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A to Z of ATS: Ultimate Guide to Understanding Applicant Tracking System & Choosing the Best One

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According to a study by Straits Research, the worldwide ATS (applicant tracking system) market reached a whopping $1.43 billion in revenue in 2021 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 9.05% by 2030. It’s easy to understand why when you consider the amount of time recruiters traditionally spend sourcing, screening, and guiding candidates through the hiring process. Between communicating with the hiring team via technologies like Slack, scheduling interviews via Zoom, and manually jotting down feedback – it’s a challenge to even keep track of your candidate pipeline. Enter a recruiter’s best friend – the ATS to save the day!

Applicant tracking systems have a wide range of features that can streamline processes and save your recruiting team valuable time. These typically include automated screening capability, interview scheduling, candidate communication functions, customizable inputs for various stages of the hiring lifecycle, and more. However, choosing the right ATS for your company isn’t an easy task. After all, you want the maximum bang for your buck, and you also want an ATS that checks all the boxes.

To get it right, it’s important to have a fundamental understanding of not just how an ATS works, but also how it integrates with other recruitment tools, and a clear picture of what your specific needs are and what you hope to accomplish. To help you make the decision that moves your business forward, we’ve put together the ultimate A to Z guide to applicant tracking systems and everything you need to know to select the right one. Let’s start with the basics.

What are ATS tools for recruitment?

An ATS or applicant tracking system is a software platform that helps recruiters and hiring teams manage and track candidates throughout the entire recruiting and hiring lifecycle. It often functions as a centralized point for all recruitment activities and simplifies recruitment workflows and processes. An ATS can be a stand-alone recruiting solution or part of a larger tech-stack that is integrated with other software.

What is ATS integration?

ATS integration refers to the seamless connection between the Applicant Tracking System and other AI recruiting software within a company’s technological infrastructure. It facilitates the smooth transfer and synchronization of data between systems, enhancing efficiency and accuracy. Businesses who integrate their ATS into their tech-stack are better able to monitor, manage, and streamline their recruitment activities significantly.

But integrating your ATS with a powerful AI sourcing tool such as the Arya platform, is perhaps the best way to achieve the most optimal outcomes. Built on multiple machine learning models and powered with natural language processing, (NLP) Arya seamlessly integrates with more than 50 industry-leading ATS providers – with zero involvement from your IT department.

Common features in an ATS

There are a number of commonly shared features among applicant tracking systems on the market including:

  • Resume Parsing: Extracts and stores applicant information from resumes, making it searchable and organized.
  • Job Posting: Allows employers to post job openings on multiple platforms and websites directly from the ATS.
  • Candidate Database: Stores applicant profiles, including contact information, work history, skills, and other relevant details.
  • Application Management: Manages and tracks incoming applications, ensuring no candidate is overlooked.
  • Collaborative Tools: Enables collaboration among team members by allowing them to leave comments, rate candidates, and share feedback within the system.
  • Interview Scheduling: Helps schedule interviews, sends calendar invites, and ensures there are no scheduling conflicts.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Provides reports on recruitment metrics, allowing employers to analyze the effectiveness of their hiring process.

Who does an ATS solution help?

The short answer is – anyone involved in hiring, recruitment, and organizational management. But some of the more predominant users include:

Recruiters and staffing agencies

Recruiters spend on average 30% of their time reviewing applications. Implementing an ATS can help manage high volumes of applicants by automating the initial resume screening process. Even better, incorporating an AI sourcing tool like Arya into the mix enables recruiters and staffing agencies to source, score, and rank candidates from 70+ channels for 90% of jobs in less than 5 minutes, reducing shortlisting time by 50%.

Organizational employees

An ATS allows internal employees to view job listings and also share those listings with people in their network, generating referrals that may result in new hires. Employees can also track their referral or application status directly in the ATS without having to contact the recruiter directly, cutting down on siloed communication.

HR/talent acquisition managers

Talent acquisition managers and HR teams can leverage their ATS for report generation, monitor their entire recruitment pipeline, and gain key insights into pipeline status and the influx of job applicants into the system.

There’s no question an ATS benefits just about everyone in the recruiting and hiring value chain. But let’s break it down.

Advantages of using ATS solutions

The right online applicant tracking system brings tangible benefits, while freeing up recruiters for more important tasks. Some of these advantages include:

  • Simplifies job posting: An ATS makes job postings easier and smoother while integrating seamlessly with multiple job boards. As a result, recruiters can conveniently push out job posts and applications to multiple channels all at once.
  • Enhances productivity: Time-consuming, repetitive tasks can be automated allowing recruiters to focus on more important tasks such as interview/appointment scheduling, and candidate engagement and communication with potential hires. This is also where an AI recruiting tool like Arya can be a game changer. With a multichannel communication dashboard featuring talk, text, email, and chatbot, recruiters can streamline talent engagement from a single dashboard within Arya or right from their ATS interface. Learn More about talent engagement by watching our webinar here.
  • Better manages candidate data: Utilizing an ATS also helps recruiters and hiring teams manage their candidate data more efficiently, and all in one place. Organizations’ can also periodically refresh or reprocess the data in their ATS using an AI tool like Arya. This ensures all candidate data is up-to-date and that you don’t miss out on hidden talent in your pipeline.
  • Improves operational decision-making: Having all your information in a central location, streamlined candidate communication, more time to focus on the strategic aspects of hiring – all contribute to improved operational decision making. Even more so when you add the power of AI and predictive analytics into the mix.
  • Expands your talent pipeline: Implementing an ATS into your recruitment process also helps you build and nurture a robust talent pool for future roles. By combining your ATS with an AI recruiting platform like Arya, you can level up your recruiting performance, reduce time to hire, decrease sourcing costs, and maintain compliance – all within a single, powerful platform.
  • Tracking and monitoring feature: Provides detailed candidate information on candidates who have been sourced, assessed, interviewed, or chosen for specific positions, enabling improved search and candidate rediscovery.

Key considerations to investing in an ATS

Deciding to make the investment in an ATS is a big decision. It’s also difficult to find a one-size-fits-all ATS solution when every company has their own unique recruiting and hiring needs. So, how do you decide if the investment is right for your organization? Here are some of the scenarios where it may be wise to consider taking the plunge:

  • Your company is anticipating rapid expansion in the next few quarters or even sooner.
  • You’re recruiting for a minimum of three different roles simultaneously.
  • Managing candidate reach-out and engagement through a myriad of job boards and platforms is creating challenges.
  • Multiple tech-stacks are scattered and cumbersome to navigate. You’re looking for a consolidated, single platform solution to manage the entire process.
  • Lack of centralized data is creating inefficiencies and lowering productivity.
  • Top talent is being scooped up by your competitors due to delayed or inefficient outreach/communication modules.
  • Effectively managing the massive volume of applications is leading to slower time to fill and increased sourcing costs.
  • Manual screening processes are causing delays in shortlisting.

Just one of the above scenarios can negatively impact your overall recruiting outcomes. If you’re experiencing these challenges, it might be time to empower your team with an ATS. But to make the right investment, keep the following tips in mind.

Tips for choosing the right ATS

Sometimes, making the best decision starts by asking the right questions.

  • Does the ATS you’re considering ensure a seamless and simplified application process for candidates?
  • Will your applicants have an exceptional candidate experience and does the ATS improve both candidate nurturing and engagement?
  • What does integration look like? Any ATS you’re considering should easily integrate with major job boards and other job listing sites. Will you be able to post across all sites with a single click? And finally, will you also be able to receive applications directly into your system without logging into every site on an individual level?
  • Since multiple people and departments often assess candidates, an ATS that offers collaborative tools and features is critical. Inquire about whether the ATS your considering has collaboration tools, including integration with calendars, and emails, as well as the ability to share notes within candidate profiles.
  • Is the ATS simple and user-friendly to operate? You shouldn’t need a technical background to use the ATS. The whole point of the software is to save time and energy. So, be sure you understand how easily in can be onboarded and if there will be a learning curve involved that could be too time-consuming or add additional costs.
  • Does the ATS software organize and compile candidate information and history efficiently? Are you able to access that information easily and instantly? This will includes details related to candidate skills, contact details, and other qualifications, as well as all prior feedback, engagement, and communication for a candidate.
  • Will implementation of the applicant tracking system be seamless and can it be executed without disrupting the entire IT framework?
  • Can you personalize your online applicant tracking system in terms of specific inputs for candidate sourcing, screening, and every stage of the recruitment process/candidate experience, including application forms and layouts?
  • Is the ATS an Arya integration partner? Why settle for just an ATS when you can have the power of AI instilled into your entire recruiting ecosystem?

If the ATS you’re considering meets all the criteria above, it’s definitely worth the investment and will deliver maximum ROI with the time and resources you’ll be saving after implementation. But, if you’re not familiar with the many options on the market, it can still be difficult to make a confident choice. To help you get to know those options, we’ve rounded up some of the industry leading ATS platforms you should be considering.

Top ATS platforms in recruiting today

There are many applicant tracking systems on the market competing for the top spot. But there are several standouts who have established themselves as highly sought-after HR partners across the globe for their unique offerings and features.

Bullhorn: With more than 20 years of experience partnering with the world’s largest staffing firms, Bullhorn is a well-known name in the world of ATS and a valued Arya integration partner. Bullhorn’s applicant tracking system maintains a laser focus on the candidate experience and the power of automated workflows, pairing high-touch service with high-tech efficiency. Designed to manage end-to-end recruiting processes, Bullhorn is a top pick for organizations’ looking for a platform that serves as a central hub for the rest of their tech-stack.

Greenhouse: Greenhouse has helped more than 7,500 companies dramatically improve their hiring processes. With a deep commitment to creating a culture of inclusiveness, a wealth of resources, and a best-in-class sourcing technology partnership with Arya, Greenhouse is an ATS powerhouse who also provides GDPR-standard security and performance.

iCIMS: Built for large companies with a global presence, iCIMS can handle the recruiting and hiring process for as many as 50,000 candidates. With powerful recruitment marketing solutions, compelling career sites, and AI-powered features that accelerate and streamline the entire recruiting process, the iCIMS talent cloud offers a myriad ways to attract, engage, hire, and develop top talent.

SmartRecruiters: SmartRecruiters’ enterprise-grade talent acquisition suite goes far beyond your basic applicant tracking system and provides comprehensive solutions for candidate sourcing, assessment, and engagement, as well as native collaboration and AI tools.

Lever: Preferred for its ease of usage, Lever combines the capabilities of both an ATS and a CRM in one platform. Also an Arya integration partner, Lever features robust reporting on critical EEO and DEI information and enables users to track both from a global perspective. A true TRM (talent relationship management) solution, Lever makes every part of sourcing, hiring, and onboarding faster and easier.

How is an ATS different from an AI sourcing tool?

There’s no question there are many wonderful ATS platforms on the market. However, it’s important to understand the difference between an ATS and an AI sourcing tool like Arya. While an ATS has many benefits, achieving the best outcomes in today’s constantly evolving recruiting industry is a whole lot easier when you pair your ATS with the right AI tool. With Arya + your ATS, you get:

  • Immediate access to the largest talent database in the industry: Clients have immediate access to a continually growing database of more than 850+ million curated *local and global candidates sourced from 70+ channels, the bulk of whom would be inaccessible using other AI tools or an ATS alone.
  • Talent intelligence + scoring and ranking: Using 300+ parameters and seven multi-dimensional data points to understand and assess candidate relevancy, Arya scores and ranks talent for compatibility, *simultaneously sourcing candidates from 70+ channels for 90% of jobs across more than 150 industries – in under 5 minutes, reducing candidate review and shortlisting time by 50%. Arya can also score and rank a client’s internal database enabling candidate rediscovery in your existing talent pool in under 5 minutes.
  • Dual-purpose recruiting and forecasting research tool: Arya’s Talent Landscape and Market Intelligence data use predictive analytics around key data points such as location potential, skill set distribution, salary projection, company mapping, and education, etc., to establish more effective search parameters that not only lead you to the most compatible candidates faster, but also empower you with the right recruiting strategy up front for a particular job requisition or future labor needs.
  • A level playing field with powerful search options for recruiters with all levels of experience: Experienced recruiters can create customized Boolean search strings to refine and optimize sourcing output, sharing successful search parameters across teams to repeat sourcing success. Less experienced recruiters can leverage Arya’s AI assisted search to achieve the best recruiting outcomes.
  • Applicants on Demand: A predictable cost, pay per applicant service, where Arya does the sourcing for you. From searching, qualifying, and engaging talent, to shortlisting the most compatible applicants for the job you’re looking to fill, you get *more than qualified candidates, you get AI-vetted applicants with zero heavy lifting on your part.
  • Built-in diversity indicators that deliver diverse candidates but eliminate bias: When creating a job, clients can enable diversity indicators based on their organization’s diversity goals. Arya delivers a list of candidates, scored and ranked for compatibility, highlighting the candidates who match the diversity indicator, but doesn’t select only candidates in the selected underrepresented class. The result – an unbiased and diverse list of qualified candidates, giving the recruiter the power to choose the appropriate candidate for the organization.

Final thoughts

Increasing recruiter efficiency is no longer just a good idea. It’s an absolute necessity to stay ahead of the competition. Investing in the right ATS can be the difference between achieving your recruiting goals and being left on the outside looking in at top talent being scooped up before you can even reach out. That’s the power of technology. And the power of AI. An ATS that automates manual, repetitive tasks, while improving candidate engagement, communication, screening, and scheduling – is one worth the investment.

But in the fiercely competitive climate of today’s recruiting industry, it’s not enough to have just an ATS. To maximize your ROI and knock your recruiting goals out of the park, you need the power of an AI sourcing platform that has been evolving and improving for over a decade. Built on multiple machine learning models, predictive analytics, and the largest dataset in the industry, Arya is that tool. Distinctly different from any other AI on the market, Arya’s unique configuration and design yields superior results other AI tools are incapable of. At the end of the day, seeing is believing. Don’t settle for anything you haven’t seen in action! Book your demo of Arya today.


What does ATS integration mean?

It involves integrating your ATS solution with additional software, such as your HRIS, eSignature software, or business communications platform. Once connected, their data can easily be kept in sync and transferred between apps.

What is an ATS vs CRM?

Where a CRM system aids in building and maintaining a talent pool of active and passive candidates for recruitment, an ATS organizes and coordinates the actual application and hiring process. Both are important recruiting technology tools.

What is the role of ATS in human resource management?

With the help of an ATS, manual tasks can be automated, the recruitment team’s visibility into the hiring process increased, and communication opportunities along the candidate journey expanded.

How does an applicant tracking system help recruiters?

Applicant tracking system (ATS) automate repetitive tasks in hiring and recruiting, streamline processes such as scheduling interviews and posting job advertisements, help recruiters manage candidate data, and engagement.

How is an ATS different from an AI sourcing tool?

An AI sourcing tool like Arya leverages predictive analytics, advanced search and match capability and talent intelligence to source and engage the candidates most likely to succeed in the job. An ATS is a software platform designed to help recruiters manage the workflows and processes during the recruiting lifecycle.

Find more compatible candidates with Talent Intelligence.

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