DEI tech stack graphic

What the Best Applicant Tracking Systems Offer

Having one of the best applicant tracking systems (ATS) in your team’s talent acquisition technology stack can be a game-changer for your recruiters and business.

An advanced TA platform offers (among many other features and functionality):

  • Customization options (candidate scorecards and surveys, bespoke dashboard views)
  • Talent analytics that offers visual insights into every facet of the recruitment process
  • Candidate relationship management (CRM) capabilities to boost sourcing and nurturing
  • Assessment features to help TA teams advance and archive active and passive prospects
  • Direct connections with other critical recruitment tools to aid with each recruiting stage

More than one kind of company needs an ATS + CRM solution with these crucial capabilities. Small businesses, mid-sized orgs and enterprises all require a best-in-class talent acquisition suite to thrive — regardless of their unique business and growth goals.

That said, medium-sized and large-scale companies across industries have shown they will allocate the appropriate spend to onboard one of the best applicant tracking systems for their talent teams to realize their recruiting key performance indicators (KPIs).

If you have a legacy applicant tracking system that lacks the capabilities listed above it could prevent your recruiters from working smarter, not harder. It’s time to reassess your TA tech setup and learn how a powerful ATS + CRM solution can transform your talent strategy.

Hiring decision-makers’ role in researching the best applicant tracking systems

“ATS is not enough.”

This insight from Aptitude Research Founder Madeline Laurano may not be “new news” to you and your talent team. But it’s essential to remember — especially when you and other tech and hiring stakeholders begin evaluating new ATS options.

“The modern talent acquisition system is an end-to-end platform that supports attracting, recruiting, and hiring talent,” a recent Aptitude Research report noted.

  • And standalone, legacy applicant tracking systems are anything but end-to-end recruiting solutions that empower smarter pipeline management and hiring.

Of course, simply having a reputable, full-cycle recruiting platform isn’t the only factor hiring team members and high-level decision-makers must consider when assessing and selecting a new ATS + CRM solution for their talent teams.

Five business stakeholders play pivotal roles in ATS evaluation and have specific boxes that must be checked to consider a potential recruitment solution.

Those decision-makers include the following:

1) C-Level Leaders and Partners

Must-haves in new ATS softwareLow cost, big business impact (i.e., revenue growth)

Multiple C-suite members — notably, your CEO and CRO — have a say in every tech investment across your business. Your talent acquisition team is no different.

Executive decision-makers need to know the bottom-line impact a recruiting platform will have on the org in both the near and long term before they sign off on a purchase.

When it comes to a new ATS and CRM solution, your business leaders are looking for:

  • A competitive price point (i.e., compared to other recruiting technology vendors)
  • Flexibility and customization options to ensure TA’s processes can “mesh” with ATS
  • Trustworthy and easily accessible data that helps the business remain compliant
  • A system that supports long-term value creation (i.e., years to come) for the org

“Modern applicant tracking systems aren’t merely just repositories for candidate demographics,” said Lever Sr. Product Marketing Manager Roy Reif.

“Rather, they are sophisticated systems that facilitate more intelligent sourcing, nurturing, interviewing, and analysis and, ultimately, faster and smarter hiring,” Roy added.

This workforce output and direct (or indirect) influence are what all executives want. However, TA teams must first help identify the proper ATS to make these savvier hires.

Lever ATS change management guide

2) Talent Acquisition & HR Leaders

Must-haves in new ATS softwareScalability, centralization, pipeline visibility, reporting

2022 report from HR advisory firm The Josh Bersin Company found the addition of new tools to one’s TA tech stack can cause further complications for talent teams.

“[A]s they add digital recruiting solutions and replace parts of their recruiting process, already-complex talent acquisition operations become impenetrable, data gets exceedingly hard to manage, and, worst of all, everyone’s experience becomes more fragmented and difficult,” per the report.

Because of this increased complexity when new tools are “bolted on” to their ATS, many talent and HR leaders now prefer a centralized recruitment database that can act as their single source of truth for recruiting and hiring data and prevent the need to connect several external tools to that database.

  • Scalability is also a focal point for talent acquisition and human resources leaders. Consider Talent Acquisition Manager Kimbo Bocchini.

Kimbo understood the lofty growth goals his C-suite had for the years ahead. These hiring objectives led Kimbo to recommend LeverTRM to his leadership team.

“My favorite thing about LeverTRM is its scalability,” said Kimbo. “It’s customizable and it integrates with most of the tools you’re already using. For interviewing and recruiting, it’s really all you need. Every high-growth company should look into Lever.”

3) IT Directors & Teams

Must-haves in new ATS softwareData compliance and integrity, syncs with other TA tech

Your average IT director has a lot on their plate: from mobilizing their companies to enhance cloud migrations, to supporting (or even driving) digital transformation initiatives.

Any tech options IT leaders evaluate must be reputable and secure, help their orgs comply with various data regulations (e.g., GDPR), and integrate seamlessly with existing solutions.

  • This assessment approach applies to potential ATS and CRM solutions presented to IT directors by their colleagues in talent acquisition who want a better recruiting platform.

Many IT leaders rely on reviews, comparisons, consultants, analysts, and vendor calls to learn about the partner ecosystems, built-in integrations, API capabilities, data accessibility, reporting, and ease of use and implementation of any TA tech they evaluate.

“Your IT leader may not drive the ATS purchase process,” said Lever Director of Product Marketing Chris Winkler. “However, they play a pivotal role in the ATS buying cycle.

“Key focal points for IT directors as it pertains to ATS evaluation include the infrastructure, usability and integrity of solutions,” Chris added. “This helps them ensure options under consideration are safe and secure and will lead to more efficient recruiting and analysis.”

Lever applicant tracking system ats buyers guide

4) Recruiters & TA Specialists

Must-haves in new ATS softwareEase of use, single source of truth for pipeline activities

Recruiting is no longer (and really never should have been) transactional. The best talent specialists make genuine, human connections with job candidates and build relationships with them to provide the best recruitment experience possible.

Legacy ATS solutions deter relationship-building. All-in-one TA suites empower recruiters to communicate with candidates with well-timed, bespoke messaging — via manual outreach and automated nurture campaigns — throughout the entire recruitment life cycle.

  • It’s little wonder why these CRM capabilities sit atop recruiters’ wish lists in a new ATS.

The trick is finding the right recruiting solution that gives talent specialists a “single candidate view” and out-of-the-box nurture functionality so they can quickly see where prospects are in their funnel and determine what messages should be delivered to them to further engage and advance them.

“Along with an intelligent candidate pipeline, universal job posting, easy-to-use analytics with helpful data visualizations, and the ability to easily rediscover previously engaged prospects in a matter of minutes (if not seconds), CRM is a critical component every recruiter should want in their primary recruitment tech,” said Roy.

5) Operations Managers

Must-haves in new ATS softwareOnboarding and other vendor support, robust analytics

Recruiting operations managers live in the “in-between”.

These professionals aid HR with onboarding and employee training (e.g., how to use certain software). But they also assist talent acquisition with ATS utilization — including how to make the most of the talent data provided by these solutions.

This training becomes substantially more difficult with an antiquated ATS that doesn’t offer built-in analytics and, in turn, makes it harder for talent teams to pinpoint pertinent data sets that can inform their decision-making and improve their productivity.

  • That is why many talent ops pros seek out recruitment platforms with native analytics functionality both recruiters and talent acquisition leaders — regardless of their level of data savviness — can use with ease.

“It’s right in their job title,” said Chris.

“Operations managers ensure operational excellence within talent acquisition,” Chris added. “Knowing they can quickly and efficiently coach recruiters on how to access and best use the analytics in an ATS means they can spend more time on other important work.”

8 capabilities and services the best applicant tracking systems provide TA teams

“A good ATS should feel easy, natural, and powerful,” said Roy. “It should not take months to learn, not offer unreliable data, not restrict the ability to use core features, not hinder candidates’ ability to tell their story, not dictate what days and times you can interview, and not force you to rely on third-party tools to get the job done.”

However, your talent acquisition tech should also offer several other capabilities and services to help your TA team maximize their recruiting performance.

1) Robust talent analytics and in-depth dashboards for all hiring stakeholders

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo empower everyone in TA with real-time, always-up-to-date data they can take action on to improve core metrics

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsData latency, limited data visualizations, no time-to-fill/-hire customizations, little (or no) configurability

In a world where many talent teams are expected to do more with less (especially in times like 2023, when budgets have been significantly reduced across orgs), recruiters are expected to provide reporting metrics without a dedicated team of analysts to support data pulls and analysis.

Having built-in analytics in their main TA tech lowers the learning curve for recruiters to learn a complicated system. Instead of spending significant time learning complex data centric skills and processes, they can focus on their recruiting responsibilities.

Consider Visual Insights. The native analytics functionality built into LeverTRM offers 10-plus dashboards and 30-plus unique data visualizations that help talent pros.

  • The always-up-to-date, easy-to-parse data provided in Visual Insights (not just for active candidates, but also data tied to diversity hiring and candidate experience) simplifies analysis for talent leaders, specialists and operations managers.

Hiring managers can also monitor recent and historical progress with active and filled roles via a dedicated dashboard that reveals pipeline growth, speed and efficiency.

Accurate, timely, and easy-to-discover data provides talent acquisition teams with actionable and indisputable evidence to guide their strategies,” said Roy.

“By contrast, incomplete, inaccurate or duplicate data creates a false sense of belief, reduces effective use of time and leads to user frustration,” Roy added.

2) Powerful, native ATS + CRM features to evaluate and advance candidates faster

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo enable recruiters to build relationships with active candidates and easily resurface and reengage archived prospects, thanks to a robust recruiting CRM database

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsJob-centric applicant profiles with missing context (e.g., nurture emails opened), manual candidate rediscovery and fragmented data — all of which deter relationship-building

The best applicant tracking systems offer both traditional (yet effective) ATS functionality and powerful CRM capabilities that enable talent acquisition specialists to:

  • Quickly review resumes and applications to support various hiring demands
  • Promptly and efficiently schedule interviews with engaged talent of interest
  • Speed up the hiring process using collaboration and communication features
  • List job postings to all job boards and career communities in a few simple clicks
  • Send personalized, timely messaging to prospects at the appropriate recruitment funnel stage and based on their engagement level and recency

Old-school ATS don’t provide these critical capabilities out of the box.

  • In fact, Lever Sales Enablement Manager Matt Wright noted that many applicant tracking system vendors often acquire other tools to build a unified TA suite.

However, this “Frankenstack” (i.e., a mish-mash of disparate tools that don’t share data with one another, or at least quickly and easily) tends to prevent recruiters from taking the appropriate actions based on the latest candidate activity.

“Talent teams with an ATS that bolts on its CRM via an acquisition or integration after-thoughts often end up with disjointed systems, siloed data, duplicate data entry issues, multiple vendor relationships, and compromised data integrity — all of which impacts their ability to access and deliver on accurate reporting,” said Matt.

3) Vast integration partner ecosystem to connect critical external tools

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo sync with dozens of the most popular and helpful recruiting and business tools, simplify and streamline talent teams’ work, and ensure true TA tech connectivity (i.e., data-sharing)

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsA few direct connections to popular job boards and some help center articles on how recruiting ops and IT personnel can set up custom APIs to other tools on their own

A large, always-expanding integration ecosystem that grows based on customer requests (i.e., talent teams asking their applicant tracking system vendor to create direct connections with their specific recruiting tools of choice) is the sign of a modern, forward-thinking ATS.

That means technical personnel at our customers don’t need to spend hours (or, worse, days) setting up custom APIs. Rather, these individuals (or even recruiters) can simply grant LeverTRM access to a given tool’s login, sync the system with one click and begin leveraging the connection for the recruiting-related purpose right away.

“No talent leader should have to ask their ATS to integrate tools most TA orgs use today to realize their desired level of recruiting speed, efficiency and quality,” said Chris.

“That’s why Lever makes it a top priority to listen to our customers when they ask for a new connection and reach out to the recruitment tool vendors in question: to continually enhance the value of our suite,” Chris added.

Some popular recruiting tools that sync with LeverTRM seamlessly include:

  • Candidate assessment tools (e.g., Bryq, Codility, CodeSignal)
  • Background check tools (e.g., Checkr, HireRight, Applicant 360)
  • Communication tools (e.g., Grayscale, Slack, HubSpot)
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) tools (e.g., BrightHire, Datapeople, Dover)
  • HRIS and HCM software (e.g., Workday, SAP SuccessFactors)
  • Job boards and aggregators (e.g., Indeed, Glassdoor, Wellfound)

On top of these tools, Lever also offers automatic, bi-directional email and calendar sync.

“All emails exchanged between you and candidates — whether the correspondence originated in Lever or your ESP — are automatically synced to the candidate profile, along with self-scheduled interviews candidates set up using our Easy Book feature,” said Chris.

4) An intuitive user interface that leads to a satisfying user experience for talent teams

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo ensure recruiters can find the info and data they need in a matter of seconds (i.e., with just a few simple clicks)

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsAn overly complicated UI that leads to a poor UX for talent teams, slows their work and makes them less efficient

Your individual and collective talent management efforts can be improved when working with TA tech that has best-in-class ATS and CRM capabilities.

But you also need an intuitive user interface that enables your hiring team to effortlessly navigate from screen to screen and access important info and data.

“Founded by former designers at Google, Lever was designed to be easy to use for not only recruiting and human resources teams, but also people managers, interviewers, coordinators, and other hiring stakeholders,” said Roy.

LeverTRM’s intuitive UI offers many benefits for talent teams, including the ability to:

  • Swiftly assess, advance and archive candidates: If you’re like most scaling orgs today, your talent team sources several candidates and receives dozens of applications daily. That means you need a solution like LeverTRM that enables you to land a candidate profile, review their resume, and take the appropriate action (i.e., archive, further engage, or advance) as quickly as possible.
  • More efficiently collaborate with hiring team members: From sharing high-performing nurture templates with other recruiters to requesting and reviewing candidate feedback with hiring managers, LeverTRM simplifies core tasks for talent specialists and ensures they can stay on the same page with other hiring stakeholders from the very start of the recruiting process to the end.
  • Expeditiously analyze your recruitment performance: Many TA teams with LeverTRM understand they can (and often should) comb over crucial data tied to job listings, open requisitions, nurture campaigns, and other facets of their recruitment models and efforts. But they also know that when they need to find and analyze data in a matter of seconds, they can.

“It’s simple,” said Roy. “Fewer clicks equals more productivity — and less time wasted.”

5) Built-in nurture capabilities so recruiters can intelligently engage qualified candidates

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo help recruiters send the right message to job seekers at the right time and boost their candidate conversion rates

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsNo built-in nurture functionality, the need to secure an external candidate comms tool and connect it to the ATS

There is an art and science to effective (see: high-converting) nurturing.

All recruiters support their companies through regularly adding qualified candidates to their talent pools and contacting them about open and upcoming roles.

However, it’s the top talent specialists who are persistent but not pushy and resourceful at finding premier prospects and nurturing them thoughtfully through the funnel.

LeverTRM empowers recruiters to develop and strengthen relationships with candidates across their respective journeys by helping them build and refine bespoke campaigns:

  • Pre-set nurture templates can be used as is or modified for specific candidates/roles.
  • Touchpoints (i.e., emails to be sent to one or more prospects) can be added/removed.
  • Campaign messaging and schedules can be tested to find the right mix that works (i.e., try different types of email copy and cadences that lead to more conversions).

“LeverTRM users can automate personalized outreach at scale and make every candidate feel like they’re the only one,” said Chris. “Our ATS + CRM solution helps talent teams create a high-touch, highly personal candidate experience for everyone in their entire pipeline.”

6) Talent pipeline management features to track internal and external candidates

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo provide recruiters a streamlined way to keep tabs on all active prospects as they move from one recruitment stage to the next (and even move back to a previous stage)

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsAn “un-unified” pipeline that requires recruiters to piece together where each candidate is in the funnel like a puzzle

Whether you hire a handful of full-time employees per month or have a high-volume hiring strategy in which you sign on dozens of contract or part-time workers, a unified pipeline is necessary to keep tabs on engaged and active candidates.

LeverTRM’s unified talent pipeline enables agile and efficient recruiting because it:

  • Offers a holistic view of every candidate in your pipeline — external prospects and existing employees — including their most recent activity and engagement
  • Provides consistency for talent teams who want to “speak the same language” as it pertains to their recruitment metrics and milestones
  • Informs recruiters of specific actions to take with active opportunities in their pipeline so they aren’t “ghosted” by engaged candidates
  • Keeps all hiring team members aligned regarding progress with prospects and ensures no candidates “slip through the cracks”

“Lever’s AI-powered, duplicate-candidate removal and automated leads pipeline allows you and your entire organization to manage hiring efforts effectively,” said Roy.

“Due to their un-unified pipelines, lesser applicant tracking software forces customers to manually create reports outside the system (i.e., in Excel sheets) in an attempt to gain relevant insights required to make data-driven decisions,” Roy added.

7) Automation features to help hiring teams streamline the recruitment process

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo remove tedious, manual processes and activities from recruiters’ workload and simplify and streamline workflows

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsNo automation capabilities or, if there is automation, a limited number of approved user seats to leverage automation (with additional seats costing more money)

Marketing, sales and customer support/success teams automate many, if not most, of their daily tasks. These business units can do so because they invested in top-rated software that offers out-of-the-box automation.

Talent acquisition is finally catching up by onboarding advanced ATS software.

Recruiting orgs are ditching their dated ATS and turning to our TA suite to automate their day-to-day work, so they can focus on their most important duty: discovering and building relationships with high-quality candidates.

Talent acquisition teams use LeverTRM’s next-gen automation capabilities to:

  • Create triggers that direct applicants to the appropriate recruiter (i.e., one who has the bandwidth to evaluate and potentially “work” a new lead or possibly even specializes in filling roles for that type of candidate)
  • Develop archive workflows that “file away” candidates in LeverTRM, based on pre-defined criteria set by our customers (e.g., assigning reasons such as “Unqualified,” “Unresponsive,” “Withdrew,” and “Role Filled”)
  • Progress an active opportunity to the next logical recruitment funnel stage, based on their latest interaction or activity (e.g., move a lead from “Nurture” to “Screening” when they agree to hop on a call with a sourcer)

There are many additional automation workflows Lever customers can set up (and in a matter of minutes) to further streamline their recruiting responsibilities — ones legacy applicant tracking systems simply don’t offer.

“Our automation functionality empowers Lever customers to better facilitate panel-interview scheduling with prospects of interest, auto-assign ‘tags’ to candidates based on their or recruiters’ actions, and add engaged leads to the appropriate nurture campaign,” said Chris.

Automation Workflow

8) Guided ATS implementation and helpful (and accessible) customer support

Why the best applicant tracking systems offer thisTo make sure talent teams can hit the ground running with the tech and have all or their product questions answered as they familiarize themselves with the solution

What you’ll find in lesser applicant tracking systemsSupport reps who may help somewhat with onboarding, but don’t offer the necessary, hands-on training TA teams need to become ATS power users (and quickly)

Success with one of the best applicant tracking systems doesn’t fall solely on talent teams.

The premier ATS providers have dedicated customer support teams to aid with onboarding, provide ongoing training and answer any questions TA leaders, recruiters and ops managers have as they progressively use the tech and explore new capabilities.

Look no further for a prime example of a top-tier support team than Lever’s support staff:

  • We have a Delivery Services team (i.e., implementation specialists and consultants) and Customer Success team (i.e., dedicated reps for each customer account).
  • These two units within the support team work side by side with new customers to ensure they succeed with their unique LeverTRM implementations and needs.
  • Post-implementation, Customer Success provides continuous assistance to customers to ensure they have the resources and knowledge to take full advantage of the myriad ATS and CRM capabilities LeverTRM provides.

As long as talent leaders and key decision-makers take charge of change management around the implementation and use of an ATS + CRM like LeverTRM, they will set their recruiters up for long-term success.

“It’s crucial to start planning and communicating details about change early and often to ensure your company realizes maximum value from your investment,” said Lever Director of Implementation Leslie Hopfinger.

Matt O'Laughlin

Why LeverTRM is better than the ‘best’ applicant tracking systems on the market

The aforementioned capabilities and services make LeverTRM stand out from the ATS crowd. But it’s the cumulative effect of those features and solutions that helps talent acquisition teams realize the true value of LeverTRM:

  • Increased productivity and operational efficiency for recruiters and higher-quality hires who help contribute to bottom-line growth for their companies.

Discover what industry pros have said about LeverTRM versus standalone ATS. You’ll see what a difference the “CRM” component of our TA suite has on orgs’ efforts to build scalable, predictable and repeatable recruiting and hiring strategies.

Reviews of LeverTRM, our complete TA suite

“Collaborating with hiring managers and recruiters on specific roles is super easy. You can easily give selective access to anyone you want to, and it’s very intuitive where and what they need to do.”

        — Recruiter, mid-market e-learning company, December 2022 (G2)

“Using Lever allowed us to streamline our multi-tiered interview process across several team members. Notes from one interviewer were carried forward to and shared with the next interviewer in the process.”

        — Recruiter, enterprise software firm, November 2022 (G2)

“Lever has a good balance of UI-friendly design but also complexity when it comes to functionalities. I’ve seen other ATS that are either super intuitive but simplistic or complex to the point of sluggishness.”

        — Recruiter, mid-market IT firm, November 2022 (G2)

Yuka Umezawa

Reviews of other applicant tracking systems

“This is by no means a user-friendly software. There are several ways to use this to your benefit, but not without an in-depth tutorial on how to use it.”

        — Support ops supervisor, logistics/supply chain business, November 2022 (Capterra)

“If your recruiting efforts needs a more robust search engine and better platform to house & source pipeline candidates, I recommend paying more for a premium product.”

        — Recruiter, tech firm, April 2022 (GetApp)

“[L]east intuitive ATS I have used and each … change you want to make is an additional charge. … [C]lunky and has way too many steps within the interview-to-hire processes.”

        — HR director, enterprise company, November 2021 (TrustRadius)

Zsófia Hidas

What our customers love about LeverTRM

“The feedback is that LeverTRM is the best ATS they’ve ever used. It saves them time, but more importantly, it provides us with the hiring data we need to be more strategic.”

        — Numan People Director George Petrakis

“Integration with LeverTRM is wonderful because it’s so seamless. Being able to reach out to candidates and source leads and add them into LeverTRM automatically from LinkedIn is helpful when you’re trying to recruit candidates.”

        — Ritual VP of Talent Acquisition Thea Drake

“With LeverTRM, we can review our entire pipeline at once. We can archive or move candidates to the next step by clicking one button. It’s much more efficient.”

        — Aircall Talent Acquisition Lead Estelle Houssin

Discover why more than 5,000 brands believe Lever is the best applicant tracking system and candidate relationship management solution — and how our complete talent acquisition suite can help you scale your business and hire top talent.

Speak with our team today to get an in-depth look at our native ATS and CRM solution.

Lever Talent Acquisition Suit Schedule Demo