Applicant Tracking System or CRM?

January 14, 2020 By: Dave Rietsema
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What is the difference between an applicant tracking system (ATS) and a candidate relationship management system (CRM)? Both are software solutions that manage candidates for businesses, but each has a distinct focus on different parts of the recruiting process. There is some overlap between the two types of software and they share some features.

An ATS handles the application process and tracks applicants for recruiters and hiring managers. It also keeps track of compliance requirements and manages workflow. A CRM is a talent database of both active and passive candidates. It functions as a repository of all candidate information.

How can a company determine which type of software is the best solution for its needs?

ATS and CRM: The Similarities

Both types of systems can automate much of the hiring process. This saves hiring managers time and stress by taking on more mundane tasks. Both types can also support multiple managers so the hiring process remains seamless. All information and progress are stored in one location for easy review.

Resumes and candidates are easy to find in both systems. Hiring managers can search by keyword instead of having to manually browse through every resume. Both types of software also have reporting and analyzing functions to improve a company’s hiring strategies.

Both systems also have the ability to send automated messages to candidates at varying stages of the hiring process.

ATS vs. CRM: The Differences

An ATS can automate the application process and act as a database of applicants, but unlike a CRM, it isn’t a repository for passive candidates. The ATS is designed for recruiters and hiring managers to track their applicants and progress while a CRM is targeted instead towards the applicants themselves.

A CRM provides a database of all potential candidates for all stages of the hiring process. Even passive applicants are included so a company can engage with and nurture a wider selection of candidates.

The CRM is a proactive system, allowing hiring managers to create a database of potential candidates. By contrast, an ATS is reactive, only handling candidates who have already applied.

Which System Is Better?

Many companies use only an ATS. This approach limits the hiring process, however, and deprives the company of a fuller repository of candidate information rather than just the information provided by the candidate.

A CRM alone also won’t provide all of the functions needed to optimize the hiring process. Companies using only one or the other miss out on features that the other provides. Neither is better than the other for the overall hiring process. In fact, the two systems work well together to improve hiring.

Complementary Systems

An ATS and a CRM complement each other. Many ATS and CRM solutions offer features that are usually functions of the other. Some software solutions are both types of system in one package.

To determine what type of software best fits a company’s needs, the hiring manager needs to decide what features are the highest priority. The search for the best software should start with those critical functions that are most important to the company’s hiring process.

Are you searching for an ATS to help with your hiring and applicant tracking needs? Check out our list of vendors to see who we work with or visit our vendor match page to start your search today.


Applicant Tracking Systems

Let us help you find the solution to optimize your recruitment processes. Better recruitment processes can help your company to attract top talent, move employees from candidate status to actionable positions faster, and improve employee satisfaction – all while saving you time and stress. Paperless recruitment solutions also mean better organization and less work to meet compliance requirements.

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