Technology has practically taken over everything—recruitment has not been an exception. Vendors have developed end-to-end recruiting software to automate the entire recruitment lifecycle, making the process faster and more systematic.
Jobseekers today are looking for a quick, straightforward application process, and want to be kept informed on their application status at every stage of the recruiting process. In fact, recent surveys have found that up to 60% of job applicants have quit an application process because it was taking too long. In such a candidate-driven environment, companies have begun to use digital assets—social media recruitment, the cloud, and AI-enabled recruitment software—to accelerate the hiring process.
Interestingly, tech recruiters are also working to develop specialized domain knowledge themselves to get an edge over their competitors. This trend should probably not come as a surprise since the IT landscape is forever changing and recruiters need to evolve along with it.
Recruitment software is sometimes called an applicant tracking system, although the two are not synonymous. Applicant tracking systems are a part of recruitment software, which is a broader category encapsulating several other recruiting tools.
What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?
An applicant tracking system automates the recruiting and staffing operations of an organization and provides a central repository for candidate data, which includes applications and résumés. When implemented properly, it helps manage all stages of the recruitment process effectively—saving time and improving productivity.
The software is similar to customer relationship management (CRM) software, but with a focus on the search functionality. Whereas CRM software is traditionally used to manage client-facing relationships, ATS software is used to handle the candidate side of the business.
A Capterra report found that 75% of recruiters and talent managers used some kind of ATS. Of these people, 94% said that the software improved their hiring process. This is compelling data and makes a good argument for the widespread use of ATS software.
General Features of Applicant Tracking Systems
The features of an ATS vary from brand to brand, but most have the following features:
- Résumé storage: Once entered, résumés are stored in the ATS for future job openings.
- Résumé parsing: Specific information is extracted from résumés and stored in a structured manner.
- Keyword search: Recruiters can search for specific keywords with Boolean search capability i.e. combining search terms using AND, OR, and NOT.
- Filters: Recruiters can apply filters to look for information like the candidate’s location, source of the application, whether a candidate is a referral, and how long ago the application was made.
- Automated email customization: Emails can be customized and automated to ensure candidates are aware of their application status in the recruitment lifecycle.
Top Five Applicant Tracking Systems
There are numerous ATS vendors in the market, at least 100 of them. According to IDC reports, revenue from talent acquisition technologies, including ATS, is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6% from 2016 to 2021. It forecasts that the global talent acquisition market in 2021 will be worth the US $6.8 B.
Ongig’s report of the top ATS software in 2018 names Oracle Taleo (19.11%), Greenhouse Software (8.63%), iCims (7.35%), Jobvite (5.38%), and IBM Kenexa Brass Ring (4.77%) as the leading global vendors. Surprisingly, 8.51% of companies used homegrown software to manage their recruiting process.
We’ll explore the features of these ATS vendors here.
It is a cloud-based talent acquisition system, which provides end-to-end recruitment automation, and was acquired by Oracle in 2012. It has modules for recruiting, onboarding, learning and development, succession planning, performance management, and compensation management.
Taleo was founded in 1999 as Recruitsoft, and it was initially a recruitment software vendor. Later, it expanded into other areas of talent management. Even before it was acquired, it was considered a leader in talent management because of its strong social media analytics capabilities.
Oracle offers two versions of Taleo—one for enterprises and the other for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). Companies such as Dell, McGraw Hill, Monsanto, and Jackson Hewitt use Taleo.
Oracle Taleo offers several platforms:
- Recruiting Cloud Service: Recruiters and hiring managers can track applicants and save on recruiting costs. Applicant tracking data is accessible anytime, anywhere. The platform relies heavily on social media sourcing tools like Facebook and Twitter. It also integrates with desktop productivity tools like Microsoft Outlook, MyYahoo, and iGoogle. The platform helps with compliance in fair hiring practices.
- Onboarding Cloud Service: A custom new hire portal for storing new employee information, and a recruiter dashboard for tracking new hire statuses are available. An eSignature functionality is also available.
- Performance Management Cloud Service: Customizable features are email integration to drag and drop feedback from emails onto the platform, review forms, and a talent browser to find candidates who fit a job role.
- Learn Cloud Service: Features (for both new and current employees) are online content management, sub-portals for specific employees, customers, or partners, blended learning plans, and social learning that allows users to rate classes or discuss its content. E-Commerce functionality is also available for those who want to sell courses to outside partners.
- Succession Planning Cloud Service: Enterprise customers can avail of this platform which guides managers to fill positions that are soon to become vacant with either internal candidates or external job seekers.
- The interface is not user-friendly or appealing
- The very limited search function
- Too many click-throughs required
- Manual sharing of some social media required
“Must have” feature:
- Compensation management: Allows companies to make bonus calculations and raise adjustments, cost analysis, and develop pay-for-performance strategies
- Social recruiting: Allows recruiters to post job openings on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, make postings accessible on mobile devices and increase employee referrals
Oracle does not release pricing information publicly, so the following figures are those collected from various sources such as Ongig and Finances Online:
Oracle Taleo Recruiting pricing starts at the US $99 per user per month.
Oracle Taleo Business Edition (OTBE) offers a free trial and has three price slabs:
- Developed EDU OTBE = $83 per month
- Developing EDU OTBE = $54 per month
- Emerging EDU OTBE = $29 per month
Oracle Taleo Enterprise costs much more.
Zoho Recruit, TalentRecruit, Freshteam, CEIPAL TalentHire, SmartH2R
Greenhouse is an ATS and recruiting software created to assist the entire recruitment process. Its integrated platform streamlines various tasks such as sourcing job applications, planning the hiring process, managing interviews, and organizing post-hiring activities. Companies such as Pinterest, Vimeo, and Airbnb use Greenhouse.
- Posting and tracking job descriptions sent to social media platforms and job boards
- Sourcing dashboards which allow tracking of candidates from different referrals like job fair, third-party agencies, etc.
- Candidate management database with options like resume and text search, candidate search, eliminate duplicate candidate profiles and exporting data to Excel
- Interview master plans, interview kits, and interview scorecards for a structured and streamlined interview process
- Scoring candidates on a variety of attributes with a thumbs-up/thumbs-down approach
- Managing offers by tracking status, using Word templates, and offer approvals
- Control of user permissions by site admin, job admin, interviewer, basic user, and sensitive information
- Comprehensive reports on sourcing, time-to-hire, interview pipeline, and performance management
- Dedicated mobile app
- Dedicated candidate portal is not offered
- For small companies, price is an issue. (Pricing is not released publicly by the vendor—a quote has to be requested.)
- No HRIS function or analytics capabilities
- Does not have integration capability with other software
“Must have” feature:
- When hiring, an interview kit is provided with which candidates can be scored and compared.
- Recruiters can manage current as well as prospective candidates effectively at the same time. Thus, they can analyze and compare the performance and efficiency of candidates.
Greenhouse’s pricing is based on the number of employees a company has and it does not release prices publicly. Ongig surveyed various clients and found that Greenhouse costs between the US $6,000 (for about 12 employees) to the US $25,000 per year (for employee ranges between 1,000 to 2,500). Thus, for enterprises with more employees, prices are likely to exceed $25,000.
ClearCompany, Jobvite, Breezy HR, Workable
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Matawan, NJ, iCIMS offers a talent acquisition suite for screening and identifying top talent, recruiting, onboarding, and facilitating communication. It has special tools to identify passive talent and narrow down candidates based on elements not found in their applications, such as soft skills. Reporting tools in each module help track the performance of job postings and the range of skill sets attracted by the post.
Companies such as Esurance, Navistar, DeVry University, and Spectrum Healthcare Resources use this ATS software.
Source: Better Buys
There are three core modules:
- iCIMS Recruit: Offers social applicant tracking, searching and reporting, unlimited job posting, mobile career portals, employee referral programs, and EEO compliance tools
- iCIMS Connect: Offers automated email campaigns, easy resume imports, organized talent pools, video communications, and mobility
- iCIMS Onboard: Offers paperless forms, onboarding employee portals, streamlined benefits communication, metrics for tracking onboarding activities, and branded communications.
Other tools offered are iCIMS Social Distribution (to manage communication on social media platforms), iCIMS Job Board Posting (to post jobs across third-party sites and track candidate sources), iCIMS Career Site SEO (to attract more search traffic to career sites), iCIMS Video Screening (to enable video applications that display candidate’s soft skills), and iCIMS I-9 and E-Verify (to store and track paperless forms for quicker onboarding).
“Must have” feature:
The software focuses on automating communication and engaging candidates for a better hiring experience.
- The software takes too much time to load between viewing various pages.
- Reporting options do not have the desired usability and depth.
- Separating passive candidates from active ones is not a built-in function.
- Some email features feel clunky.
Pricing ranges between US $6,000 per year (for 51-100 employees) to $140,000 (for 5,000+ employees) per year. iCIMS also charges connector fees to add third-party integration partners for features like skills tests, video interviewing, and credit checks. These fees range between hundreds of dollars to US $1,000+ per month.
Jobvite, Big Biller, Breezy HR, Newton
Jobvite is a cloud-based full recruiting platform founded in 2006 and headquartered at San Mateo, CA. Companies such as Spotify, Hulu, Universal Music Group, and Loan Depot use Jobvite. It has a unified recruiting platform that helps teams, departments, and offices collaborate with ease. Jobvite also boasts of a comprehensive partner marketplace which allows for integration across the entire funnel.
- Comprehensive onboarding solution
- Text and social recruiting capabilities
- CRM and recruitment marketing solutions
- Branded career sites, available for mobile
- Advanced analytics and reporting
“Must have” feature:
- Robust collaboration tools and an integrated platform across the entire hiring process
- Creation of customizable branded career websites
Jobvite is not suitable for recruitment agencies or staffing firms. It is primarily meant for in-house recruiting teams.
Pricing is based on the number of employees at a company. Jobvite does not disclose pricing information publicly. According to Ongig’s research, Jobvite pricing ranges from US $4,000 per year (for 26-50 employees) to US $1,00,000 per year (for 2,501 to 5,000 employees). According to Staff.com founder, Rob Rawson, Jobvite pricing starts from US $500 per month for <100 employees with a US $1,500 activation charge, which includes training.
BambooHR, Zoho Recruit, CEIPAL TalentHire, TalentLMS
IBM Kenexa BrassRing
IBM Kenexa is a suite of recruitment solutions to source, hire, onboard, and nurture top talent. It has behaviour marketing tools to proactively attract good candidates, generate qualified applications, motivate candidates to connect, and increase new-hire productivity. It was founded in 1987 and acquired by IBM in 2012. The platform appeals to C-level executives like Chief Human Resource Officer as well (and not just HR and managers) because it uses Big Data and analytics to find the best candidate.
Companies like Boeing, Starbucks, the US Navy, Walmart, Whirlpool, Ford, and GE use IBM Kenexa.
- IBM Kenexa Talent Suite has three integrated functions:
- IBM Kenexa Talent Acquisition Suite – to hire and onboard employees
- IBM Kenexa Talent Optimization Suite – for compensation planning, performance management, and succession management
- IBM Kenexa Talent Insights – for HR and managers to perform analytics
- Employee engagement survey products like Survey Enterprise 360 On Cloud and Survey Enterprise are offered. A survey mobile app is also available.
- A Newsfeed component similar to LinkedIn and Facebook is available that allows users to post status updates and comments, and send messages.
- A Communities component is present wherein users can communicate with each other within the network.
“Must have” feature:
- The software quickly identifies best-fit candidates using assessments driven by IBM WatsonTM
The interface is cumbersome and difficult to use, especially where users have to repeatedly log off and log on to the system. Also, the response time from the tech team is large.
IBM Kenexa does not release pricing information publicly.
BambooHR, Zoho Recruit, Replicon TimeAttend, Calamari
How to Choose Your ATS?
When choosing an ATS for one’s organization, one should consider factors like organization size, user-friendliness, and flexibility of the system, reporting capabilities, and new functionalities.