What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?


Lewis Moore


min read


13 Jun 2024

Tracking candidates with an ATS

You’ve just posted a job opening and, within hours, your inbox is flooded with hundreds of CVs. The task of manually filtering through them to find the right candidates feels daunting, right? That’s where an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) comes into play, streamlining the hiring process and saving you valuable time. In today’s fast-paced job market, understanding what an ATS is and how it works can transform your recruitment process, making it more efficient and effective.

But what exactly is an ATS, and how can it benefit your company? This article explores the ins and outs of an ATS, helping you navigate this essential tool for modern hiring. From understanding the basic principles of an ATS to knowing what features to look for when selecting one, you’ll gain the insights needed to make informed decisions.

1. Understanding an ATS

1.1 What is an ATS?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is software used by hiring managers and recruiters to streamline the recruitment process. It automates the collection, sorting, and evaluation of job applications, making the candidate selection process more efficient.

Imagine receiving hundreds of job applications for a single role. Manually sorting through each CV and cover letter is not just time-consuming but also prone to bias and error. An ATS simplifies this by filtering applications based on predefined criteria, ensuring only the most suitable candidates make it through to the interview stage.

Popular ATS software includes Greenhouse, Lever and Workable, but there are lots out there to choose from.

1.2 How does an ATS work?

An ATS operates by parsing the information within CVs and other submitted documents and then storing this data in a structured database. It uses algorithms to quickly identify key qualifications and skills, comparing them to the job description.

Job Posting and Distribution

Recruiters or hiring managers create job postings within the ATS, defining the job title, description, requirements, and other relevant details. The ATS can automatically distribute job postings to multiple job boards, company websites, and social media platforms to reach a wider audience.

Application Collection

Candidates apply for jobs through online application forms linked to the ATS. This can include submitting resumes, cover letters, and other required documents. Some ATS can parse email applications, extracting relevant information and adding it to the system.

Resume Parsing and Storage

The ATS uses algorithms to parse resumes and extract key information such as contact details, work experience, education, skills, and more. This information is then structured and stored in a database. All candidate information is stored in a centralised database, making it easily searchable and accessible for future reference.

Screening and Ranking

The ATS can automatically screen candidates based on predefined criteria such as keywords, skills, experience, and education. It can filter out candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements. Candidates can be ranked or scored based on how well they match the job requirements. The system may use various algorithms to assign scores to each candidate.

Candidate Management and Communication

The ATS tracks the status of each candidate throughout the hiring process, from application to hiring or rejection. Recruiters can use the ATS to send automated emails and notifications to candidates, such as application acknowledgments, interview invitations, and status updates.

Interview Scheduling and Collaboration

The ATS can help schedule interviews by integrating with calendar systems, allowing recruiters and candidates to select available times. Team members can collaborate within the ATS, sharing feedback and evaluations on candidates. The system may offer tools for rating candidates and leaving comments.

Reporting and Analytics

The ATS generates reports on various aspects of the hiring process, such as time-to-fill, source of hire, and candidate demographics. Advanced ATS platforms provide analytics to help recruiters understand hiring trends, identify bottlenecks, and optimise their recruitment strategies.

1.3 Benefits of using ATS for hiring

Using an ATS can notably improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your hiring process. Here are some of the key benefits you can expect:


Automates most repetitive tasks such as CV screening, scheduling interviews, and sending follow-up emails.

Improved Quality of Hire

Ensures consistency and fairness by evaluating all candidates using the same criteria. Better filtering leads to more qualified candidates making it to the interview stage.


Reduces the need for a large HR team by automating administrative tasks, thus saving on overhead costs.

Enhanced Candidate Experience

Offers timely updates and maintains clear communication channels with candidates, improving your brand reputation.


Ensure compliance with labor laws and regulations, such as equal employment opportunity (EEO) guidelines and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

By integrating various aspects of recruitment into a single platform, an ATS helps organisations manage their hiring processes more effectively and make data-driven decisions.

2. Choosing the Right ATS

Selecting the right Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a critical decision for any organisation aiming to streamline its recruitment process. The right ATS can significantly enhance hiring efficiency, improve candidate experience, and support overall business growth. Here are some key considerations and steps to help you choose the best ATS for your needs.

2.1 Identifying Your Needs

The first step in choosing the right ATS is to conduct a thorough needs assessment. Identify the specific requirements of your recruitment process. Consider factors such as the volume of applicants, the complexity of your hiring workflows, and the level of customisation you need. Engage various stakeholders, including HR, hiring managers, and IT personnel, to gather comprehensive input. Prioritise features such as ease of use, integration capabilities, and scalability to ensure the ATS can grow with your organisation.

2.2 Key Features to Look For

When evaluating ATS options, focus on key features that will enhance your recruitment process. Ease of use is paramount; your team should be able to navigate the system intuitively without extensive training. Integration capabilities are also essential. The ATS should seamlessly integrate with your existing HR software, email systems, and other tools to streamline workflows and improve efficiency.

Customisation options are another critical feature. An ideal ATS should allow you to tailor workflows, templates, and reports to meet your specific recruitment needs. Additionally, consider the scalability of the system. As your company grows, the ATS should be capable of handling an increasing number of applicants and job listings without compromising performance.

2.3 Evaluating Security and Support

Data security is a crucial consideration when choosing an ATS. Ensure the provider complies with relevant data protection regulations, such as GDPR, to safeguard sensitive candidate information. Investigate the security measures in place, including data encryption and regular security audits. Responsive customer support is also vital. Choose an ATS provider that offers robust support options, including live chat, email support, and comprehensive online resources, to assist you in resolving any issues promptly.

2.4 Comparing Different ATS Solutions

Different ATS solutions come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Off-the-shelf solutions are generally easier to implement and come with a comprehensive set of features, making them suitable for many organisations. However, they may lack the level of customisation that some businesses require. Custom-built ATS solutions, while more expensive and time-consuming to develop, can be tailored precisely to your needs.

2.5 Making the Final Decision

To make the final decision, use trial periods or demos to see how the ATS performs in real-life. Involve different team members in the evaluation process to gather diverse perspectives. Ask for case studies or testimonials from similar companies to gain insights into the system’s efficiency and reliability.

Finally, evaluate the return on investment (ROI) by weighing the upfront costs against the long-term benefits of having a streamlined, efficient recruitment process.

3. How Evidenced integrates with your ATS

3.1 Schedule interviews in your ATS

Within your ATS, you can schedule interviews as you normally would. Evidenced integrates with popular ATS platforms, allowing you to effortlessly sync interview details, such as candidate information, job requisitions, and interview schedules.

3.2 Conduct your interviews in Evidenced

Once the interviews are scheduled, Evidenced takes over the interview process. Interviewers can access the candidate's information, review their resumes, and conduct structured interviews using Evidenced's intuitive interface. Evidenced provides a range of features to facilitate effective interviews, including question banks, scorecards, and real-time collaboration tools.

3.3 No duplicate data entry or workflows

With Evidenced's seamless integration, you no longer need to manually transfer data between systems. All interview feedback, notes, and ratings captured in Evidenced are automatically synced back to your ATS, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry and ensuring a consistent and up-to-date candidate profile.

3.4 Your ATS remains the source of truth

Evidenced respects your ATS as the central repository for candidate data. While Evidenced enhances the interview process, your ATS remains the authoritative source of truth for candidate information, job requisitions, and overall hiring decisions. This integration ensures that your existing processes and data integrity remain intact.

By leveraging Evidenced's integration capabilities, you can streamline your interview process, improve collaboration among interviewers, and maintain a consistent and efficient hiring workflow without disrupting your existing ATS setup.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ATS applicant tracking system?

An ATS, or Applicant Tracking System, streamlines the recruitment process by automating candidate tracking. It's commonly used to collect, organise, and manage resumes, making it easier to find and hire the right talent.

How does an ATS work?

An ATS scans and parses CVs for relevant keywords related to the job description. It then sorts and ranks candidates based on these criteria, allowing recruiters to focus on the most qualified applicants.

In summary, selecting an ATS is about balancing your needs with the system’s functionality. By carefully considering ease of use, integration, customisation, and cost, you can choose an ATS that will make your hiring process more efficient and effective.