By: Krystal Freeman on September 9th, 2020

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A Review of the Best Applicant Tracking Systems & Their Pros Vs. Cons

HR Tech | Talent Acquisition

Since COVID-19, we are having more and more conversations with business leaders about the need for new HR technology to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes in a virtual environment. Whether you have rapidly grown and are looking to streamline your recruiting and onboarding process or are looking to improve your current platform, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can make all the difference in your recruitment and hiring function.

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According to HR Technologist, an ATS is defined as a “software solution to manage all recruitment needs that serves as a data bank for all hiring processes”. In this article, we will review the benefits you should expect in making the jump to implementing an ATS for the first time as well as our 3rd party independent review of the top applicant tracking systems on the market.

The Top 6 Benefits You Can Expect with an Applicant Tracking System

Automation Equals Efficiency!

Typically, if there is not an ATS in place that means tons of paper, employment applications, resumes, cover letters, interview notes and guides, approvals from managers, etc. An ATS will house the many documents that are a part of the recruitment process. Instead of walking down the hall to have a hiring manager sign a document or review a resume, with an ATS it is a click of a button to share information, a document can be sent directly to a hiring manager’s email inbox. Seems a lot more necessary in this virtual environment, don’t you think? Not only have you ensured a faster process with automation, but you have also become a more environmentally-friendly company.


With an Applicant Tracking System, your communication efforts are expeditious. Now, with a “click of a button”, you can send an email via your ATS to a candidate and/or hiring manager. Also, with many systems, you have the ability to communicate via text messaging and sending calendar invites, which can actually enhance the candidate experience and potentially the time to fill.

Reporting and Analytics

Today, Recruiting departments need to be able to provide analytics such as time to fill, source of hire, cost per hire, attrition rates, or a number of applicants per vacancy. An Applicant Tracking System can provide this data. This snapshot can provide you with insight as to which roles were more difficult to fill or if you had to fill the same role multiple times within a year. All of this data can be used to improve the processes as they relate to recruitment and onboarding, as well as show how effective the department is with finding quality talent.

Are you in Compliance?

Depending on your industry, compliance can be a major part of the recruitment process. For example, with our government contracting clients, fields such as an applicant’s sex, race, veteran, and disability status, a position’s FLSA status, and source for hire are data points required to collect for their Affirmative Action Plans. An Applicant Tracking System has the capability to easily track and provide this data as required by the federal government. Additionally, government contractors are required to house applications and other personnel records for one year. An ATS will help ensure these records are available should your company become audited by the federal government.

Someone Call Security!

When applying for a job, applicants want to be sure that when submitting personal information, it is being held in a secure environment. Unfortunately, paper can get lost or misplaced and this means an applicant’s address, phone number, etc. could potentially be floating around an office (or home). A resume could be left on a desk and anyone could walk by and see a candidate’s personal information. However, with an ATS, the paper is eliminated, and an applicant’s information is stored in a secure place. Additionally, with an ATS, not everyone has access to the system.

Record Keeping is Key

At some point in your career, I am sure you have had an applicant ask you, “can you tell me why I was not selected for hire?” An Applicant Tracking System will house and store the interview feedback from hiring managers. Depending upon the ATS, it could give you capabilities such as scanning and uploading the interview documents, typing notes directly into a candidate’s record, or sending an electronic form to a hiring manager to gain interview feedback. With the “click of a button” you would be able to go to the candidate record and provide them with interview feedback. Furthermore, Applicant Tracking Systems maintain records such as resumes of previously submitted candidates. You may want to review previously submitted candidate resumes for a current opening you are recruiting for.

Related reading: The Complete Guide to HRIS and HR Software

A Review of the Best Applicant Tracking Systems from our Talent Acquisition Consulting Team

Pros Vs. Cons of the Top Applicant Tracking Systems

Not all ATS systems are created equal. During your ATS system selection process, we recommend conducting an internal needs analysis where you identify your current vs. desired future state to help you get a sense of the capabilities and requirements you need. My colleagues and I on the Talent Acquisition consulting team at Helios HR recently finished an ATS implementation project and conducted thorough reviews of the top ATS technologies on the market. 

Special thanks to my colleagues: Jennifer Chestnut, Gisele Cloutier, Dawn Leckenby, Samantha Melendez, and Cindy Najera for their reviews and input on the applicant tracking systems. It’s important to note that we are vendor agnostic, and these are our independent reviews.

Bamboo HR
  • Ease of Use
  • Implementation of software
  • Moving candidates through the onboarding process
  • Communication features
  • Does not implement historical data from other applicant tracking systems.



  • Ease of use
  • Well laid out dashboard


  • Inefficient search features when looking for candidates


  • Interactive and customization dashboard
  • Reporting and metrics feature


  • Can be cumbersome at times – the number of clicks and/or buttons required to get an applicant, workflow, or documents.


  • User Friendly
  • Interface of the systems
  • Consistent improvements with the system
  • HRIS integration capabilities
  • Good for both large and small companies


  • Short free trial period



  • Ease of use
  • Intuitive functions and robust feature which allows for metrics and data capture


  • HR functions are not always incorporated
  • Candidate notes are not easily accessible. User has to search for the notes.


  • Good candidate experience
  • Ability to create dashboards for metrics
  • User and search friendly
  • Suite of HR products that can be incorporated into the system (i.e. professional development, performance management, onboarding, etc.)


  • Cost of the system for additional features.


  • Clean interface
  • Multiple integration capabilities, HRIS, onboarding, payroll, recruitment, etc.
  • Reporting and dashboard


  • Navigation and maneuvering through the system

There you have it! A vendor-agnostic high-level overview of the pros vs. cons of the best Applicant Tracking Systems on the market as reviewed by my colleagues and I at Helios HR. I hope this information was helpful as you navigate a new ATS within your business and this goes without saying, let us know if you need any help with your internal needs analysis, system selection, and/or implementation!

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