10 min read
Oct 20, 2017
Applicant Tracking (ATS)

ATS vs. Recruitment Solutions: Which Does Your Small Business Need?

What's the difference between an ATS and a full recruitment solution? Which one does your small business need? We're answering those questions and more!

Ankita SinghAnalyst

An applicant tracking system (ATS) and recruitment software are like two concentric circles, where recruitment software is the larger of the two. Both have the same central goal - automating and speeding up the hiring process - but ATSs fall within the recruitment software category.

As a small business owner, understanding the nuanced differences between an ATS and a full recruitment solution will help you:

  • Choose a product that meets all of your hiring needs

  • Avoid paying for features you won't use

In this article, we'll explore the differences between these two types of software systems and also provide a short list of vendors that offer ATS and recruitment software solutions.

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

What is an applicant tracking system?

An ATS is a component of recruiting software that makes searching for applicants, screening candidates, coordinating interviews, and making job offers more streamlined.

As applications come in for a job opening, an ATS automatically sorts and filters them according to predefined criteria, such as previous job experience, skills required, and educational qualification.

An ATS can also store documents, such as resumes, cover letters, screening tests, and interview scorecards, which are then easily retrievable for future reference.

Since an ATS mainly focuses on finding the best candidate for a role, this type of system is best suited for agencies or internal teams that are not part of the onboarding process.

Some of the key features of an ATS include:

Features Description
Job postings Post job openings across job boards, social media networks (such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and career websites.
Application screening and resume ranking Enter relevant keywords so that the system can screen resumes automatically. Choose keywords that will identify the appropriate level of skill and experience.
Candidate profiles Centralize candidates' data, including their resume, references, manager feedback, and social media profiles.
Applicant status tracking Create unique recruiting workflows for your organization. The system automatically updates candidates' status as they progress through the recruiting pipeline.
Scoring and ranking Set up a unique set of criteria for your business so that interviewers can score and rank applicants. Ranking can also be done automatically.
Dynamic scheduling Schedule interviews according to the calendars of each member of the hiring team.
Analytics and reporting Gain insights about candidate sourcing, pipeline activity, user activity, and more. Stakeholders can use these insights to redefine and optimize processes and lessen the time taken during various stages of the pipeline.
Employer branding Create a customized career portal where jobs can be posted.
Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

What is recruiting software?

Recruiting software typically includes an applicant tracking system as one module of a larger suite, but also provides capabilities that go beyond the hiring process and candidate sourcing to onboarding and training of the new hires.

For this reason, recruitment solutions would be more suitable for an internal HR team that handles everything from sourcing and shortlisting the right candidates through candidate hiring and onboarding.

Recruitment software includes all the features of ATS software, such as applicant tracking, career site management, and job posting, described in the section above.

However, there are some other additional features that are unique to recruitment software:

Features Description
Referral management Advertise job postings internally and encourage referrals from existing employees.
Customized interview kits Help interviewers prepare with predetermined, relevant questions for each job description.
Electronic forms Streamline and automate the onboarding process with electronic offer letters and use e-signatures for onboarding documents and forms.
Background checks Perform background checks to meet compliance based on predetermined criteria.
Relationship management HR managers and recruiters can gather and centralize data about a candidate or potential candidate for targeted recruiting. They can also save and track interactions with candidates and maintain relationships with candidates for future opportunities.
Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Which tools are out there?

As we mentioned before, there is a fair amount of overlap between an ATS and a recruitment system. To help you narrow down the options and choose the best system for your needs, we'll take a look at some examples of products from each category.

If you need an ATS…


Betterteam is a cloud-based ATS. It not only helps users create and post job listings across career websites, social media, etc., but it also allows users to amplify job posts with ads, which they can create using the point-and-click ad builder. Ads can be managed using multiple accounts, and premium ads are discounted for users on Indeed, Monster, SimplyHired, and more.

Betterteam also allows users to create a job board on their own site without the need for coding knowledge, and the platform aims to help users provide a seamless experience for their candidates.

Some other features offered by Betterteam include online applications and automatic notifications.

Caption: Candidate view in Betterteam with applicant status and rating (Source: GetApp.com)


Enlist offers functionalities such as application management, job posting management, role-based permissions, email integration, jobs boards, and interview scheduling.

It aims to streamline the hiring process by allowing users to add tags to candidates, making it easier to search and sort through them later.

Enlist also allows users to send mass emails, tag other team members in a comment, and create automatic notifications about upcoming interviews and deadlines.

Caption: Creating a custom job pipeline for a position in enlist (Source: GetApp.com)


Fitzii is a cloud-based ATS that offers applicant tracking for free with the option to pay for premium job postings and ads on job boards and additional hiring services.

Fitzii offers features such as automatic postings to free job boards, reporting features to track the success of different sources, video screening with recording capabilities, and personalized interview guides.

In addition, there are features intended to promote objectivity and encourage diversity. Recruiters can disable or hide certain details about candidates such as pictures, names, dates, and locations to remove bias during the shortlisting process.

Caption: Creating a job posting in Fitzee (Source: GetApp.com)


Recruiz is a cloud-based ATS with functionalities such as candidate sourcing, automatic resume parsing, interview scheduling, a centralized resume database, and recruitment pipeline management. It also offers reporting on metrics such as hiring sources, time to hire, and team member performance.

Users can post job openings across social sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as reach out to potential candidates through those channels from within the tool.

Recruiz makes it possible to categorize, tag, and rate resumes (old and new) to create a common candidate pool. Users can also update the recruitment pipeline by dragging and dropping a candidate profile to a different stage.

Caption: Candidate list in Recruiz (Source: GetApp.com)

If you need a recruitment solution…

Zoho Recruit

Zoho Recruit is cloud-based recruiting software with features such as applicant status tracking, job boards posting, candidate relationship management, website integration, social media integration, and more.

There is an activities stream that provides a snapshot of the hiring process and to help with the recruitment of selected candidates. Users can see the source the candidate was recruited through as well as which sources are performing the best.

The candidate relationship management feature makes HR processes simpler, as all candidate activity can be tracked from one portal. You just have to click on the candidate name to see all data on the status of a candidate within the hiring process. Phone calls and interviews can also be scheduled from a centralized location.

Caption: Dashboard on Zoho Recruit (Source: GetApp.com)


Greenhouse is a recruiting software platform that aims to reduce the number of manual administrative tasks a recruiting team must perform.

It offers key recruiting features such as job board syndication, talent pool management, interview scheduling, analytical tools, and pipeline management. In addition, users can manage the submission and tracking of referrals, offer and rejection letters, bulk communication with candidates, and more.

Greenhouse's customer interview kits and scorecards empower interviewers to assess a candidate while removing bias and nonspecific questions. The structured interview outlines and scorecards are meant to save users time during the interview and hiring process.

Caption: Candidate scorecard on Greenhouse (Source: GetApp.com)


Workable is a recruiting software platform with some of the core features of an ATS, including applicant workflow tracking, social media recruitment, resume parsing, job boards syndication, and branded career pages.

However, it also enables HR teams to accept employee referrals and lets them create workflows with rules for each job description.

Workable provides analytics and insights about the overall response and best quality responses from different sources. Recruiters can also compare multiple candidate profiles within a single browser at one time.

Caption: Reporting on different recruiting sources in Workable (Source: GetApp.com)

The Applicant Manager

The Applicant Manager (TAM) is a cloud-based recruiting solution that offers custom branding and video interviewing capabilities.

In addition to offering core ATS features, such as interview, candidate, and application management, jobs board integration, and reporting, TAM also provides functionality for background checks and onboarding of candidates, such as personality assessments, reference checks, and drug testing. It also provides separate cloud storage to archive the resumes of passive applicants.

Caption: Candidate profile on The Applicant Manager (Source: GetApp.com)

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Next steps

Here are some additional resources to increase your understanding of ATSs and recruiting software before you decide which platform is right for you:

  • Look at our Category Leaders ranking of the top ATSs on the market.

Back to top