Utilizing Applicant Tracking System as a Small Business – Top 9 Tips and Best Practices

While an applicant tracking system is nothing new in the recruiting landscape, ATS solutions continue to push the way a recruiting team operates, eliminating menial tasks while helping to build solid relationships with candidates.

Do you know that up to 98% of Fortune 500 companies are currently employing the help of an ATS solution?

SMBs can reap the same benefits and even some unique ones while employing a recruitment ATS. Are you up-to-date with how to best utilize an applicant tracking system for small businesses? Dive into this detailed guide on how to get the most out of your recruiting ATS!

As a TA Leader, Decide When Your Team Needs an Applicant Tracking Solution (ATS)!

recruiting team utilizing applicant tracking solution to manage candidates

Not all small and medium businesses (SMBs) need an ATS to recruit effectively. However, with how this recruitment solution has been evolving, more SMBs are finding a use for recruiting ATS. As the TA leader of an SMB recruiting team, let’s analyze your recruiting team and decide whether or not a recruiting ATS is needed:

  • Losing your productivity to menial tasks: Are tedious administrative tasks leaving your team little time for more important activities like building solid relationships with candidates?
  • Hiring decisions fall under multiple individuals: Are your teammates constantly on different pages when updating information? Are you having difficulty cooperating to achieve hiring decisions?
  • Does your team lack a centralized database of your candidates’ information and their interaction history?
  • Does your team struggle to manage your candidates between Excel sheets and paper resumes?
  • Is your team struggling to build candidate-attracting career pages?
  • Is your team struggling to identify suitable candidates that fit the job and your employer’s culture?

If your answer to any of these questions is YES, then an applicant tracking solution can provide the answers you need. Keep reading to learn how to adopt an ATS for your team effectively.

Best Practices When Picking an ATS for Small Businesses?


Rakuna has previously discussed this topic in one of our monthly blog posts. Readers from businesses of all sizes can access a detailed 4-steps guide on how to best approach the applicant tracking solution market. However, due to limited staff and company side, SMBs should also consider the following practices when picking an ATS solution:

Review Multiples Vendors on the Market

Aside from previous users’ reviews and third-party review sites like G2 and Capterra, talking to multiple vendors can help you gain a sense of direction and know what’s available on the market.

Want to know the competitors to your chosen ATS? As a potential user and customer, you can always request your vendor representative to list how their solution is superior to other competitors.

Do note that the answer you receive will always be biased. Remember to be clear and specific when talking to your vendors. Don’t get roped in the ‘why we are the best ATS solution there is.’ Your best bet is to create a list of questions before every meeting, which you can build upon our recommendation in Step 4 of our guide.

Review Multiple Vendors on the Market

When choosing an ATS, any business would want a solution that can adapt to their needs and workload. This ability is even more critical for SMBs – Those with a more constrained budget cannot afford to cover losses resulting from an unfit ATS solution.

As an SMB, using an inflexible ATS or trying to find a new solution can significantly delay your team’s recruiting process. So remember to take a good look at your upcoming purchase and check with your vendor about the solution’s scalability. It can save you money in the long run, and your team can stick with their familiar ATS as the business and the team grow in size.

Consider a Month-To-Month Payment Over an Annual/Contract Payment

While annual/contract payment is indeed a less hassle as you will be paying for an entire year of service in a single transaction, SMBs should seriously consider before choosing this payment plan because:

  • As you will be paying for an entire year, the transaction amount will be significantly larger than the month-to-month payment. If you are sure your team will still have enough funds in your coffer after an annual/contract payment, then your team will have no trouble with this pay plan. \ \ A monthly payment plan for an SMB recruiting team will ensure they have enough cash to handle other fees incurred during the recruitment process.
  • Another point to consider is that any payment will have a penalty if you discontinue the product prematurely or breach one of the contract’s many clauses. So if you decide to end the contract prematurely for any reason, a monthly payment will lessen the impact on your finances.

Be Aware of Implementation Time

The time to get an ATS solution live and integrated with your recruitment pipeline can range from 90 days to overnight. Make sure you know what it will take to get the ATS up and running. What information does your team need to provide for the vendor, and what information will be available for your team afterward?

It’s essential to know the implementation time to schedule activities around your new ATS, like team training.

Best Practices When Using an ATS Solution as a SMB


Most ATS on the market do not take much to familiarize with. For SMBs, investing in an ATS for small businesses is an excellent opportunity to rocket-boost your recruiting team’s productivity and effectiveness. Follow these best practices to earn your ROI as fast as possible:

Start With Freeing Your Team From Menial Tasks

As an SMB recruiting team, any delays during the ATS adoption process can negatively affect your recruitment program. To catch up with your schedule, let’s start by giving your members more time to focus on essential tasks using the newly purchased ATS.

If you follow our ATS selection guide, your recruiting team will have a list of automatable actions. You can start making for lost time by letting your solution automate tasks previously manned by your staff.

Try the ‘Quality Over Quantity’ Approach With Your Small Business ATS

Instead of having your recruiters plow through hundreds of unqualified resumes, why not use your ATS to help recruiters zero-in on a selected group of qualified individuals?

The idea of quantity recruiting boils down to getting as many people to join you in an interview. You may cast a wide net and reach many candidates, but only a small percentage will be suited for the job. You can still lose these candidates as they get to know more about the position.

Wondering if the ‘Quality over Quantity’ approach is viable? Check out this case from Crunch Digital Media:

While not using an ATS, the team at Crunch Digital Media still met with great success when they improved job outreach for their client – Cielo Talent. Its mission is to reach potential candidates in the UK, Plymouth, Dublin, and Swindon. Using geofencing technology and social listening tools like Google Trend, the Crunch team managed to identify unique talent pools that are more reactive to their recruiting efforts.

ATS Application

As an SMB, you may not have the resources to expand your campaign under multiple channels. Even if you manage to get hundreds of candidates lining up for an interview, processing that many resumes only to have a few accept the position is simply not cost-effective for a small recruiting team.

If you are going for quality hiring, here is how an ATS can give your team a nudge:

  • A high-quality ATS solution can help you score and track your candidates across different workflows using features like Scorecards, Reviews, Notes, and Tags. Recruiters can constantly update leads’ profiles with new reviews, notes, and tags to keep the team updated with the latest developments.
  • Solutions like Zoho Recruit’s ATS have built-in algorithms to help users match critical requirements to the job description within a few seconds. Recruiters can have their ATS filter out unqualified candidates to focus on qualified ones immediately. This feature allows the recruiting team to increase the number of candidates while not sacrificing much in quality.
  • Some ATS solutions like BamBooHR can help you compile and store candidates’ /employees’ data on a unified platform. HR personnel can easily hold and track new hires’ data and avoid errors such as double entries.

Follow the 80/20 Rule When Choosing an Applicant Tracking System for Small Businesses

The 80/20, also known as the “Pareto Principle,” stated that:

“80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes, asserting an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs.“

Pareto Principle – Investopedia

In the context of finding a suitable applicant tracking solution for small businesses, an ATS that fits the 80/20 rules is a solution that can support at least 80% of your recruitment workload.

An enterprise can use an ATS for one specific task while leaving the rest for its sizable recruitment team. Most of the time, an SMB won’t have that luxury due to constrained funding or staff. If your recruiters constantly have to multitask, an 80/20 ATS can be a lifesaver for the entire team.

Enhance Human Judgement With Your Applicant Tracking Solution

Even the most advanced solutions cannot detect minute details that can make or break a potential hiring decision. The core reason for using an ATS is to make recruiting effortless for recruiters, not completely automating the entire process. With manual tasks like data entry and update, candidate tracking, and team coordination out of the picture, recruiters will have more time to concentrate on their candidates.

Do you know that in 2018, it came to light that Amazon scrapped its secret recruitment AI due to issues related to bias against female candidates? When it comes to handpicking suitable candidates for the position, human judgment still triumphs over the calculating mind of an AI.

The takeaway from this tip is to let your applicant tracking solution trim out the dull and sluggish tasks of your recruitment process, but you will always be the one to make the final call as recruiter and recruiting manager.

Start Pushing for a Centralized Candidate Database and Seamless Cooperation With Your ATS

Centralized Database

Instead of slogging through one or even multiple full email inboxes and arguing over late responses and buried emails, let’s put your ATS to work!

You can store your candidate database anywhere, spreadsheets, emails, or even physical papers. However, spreadsheets and emails will be challenging to manage in the long run as your business accepts more candidates. The database is likely to have errors as these methods require extensive manual entry.

It is not uncommon for staff within an SMB to multitask and manage different types of data, which can be challenging to handle as the size and scope of the work increase. There have also been cases where companies try to operate their recruiting program out of email inboxes or spreadsheets and get overwhelmed.

Instead, why not use your ATS to store and manage candidates’ information? As we have mentioned, some small business ATS solutions like BambooHR can store your data on a manageable virtual database. The solution will register all interactions between recruiters and prospective leads. No more manually inputting data and duplicated entries.

Seamless Cooperation

Operating as a small recruiting team has its own pros and cons. While you can potentially encounter less hassle when communicating with your team, the fact that almost everyone will be multitasking and handling multiple streams of data can be a challenge.

Savvy recruiters can leverage various collaborative features packed in their recruitment ATS to optimize team communication. Your ATS solution can enable your team to:

  • Easily share information and leave messages to each other and review interviews, resumes, and profiles together as a team (thanks to the centralized database)
  • Effortlessly assign tasks. An applicant tracking solution can even set up automated task reminders for more seamless collaboration.
  • Have more transparency to the recruitment pipeline, workflow, and candidates’ profiles as they progress through each process. Other members from different departments can easily track their progress and collaborate with recruiters.

Combine your accessible unified database with these collaboration features to enable a seamless teamwork experience.

Rakuna’s Pick: Top 3 Applicant Tracking Systems for Small and Medium Businesses

For SMBs that are still looking for an ATS solution, you can always visit review sites such as G2 and Capterra and explore a wide range of recruitment software, including applicant tracking solution, complete with reviews and feedback from previous users. To set you on the right track, take a look at 3 ATS for small and medium businesses.


This Indian-based ATS provider is helping SMBs overcome the hurdle of recruiting by providing affordable software as a service packed with meticulously designed features. Zoho is easy to train and easy to use. Its cloud-based SaaS foundation and automated tracking ability continue to draw both enterprises and SMBs to Zoho. This ATS solution can easily integrate with various job boards, combined with an intuitive interface. Zoho is a perfect fit for SMBs to expand their search for candidates.


  • Users can manage and post unlimited job posts right on Zoho.
  • A simple and intuitive design makes it easy to train and onboard new users.
  • Economical pricing that still gives you access to advanced features commonly priced.
  • Simple automation features that are easy to set up and execute


  • Processing speed is not consistent. Users still complain of slow processing speed.


For those SMBs that are steadily outgrowing the use of spreadsheets and email inboxes to recruit but have yet to make that giant leap to a virtual tool, BambooHR is here for you. The moment recruiters experience how this ATS tracks and manages information, moving away from spreadsheets is no longer an option. It’s a certainty. BambooHR not only tailored its applicant tracking system for small businesses, but it’s also optimized for collaborative hiring. It’s time to get your team together with BambooHR.


  • The solution has a highly secured and organized database to store candidates’ and employees’ information on both desktop and mobile.
  • Tailored for collaborative hiring with features like in-system messaging and automatic reminders and alerts to keep your team constantly updated.
  • A quick implementation process will let your team jump right into the action with this ATS solution.
  • BambooHR’s Import Tool is your best friend when transferring data from Excel files to the app.


  • Limited ability to customize this ATS solution.

FreshTeam ATS

A product by FreshWork, FreshTeam ATS, is your ‘Jack of all trades’ solution for SMBs who are considering a long-term investment. With four pricing plans simulating the growth of an SMB to a full-fledged enterprise, FreshTeam ATS has a little bit of everything for everyone. Next to the ‘run of the mill’ features like job board posting and career page creation, the Freshteam candidate 360 is Freshwork’s take on a centralized database. This feature is a one-screen view of all information related to the candidates, a must-have for any SMBs conducting collaborative hiring.


  • All four price plans are well-designed and feature-rich for the business model they were meant to cater for.
  • Intuitive UX and UI with very accurate auto-fill/auto-populate function
  • Optimized for referral recruiting – very easy to refer and track candidates


  • Minor UI glitches are still present, but FreshWork’s attentive support team always quickly rectifíe user complaints.

Try Teamtailor’ Applicant Tracking System

If you want to boost your employer brand, the Teamtailor ATS solution is an option you should consider. Created by a team that has experienced the struggle of manual recruiting, Teamtailor brings you an optimized user experience with to-the-point features like task automation and blind hiring rather than checkbox features usually seen in bigger solutions.


The Teamtailor ATS’s career site creation kit allows users to create customizable sites with little effort. Simply drag and drop editable blogs to create a landing page that captures your business’s personality. Want to create a landing page and start attracting prospective candidates quickly? You can pick from a list of hundreds of beautiful templates to fast-track your creation process!

Rakuna is proud to bring you this innovative ATS solution as Teamtailor’s partner! Want more details on the product? Give us a visit and book a demo!


We have just gone through 9 best practices to choose and utilize a recruiting ATS for small businesses. Combined with our ATS selection guide, you are now more than capable of finding the right applicant tracking solution for your recruiting team! It’s time to go out there and find a suitable ATS solution and start getting qualified candidates.

If you want to create a fully customizable, highly reactive career site, get in touch with us and see how our ATS solution can help you hook candidates with just the first glance!