidates in lots of ways, narrowing the funnel and reducing time waste.

    Deterring unsuitable candidates also protects you from bad word-of-mouth in the market, from people who didn't make it to interview.

An easy-to-configure system with smart qualification questions will save you SO MUCH time and hassle.

  1. Build talent pools. These are pools of high-value talent that you keep warm through automation, good visibility, and intelligent communication strategies. This is where the real medium to long term value from your ATS comes. This is also what good recruitment agencies do.


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You can set talent pools up on any ATS, but some (like Recruitee) have a dedicated facility that works brilliantly.

What do you do when other great candidates apply for jobs that have been filled? Talent pools!

You’ll pay a recruiter thousands for the same CV’s in 6 months.

So, save them in a talent pool, stay in contact with them periodically, or at least keep their details well stored. Then send a simple group email from your ATS next time a position opens up.

You’ll pay a talent consulting firm like Deloitte or McKinsey tens of thousands to tell you what I just did. Those companies all do this for every single skill-set they need.

Even if you don’t always have an open vacancy, you can still extract value from your ATS.  Your organisation should always have at least a ‘send us your profile’ ad posted for free with a detailed application form. This allows talent to register their interest with your company.

Just reduce your plan costs (there's usually a minimum amount of slots so you should make use of them when you can), your careers site will always still be live.

More on this in the ATS configuration section below.

  1. Talent Management forecasting. The best Applicant tracking systems will make your talent pipelines visible through easy-to-customise reporting (on things like, 'time-to-hire' or 'time-to-offer'), which makes planning for the future easy. Simple planning will save your business big on recruitment costs.

Talent forecasting is as simple as a bi-weekly or monthly email or sit-down. Do managers foresee a need for new staff due to internal or personal issues, or clients who are getting busier? ATS systems facilitate better business conversations.

  1. Make Data Protection legal-compliance easy. An ATS keeps everything in one place for those occasions where a previous job-applicant requests personal data deletions.

    Generally, you must turn over all data relating to the individual in a certain timeframe or face prosecution. An ATS allows this in one click. No more collating from ten email accounts and shared drives.


    Zoom images +

     Both GDPR, DPA in the UK, and CCPA in the US now have real financial teeth, so this is one less thing to worry about.

    And think of the time savings, instead of having high-salary managers waste time trawling through emails and attachments.

  2. Free ads on Paid jobsites. If your ATS does a good job of optimising your ads for google, (this is called schema) websites like Linkedin will pick up your ad and show it for free. Your ads are valuable content to sites like Linkedin.

Yes, they charge thousands for job-postings normally. But a well -made ATS will make Linkedin’s content scrapers pick up your ads free. I explore this in more detail in section later. I know this, because I have seen it happen with my jobs online.

  1. One click job-publishing to multiple sites. One of the most time-consuming parts of recruitment for me was logging on to different job sites like Monster, or Irishjobs, and posting optimised job-postings for each.


Zoom images +

Recruitee and many other ATS will save you time by publishing your jobs to multiple free job-board websites when you create a job in the system.

It’s usually a simple box-tick. That’s a clear efficiency win, and all applicants on those sites will be driven to your career page and custom application forms, to get a better idea of who you are.

So! There are ten great reasons that your business needs a simple and powerful ATS. The right ATS will give you a return on investment like nothing else related to Talent attraction and increasing efficiencies.

The ATS I have used for the past three years (where the screenshots come from)  is Recruitee, and it handles everything above really well.

Real world ATS benefits – a simple case study

Section 1.5


Imagine for a moment, that you are the owner of two hotels in Manhattan, one in Midtown, and one Uptown. They’re both called the overlook hotel.

Jack Torrance, a great facilities manager from the Bronx, applies to your Facilities Manager vacancy at the Midtown location. He applied via an ad, listed on the company website, which had email addresses listed for applicants to submit their resume/CV to.

Now, let’s imagine Jack wasn't late applying, and the Overlook chose someone who applied early.

Imagine now that the Overlook’s sister location, ALSO needs a Facilities Manager three weeks later.

Unfortunately, the downtown hotel manager doesn’t know about Jack (how could she?) and her hotel is busy now. She needs the new staff member for a busy conference schedule in the coming weeks.

So, she decides to pay for an online job board, and engages a recruitment agency due to the urgency.

You can no doubt see the costs adding up to thousands already for your hotel group.

Add in the recruitment admin time; cost of potential bad service and losing customer goodwill; morale for overworked existing staff, etc.

I think you see my point: What if Jack Torrance had applied via an Applicant tracking system?

This one situation would have covered the cost of the ATS for two years, when you factor in all potential costs. See section 1.6 below, on Recruitment cost academic research, for more detail on this.

Manager number two could have ran a simple candidate search before spending that money. She would have seen Jack was perfect and int he system, recently available, and had an easy commute on the 6-subway line from the town of White Plains and called him straight away.

Having everything recruitment-related in a good user-friendly ATS saves businesses money and time. If you’re hiring, you need a user-friendly ATS!

The ATS I recommend and use daily is Recruitee. As mentioned, they'll give you a free 18 day trial with no catch, and a couple of hours of video-call demos thrown in. 

If any of the above sounds like something your business has experienced, then why wouldn't you?

If you have any questions on anything, feel free to contact me or comment at the base of the post.

Recruitment Costs & Turnover Research - further reading

Section 1.6

Here’s some related science on turnover that has been cited in related turnover research 331 times (as you can see here on Google Scholar).

So in other words, the research is very well respected.

Understanding organisational turnover is important, even beyond the common sense that says losing good people costs money and possibly other good staff (turnover contagion).

Turnover applies to your ATS in two very important ways:

  1. Creating a solid Employer brand using ATS careers pages attracts employees who are a better fit - thus costing you less in turnover costs long-term, because you retain good-fit employees for longer.
  2. The deeper costs of recruiting new staff (who have turned over to work elsewhere) beyond the obvious agency and Job-board fees, should motivate you to utilise a good ATS to save money.

In general, the tangible and intangible costs associated with employee turnover are recognized as substantial (Holtom et al, 2005).

In a 2008 study of thirty-three hotels in the United States, Tracey & Hinkin (2008) put dollar amounts on the all-in costs of turnover at upwards of 12,000 USD just for low complexity jobs.

They noted that when labour markets are tight, these costs will generally increase. Service levels are impacted and resulting overtime costs can be substantial.

Costs of turnover were divided in the study into five categories related to the person leaving and new hires.

These costed areas were predeparture, recruitment, selection, orientation & training, and lost productivity (Tracey & Hinkin, 2008).

If you'd like to read more on that hotel turnover costs study, you can find the research here.

Tracey & Hinkin’s research from 2008 is here 

Holtom et al's research from 2006 is here

Next up, considerations for choosing a system

Section 1.7

When it comes to deciding on which ATS, trust your own judgement.

Make a basic list of what you want to achieve and don’t be dazzled by bells and whistles.

Have confidence that you can set up an entire ATS in a day or two, even if you're not that technically gifted. I really mean that. These systems are built for novices, but they look made by professionals.

Most of the business articles and advice you'll find online about Applicant tracking systems are written by the various vendors.

The content is generally aligned to the vendor's own ATS software, and what it offers. Most of that detail is useful in getting an idea of what you can do with an ATS, but Independent practical advice is hard to come by.

Most non-vendor advice or blog articles are written by people that have never used an ATS. It is mostly paid-for content, to fill web pages on software sites, or HR blogs.

I advocate letting people see for themselves. There are a number of systems that offer free trials, giving you plenty of time to test.

The points I'm making above are intended to show you that trialing these systems is worth your time.

The main recruitment software/ATS I recommend, Recruitee, offers an 18 day free trial and you can schedule a personal demo whenever you like, in addition to the trial.

I recommend exploring for a few days before scheduling your live demo with one of their experts. You'll get more value from the time they give you, if you've already had a tinker. The questions you'll have will be much more informed.

Most businesses need a system that does the basics well; facilitate hiring collaboration across the business by being user–friendly; represent your brand well; and have price flexibility.

You do not need an all-encompassing system. You need one that covers the basics well, with good user-experience. Don't fall for a super-expensive system.

From my experience, I would estimate that 95% of global businesses do not need a super-expensive system with spiralling costs.

In my first year of running my own recruitment business, I used Bullhorn ATS (€$1500-2k per user!) and switched to Recruitee after a year when I tested their free trial.

I set both up myself (I’m not super-techy). I have also used lots more ATS systems, as a talent supplier into some of the largest companies in the world (see the home page).

The truth is most of the features are the same across all ATS systems. It is mainly the execution that differs.

Below, I list five considerations for choosing an ATS system for your business.

I use Recruitee as an example because I have used and lived in the system daily for over two years. I believe in it, and I know it works brilliantly to recruit staff and build your employer brand.

In the interests of transparency, I also get a small commission if you sign up to their free trial through any of the links on this site (and I thank you in advance for using them).

I’m available to answer any questions you may have in the comments below, and you can also contact me at my Linkedin page.

Section 2

The five most important considerations for choosing an ATS


The Applicant tracking systems that I recommend, Recruitee, will give you an 18-day trial completely free,  and a supervised demo, with no catches.

Most of the big-budget systems that give you virtually the same ATS functions, will offer you an hour or two of supervised demo only.


The prime considerations of simplicity and usability are a given for choosing any new software for multiple stakeholders.

The systems I recommend have both attributes built in by design.

You’ll find most applicant tracking systems have a lot in common. For example: they will all automate confirmation and email responses to candidates who apply to your jobs (it’s so important to set-this up properly!). They all have the other core functionalities (like a CV search and pdf parse function).

Many ATS will also have structured mark-up called ‘schema’ that make it easy for Google to read your jobs. You can read more on Google for jobs schema here.

This helps jobseekers find your jobs through your SEO (Search Engine Optimised) keyworded job postings. This helps other job boards to automatically pick up your ads for free. More on that later.

Try not to get dazzled by claims of Artificial intelligence if a salesperson from a large ATS vendor is pitching to you. AI won’t really help you recruit staff. And it isn’t really AI that they’re touting anyway - but that's a different conversation.

For me, it is the little things that make an applicant tracking system stand out from the competition.

The five following considerations matter most to help you cut through the noise when choosing a new ATS. Following them will not only give you a definite edge in the talent market, they'll save you lots of money.

What are the (hidden) costs of an Applicant Tracking System?

Section 2.1, Consideration 1

When it comes to ATS cost, the main thing to look for is cost plan-flexibility.

Because all hiring is cyclical - when you're not hiring high volume, it's great to be able to adjust your plan to a cheaper option.

You want a system that you can ramp up with hiring gets busy (and pay a little more), or that can be pared back to pay less when things slow down.

Many systems expand job-slot numbers flexibly, along with your hiring needs.

You will always retain your careers site, configuration, and candidate data.

The more expensive systems (usually the ones where you have to schedule a demo) charge a set price for the year, whatever volume you’re hiring.

Many systems also charge by the user. You don’t want that either! (Remember Item 4 in the top ten reasons you need an ATS above)

Narrow your system search down to vendors that do not charge extra for added users – you should be paying only one price for your entire company.

This is really important. One of the biggest paybacks from an ATS is the time-saving collaboration they allow between different team hiring managers and those administering recruitment.

In future, you may decide to include recruitment agencies, new HR staff, or marketing people. You might bring in offsite senior managers if you are conducting profile-reviews, or video interviews or calls through your Applicant Tracking System.

So, make sure your system doesn’t charge extra for users! We’re trying to save on waste and incentivise collaborative hiring.

When it comes to deciding whether a system is worth investing in, some very basic maths (in Ireland we say maths!) will give you an indication of potential savings. You can get more idea on potential costings to factor in from the ATS use case study above. 

Does the ATS have a built-in, optimised careers site?

Section 2.2, Consideration 2

Careers-sites are an essential part of any recruitment plan. Not only do they help funnel good data into a shared database, they are the main place your employer-brand lives.

One of the great things about a good ATS system, is that they come with a great careers page built in.

And you won’t need to hire an expensive web-developer to make them look beautiful and function brilliantly on mobile or desktop.

The best ATS options have clear & short guides on how to get your free careers site online.

Your recruitment and retention efforts will benefit from a beautiful and intuitive careers site that allows you to express your values and culture to attract the best talent.

Career's sites are built-in to all good applicant tracking systems, let's talk in more detail about why every business needs one.

Six reasons your business needs a careers site

Section 2.2.1

1. The best candidates want information about your company.

And they prefer to apply on your careers site. They give your business credibility in the eyes of candidates interested in who you are. Even in a downturn, there is ALWAYS competition for the best talent.

2. Hiring for ‘fit’ is best hiring practice.

Hiring based on shared values and cultural beliefs leads to tangible positive results. You careers page expresses who you are - allowing candidates to filter themselves out. (See point 5 in Ten reasons you need an applicant tracking system above)

There are three main types of ‘fit’ when it comes to hiring – Team, Organisation, & leader.

Millions of $$ have been spent compiling hundreds of books and scientific research articles, …to confirm what we already know through common sense! Hiring for fit means happier employees, that stay for longer. This is obviously very valuable to your business.

All you have to do is make a conscious intelligent effort to hire for fit. You don't need consultants.

Most of it is common sense: If your organisation has many separate teams, you probably want to hire for person-supervisor-fit. You want to lean towards Organisation fit if you’re in a shared services centre for example.

Don’t spend too much time thinking about it! I like this article on hiring for fit from Harvard business review, if you want to look into this more.

People who fit are also less likely to pull out if you offer them a job after a month of interview processing (saving you more wasted time and money).

A careers page with good cultural information allows jobseekers themselves to increase your odds of hiring a star.

Employees that fit are more likely to perform better and stay at your company longer – reducing turnover costs.

3. Display your benefits/perks and transport links.

It might be that little small detail that makes your future star employee send you their CV/Resume. A nugget like work from home policy details or car-pooling, or on-site child-care. Even an on-site canteen-room or shower (for those who cycle) can attract staff. It’s the little things! Be detailed.

Make it easy for potential applicants to check your location(s) for commuting options. Make your careers page all about what matters to your users/customers (that is, your potential new staff). Remember - always be narrowing the funnel.

Many of the larger applicant tracking systems somehow fail in many of these aspects. Many have an ugly careers page with no company culture or branding options: They have a hugely complicated backend and forget all about the candidate message.

4. A seamless job-application process is essential

We’ve all seen those job-application forms that asks us to upload our CV, and then copy and paste every single section into another lengthy form! This is not narrowing the funnel… this deters good people from applying.

Poor UX design (your whole business should be User experience optimised) means you lose the best candidates.

Luckily, some of the best ATS systems on the market make a fully mobile-optimised careers site incredibly easy to achieve for even the most non-technical people. This means that when you create your careers page with the easy-to-use interfaces on Recruitee and others, it automatically looks perfect on mobiles too. 52% of web-traffic is mobile now.

Whatever your industry – attracting the top talent that will give you a business edge is difficult. Your application process must be simple and attractive, and work perfectly on mobile as well as desktop. Always test it!

5. Rich media functionality is usually built in.


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Video or audio won’t be the first thing you do on your careers page, but you want those options available without needing an expensive web developer. Remember, you’re selling a product - your organisation as a great workplace.

Rich media helps (it can be done using just an iPhone), where you give something extra to applicants.

It allows candidates to get a deeper impression of your employer-brand, to decide if they identify with who you are. Remember, those are the people you want. Always be filtering.

6. Time saving technology extras.

You are no doubt considering an ATS because you want to save time.

Besides all of the above, many ATS also have handy Apps to speed up recruitment work on the go.

Recruitee has an excellent ATS android and IOS app but I don’t use it much if I’m honest – I can’t do recruitment with distractions, but many people can.

Browser extensions can be a huge help too (these I do use). Recruitee have a fantastic easy to install Chrome candidate-sourcing extension that imports bulk candidate details right from your browser screen into your ATS, with one click. A record is then created that you can attach to any job or talent pool. No need to upload and fill in a form to add a CV/Resume. Less admin time.

Does your new ATS publish jobs to multiple job-boards?

Section 2.3, Consideration 3

When you publish a job ad on your ATS, you want an in-built functionality that sends those jobs to every free job board available.

And when a candidate sees those jobs while browsing on indeed, you want them taken to your careers site to get exposure to your employer brand.

You want everything to go into your ATS system.

Did you know?

Linkedin & indeed (and many other job-websites) will pick up job-ads and display them for free (despite generally charging thousands for one job-ad).  It’s all about how friendly they are to search engines.

Remember we mentioned ‘google for jobs schema’ and ATS at the start of section 2?

Indeed is a major job-board that you can use for free using many ATS systems.

‘But don't Indeed charge a fee for job ads?’, you might ask.

Well, they do... and sometimes they don’t. Your job-ads are valuable content to Indeed and linkedin, and if your ATS sends jobs out with the right back-end coding (schema), you often get job-postings on the paid sites for free.

Many of the older systems don’t have ‘schema’ built in.

Recruitee pushes your jobs to Indeed for free, then any applicants are driven to your careers site and custom application form.

All of the ATS systems that I recommend will do this for you.

Recruitee also integrates with Linkedin paid job slots and hundreds of other paid job-boards, if you have those accounts already.

These are basic but critical requirement for any modern online recruitment/talent-acquisition department.

Aside: There is a definite business case for paid job-ads, but you can get by without paying by being pro-active and optimising your own ATS. That's what this guide is all about. 

Does your ATS have a free trial?

Section 2.4, Consideration 4

There are hundreds of recruitment software solutions on the market (because Software as a service – SAAS - is quite lucrative).

Doing your due diligence is essential, because you'll be committing your time, expenditure and staff to setting-up and using your new system.

Make sure you choose the right system by utilising a free trial, playing with the system, and making sure there's no contractual obligations longer than one month. (With Recruitee, it's a month by month payment you can cancel at any time).

The above applies in all cases, unless you’re a very large corporate looking for a Human Resources Information system.

Most of the more expensive ATS systems (Greenhouse, Workable for example) don’t give an unsupervised online free trial for one reason – their systems are super complicated.

Almost all free trial ATS’s have great set-up wizard function (no, not Gandalf) to guide you through the basics.

I recommend dedicating half of one Saturday to whizz through it, you’ll be amazed how intuitive and easy they are to set-up, and how you definitely don’t need an expensive web designer.

Aside - What is an HRIS system and do you need one?

Unless you’re a big organisation, you probably don’t want or need the hassle of a complicated HRIS (Human Resources information System). HRIS are systems basically that manage every single HR-related aspect of your business, like time-sheets and contracts etc

It’s generally beyond the scope of this article, but please contact me on Linkedin if you have any questions, or comment below and I'll get back to you.

If you decide you do need an HRIS, the ATS systems that I recommend in this guide (like Recruitee) integrate with many HRIS systems like Bamboo HR - if you eventually go down that road.

An expensive ATS that I bought for my business in the first year (and committed to with a contract!), turned out to be a nightmare for finding candidates CVS.

These were CV’s I had uploaded and coded meticulously myself.

So how do you test search capability?

There’s no avoiding a couple of hours legwork here, but please spend time doing it.

  • Get into your new ATS, simply upload a few word and pdf CVs of (Your own, or your co-workers).
  • Now go to the candidate search area and search for keywords you know are on the CVs. Try it with PDF and word docs.
  • If they don’t show up in the search, dump the system!

The free-trial ATS systems I recommend have a tested search function. I built a recruitment agency on Recruitee so I know the candidate search function works perfectly. I needed to be able to find candidates with multiple skills, that I had uploaded myself or who had applied, every day,

Both a well-made database and search function are critical to extracting the real recruitment value from your ATS system.

To conclude!

So, those are the main considerations you need to focus on.

I hope you have found this guide useful – please contact me on Linkedin if you have any questions,. Or you can comment below.

Please share the guide if you like it, and if you decide to follow our system recommendations, please use our links as we get a small commission.

The choice in the market is definitely difficult, and it can be tempting to go with the best salesperson that gets to you first.

However, given that 99% of all functions are the same, I recommend doing your research, and at least one free applicant tracking system trial.

Test out the systems that might suit you and do the supervised demos if you have time.

The ATS's I recommend are less expensive, more user friendly, and require less expenditure to configure.

And they’re easier to extract value from because they’re user-friendly and allow all different tech-abilities to get involved in collaborative hiring.

Whatever applicant tracking system you choose, the above information applies to all of them.

Coming up in the next post - how to configure your ATS and get an edge on your competitors (i.e., every other company looking for the best talent in your niche!).

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Applicant Tracking System free trials I recommend

Recruitee Applicant Tracking System

All features, with a choice of free trial plan - five or ten job-slots & talent-pools. Totally Free for 18 days, no commitment.

0/ Days Free Trial

Breezy HR Applicant Tracking System

Free Trial covers everything you need for one job campaign, including a fully branded careers site, totally free forever.

0 + Days Free Trial