ATS vs. CRM: Which One Do You Actually Need?

ATS vs CRM - which one do you actually need (featured image)


If you’re thinking of purchasing a small business applicant tracking system, you may be very confused by the mentions of the:

  • Applicant tracking system, ATSs.
  • Candidate relationship management systems, CRMs.

What’s the difference? Aren’t they both software for helping people manage their candidates?

Yes, they are.

The difference is that they do different things with the candidates, serving separate hiring process steps. So while we just answered that question, it gets a bit more complicated. Sometimes one software will combine the features of the other type.

In this informational guide, we will talk about:

  1. Similarities between ATS and CRM.
  2. What exactly is ATS.
  3. What is CRM.
  4. The pros and cons of each.
  5. How to choose the right system, so you get the best of both.

Read on to learn more.

ATS vs. CRM – Similarities

ATS vs. CRM - Similarities

They are the same in several ways.

They both store and manage resumes, helping you stop wasting valuable time, optimize hiring efforts, and improve candidate experience.

It’s nearly impossible for a hiring manager not to be swamped. This can result in not doing as good of a job as you should because you’re rushed. However, so many of the tasks that you find yourself doing could easily be automated. ATSs and CRMs do the mindless tasks for you and provide organizational functions for the rest.

You can simply type in a keyword in both types of software, rather than having to manually go through resumes, at least scanning them to figure out if they match specific criteria, whether for the initial reading or to revisit later. That’s a lot less time and a lot less potential for overlooking something.

With both types of software, anyone using the system can quickly see where everyone is in the hiring process, so multiple managers and replacement managers can do their jobs with peak efficiency.

You can share notes on candidates to eliminate re-readings, keep all your information on the candidate in one place, and let anyone using the system know what you know. No backtracking and no searching for information. It’s all at your fingertips.

share notes on candidates to eliminate re-readings

Both combine resume from the same candidate under that candidate’s file. This is known as deduplication. It eliminates issues that can arise when the same candidate has sent you multiple resumes, either because they didn’t like the first one or because this is not the first time they’ve applied to one of your jobs.

Typically, it would look like multiple candidates. Still, the software combines it into one candidate file with all of their information, including times you may have communicated with them and even interviewed them in the past.

Both provide reporting and analytics to help you measure and optimize your hiring process. For example, you might discover how long it takes you to fill a position, how many people who apply to your jobs get interviewed, and more. Without them, you would either have to try to measure all these metrics yourself or use some other software.

To sum up, the both:

  1. Store and manage resumes.
  2. Allow you to search through resumes easily can buy one that covers more features.
  3. Let you quickly see where everyone is in the hiring process.
  4. Share notes with other teammates.
  5. Deduplicate content.
  6. Provide reporting and analytics.

What Is Applicant Tracking System?

What Is Applicant Tracking System?

Applicant tracking systems are on-premise or cloud-based software that automate and optimize the collection of resumes.

This typically covers job postings, careers pages, uploading, parsing (making it available to be searched), storing resumes, and automatically communicating with candidates.

One job posting can be instantly submitted to many job boards with a click, saving you so much completely wasted time. I mean, why would anyone need to submit the same job posting to several sites manually? That’s just a time suck.

A careers page with online job applications gives candidates a convenient method for applying to your job opening and provides you with fantastic branding opportunities. Using an ATS makes creating your careers page and integrating it with your recruiting software easy and highly cost-effective.

An applicant tracking system automatically uploads all resumes received to its database and parses them for searching and for pairing up with job openings and relevant managers. It can even send the appropriate candidates to the correct manager.

Applicant tracking systems also automatically respond to candidates. It will send all candidates an immediate notice of receipt for their application. It also facilitates the next step of the hiring process, rejecting candidates and sending them a rejection letter or inviting candidates to interview.

An ATS also gives you communication options from within the software, meaning you can quickly contact a candidate from the same place you’re looking at their resume and the notes you’ve collected about them. No more searching for scattered notes or pairing resumes with notes and getting them out for an interview. It’s all right there.

What Is a Candidate Relationship Management System?

What Is a Candidate Relationship Management System?

Candidate relationship management systems are on-premise or cloud-based software that store resumes, track candidate relationships, and remind hiring managers of old applicants that are right for new jobs.

You may have to add the resumes to the CRM unless connected to other recruiting software or careers pages.

A CRM will probably have more advanced searching features than an ATS because the handling of already acquired resumes is a greater percentage of its purpose.

A CRM will also probably have more detailed workflow reporting for the same reason.

You can use CRM talent pipelines of prospective and current employees to optimize, strategize, and diversify hiring for each job opening.

Remember that candidate with the _______?

Usually, you’d have to search all your resumes to find this candidate manually, but you can effortlessly search all the resumes in your CRM by keywords with a CRM. Moreover, you might not have to search at all. CRMs will suggest past candidates for new job openings, so you don’t have to remember any details or have to even look for them yourself.

Some CRMs also go into the onboarding stage, helping to track each candidate’s progress through this crucial and usually under-managed stage. So you could potentially see how far they’ve progressed and their success at each stage.

Some also contain surveys to gain information from candidates, helping you create a better candidate experience.

They’re Also Often Combined

They’re Also Often Combined

You’re probably saying, what?

And everything was starting to seem simple.

The fact that these two types of software are combined is not as odd as it seems, considering they both tackle separate stages of the hiring process, one focusing on the acquiring of new resumes while one leans more to building candidate relationships. These are complementary tasks that follow a logical flow.

While researching either a small business applicant tracking system or a recruitment CRM, you will probably notice that the vendor either mentions both types of software or is clearly boasting functions that go with the other type of software that is described.

Vendors create the most effective software by utilizing functions from both types, so customers, rather than purchasing two types of software, can buy one that covers more features.

This means you’ll have to decide which functions are most crucial to your hiring objectives and make sure whichever software you are thinking of purchasing contains those features. Of course, you want to have all of the crucial ones and maybe some of the nice-to-haves, with no or very few features you don’t think you’ll use or don’t need.

This is how you can ensure you aren’t paying for more recruiting software than you need and that you don’t get bogged down with features to learn or have to avoid functions that you don’t want. You may get overwhelmed or frustrated with a lot more software than you need.

Best of Both Worlds

Best of Both Worlds

Here’s an example of an ATS that has some of the important CRM recruiting features to give you an idea of how all this works.

Recruiteze combines the functions of a modern ATS with the most crucial hiring CRM features:

  • Instant online job board posting.
  • A mobile responsive careers page.
  • Online job applications tied into the careers page.
  • Resume searches using a variety of parameters.
  • Connecting applicants to the correct client or hiring manager.
  • Email functions in the ATS for bulk and individual emails.
  • Custom workflow to track candidates through your unique hiring process.
  • Candidate note functions.
  • Custom email templates.
  • Reporting and analytics for many metrics, searchable by day, week, month, and year.

Some of these features, like resume searching, candidate notes, and candidate workflows, fit more into the CRM realm.

ATS vs. CRM Conclusion

ATS vs. CRM Conclusion

It is easy to get confused about the difference between an ATS and a recruitment CRM.

They both help hiring managers store and manage resumes, but an ATS focuses more on acquiring resumes while a recruitment CRM focuses more on building candidate relationships.

They are so complementary that vendors of recruiting software often combine functions from the two types together. Therefore, you should learn the features of both types, determine which ones are most important to you, and choose recruiting software with those features with few, if any, features you don’t need.

Recruiteze – An ATS with built-in CRM features

As we have stated above, Recruiteze is a modern ATS created with recruiters in mind. Its goal is to provide hiring managers and recruiters with time-saving and cost-effective solutions that will help them streamline their success.

Hence, it has all the features needed, both by in-house HR teams and bigger staffing agencies. In addition, Recruiteze also provides you with a resume reformatting service, iReformat, that is complementary to the ATS.