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What Is Applicant Tracking System (ATS) & How It Works?

In this guideline, you can get a comprehensive introduction to the applicant tracking system, and know how it works. This guideline will help you effectively navigate the hiring process from application to potential hire.

What Is Applicant Tracking System (ATS) & How It Works?

When Applying for a job, understanding the applicant tracking system is always important. In this guideline, you can get a comprehensive introduction to the applicant tracking system, and know how it works. This guideline will help you effectively navigate the hiring process from application to potential hire.

What Is Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) works by streamlining and automating various stages of the recruitment and hiring process.

Commonly Used Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Here are some of the commonly used applicant tracking systems (ATS) in the market:

Sure, here's a simple introduction to 5 commonly used applicant tracking systems (ATS):

  1. Workday

Workday is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that includes a comprehensive ATS. It is popular among large organizations and offers features like job posting, candidate sourcing, resume management, interview scheduling, and onboarding.

Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Software | Workday
Workday recruitment software helps you achieve visibility across the entire talent acquisition process. Learn about our recruiting solutions!
  1. iCIMS

iCIMS is a dedicated ATS platform widely used by companies of all sizes. It offers a user-friendly interface for posting jobs, screening resumes, managing candidates, and tracking the hiring process. It also includes features for online job fairs and video interviews.

iCIMS | Recruiting Software Platform & #1 Applicant Tracking System
Learn how the iCIMS leading enterprise recruiting software and applicant tracking system empowers employers to attract, engage, hire, and advance today’s top talent.
  1. Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a popular ATS among mid-sized and larger companies, known for its intuitive user interface and robust reporting capabilities. It streamlines the entire hiring process, from job posting to onboarding, and offers integration with various hiring tools.

Greenhouse | Applicant tracking software & hiring… | Greenhouse
Get everything you need to hire better and achieve strategic growth, all-together with the Greenhouse hiring platform.
  1. Jobvite

Jobvite is an end-to-end recruiting solution that includes an ATS, as well as tools for sourcing, social recruiting, and employee referrals. It offers features like resume parsing, candidate ranking, and automated communication with applicants.

Streamline Complex Talent Acquisition Activities with Jobvite
Jobvite takes your enterprise to the next level by creating exceptional candidate experiences & increasing your TA capacity & efficiency.
  1. SmartRecruiters

SmartRecruiters is a modern ATS that emphasizes candidate experience and collaborative hiring. It offers features like job marketing, candidate relationship management, and integration with various assessment and background check providers.

SmartRecruiters | The Best Talent Acquisition Software
Move beyond applicant tracking systems (ATS) with an enterprise-grade recruiting platform designed for the modern workforce. SmartRecruiters’ Talent Acquisition Suite provides everything needed to attract, select, and hire great talent.

Each of these ATS platforms has its own strengths and unique features, catering to the diverse needs of different organizations. When applying for jobs, it's always a good idea to tailor your resume and application materials to the specific ATS being used by the company to increase your chances of being noticed and selected for further consideration.

How Does ATS Work?

Not all applicant tracking systems work in the same way, but there is still a basic workflow that can help us understand how ATS works. Here's a typical workflow of how an ATS operates:

Job posting and distribution

    • Recruiters or hiring managers create job descriptions within the ATS.
    • The ATS automatically posts the job openings on the company's career website and can distribute them to various job boards and social media platforms.

Candidate application

    • Potential candidates find the job postings and submit their resumes and application materials through the ATS portal or by email.

Resume parsing and screening

    • The ATS parses the submitted resumes and extracts relevant information, such as work experience, education, skills, and contact details.
    • The system then matches the candidate's qualifications against the job requirements and ranks or scores the candidates based on predefined criteria.

Applicant tracking

    • The ATS organizes and stores all candidate information, including resumes, cover letters, and application forms, in a centralized database.
    • It tracks the status of each candidate throughout the hiring process, from initial application to final hiring decision.
    • Automated email notifications can be sent to candidates at different stages of the process.

Candidate evaluation and selection

    • Recruiters and hiring managers can access and review the candidate profiles and resumes within the ATS.
    • They can rate or rank candidates, leave comments or feedback, and move qualified candidates to the next stage of the hiring process.

Interview scheduling

    • The ATS provides tools for scheduling interviews with selected candidates.
    • It can manage interview panels, send invitations, and track interview feedback and ratings.

Reporting and analytics

    • The ATS generates various reports and analytics related to the hiring process, such as time-to-hire, source of hire, and candidate demographics.
    • These insights help organizations identify bottlenecks, measure the effectiveness of their recruitment strategies, and make data-driven decisions.

Integration and communication

    • The ATS can integrate with other HR systems, such as human resource information systems (HRIS), background check providers, and assessment tools.
    • It can facilitate communication between recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates throughout the process.

By automating and centralizing many aspects of the recruitment process, an ATS aims to improve efficiency, reduce administrative tasks, enhance communication with candidates, and provide data-driven insights for better hiring decisions.

Why Is It Important to Understand ATS?

From the content above, you should know some basis for the applicant tracking system. So we can easily understand why it is important to have an understanding of the applicant tracking system (ATS). Here are some main reasons:

Resume Optimization

Many companies use ATS to initially screen resumes based on keyword matches, formatting, and other criteria. Understanding how the specific ATS parses and ranks resumes can help you optimize your resume to increase the chances of getting through the initial screening process.

Proper Submission

Different ATS may have specific requirements or portals for submitting applications and supporting documents like resumes, cover letters, and references. Knowing how to properly submit materials through the ATS ensures your application is received and processed correctly.

Avoiding Pitfalls

Certain resume formats, file types, or content may not be compatible with the way an ATS parses information, potentially causing your application to be overlooked or misinterpreted. Understanding the ATS can help you avoid these common pitfalls.

Tracking Application Status

Many ATS track the status of applications and automate communications with candidates. Being familiar with the system can help you understand where your application stands and when to follow up appropriately.

Interview Scheduling

Some ATS have integrated features for scheduling interviews and communicating with candidates. Knowing how the system works can help you navigate the interview process smoothly.

Tailored Follow-up

Understanding the specific ATS used by a company can provide insights into the most effective ways to follow up on your application or inquire about its status without being disruptive.

By taking the time to research and understand the ATS used by the companies you're applying to, you can optimize your application materials, ensure proper submission, avoid common mistakes, and effectively navigate the hiring process from application to potential hire.

Craft Your ATS-Friendly Resumes With TalenCat

ATS parses resumes for specific keywords, skills, and experience related to the job opening. By tailoring your resume with relevant keywords and formatting it in an ATS-friendly way, you increase the chances of your resume being ranked higher and visible to recruiters.

So, crafting an ATS-Friendly resume is very important for winning a job. TalenCat CV Maker is the best option for you to craft an ATS-friendly resume. TalenCat CV Maker is an AI-powered resume editor that provides a wide variety of built-in resume modules to maximize the customization of your resume.

  • Basic Information
  • Self-Summary
  • Profile
  • Education Information
  • Work Experience
  • Project Experience
  • Languages
  • Awards
  • Interests
  • Volunteer Experience

Also, you can add a custom section to customize more unique content. In each section, you can even utilize generative AI to help you improve the efficiency and quality of content.

talencat cv maker content modules

With its reactive CV editor, everything you enter will be immediately displayed in the right panel to let you have an overview of your resume.

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With TalenCat CV Maker, you can build your resume in just a few minutes.


In conclusion, understanding applicant tracking systems (ATS) is crucial for job seekers in today's competitive job market. ATS streamline the recruitment process for employers, but also present challenges for candidates in ensuring their resumes and applications are properly screened and evaluated.

By gaining insights into how different ATS operate, from resume parsing and keyword matching to interview scheduling and reporting, job seekers can better optimize their application materials, avoid common pitfalls, and navigate the hiring process more effectively.

Utilizing tools like TalenCat CV Maker can be a valuable asset in crafting an ATS-friendly resume that highlights relevant skills, experience, and qualifications while adhering to best practices in formatting and content organization.

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