5 Top Rated Applicant Tracking Software For Small Businesses

Updated on :October 18, 2023
By :Jason Adams
The rapid development of technology has drastically changed the hiring and onboarding processes. When it comes to talent acquisition, Applicant Tracking Software(ATS) plays a vital role in segregating candidates autonomously and enables HR managers to fulfill the recruitment process efficiently. 
“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do,” said Marc Russell Benioff, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Salesforce.
The key to recruiting the right applicant is to hunt for one. This system works as an SEO engine. It selects candidates based on the quality of keywords. In order to get through an applicant tracking system, candidates must produce their resumes just like content developers create their content. ATS focuses on resumes with alternative job titles, educational background, location, related experience, and skills as keywords to shortlist immediately. The better the keywords' quality, the higher the chances applicants get selected by an ATS. 
ATS assists startups, SMEs, and all types of corporations in filtering candidates on the basis of knowledge, skill sets, educational background, experience, and other specific requirements that are best suited for the job. The AI-based ATS system is also capable of increasing job visibility and communication with applicants. 
Here is detailed information on the role of applicant tracking software in businesses.

How Does Applicant Tracking Systems Work?

How does Application Tracking Work
The applicant tracking software helps in speeding up the employment process. The HR team uses ATS throughout the hiring process, from screening resumes and accumulating resumes from social media platforms submitted by applicants to finalizing interviews and generating offer letters. ATS makes the hiring process less gruesome for HR leaders in posting job listings, headhunting, picking out potential candidates with keywords, interviewing, and making final offers.
ATS software also aids businesses in storing candidate details and getting in touch with them when there is an appropriate job opening. This easy-to-use HR tool allows hiring managers to go through the list of interviewees and keep track of progress.  

Recruitment Challenges of Small Businesses:

Looking for new talent can become a tedious job. With the increasing complexities in the hiring process, the applicant tracking system has proved that it is no longer an alternative tool but a necessity for organizations to easily navigate through the recruitment journey. Let's take a look at what companies across industries would miss out on without the ATS.  

How Can Applicant Tracking Software Fix These Challenges?

Human Errors: The HR department needs to accomplish numerous tasks that require undivided attention, such as hunting down a perfect candidate from a large number of applicants, constantly tracking communication, setting interviews, collecting resumes from different platforms, updating company profiles and guidelines, etc.
  • Challenge: Work overload can lead to multiple mistakes and human errors, breaking the workflow and delaying the process. 
  • Fix: AI-based ATS  can help firms to identify and eliminate loopholes and errors in the operational processes. Incorporating ATS in the hiring process allows humans to concentrate on creative work and optimizes mundane tasks with automation, thereby reducing the chance of human errors in the day-to-day HR workflows. 
Higher Expenses: Appropriately displaying job responsibilities and requirements can help recruiters to attract ideal candidates. The essential demands act as the dealbreakers and ensure that relevant candidates apply for the jobs. Mentioning such details in job postings makes it easier and faster for HR leaders to fill vacant positions. 
  • Challenge: The manual command increases expenses due to the complicated and lengthy hiring process, costing a fortune. 
  • Fix: Applicant tracking system supports recruiters in improving hiring quality by automating administrative tasks & filtering resumes, building well-defined talent pipelines, and understanding business through reports and insights. 
Lower Employee Retention 
Understanding employee mindset is as important as understanding company goals. Recruiters can quickly identify suitable candidates based on the candidate’s attitude, goals, aims, long-term objectives, future plans, etc. Companies can leverage this information in strategically aligning employee and company goals for successful outcomes. 
  • Challenge: Manual recording and reporting of every detail is a slow process with no guarantee of accuracy.
  • Fix: Applicant tracking software takes seconds to match quintessential resumes with company objectives and requirements. This process automatically improves employee satisfaction and company performance.  
Untouched Talent Pool: Companies that constantly hire employees need to have an extensive amount of talent pool. They can optimize this data and contact potential employees depending on the job demands.
Challenge: Manual talent acquisition is arduous when large data is involved. Additionally, there is a higher possibility of HR leaders not meeting the expectation of both parties. 
Fix: Applicant tracking software can smoothly create a list of candidates according to the job profile and fasten the process. Consequently, this process encourages existing employees to work harder and allows management to polish potential future leaders. AI-based intelligence in ATS promptly works towards enhancing employee engagement and reducing chances of quiet quitting by hiring responsible, active, and team players in organizations. 

Brand Image Stagnation: The performance of the HR department directly impacts the brand image. 

  • Challenge: Latency in hiring talented employees, insufficient candidate data, inconsistency in communication, inability in salary negotiation, mismanagement in workflow, and many other administrative reasons act as speed breakers in organizational growth. 
  • Fix: Applicants prefer working in organizations that adapt to the latest trends and technology. HR software integrated with the applicant tracking software hints at the up-to-date advancement of organizations. The applicant tracking system powerfully evaluates candidates and plans long-term hiring strategies for creating a healthy and flexible work environment.  

What Are The Advantages Of Including ATS in The Hiring Process?

The Advantages Of Including ATS in The Hiring Process

Employers leverage applicant tracking software to create a seamless and cost-effective recruitment model. The global market of applicant tracking software is estimated to make $11 billion by 2035. Even startups and small businesses can benefit from this system to identify and hire talented employees.    

  • Streamline & Customize Operations

Precisely,46% of HR leaders desperately want to change their employee sourcing strategies because the existing ones are failing to help them find appropriate talents. The manual recruitment process becomes overwhelming as recruiters take days to check every application. Additionally, jumping from one spreadsheet to another program to get multiple tasks done simultaneously reduces speed and accuracy levels. The HR department and recruitment agencies can easily manage such gruesome hiring processes and review the applications with automated screening features. As a centralized platform, ATS collects all information from candidate profiles, emails, calls, SMS, last contact, etc., and shows the progress of the hiring pipeline to both applicants and HR leaders. The minimum qualification indicator reviews applications and rejects resumes that aren't meeting the basic criteria. This way, the system minimizes the losses of bad decisions. ATS reduces stress by taking over several activities, such as job postings, interview scheduling, assessment, offer management, and onboarding.

  • Reduce Administrative Tasks

With digital onboarding, payroll management, document management, background checks, etc., employers can pay more attention to planning, training, strategy, and other crucial tasks. A seamless and attractive recruitment model produces a secure brand image in the market. HR leaders can utilize ATS to evaluate, assess and develop branding tactics by integrating mobile tools, career pages, social media presence, etc. HR software integrated with the applicant tracking software takes care of mundane tasks, giving more time to HR leaders to focus on cost-cutting, cost-effectiveness, internal communication, upskilling, job satisfaction, marketing & sales policies, and so on. "Automation is an immediate way to improve efficiency and productivity across every department," a mention in Harvard Business Review fits here perfectly.  

Encourage collaborative hiring practice

Companies can adopt collaborative hiring practices to obtain diverse and talented candidates. The applicant tracking software creates a flawless platform for HR leaders, recruiting agencies, and hiring managers to work together so that they can communicate requirements, job offers, responsibilities, specifications, perks, etc., with each other. This helps ATS to create an algorithm to match ideal candidates for relevant positions. Companies and recruitment agencies can also exchange feedback reviews on candidates via collaboration tools to make collective decisions. Collaboration features enable the HR department to add respective managers to the hiring process by giving them access to view profiles of candidates, interview transcripts & recordings, assessment scores, resume, experience, and other information. This practice offers an equal chance to managers to become a part of the process and encourages skills-based hiring.   

  • Effortless Job posting

The automated communication integration of an ATS regulates job postings on various platforms. The system ensures the publication of job postings when there are higher numbers of visitors. This strategy gives job openings more visibility and makes it easy for ATS to find active and passive candidates from different forums. The AI-based feature interacts with applicants on different forums through chatbots and automated generated emails. It eliminates human interference to a minimum and paces up the hiring speed. With ATS taking care of major tasks such as collecting applications, constant conversations, keyword-based screening, etc., recruiters can focus on the interview process. Startups, small and medium businesses with fixed budgets can leverage such features to focus on worthy candidates.

  • Enhanced Quality Per Hire

The applicant tracking system maintains the employee life cycle and runs through a pool of information to match accomplished candidates. Thus, companies can go through profiles to pick eligible candidates, and HR leaders can contact them for job opportunities. In-depth information on different aspects of candidates allows artificial intelligence to meet the demands of job seekers and employers. During talent acquisition, ATS plays a leading role in grabbing potential employees before they get poached by competitors. The system also spots future leaders from existing employees and motivates managers to train them. Such adaptation enhances company workflow and cuts down the unnecessary wastage of resources.  

  • Reduce Cost Per Hire

ATS has the power to drastically reduce cost per hire. Most businesses, especially startups and small firms, cannot afford to spend a whopping amount on the hiring process. The data analysis features of ATS allow these startups and small firms to get detailed information on which channels give the ideal candidates. The analysis tools also provide insight into employee engagement and performance. Consequently, companies can take proactive measures to maintain higher employee retention and avoid constant headhunting. Companies can reduce their dependence on recruitment agencies by incorporating applicant-tracking software in HR tools.

  • Seamless Interview Process

In the absence of an applicant tracking system, contacting each candidate and fixing interviews can lead to multiple mishaps. The system is equipped to generate automated emails for candidates containing interview details. Thus, recruiters can have an organized hiring process and give equal opportunities to candidates.  Moreover, HR managers can easily follow the interview timetable through an ATS and plan their day accordingly. It encourages them to prioritize their work and still maintain employment workflow. The ATS inform candidates about the latest update on recruitment, respecting their time and valuing their efforts. Such a flawless employment process positively influences the brand image and passively attracts more candidates.

  • Improve Candidate Experience

A latest report confirms that the recruitment process significantly impacts candidates’ experiences. Even during the hiring process, potential candidates may feel disconnected due to poor communication, which is the major reason for many to drop such companies. Prospective candidates desire to hear a  clear idea of job details and a flexible interview process. ATS quickly communicates and updates each candidate with relevant information about the hiring process to ensure no biased decisions and that every prospect goes through the same activities. 

6 Steps To Choose The Best ATS For Your Organization 

Choosing the wrong applicant tracking software can be chaotic for a business. Hence, recruiters must be vigilant while opting for a perfect system to improve their hiring workflow. Here are 6 easy tips to follow before finalizing an applicant tracking system.

  1. Understand Business Requirements

Understanding the Business Needs

The utmost important thing to understand before buying applicant tracking software is to understand the demands of a structured workforce. Based on the business goals, employers can select the right tool to find skilled candidates to improve workflow performance and get faster ROI. The company size, the number of job openings, and the budget are also key aspects to consider while buying ATS. For instance, companies with multiple departments and operations require advanced technology to streamline different hiring aspects and regulate multiple applicants for various posts. By implementing ATS, recruitment agencies can easily pull the fitting prospects based on the company profile. 

  1. Decide A Budget

Deciding the Budget Estimate

After understanding the requirements, the next step is to set a budget and desired return on investment. Organizations need to see the bigger picture while incorporating applicant-tracking software into their processes. The parameter of the budget mainly depends on recruitment demand and financial resources. Depending on this information, companies can put money into software that includes related features and tools. For example, startups and small companies must avoid investing in expensive ATS with advanced tools as their hiring process does not include complexity. They can buy a basic and affordable applicant tracking system to fasten employment operations. The other factors impacting the budget are the number of users, data migration, customer service, storage extension, training & integration charges, etc., which are variable. 

  1. Know Your Recruitment Demand 

Know Your Recruitment Demand

The volume of recruitment also plays a crucial role in picking the correct ATS to integrate with the HR system. Companies that often work with freelancers and project-based employees must have an advanced level of applicant-tracking software to run multiple tasks simultaneously. ATS, with advanced features, offers valuable services such as massive storage, data security, multiple-user access, mobile friendliness, instant communication, all-in-one log-in, etc. Feeding job descriptions to such technology mean minimum work for employers as the system can narrow down candidates in a short time. Companies with basic hiring requirements can opt for basic ATS to improve the employee experience.

  4. Ease Of Integration

Ease of Integration of ATS Software

Recruitment agencies are constantly looking for potential candidates for their clients. In this case, they need to integrate their website with ATS to collect applicant information and provide better hiring solutions to both parties(i.e., applicants and companies). Numerous organizations can customize integration based on their workforce model. Employee-based industries require to connect ATS with HRIS to record the growth and journey of employees. ATS with easy integration is quickly accepted as it is not limited to the hiring process but also helps execute other HR-related activities. Such personalization in HR tools strengthens workflow management and increases business flexibility. 

  1. Ease of Use 

Ease of Using ATS Software

The role of applicant tracking software is to make an employer's work easier and faster. Hence, companies mostly look for software that demands little learning and swift implementation. An intuitive and agile ATS increases usability and takes over trivial but repetitive tasks. Such characteristics make the system user-friendly, especially for novice and non-technical users. Numerous service providers and suppliers also offer trial periods to employers to determine whether the tool meets their expectations or not. Some applicant tracking systems come with free training sessions and customer support for excellent customer experience. 

  1. Check The Features

features of ATS

Since the introduction of Generative AI, recruiters have become careful while evaluating assessments. Therefore, companies need features to help employers stand strong in the market while catching up with the newest challenges and methods. The system requires a modern-day approach to meet market trends and fulfill basic hiring tasks. Automated sourcing, AI-based email communication, keyword-based screening, custom job portals, collaboration tools, personality assessment, candidate relationship management, custom pipelines, employee referrals, templates, social media integrations, etc., are the prime features of the applicant tracking software. In large enterprises, ATS acts as a centralized platform for different departments to communicate their needs and share candidate data with the HR department. The reporting & analytics features help employers to take data-driven, productive, and fruitful actions.    

Now that you know the criticality of ATS, here are the top-performing Applicant tracking tools for startups, small businesses and mom&pop stores.

5 Top-Rated Applicant Tracking Software for Small Businesses

But, before we explore the list of top-rated applicant tracking software for small businesses, let us have a look at this popular applicant tracking software - BrightHR.


BrightHR is a top-rated HR tool offering various core, flexible, and premium features of the applicant tracking system. The company has developed this ATS and HR solution to cater to the needs of small business enterprises, explicitly intending to streamline and simplify their daily HR operations. With 24/7 support, the software vendor offers other vital and handy tools, such as BrightSafe, BrightAdvice, BrightWellBeing, People Navigator, and more.

popular applicant tracking software for small businesses

Source: BrightHR


  • Manage and view employee holidays efficiently 
  • View who’s sick and who’s late in one view 
  • Records the additional working hours of the employees with ease 
  • Schedule the best team for each shift using a rota planner 
  • Stores all your important HR documents in the digital cloud-based document management system
  • Offers instant expert legal advice for your small business 
  • Provides a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace for employees
  • Provides a free and up-to-date mobile app for clocking

Based on the most-reviewed:

  1. Zoho Recruit: Zoho Recruit is a cloud-based applicant tracking software for small businesses to streamline and automate the employment process. It is widely accepted for its user-friendliness, affordability, and customization. 
  1. Bamboo HR: Bamboo HR is an ideal applicant tracking software for SMEs offering a centralized platform to store the applicants’ data and manage the hiring process. It is best known for its user-friendly UI, integrations with other HR tools, self-service portals, open AI, etc. 
  1. Zenefits: Zenefits is a complete applicant tracking tool for small businesses that includes employee self-service and seamless benefits management. The software streamlines and integrates HR and payroll operations to ensure an easy and quick hiring process.
  1. Freshteam: The forever free plan of Freshteam is perfect for small businesses and startups. The software comes with easy-to-use and intuitive features. The tool also offers customizable drag-and-drop features to make the hiring process effortless and give a human touch. 
  1. Vultus Recruit: Vultus Recruit is one of the most affordable cloud-based applicant tracking software for small businesses. Its in-built CRM system helps companies build strong relationships with new and existing customers and vendors while managing their potential candidates and employees.  

Based on the most-rated: 

  1. Oorwin: Oorwin is a SaaS-based applicant tracking software useful in the smooth talent acquisition process. The AI-driven technology of Oorwin supports small companies in employee management and seamlessly cultivates a variety of workforce models.   
  1. Nerd Geek Lab: Nerd Geek Lab offers AI and machine learning-based recruiting solutions for small businesses. The demand for this feature-rich software is high owing to its flexible and easy-to-use blockchain-based technology.  
  1. WebHR: WebHR is an all-in-one cloud-based HR software for small businesses. The AI-based software covers everything from hiring to retirement in the most up-to-date manner.  
  1. OnePointHCM: OnePoint HCM is a cloud-based system configured to reduce the stress of hiring managers in small businesses. The software integration connects a single database across all applications for efficient hiring workflow.  
  1. Recru: Recru is an all-in-one hiring solution for small businesses that speeds up and improves recruitment processes using AI and automation. This tool allows companies to focus on what is more important as the system performs the routine work.

Future of the Applicant Tracking Software

Once a simple tool, ATS was limited to generating parsing resumes, but now the same system can take responsibility for multiple administrative and hiring processes. The pandemic inspired digitalization and the use of sophisticated software in almost every industry and department, including HR. Due to the remote work model, recruiters were influenced to optimize the applicant tracking software for a non-stop and smooth workflow. Here are some of the remarkable predictions about the applicant tracking software that can help companies across the globe to stay in the competition and produce a unique hiring model in the near future.

  • Full integration with social media will convert ATS into a social networking tool. The system's strong suit to identify active and passive candidates makes it a real deal for recruiters. 
  • The landscape of applicant tracking systems will grow in the near future. For example, AI-powered chatbots will help to hire managers and candidates, acquire information on the application process, and resolve queries.  
  • ATS also helps organizations in complying with employment laws and regulations. The applicant tracking system can back up companies with applicant information, employee life cycle, etc., which are required by the law. 
  • There are chances that applicant tracking software could become emotionally intelligent, which will aid in grasping the knowledge of human behavior and provide human-like interactions. 
  • ATS will be embedded with more polished tools and become feature-rich to accomplish complicated tasks. For commendable user experience, the software could offer enhanced predictive analytics, smarter resume evaluation, tracking & analyzing, etc. 

The applicant tracking software will leverage the talent pool by constantly keeping a check on rejected candidates. The software could be able to spot and resurface past prospects whose credentials perfectly match the new positions. 

These upgrades will support companies in bringing their best foot into the market. It will also help companies bring more diversity and equality to the workforce without favoritism. 


Uncover the gaps, and hire great talents.

Today, automation and AI are an unbreakable part of any industry. ATS gets the best results for your company without compromising on anything. Adopting an AI-based applicant tracking system can bring numerous benefits to an organization. Additionally, the software pushes employers to exercise new hiring methods, allowing them to pace up with the technology that grows with them. If you are looking for a powerful HR solution to hire a stronger workforce and form talented teams for your business, applicant tracking software is your answer. It is a great time to be in the recruiting industry.   

Jason Adams
Jason Adams

Jason Adams is a content writer with a keen interest to continue learning and develop his research abilities. An avid reader and an eye toward growth, he is associated with GoodFirms, a frontline and evolving reviews and rating platform.

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