Applicant Tracking Systems for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB’s)

Finding, training, and retaining quality staff is essential to the success of any organization, from small businesses to multinational corporations. Although very few would argue with this statement, succeeding in this endeavor is typically one of the most cumbersome processes for recruiters and hiring managers.

While it’s painfully obvious that filling those positions is a necessity, the jobs may remain unposted and unfilled for months. Sometimes qualified candidates are missed or overlooked without the right processes and support in place to find them. It seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to dedicate to connecting with the right candidates and handling the very time-consuming aspects of the recruiting process.

What’s more, 75% of hiring teams do not use data to help them make hiring decisions. With unemployment rates lower than they’ve been in the last ten years, SMB’s need to step up their game if they’re going to attract the best candidates. But how?

Harness the Power of Applicant Tracking System Software

These days, many companies look to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for answers to their recruiting problems. What exactly is an ATS?

An ATS is software designed to provide an efficient, cost-effective recruiting infrastructure that supports your efforts to attract, review and select the best candidates for your team.

The essential purpose of an ATS is to streamline the hiring process. The best ATS systems leverage recruiting industry data and functional design to give their users the most user-friendly experience possible.

The basic functions of an ATS are to provide the employer with an organized, often automated recruiting support system and to improve the rate of success when sourcing high-quality candidates. By using an ATS instead of your e-mail inbox to collect applicant data, you can save a significant amount of time by having the system collect and organize information, reduce the number of lost applicants, and assist in the screening and overall search processes.

A visual take on the applicant’s journey through the hiring process

The benefits of an ATS go beyond saving you time. With an ATS, you can improve communications between hiring managers and applicants and perform recruiting tasks that cannot be done effectively with manual systems. The ATS can assist in attracting passive candidates by facilitating social media referrals, reducing barriers to submitting an application, or by providing powerful search capabilities so that you can search through your entire talent pool.

It’s easy to see how an ATS can streamline your hiring process. The hard part is determining how to select the right ATS for your needs.

How to Select an ATS

Before you start your search for an ATS, remember that an all-in-one solution to your organization’s problems is unlikely to exist. Like the all-in-one printer in your office, an all-in-one HR solution may give you options you don’t need, while the one you do need doesn’t work how you need it to. Instead of looking for a one-size-fits-all software solution, find a best-of-breed solution for each individual aspect of your business. When it comes to solutions for recruiting and hiring problems, that’s where specialized ATS systems come in.

If you’ve done any research up to now, you’ve probably noticed how many ATS systems exist out there, each offering different features, price points, integrations, and other options. So how do you choose the right one for you? It’s useful to start by understanding your needs and limitations and then searching for a flexible system that will meet the requirements of your evolving organization.

Run through the following steps when evaluating your ATS options:

Evaluate Your Need for an ATS

Some ATS shoppers come to the conclusion that they need an ATS without doing any sort of pre-evaluation. If you’re wondering whether utilizing an ATS is the right direction to go in, we recommend starting by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Do you have regular staff turnover and the need to hire replacement or temporary staff?
  • Is it taking too long to get resumes of qualified candidates in the hands of hiring managers?
  • Are you often frustrated looking for resumes in your inbox, spam or on top of your desk?
  • Are you having problems finding quality candidates?
  • Are needed positions going unfilled?
  • Are you anticipating a significant amount of growth?
  • Do you want an applicant-friendly careers page on your website, but lack the IT/marketing resources to make it happen or to keep it current?
  • Do you want to build a searchable database of qualified applicants who want to join your team?
  • Do you and/or your team have a need to access applicant data anywhere and anytime?

If you answered yes to at least two of the inquiries above, an ATS can make a big difference in your daily work life. Now it’s time to evaluate which key features offered by ATS systems align with your operational needs.

Common ATS Features to Consider

Not all Applicant Tracking Systems are created equal. What typically differentiates them is the execution of each feature (how many clicks it takes to complete a task; the user interface; the customer service offered by the ATS) and the cost and technology behind the functions.

That said, most of them share common offerings that you should be looking for. Here are a handful of features you should look for during your evaluation:

  • Applicant Tracking: Automatically sort and track applicants through every stage of the recruiting process.
  • Applicant and Resume Database Functionality: Automatically create applicant records that are parsed and searchable.
  • Email Integration: Communicate with candidates directly through the ATS and automatically record conversations.
  • Systems Integration: Link other software applications (HRIS, background checks, job boards, etc.) to your ATS.
  • Interview Scheduling and Calendaring: Effortlessly schedule interviews with candidates from the ATS, and keep a company calendar showing all interview dates.
  • Pre-screening Questions: Automate the initial screening process of applicants.

The features of the ATS provide the framework for a successful hiring process. But they’re not the only factors you should look for in a great ATS.

What Else Should an ATS Provide?

The function of an ATS doesn’t stop with its list of features. There are five other key areas you’ll want to consider when selecting an ATS: cost, customization and configuration, user experience, customer experience, and implementation.


Every system comes with its share of direct and indirect costs. When it comes to direct costs, inquire about the price of a monthly subscription, implementation fees, client training and support fees, or other costs that aren’t immediately apparent. When do you start paying your monthly fees? Are you paying as soon as you sign the contract? Find out how often subscription fees go up and by how much. You’ll be shocked at the range, from no change whatsoever to 500% in two years.

Indirect costs refer to the repercussions you might incur from the system’s complexity or difficulty of use. Will your team need extensive training on the product? Is the customer support system behind the product flawed? How long does it take to implement the system and what level of expertise do you need to get the system working?

Customization & Configuration

Look for a flexible solution that allows you to easily customize the ATS around your organization’s specific needs without the need for outside help. This means that your recruiting processes can now reflect the best practices of your company rather than being confined by the limitations of the software. What can be customized, how are the changes made, and who can make the changes? Will the software be able to scale as you grow? Does it feel like it’s too out-of-the-box?

User Experience

If the ATS is intuitive, easy to use, visually appealing, and makes repetitive tasks less painful and time consuming, the tool will find widespread use from both applicants and hiring staff. This results in a much more efficient hiring process for all parties involved. The last thing that you want to do is implement a system that serves as a barrier to applicants or internal users. Don’t be the one with the horror story about the ATS that no one on the team wanted to use!

Customer Support

In a perfect world, software would be so flawless and intuitive that customer support would be unnecessary. But with any software, there comes a time when you need help. It could be as easy as asking how to add a new user or making a customization that you heard about during training. Every ATS provider must be able to support its customers.

The best ATS systems provide a combination of great technology with fantastic client support – they’re reliable and easy to use with approachable and friendly service. Find out how client support is provided and read client reviews. Ask what happens if you need help. Is support available when you need it? Are responses timely? Do support staff listen, understand and provide you with timely solutions?


The timeframe for ATS implementation ranges widely, from immersive 90 day periods to overnight installations and everything in between. Before you select an ATS for your business, make sure you understand what you’ll have to do to take it live. Find out what resources are needed to implement the ATS and what resources will be provided. Ask for specifics to avoid misunderstandings.

Weigh your options and test drive

Now that you know what to look for in an ATS, it’s time to compare each one to the list of problematic criteria your business needs to solve. Which ATS checks off the most critical boxes in your company’s hiring process? Which one is robust, cost-effective, and flexible enough to support your recruiting efforts?

If possible, take your final selections for a test drive. Most ATS companies worth your time offer free demos of their product, so take advantage of the opportunity. If you don’t have time to do a test drive, take a look at user reviews to hear from your peers. Two review resources we highly recommend are Software Advice and Capterra.

Looking for more information on selecting an ATS that’s right for you? Download our free white paper for a comprehensive look at the ATS selection process.

How TAM helps SMBs recruit the best candidates

TAM’s Features Package

One of the best features of TAM is our reasonable cost structure – whether you pay by number of users or pay by number of postings, you stay in control of your spending. No matter what route you choose to take, you still get full access to our system’s full package of features and customer support.

Here’s a list of the features you can expect when you work with TAM:

  • Branded Careers Page
  • Job Board Integrations
  • Total Applicant Management
  • Advanced Search
  • Email and Calendars
  • Compliance Data and Information
  • Comprehensive Reporting Tools
  • Mobile Integration
  • Passive Applicant Database
  • Onboarding Management
  • Applicant Verification

Need a more detailed look at TAM’s features and functionality? Request a Demo to learn more about how TAM can help your small business improve its candidate search.


Let’s face it – many full-featured ATS systems over-complicate the user experience. A high level of functionality and a long list of features is great, but that doesn’t mean the platform needs to be impossible to understand and painful to use. When you’re trying to post a job and sort through applicants, you just need to get the job done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

TAM offers an aesthetic and intuitive user interface, so you can focus less on the software you’re using and more on hiring the best candidates. No intensive training or long implementation period required – just a smooth transition to our easy-to-use platform.


Customize TAM to your unique hiring process using our cloud-based technology and tools. You know your business better than anyone – choose what features work best for you and build from there. TAM integrates seamlessly with your recruiting practices and scales quickly as you expand your business.


We believe in personalized customer service. When you need customer support, you talk to one of our experienced recruiters – not a call center. When we begin a relationship with a client, our goal is to exceed your highest expectations by providing the best possible customer support. Our own success depends upon yours.

Don’t just take our word for it. Read real customer reviews on to see how TAM lives up to our clients’ expectations.

Ready to take the next step?

Investing in a comprehensive software platform (especially one that can so easily affect your success) can be daunting for any SMB. We highly recommend seeing The Applicant Manager in action on your own terms.

Schedule a free live demo with one of our team members to learn more about how TAM can help your organization recruit and hire the best candidates for the job.