Small Business Applicant Tracking System or CRM?

If you’re thinking of purchasing a small business applicant tracking system, you may be very confused by the mentions of a small business applicant tracking system, ATSs, and 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 distinct things with the candidates, serving separate steps of the hiring process. While we just answered that question, it gets a bit more complicated. Sometimes one software will combine the features of the other type. Read on to learn more.

Small Business Applicant Tracking System or CRM?

Small Business Applicant Tracking System or CRM?

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 to not be swamped. This can result in not doing as good of a job as you should because you’re rushed. 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 certain 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 at 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 rereadings, 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.

Both combine resumes 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. Normally, it would look like multiple candidates, but 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. You might discover how long it takes you to fill a position, how many of the people who apply to your jobs actually get interviewed, and more. Without them, you would either have to try measure all these metrics yourself or use some other software.

What Is a Small Business 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 manually submit the same job posting to several sites? 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 amazing branding opportunities. Using a small business applicant tracking system makes creating your careers page and integrating it with your recruiting software, or in this case it already coming with your recruiting software, easy and extremely 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 applicant tracking system also gives you communication options from within the software, meaning you can easily 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?

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 it is connected to other recruiting software or a careers page.

A CRM will probably have more advanced searching features than an ATM 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 _______? Normally you’d have to manually search all your resumes to find this candidate, but with a CRM, you can easily search all the resumes in your CRM by keywords. You might also 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. 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

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 complimentary 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 than is described. Vendors are creating 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. 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 really 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.

A Small Business Applicant Tracking System Example in Recruiteze

Here’s an example of a small business applicant tracking system to give you an idea of how all this works.

Recruiteze offers:

  • instant online job board posting
  • a mobile responsive careers page
  • online job applications tied into the careers page
  • custom job codes
  • 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. You might find other small business applicant tracking systems, particularly ones in the same price range, without these features, as well as others that Recruiteze offers.

If this software sounds good to you, you should look at their website to learn about other features this software boasts that don’t necessarily fit into this post.


It is easy to get confused about the difference between a small business applicant tracking system and a recruitment CRM. They both help hiring managers store and manage resumes, but an ATS focuses more on the acquisition of resumes while a recruitment CRM focuses more on building candidate relationships. They are so complimentary to each other that vendors of recruiting software often combine functions from the two types together. 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.

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