February 16, 2022
February 21, 2022

10 Best Applicant Tracking Systems for Startups

Lewis Mc Cahill

Applicant Tracking Systems are platforms or services used to track, sort, and analyze applicants for an open job position. They are used by recruiters for a wide variety of reasons, but mainly to help them organise their candidates all in one place. 

ATS’ come in a wide range of shapes and sizes - but what is the best Applicant Tracking System for startups? 

Why should I use an Applicant Tracking System?

If your company doesn't use an ATS yet, there are many reasons why you should implement one:

  1. Increased productivity for your hiring team
  2. It saves a lot of time
  3. Gives you a more structured recruitment process
  4. Significantly improves the candidate experience 

In all, an ATS ensures that nothing gets lost through the cracks. It allows you to see all the available candidates, open positions, and what is needed to hire your next team. However, no process or platform is perfect. 

How to Find the Right ATS for Your Startup

There are many ATS' out there, all with slightly different features or sets of features, pricing, integrations, and so on. To be absolutely sure of what to look for, you should do an audit of your recruiting process and the tools that you already use. Need some help with your recruiting process? 

You can learn more in our in-depth article on how to boost your hiring process

You can also get expert hiring advice from our CEO, Michael Varley, in this Honest Founder interview. 

Before you start deciding on an ATS, it’s important to take these first steps:

1. Review your current recruiting process:

  • Document every step of your current workflow.
  • List tasks that are part of the process. Are any of them repetitive?
  • Which third-party tools are you using?

2. Look for missing points in your current toolset:

  • What are the biggest pain points?
  • What do your recruiters spend most of their time on?
  • What features are missing?

3. Make an ATS wishlist:

  • What would your perfect ATS look like?
  • What are the must-have features for you?
  • Which features would be nice-to-have?
  • What's your budget?

Did you answer all of the above? Great — now you can start looking for an Applicant Tracking System for your startup

What is the Best ATS for Startups?

There are plenty of options available out there when it comes to ATS'. To make the decision easier for you, we asked our Talent Partners which ATS is their favourite. All of them have worked on many different clients with different hiring needs, giving them a trusted insight into most of the tools on the market.

One of the most interesting things I found when asking our Talent Partners about why those worked with a certain ATS was because “it was being used when I started there”. Precedent is 90% of the reason why businesses use certain systems - you’re not going to easily switch from Salesforce to another reporting service if you’re a company of 1000+ employees.

As a startup, it’s vital that you choose the provider that works best for you now, but also provides scalability or can be easily transitioned over from. Let’s take a look at ten of the industry’s most well-known ATS’ and how they can cater to you. 

1. Greenhouse

Tried and true, this ATS is an all-rounder and well-known champion of the ATS world. When people think of search engines, they think of Google, when they think of an ATS, they think of Greenhouse. 

However, just because it’s a household tool doesn’t mean it’s going to be the right fit for you. 

Despite this, it offers plenty of features and can be integrated into most HR tools.

Some of the main highlights of Greenhouse include its sourcing power, integration abilities, hiring team networks, and engagement tools. 

2. Workable 

Workable is a large-scale ATS service with thousands of clients worldwide. Their focus is mainly on mid-size companies, so as a startup it may be a good ATS choice if you’re planning for future growth. They specialize in scalability, along with automated tools to help your hiring process as a whole. 

Their AI-powered sourcing tool is also a benefit, automatically providing you with pre-sourced talent you can reach out to. 

3. Homerun 

Homerun is working to be the design revolutionary of the ATS world. Their system focuses on doing away with generic job descriptions and replacing them with intuitive, honest, and easy-to-use postings. Their system is clear, customizable, and focuses on personalization so that you can collect the data that you want for your open positions. 

Their collaborative reporting system also helps your whole team decide on hires, along with allowing you to delegate tasks and hires to certain individuals.

4. Ashby

Ashby is the most in-demand and desired ATS in the world right now. They haven’t even launched and are already catering to high-level brands like Notion, Figma, Plaid, and a variety of other heavy hitters. 

Ashby is so popular right now that they have a waiting list not just to become a client, but even their website is like a secret vault of withheld information. 

If you can find a way past the velvet rope of the Ashby queue, you are sure to find an extraordinary ATS waiting for you. 

5. Recruitee

As one of our Talent Partners explains: 

“Recruitee is affordable and suitable for startups ranging from 20 - 200 employees. You can do everything from scheduling, sending out video questions and creating a nice careers page.”

Its Trello board-like platform presents you with easily visible candidates and projects, making everything clear and easy to manage for you and your team. 

Recruitee specialises in small to midsize businesses, so it may be an excellent ATS for startups, especially if you need a clearer and more manageable recruitment process. 

6. Workday

Workday is an all-in-one business solutions service. Their ATS sits among their other talent, business management and HR services, making it easy to create a more complete services package.

However, this also means that the company is not fully focused on applicant tracking services, and you may find as a startup it does not provide the full customisation and adaptability you need. However, if you’re looking to scale with assistance, Workday can certainly help you. 

7. BreezyHR

BreezyHR is a full recruitment service, offering complete candidate management from start to finish. Their ATS system offers advertising, sourcing, reporting, and a wide range of other services, along with an intuitive, stripped-back board interface that is easy to get used to. 

They can also provide communication services that include the candidate, adding an extra string to their recruiting bow. 

8. Lever

Lever is a heavy hitter in the recruitment world, tailoring to some of the world’s largest enterprises. With their size, you will gain their resourcefulness along with a wide suite of tools for recruiting and tracking candidates. 

However, they specialize in mid-size and enterprise recruitment, so you may find your startup getting lost in their vast recruiting ocean. 

9. SmartRecruiters

SmartRecruiters is another complete hiring suite, offering an ATS within their recruitment system. As a complete hiring solution, their ATS embeds best with the rest of their services, making it an expensive choice for startups, but can also significantly increase your chances of hiring faster and receiving more applicants. 

10. Freshteam

A subsidiary of Frewshworks, Freshteam is an intuitive ATS that focuses on ease of use. Its smooth, open system allows you to track all of your candidates while maintaining open communication with all your stakeholders. Additionally, their one-click careers page creation feature adds to the convenience of the experience.

For founders looking to take the pain out of their hiring process, this could be a winner.

What to Look for in an ATS for Startups

After speaking with our Talent Partners, I also asked them what was the most important questions startups and founders should ask in their search for an ATS. Here are some of their responses: 

  • Does it fit the size we are at?
  • Does it integrate with main tools such as Gsuite, LinkedIn, and Email automation?
  • Is it agile, responsive and interactive?
  • Can it help us create a great careers page?
  • Can it scale?

The last question is by far the most important. 

If you find yourself lucky and you’re scaling at a high rate, can your chosen ATS keep up with the pace? 

Excellent ATS focuses on clarity, reporting, and clear communication, ensuring that your entire hiring team is on the same page and has clear objectives. 

In choosing the best ATS for startups, focus on scalability, ease of use, and communication, ensuring that you’re best positioned to hire star talent with a well-organised pipeline.

Finally, and this is also a very important question, ask yourself: 

  • Do I have the resources to hire internally? 

An Applicant Tracking System is certainly a pivotal tool in creating an excellent hiring process, but it may be better in the early stages to leave the hiring to the experts. 

Our embedded service focuses on providing a new approach to hiring. We can plug into your startup, providing you with star talent and taking care of every step of the hiring process. 

That way, you can relax and focus on growing your business in a strong, stable manner while we fill your team with superstars that can help you achieve your goals. 

In our 2022 Recruitment Hiring Guide, Martin Janse Van Rensburg, Head of People at Prisma, explains it perfectly: 

“Speaking with a number of founders, they have all said they were shocked at how much time they spend searching, sourcing, and interviewing. Get someone really experienced who knows the market and let them find all the top talent for you. That way, you can actually focus on doing what you want to do, instead of being stuck in interviews all day every day”

An excellent ATS system is an ideal first step in creating a solid hiring process, but an embedded hiring experience may be a better choice for your startup. Reach out to us today to learn more about how our Talent Partners can help you hire better. 

In the meantime, you can find plenty of expert hiring advice in our playbooks, guides, and how-to’s on our website. 

Want to work with us? We're always on the lookout for new talent. You can find all our open roles on the careers page.  

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