With the increasing hiring goals, talent acquisition teams are turning to technology for help. The applicant tracking system is the first software to come to mind. While nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use this software, smaller firms fear these tools.

But fear not, better software is here to the rescue!

This guide aims to help you know your needs as clearly as possible and make an informed choice of recruiting software. In this week’s article, you understand:

  • Easy explanation of applicant tracking system
  • When your business is ready for an ATS
  • A step-by-step guide to choosing a right applicant tracking software
  • Top industries can benefit from ATS in 2021

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

The first-ever applicant tracking system (ATS) was born to help employers use technology in their manual work. They were taking a paper resume and scanning it into a database. However, the processes were complicated and clunky.

Similar to the CRMs, which first began as digital Rolodexes and turned into what we know today as a cloud-based powerhouse, ATS has come a long way since then.

The applicant tracking system has become an essential part of every hiring process, from building an employer brand to automatic retrieval of candidates’ profiles and more. Additionally, different analytics and metrics can help companies understand the hiring process better. Thus, we can improve our decisions that can have a real business-level impact.

1. Defining Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking system, widely known as ATS, is a piece of software for teams in the HR department like recruitment, talent acquisition, or freelance recruiters (head hunters) to reduce the time needed for their manual tasks. Users can automate repetitive tasks like collecting, sorting, scanning and ranking the job applicants during the hiring process.

Initially, the ATS software was designed specifically for large corporates that deal with hundreds to several thousand inbound resumes weekly. Nowadays, almost 99% of Fortune 500 firms use ATS software (HRNews, 2019).

However, you don’t need to be a large corporate to benefit from ATS. This has quickly turned into a commonplace tool for companies of all shapes and sizes.

In short, this is the ultimate software to overcome common recruitment challenges.

Take this for an example.

Pain: submitting the same vacancy advertisement on too many job boards costs money and time.
Solution: an ATS combining these listing sites can submit to many free and paid job boards with a single click.

Pain: creating, developing a careers website requires some technical knowledge and is costly. Maintaining it wastes valuable developer time.
Solution: an ATS makes it easier for non-techies like us. Designing and managing a career site is as simple as changing your social media picture.

Pain: CVs styles are different between candidates. Sipping through each paragraph can really hurt your eyes if the number of candidates is enormous.
Solution: ATS software can parse these documents, retrieve and present the data you need in a standardized format. Users can easily review and make adjustments they need.

Pain: using email and spreadsheets to monitor applicants with a hiring team becomes overwhelming
Solution: ATS platform helps you add notes to candidates as easily as putting comments on Facebook. Best of all, your team can access them anywhere, at any time.

This leads us to the next section ATS vs. traditional spreadsheet.

2. Applicant Tracking System vs. Traditional Spreadsheet


Before ATS, recruiters often manage candidates by spreadsheets like Microsoft, Google, or Libre, etc. These tools are free yet easy to use, but recruiters cannot make the most of this when recruiting. In other words, spreadsheets aren’t made for recruitment tracking.

Over 95% of Vietnamese companies store applicants’ data on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets rather than an ATS. Generally, there are two reasons: volume and cost.

Small companies with low-volume recruitment don’t see the need for a pricey tracking system. (Spoiler Alert: every company with all shapes and sizes can benefit from an ATS!).

The other one is the price. Many companies can’t find cheaper yet functional alternatives. (Hint: there are cheaper choices! Stay tuned to find out)

When compared with ATS, traditional spreadsheets have three significant setbacks:

  • No data entry automation:

Managing the daily tasks without the right recruiting tools means you’ll spend time repeating tasks like skimming resumes, copy and pasting, searching, storing, and saving.

  • Hiring time takes longer: 

One of the keys recruiting efficiency metrics is time-to-hire. If you don’t waste time on manual tasks, you can save more time processing other essential steps of the hiring process. Additionally, it takes longer to move from the applied to acceptance stage – and ultimately costs more.

  • Absence of employer brand:

Nowadays, branding is everything. If your candidate faced a bad experience, it could negatively impact your company’s reputation and business. In reality, companies with strong brands have a lower cost-per-hire, thus, attracting higher-quality candidates!

  • Higher Chances of Human Errors:

Again, when you manually skim and input data from the resume to spreadsheets, chances are, after ten applicants, you’ll tend to make more mistakes. No matter how careful one is, there is still room for errors. Imagine how embarrassing it can be when you contacted the wrong person!

  • Lack of reporting metrics and functionalities:

Unfortunately, you can’t use a spreadsheet to track open emails, which job boards candidates saw your job posts, or if those job boards bring you any candidates. Moreover, a spreadsheet can’t automatically calculate advanced recruitment metrics like cost-per-hire, the average time to hire, etc., which can be really useful when reporting.

Other disadvantages of spreadsheets also include:

  • Can’t get long-term value from your candidate pool
  • Hard to build an informed hiring choice
  • Hard to collab among teams
  • Don’t create a pleasant applicant experience



Now that we’ve understood why the spreadsheet doesn’t make the cut. You may wonder whether my business is ready for ATS software. Next, we’ll guide you on how to answer that question correctly.

3. Is your business ready for an Applicant Tracking System?

Generally, we highly encourage the sooner you use an ATS, the better. When your business is relatively new and you probably don’t have enough manpower for every single task, integrating ATS can really come in handy. It can significantly reduce your precious time doing manual work, streamline your process better, etc. Below here are four main points to see if your business is ready for an ATS.

  • Your business is in growth mode.

When companies grow quickly, leading to a rapid increase in their workforce, recruiters are under a lot of pressure to find suitable talents for the job.

ATS Solutions narrow the gaps between departments and allow HR, recruiters, and talent acquisition teams to collaborate seamlessly. Therefore, they can make the best hiring decisions.

  • You’ve exhausted your recruiters.

In some countries like the UK or India, the demand for recruiters is exceedingly high. Recruiters already have too much on their plates. Managing other tasks is very challenging.

ATS software streamlines and automates essential steps of the hiring process from application to onboarding. By doing this, recruiters can focus on the best part of the job – getting to know your candidates. Advanced ATS software can even sort and produce the most suitable candidates for you without manually going through every single resume!

  • You’re having trouble tracking and reporting HR metrics.

ATS platforms allow HR and management staff to monitor compliance, create reports without any hassle. Best of all, it can guarantee all the necessary documents are in place next time an auditor visits!

  • You have a high employee turnover rate.

A high turnover rate is unpleasant for any business. ATS can help reduce this number by including internal mobility capabilities. What’s that? It means you can boost employee engagement and satisfaction by offering new opportunities, a clear path for personal growth, and an easy internal application process.


Choosing an Applicant Tracking System guide

Let’s get right to it. Generally, there are four main steps to consider. However, feel free to add or subtract to your needs and likings.

1. Map out the essentials

Collaboration is key! If possible, send out a small survey not only to your HR team but relevant departments as well. You can ask them what they look for in collaborative recruitment software. Here are some requirements you can consider:

  • Team notes
  • Job board posting from one place
  • Support
  • Careers site editor (that actually looks nice and is user-friendly!)
  • Intuitive interface
  • Mobile app
  • Open API
  • Easy application forms for a better candidate experience
  • Automated reports
  • Custom tags and filters
  • Indexing on Google
  • Talent pools
  • Boolean search
  • Quick candidate evaluations
  • Rating and ranking of candidates
  • Data security

Most importantly, seamless integration with other tools in your recruitment tech stack. You don’t want an ATS software to work poorly with your current ecosystem, don’t you?

Once you’ve gathered a good list, narrow it down from must-have to nice-to-have. Next, visit a listing site like Capterra, Crunchbase, or GetApp to compare different software for your specific needs.

2. Consider your budget

Naturally, you expect to see a return on investment from your ATS choice. Previously, budgets for recruitment primarily poured into job board postings and ads. With the right ATS software, you can reduce these costs while automating essential parts of the hiring process.

We recommend you set a budget upfront. Keep all your checklist above in mind, but don’t go overboard!

If your business is modest and still growing, or your hiring volume is not that high. Don’t worry! You can still benefit from ATS software.

To help businesses during tough times like these, InTalents is currently rolling out a ton of offers. You can get your own ATS for as low as $0 with our FREE plan. Why wait?

3. Get the most of trial memberships

Now that you have narrow it down to two to three software, take them for a test drive! Most software offers a 14 to even 48 days trial. So, fear not, you don’t need to pay now. If one vendor of your choice doesn’t offer a trial, you may want to reconsider.

Below are some things you need to look for when testing out:

  • Do their support teams quickly and willingly answer your needs?
  • Test out all of the features in your checklist, make sure all points are checked
  • Test out all of the other available features, make sure it’s easy to use and not too clunky

4. Go officially with it!

After your trial membership, you and your team should understand the idea of the best ATS for your hiring needs. Without a doubt, employers change and grow from time to time, make sure your ATS will be able to do the same with you!

Another thing to keep in mind: you don’t have to (and can’t) predict the future, but your ATS should be able to predict the outcome of your recruitment efforts to some extent!


Industries gain the most benefit from ATS in 2021

Because we love a good collection of informative data, we decided to dive further into which industry uses most ATS. Thanks to Linkup, here is a comprehensive list of top industries with the highest ATS usage. After all, different industries have drastically different hiring needs.

It is indicated that Healthcare and Social Assistance used 82 different ATS options, followed by Professional services (74), Education (51), Retail (79), Manufacturing (71), Finance, and Insurance (64).


In reality, all industries can benefit from an applicant tracking system. Companies from large to small can integrate this valuable tool into their current ecosystem.

InTalents understand that cost is your main concern, that’s why we roll out different packages to suit your economic needs.

With our FREE forever plan, small businesses or freelancers with low recruitment volume can:

  • Enjoy the goods of using an ATS.
  • Get your own subdomain forever (no additional cost)
  • No risk, no hidden cost, no credit card required
  • Improve 3 times hiring performance
  • Save over 65% of recruiting time

Offer limited this week only!


Thank you for reaching the end of this blog. Feel free to reach out if you wish us to cover any topic you are interested in.

What did we miss in this Applicant Tracking System guide?

If you feel any of our insight is inaccurate or incomplete, please leave a comment below. We’ll go out of our way to update the content.

Meanwhile, our Vietnamese version has excellent content you can digest. We highly recommend reading our HR and recruitment tips to equip yourself with the new hiring landscape better.

  • Thu hút nhà tuyển dụng qua mạng xã hội. Read more.
  • Chiến lược nhân sự hiệu quả để onboard thành công. Read here.

Why InTalents?

InTalents put great emphasis on transparency and commitment across all parts of our relationships. We thrive to become more than just a software vendor but a technology companion in your digital journey.


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