The best applicant tracking systems for small businesses

When you post a new job opening you may be worried about whether you’ll be able to get enough applicants. How do may your job posting appealing to attract enough candidates? Once the applications come rolling in, a new problem emerges. How do you keep track of all of them and effectively sort through all the resumes to find the right candidates for your open role? That’s where an applicant tracking system can help.

Applicant tracking systems centralize the data from all those job applications to make things easier for the hiring team. You probably already use a similar system to store customer profiles and manage customer communications. Just think of an ATS like a recruitment CRM. It’s there to help the entire human resources team and the hiring managers stay on the same page while rating candidates, conducting interviews, and coming to a hiring decision.

Applicant tracking systems can help small businesses save time and create a more efficient hiring process to find the right candidate and get them onboard quickly. We’ve compiled the best ATS solutions for small businesses on a budget below to help you find the right option for your small business.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a form of HR software designed to streamline the recruitment process. They can be used to share job postings, help the hiring team review job applicants, schedule interviews, and more. Most ATS solutions also offer templates to help small businesses create job descriptions, which can be helpful if you’re hiring for a position for the first time. They also often offer resume parsing to pull out key information from resumes or job applications and create simple, searchable candidate profiles.

One of the major benefits of using an applicant tracking system as a small business is that it can keep your hiring process more organized. Most businesses use a number of different job boards and candidate-sourcing approaches to find top talent. This is great for widening your talent pool but it also means that you tend to end up with candidate information dispersed across several platforms in different formats. An ATS software pulls all of that candidate data into one place and puts it into a consistent candidate profile format so that HR teams and recruitment agencies can quickly and effectively review and rate applicants in one centralized location.

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Are Applicant Tracking Systems expensive?

One of the biggest concerns for many small businesses when it comes to ATS solutions, or really any new software solution, is cost. Many employers assume that implementing an applicant tracking system will be too expensive, but there are actually a number of free or low cost options available. Many of the top ATS options on the market offer free plans that are great for small businesses that only need to post a job or two at once or simply want to try out the system before investing in a paid account.

One thing to keep in mind when shopping for an applicant tracking system is that it’s okay not to use all of the features. Free plans may have a cap on the number of users allowed and the pricing for paid plans is often based on a per-user rate. Since many ATS software options include added features like onboarding, HRIS functionality, or time-tracking, some businesses may add all of their employees as users, which can drive the cost up. However, small companies can choose only to create accounts for the human resources team and key hiring managers if they just need access to applicant tracking tools and want to keep costs down.

Best Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses

Explore the best ATS options for small businesses below.


SmartRecruiters has one of the more generous free plans, making it a top choice for small businesses on a budget. Free subscribers can post up to 10 active jobs at a time, which is sufficient for many small to midsize businesses. Many competing applicant tracking software vendors only allow free users to post one to three jobs at once. Customers can use SmartRecruiters to distribute and post jobs, build a career site, and review and rate applicants on the platform.

The platform can automate interview scheduling for a streamlined candidate experience. SmartRecruiters also allows companies to set interview evaluation criteria and create scorecards for each interviewee to evaluate key skills. This can help create a more level and easily comparable evaluation process when multiple hiring managers or recruiters are doing interviews.

Key features:

  • Free plan with up to 10 active jobs

  • Clear candidate evaluation and interview scoring process

  • Integration with major job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor

  • Career site with customizable employer branding

  • Automated interview scheduling

Zoho Recruit

Zoho Recruit is a popular applicant tracking system for small businesses and start-ups. The service helps employers enhance the visibility of their open job opportunities through use of a custom career page, integration with popular job boards direct sourcing, and social media recruiting tools. Zoho Recruit is also great for remote hiring with a live video interview platform as well as asynchronous video assessment capabilities.

The free plan is a bit limited with only one active job allowed at a time, but businesses with a low hiring volume may be able to make it work without upgrading to a paid subscription. Paid plans range from $25 to $75 per user per month. Several advanced features such as background checks, candidate assessments, and social recruiting require a paid plan.

Key features:

  • Predictive analytics tools to help employers make data-driven recruiting and hiring decisions.

  • Integration with Checkr for candidate background checks.

  • Assessments tools that help employers filter applicants based on particular skills, use weighted screening questions to rate applicants automatically, and quickly compare candidates based on their assessment results.

  • Candidate sourcing features that allow employers to identify and connect with the most qualified candidates.


BreezyHR is a user-friendly ATS option with great applicant tracking and automation tools. Recruiters can automate workflows including applicant pre-screening, interview scheduling, and more to create a more efficient hiring process. The system also includes collaborative tools for hiring teams including in-platform applicant screening cards, messaging, streamlined team scheduling, and candidate scorecards that all hiring team members can view and utilize.

BreezyHR has a bootstrapfree plan along with three paid plan options. BreezHR’s pricing structure is a bit different than several of the otherplans on this list, so keep that in mind when comparing. There are no per-user fees, all plans including the free plan include unlimited users. The free plan supports up to one active job posting or candidate pool at a time, and the paid plans include unlimited postings and candidate pools. The paid plans range from $157 per month to $439 with flat rate pricing.

Key features:

  • Clean, branded career sites that can be customized for your organization.

  • Integration with major job sites and DEI-focused job sites to attract a diverse applicant pool.

  • Automated hiring workflows to cut down on administrative time.

  • Detailed reporting and analytics.

  • Collaborative hiring tools to help recruiters and hiring manage work together to find the best candidates for each role.


JazzHR is another popular ATS solution. HR teams can build custom workflows for each job opening and use JazzHR’s collaboration tools to work with each hiring manager to fill openings. The system offers a user-friendly candidate rating process with organized candidate profiles as well as customizable candidate assessments.

JazzHR doesn’t offer a free plan, but they do have a Hero plan designed for small teams that is a pretty good bargain. For $49 per month small companies can add unlimited users and post three open jobs at once. Another great thing about this plan is that small businesses can add extra open jobs for just $9, so you don’t need to upgrade to an expensive plan if you have a particularly busy hiring month here and there.

Key features:

  • Automated digital offer and onboarding process.

  • Custom reporting tools tha present hiring data and compliance information in a user-friendly format.

  • Collaborative candidate review tools to give all hiring team members input and a clear view of what’s going on with each candidate.

  • Calendar and email syncing.

  • Customizable career pages, social media sharing, and brand messaging to promote your employer brand.


Workable is an end-to-end recruiting software that supports candidate sourcing, hiring, onboarding, and workflow automation. Companies can create custom career sites to highlight open positions and promote their employer brand. Workable can also help facilitate employee referral programs. Workable also provides job description templates, automated candidate communications, and video interviews.

The platform also supports anonymized candidate screening where the candidates name, address, and phone number can be hidden while screening their application. This feature is helpful for promoting diversity, equity, and including by fighting implicit bias that can stem from seeing different cultural names or areas of town or cities that may be associated with poverty.

Workable unfortunately does not offer a free plan, but they do offer a $129 per job pay-as-you-go plan that is well-suited for small businesses with irregular or occasional hiring needs. This is a nice option if you’re a small business that doesn’t hire very frequently and you don’t want to commit to a year-round plan. This plan still provides access to over 200 integrated job boards, a career page, AI sourcing, and more of Workable’s premium recruiting features.

Key features:

  • 1,000+ customizable job description templates.

  • Text recruiting and mobile app capabilities.

  • Integrates and partners with 200+ job board to disperse your open roles.

  • AI-backed candidate sourcing to find candidates that best fit your job descriptions.

  • Customizable hiring plan workflows to keep everything clear, organized, and moving forward.

  • Multiple language options for businesses hiring internationally.

  • Interview scheduling tools and in-platform one-way video interview assessments.

Alternatives to Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses

If you’re not quite ready to start using a dedicated applicant tracking system for your small business, consider these alternatives instead.

Job Boards With Applicant Tracking Features

Small businesses that use a single job board for the majority of their hiring may not need to invest in an applicant tracking system. Job boards like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder feature some applicant tracking features built into their platforms. These job boards typically include candidate profiles and rating tools, candidate messaging, interview scheduling, and candidate assessments. Many also allow employers to search for available talent in the desired field and location and invite them to apply to open roles. Larger businesses that hire more frequently or prioritize employer branding may find this option limiting, but small businesses that just need to fill a few roles per year may do just fine with this approach.


Using a spreadsheet tool like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets may work for some businesses that don’t do a lot of hiring or receive a large number of applications. Spreadsheets can be used to track the applications received along with the candidates’ contact information and recruitment status. This is a totally free option for small businesses that don’t want to pay for recruiting software, but if you get a large number of applications it can be a lot of work. This system tends to work best for small local businesses like retail stores or restaurants that mostly accept applications in person or over email rather than using job boards or an online career page for hiring.

All-in-One HR Software

Small businesses that already have an HR platform may not realize that their current HR software offers ATS software features. Even if you’re not using an all-in-one option, it may be worthwhile to check if your current HRIS or payroll software provider offers an ATS solution. You may be able to purchase it as an add-on for a relatively low cost. This provides for better integration between all of your HR data and ensures that you’ll be choosing an applicant tracking tool with a user interface that feels familiar. It’s also often cheaper than purchasing a separate ATS solution. Popular all-in-one HR solutions with strong applicant tracking features include BambooHR, Rippling, and Workday.