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What’s the Difference Between Applicant Tracking vs Recruiting Systems

Comments Off on What’s the Difference Between Applicant Tracking vs Recruiting SystemsWritten on January 11th, 2012 by
Categories: Corporate Recruiters, Human Resources, Third-Party Recruiters
By Kyle Lagunas

Most people know that, although they both work in talent acquisition, third party recruiters and internal recruiters serve very difference functions. As such, it makes sense to assume that each would rely on different technology to manage their own complicated and distinct workflows. As both tools are used in the arena of recruiting and hiring, though, many people lump applicant tracking software and recruiting software together. It’s certainly easy to confuse the two, and I thought it would be helpful to draw a clearer picture of what sets these two software systems apart.

Applicant Tracking Software and Recruiting Software: Difference at a Glance

At its most basic level, applicant tracking software is designed to automate the hiring process within a single organization from beginning to end. Recruiting software, on the other hand, manages the workflow in organizations hiring for a number of divisions, clients and job types (such as recruiting firms). There are some similarities in basic functionality, though. Before digging deeper into each system, it may help to take a look at them side by side.

Applicant Tracking Software Recruiting Software
Candidate Management x x
Document Management x x
Job Postings on Multiple Boards x x
Online Applications x x
Boolean Candidate Searching x x
Candidate Onboarding x
Job Requisition Management x x
Client Management x
Billing & Invoicing x
Sales Force Automation x
Better Suited For Internal Recruiters, Hiring Managers Third Party Recruiting Firms
Example Products Newton, AcquireTM, iCIMS Bullhorn, cBizOne, StaffingSoft


Applicant Tracking Software: Candidate Management

Though there are functions that both types of software can perform, the ultimate focus of applicant tracking systems is the successful management of candidates through an internal hiring process. Because these systems automate functions that fall under the umbrella of human resources, applicant tracking software is often best suited for companies managing an internal hiring process.

Although vendors offer users various levels of functionality, even the most basic packages will usually cover these core capabilities:

  • The ability to track candidate status through the entire interview and hiring process, often including the ability to rate candidates and share thoughts and opinions internally.
  • A branded company job board where employers post open positions and candidates can submit resumes and complete role-specific employment applications.
  • A central candidate database that makes it easy for users to find candidates using keyword searches and custom filters.
Recruiting Software: Staffing Management

Recruiting software is uniquely designed to manage the hiring process for multiple jobs in multiple organizations. Because recruiters also rely on it to manage relationships with candidates and clients, recruiting software also offers functionality found in sales force automation software and customer relationship management software. As such, recruiting software is often considered a business solution, rather than a human resources application. Third-party staffing and recruiting firms benefit most from these systems

Recruiting software makes it easy to manage the granular details of staffing. Beyond core functionality found in applicant tracking software, most systems offer these capabilities:

  • Tools for managing a large number of active candidates - including flagging top candidates for quick access, sending multiple candidate profiles for open jobs and tracking important documents (i.e., resumes, certifications, and I-9s and more).
  • Customer relationship management functionality for maintaining existing relationships, prospecting future business and billing for placements.
  • A streamlined job posting process, with the ability to post jobs on your website, commercial job boards, and via social media outlets
If you’re in the market for applicant tracking or recruiting software, of course you’ll want to do your due diligence. The main thing to consider is: Which applications and what type of functionality will benefit my organization most? Beyond this guide, you can check out a list of a few of my favorite web-based applicant tracking systems. Also be sure to check out product demos, and ask a lot of questions.

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice – a company that reviews human resources software and more. He blogs about technology, trends, and best practices in HR, recruiting, and talent management.
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