ATS Features Checklist

So you’re interested in an applicant tracking system (ATS)? That’s great news! But how do you know which features you need? There are 200+ applicant tracking systems out there and each comes with different bells and whistles.

To help you navigate through this, we have built out an Applicant Tracking System Features checklist that you can reference as you go through your evaluation process.

  1. Must-have features that EVERY ATS should have
  2. “Nice-to-have” features worth considering
  3. Non-feature “features” to include in your checklist

The Core ATS Features That You Need

At its core recruiting can be broken down into three fundamental stages:

  1. Attracting and engaging candidates
  2. Managing and interviewing applicants
  3. Making job offers and onboarding new hires

For this reason, your ATS feature checklist should be organized accordingly.

Attract and Engage

No recruiting function will be successful if you can’t get candidates in the door. For this reason, start your evaluation based on functionality that:

  • Helps get your jobs in front of quality candidates
  • Creates a great candidate experience that drives applicants to apply
  • Makes it easy to establish initial communication with candidates

ATS features essential for attracting and engaging candidates are:

  • Easy posting to job boards
  • Fully-customizable careers pages and online job applications
  • Mobile apply
  • Employee referral platform

Interview and Collaborate

Okay, we’ve got the features that will get candidates applying to your jobs. Now comes the hard part:

  • Communicating with job applicants
  • Moving candidates through your hiring process efficiently
  • Communicating with your hiring team
  • Scheduling interviews
  • Collecting interview feedback

Chances are you have already realized this on your own but manually managing all of these activities can become overwhelming quickly. To avoid getting overwhelmed here, every applicant tracking system should offer the following features under the Interview and Collaborate umbrella:

  • Email templates & automation
  • Advanced candidate search
  • Outlook & Gmail interview scheduling
  • Interview scorecards
  • Workflows that fit your hiring process
  • Tools for hiring managers
  • Recruiting dashboards

Offer and Onboard

You can have the most fine-tuned hiring process out there, but if you can’t get your candidates accepting your job offers or onboarded efficiently, all your work is wasted. To avoid this disaster, always evaluate applicant tracking systems based on their capabilities to make effective job offers and get candidates onboarded efficiently.

  • Approval processes
  • Integrated background checks
  • Digital offer letters
  • New hire onboarding
  • EEOC and OFCCP compliance
  • Analytics and reporting

Nice-to-Have ATS Features You Should Consider

Beyond the core ATS features above, there are some other features that you should consider including in your checklist as well. Think of these as “nice-to-haves,” although many can become mandatory based on your organization’s size, hiring process, compliance considerations and so forth.

  • Texting
  • App store and integrations
  • Agency management functionality
  • Multilingual applications
  • Video interview integrations
  • Sourcing tools

Non-Features That You Should Include in Your ATS Checklist

We’ve now covered the major features that you should be looking for. However, your checklist shouldn’t end here. Other factors mandatory for you to consider when evaluating applicant tracking systems are:

Pricing structure

The ATS market is notorious for smoke-and-mirror pricing options. Always know the type of contract that you are entering, otherwise, you may end up paying far more than originally quoted:

  • Per feature
  • Per number of employees (PEPM)
  • Per hire made
  • Per standard user
  • By level of service
  • Flat fee


An ATS takes considerable work and training to get live at your company. You DO NOT want to be the one responsible for this at your company. Make sure your ATS provider will:

  • Guide you through your ATS implementation process and help you get your new careers page activated
  • Host personalized training for your administrative users, staffing users, and hiring managers
  • Answer your questions via multiple platforms, whether it be email, phone, or online
  • Assign you a personal account manager responsible for the ongoing support of you and your team
  • Maintain an up-to-date knowledge base that you can access at any time

Implementation Timeline

For applicant tracking systems, implementation alone can become a full-time project. Rule of thumb to avoid this: ask the ATS vendors you are speaking with if they could have you up-and-running in under 2 weeks. If their answer is no, this is a red flag that the implementation process may be far more cumbersome than advertised.

Now Get Out There and Start Evaluating!

With this feature checklist, you have everything you need to start evaluating different applicant tracking systems!


Author Bio: Joel Passen is the Co-Founder of Newton Software, an Applicant Tracking System designed for small and medium-sized employers. Joel is also a former recruiter. Having spent decades managing hiring efforts through manual processes and outdated software, Joel knew there had to be a better way. With Steve Hazelton, Joel founded Newton Software in 2009 and since then their recruitment platform has helped over 2,000 companies hire better candidates faster. To contact Newton for more information, give them a call at 415-593-1189 or email them at