Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software tools that recruiters and hiring managers use to find top candidates. An ATS saves time by storing applications and tracking job seekers throughout the recruiting process—from job ads to hiring. If you’re starting to ramp up your hiring, you should consider an ATS that is free, simplifies job posting, filters incoming resumes and applications, and improves candidate-employer communication.
Top 6 Applicant Tracking Software (Free)
(Best Overall) Any business with fewer than 50 employees posting to multiple job boards
Tech firms that prefer open source software for customization and systems integration
Startups wanting to post jobs and track applicants free on the top job board
Regulated industries wanting to do background checks from within their ATS software
Restaurants and retailers looking for a free and easy way to find hourly workers
Fast-growing firms (with professional recruiters) planning to upgrade talent acquisition features in the future
Field-based companies with under 100 workers
Which Applicant Tracking System Is Right For You?
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How We Evaluated the Best Free Applicant Tracking Software
Applicant tracking systems that are used by larger companies and recruitment firms can be costly, but there are several free options accessible to small businesses. In our evaluation of the best free applicant tracking software, we looked for essential features like job postings, candidate management and tracking, team collaboration tools, integration options, and a careers page. Pricing was another major consideration, wherein we selected ATS software that are absolutely free for small business owners and excluded those that only offered a free trial and demo.
Freshteam: Best Overall Free ATS for Small Businesses
Freshteam continues to the top spot for best free applicant tracking software since it offers so much in its free version, including a link to share open jobs on your website. It’s optimal for businesses with 50 or fewer employees because it remains free—letting you post up to three jobs at a time.
We recommend Freshteam as the best free applicant tracking system for small businesses because it contains all of these features. In addition, if you outgrow the free program, it’s priced competitively. That makes it a great ATS with which your business can start and grow.
Freshteam’s Sprout plan is free if you have 50 or fewer employees and if you can get by with posting only three open positions at a time. As you grow and need to post more jobs, bulk import candidates, or parse resumes, you might want to upgrade to its paid plans (fees start at $75 per month, per 50 employees).
Numbers of Employees
Up to 50
Up to 250
Numbers of Job Postings
Up to 3
Up to 10
Post to Job Boards
*Discounts available for annual pricing. Additional employees cost extra.
With the Blossom tier, you can post jobs to job boards like ZipRecruiter and Indeed. If you upgrade to the Garden plan, then you’ll get social media recruiting, offer letters, and customization to support your employment brand. The Estate plan, which is ideal for enterprise businesses, comes with custom user roles and a dedicated account manager.
- Careers page: Even with the free version, you’ll get a careers page but you can also use its “embed jobs” feature to put a link on the careers page of your own business website.
- Job postings: Create your own job posting or choose from one of Freshteam’s templates. You can advertise open jobs on your careers page, through social media platforms (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), and job boards (like Adzuna, Glassdoor, and Indeed).
- Candidate management and tracking: Freshteam lets you see where each candidate is throughout the recruitment process, allowing you to view resumes, emails, interview scores, and notes in one place.
- Email templates: You can create templates from frequently used emails and schedule when specific messages should be sent out.
- Team collaboration tools: Aside from letting hiring team members share comments and candidate feedback with each other, Freshteam has customizable interview scorecards that allow interviewers to rate and assess applicants.
- Resume parsing: Freshteam parses candidate resumes automatically, enabling its platform to collect relevant information and populate applicant profiles.
- Hiring workflows: Create custom workflows, add recruiting stages, and assign hiring teams for each open job.
- Software integrations: Freshteam is designed to work with other software. It integrates with Office 365 email and calendar tools, Google Meet and Skype interview apps, and HackerRank and Codility assessment portals. In fact, Freshteam is part of a larger application set called Freshworks—an affordable business software that manages everything from your IT help desk to your call center.
Freshteam Customer Support
Freshteam provides 24/5 support via phone, email, and online chat. That includes a help request form you can send directly from the website. You’ll also find a knowledge base with an Admin Guide (complete with screenshots) and content to help you get started.
What Freshteam Is Missing
Freshteam doesn’t have native integrations into HR or payroll software. Once you hire a candidate, you’ll need to manually input their data into your HR and payroll systems, or upload data from a CSV file. This differs from all-in-one tools such as Homebase. You also have to upgrade to a paid plan before you can use features like resume parsing and hiring reports.
What Users Think About Freshteam
We found great Freshteam ratings on third-party review sites as well as our own, where Freshteam earns nearly 5 out of 5 stars. Everyone loves free software—especially when it’s easy to implement, use, and customize.
OpenCATS: Best Free Open Source Applicant Tracking System
OpenCATS is best for IT firms and those who want open-source web-based ATS that they can download and customize for free. It offers resume imports, document conversions, search features, email integration, and the ability to copy candidate data to and from the site. OpenCATS also supports Linux, WAMP, and XAMP operating systems, making it best for organizations that have competent IT tech resources.
As open-source software, OpenCATS is free. The benefit of open-source software is that you control your data and your integrations to be able to embed the ATS software into your existing IT landscape. The download is fully functional, although some configuration will be needed for specific features such as full-text resume search. Therefore, your only cost will be the IT labor required to install it.
- Careers page and company branding: Because it’s open-source, the code is available to your programming team so that you can brand your site and label fields and tabs the way you want.
- Job posting: You can choose to post jobs internally through your company’s employee portal or as public job ads that appear on your careers page. OpenCATS also has a built-in XML feed that lets you share job postings to specific sites and job boards.
- Candidate messaging and tracking: Its email functionality lets you send messages to candidates, create email templates, and alert the hiring team of new applications. OpenCATS will keep track of all communications, including candidate details, contact numbers, and other recruiting-related activities.
- Resume database: OpenCATS does a great job of organizing resume data. You can easily search the database for existing applicants to fill open positions.
- Dashboard: OpenCATS lets you configure your dashboard in whatever way makes the most sense for those doing the hiring in your company. For example, you can view jobs, candidates, calls, events, and even simple report data, all on one screen.
- Customization and software integration: You have many options for data exports to third-party systems and reporting. Customization and language support can also be added by using third-party tools. And being open-source, its creators welcome customer suggestions—although they may have a longer development cycle than a for-profit entity.
OpenCATS Customer Support
OpenCATS and its offshoot, CandidATS, provide no contact information, so you’re pretty much on your own. Of course, you can post questions to a blog like GitHub with no guarantee that you’ll get a reply. Your best bet is to join an online user community, like the OpenCATS Slack forum. Meanwhile, you can access technical documentation and release notes for complete details on the code and what it does.
What OpenCATS Is Missing
Being open-source software, you’re not going to get customer service and will need to do some research on your own. If you want free ATS that’s customizable and scalable, then OpenCATS may work for you—provided that you’ve got some IT tech-savvy and don’t mind its crowded user interface. Plus, it can save you from subscribing to cloud-based software.
What Users Think About OpenCATS
We don’t currently have our own review of OpenCATS. Reviews on third-party sites are also limited, but those who left feedback highlighted its ease of use, customizability, and good applicant tracking capability.
Indeed: Best Free ATS Built Into a Free Job Board
Indeed is a free job board site with over 3 million job seekers each month. It’s great for any business wanting to maximize its reach with free job postings and basic applicant tracking. Its features include salary tools, templates to build your job ads, candidate email messaging, and a careers page. Further, you’ll have a dashboard to see all applicants who have applied and track where they are in the hiring pipeline.
Job posts are free on Indeed (subject to Indeed’s terms of service standards), and that includes free applicant tracking software. Indeed earns its revenue by charging an optional pay-per-click advertising fee that starts at $5 per day if you want to promote (aka “advertise”) your open position. That’s referred to as “sponsoring” a job, and it keeps your job openings at the top of the job seeker’s search results.
For $100 to $250 per month, you can also email contacts of between 30 and 100 candidates that you find while searching Indeed’s free resume database. That’s helpful when you want to find a person with a particular set of skills and ask them to apply to your free open job posting.
- Careers page and employer branding: Your free Indeed company page informs job seekers what it’s like to work for your company. You can add photos and employees can leave reviews about your company. Unlike Freshteam, you don’t have to upgrade in order to customize your careers page.
- Job postings: You can post jobs directly on its platform for free, but you can also pay a small fee (starts at $5/day) to sponsor jobs. Sponsoring your ad is one way to maximize your job post on Indeed.
- Applicant screening: You can add screening questions directly in the job application form, such as, “How many years of experience do you have?” You can also ask job seekers to complete online exams to verify their skills, like customer support, typing, or Excel.
- Candidate communications: Indeed lets you and members of the hiring team send messages to candidates directly from its platform. It also stores all messages, allowing you to easily track applicant communications.
- Email templates: You can create templates for common messages such as “thank you for applying” or “we’ll be contacting you for an interview.” This lets you correspond using standardized communications to keep job seekers in the loop.
- Applicant management and tracking: With Indeed, you can tag which candidates are “awaiting review” or have been “rejected.” Apart from tracking applicants, its platform records the job roles that candidates have applied to.
- Salary tools: One of the cool features Indeed offers that most free ATS software doesn’t is salary tools. As an employer, you can find out what you should be paying for a job based on its job title. Of course, your job seekers can obtain this information too if they know where to find it.
- ATS integrations: Indeed integrates with several third-party platforms such as Applicant Pro, BreezyHR, Greenhouse, Hirebridge, JazzHR, TalentReef, Workable, and Zoho Recruit.
Indeed Customer Support
Indeed provides employer support via phone, email, chat, Twitter, and a contact form on its website. It also has a robust help center with a section for employers. Support hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time.
What Indeed Is Missing
Indeed lacks two things that most other applicant tracking systems have. One is that it doesn’t cross-post to other job boards. The second is that its reporting and workflow options aren’t nearly as robust as those offered by Freshteam. However, you can download reporting data to analyze on your own and share candidate data with your HR or payroll system via CSV file. As for customer service, you won’t be able to access email support on the weekends as Homebase does.
What Users Think About Indeed
Indeed is our top recommended free job posting site thanks to its easy-to-use features and free ATS software. There are mixed Indeed user reviews on third-party review sites. However, we’re unable to determine whether the feedback is from job seekers or employers, as Indeed serves both kinds of users.
JobScore: Best Applicant Tracking Software for Background Checks
JobScore offers free applicant tracking that lets you run background checks right from the system—which is perfect for regulated industries. You don’t have to find and negotiate with a third party to build background checks into your hiring process. You can also have unlimited users, applicants, notes, and tags. All this and it still provides all applicant tracking basics, such as hosting your careers page and pushing your open positions to job boards and social media.
The reason JobScore didn’t make it to the top of our list, even though it has great features in the free version, is that the free plan only allows for one job post. If you want more, prices range from $149 to $499 and more per month. If you need an unlimited number of job postings or are a professional recruiter, you can contact JobScore to request a quote for its enterprise version.
Numbers of Job Postings
Careers Site Branding
EEO and Compliance
Customization, Forms, and Workflows
Internal Job Board and Resume Inboxes
Onboarding and HRIS Integration
*JobScore provides a 33% annual pricing discount.
- Careers page: Design a mobile-optimized careers page using a drag-and-drop site builder. You also add your business logo and pictures or videos that showcase your company’s working environment.
- Job posting: Using JobScore, you’ll get to post jobs to 15 free and 20+ paid job boards, and then create custom links so that you can track where your best candidates are coming from. That allows you to save money by only advertising jobs on job boards that are working for you.
- Candidate tracking and management: JobScore’s candidate dashboard has drop-down menus that allow you to see where each applicant is in the recruiting process. Candidate data can also be downloaded, making it easy to transfer information to other systems (such as your payroll software) once the candidate is hired.
- Email templates: Automate common responses with email templates to thank candidates for submitting their application, request for more information, ask for interview availability, or decline candidates.
- Hiring workflows: You can create workflows to address the hiring requirements of specific jobs.
- Personal hiring dashboards: Apart from providing an overview of all hiring activities, you can choose to view the candidate pipeline by jobs or workflow stage.
- Background checks: JobScore partners with background check company VerifiedFirst to offer employee screening services. Being able to run a background check from within your ATS saves you time and keeps your candidate data in one place.
- Software integrations: JobScore’s network of partner systems include BambooHR, Namely, Paylocity, Sapling, Google and Microsoft Outlook Calendar, DocuSign, and AdobeSign.
JobScore Customer Support
Customer support is provided by phone or email, both posted directly on the company’s website. It’s open from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. JobScore also has a free tutorial, online documentation, and even an ideas portal, so you can suggest new features.
What JobScore Is Missing
JobScore lacks a mobile application and doesn’t provide 24/7 support. In addition, you have to upgrade to its pricey enterprise version if you want premium features like custom data exports, account analysis and insights, and a dedicated account manager.
What Users Think About JobScore
As far as ATS systems go, JobScore is rated high based on third-party review websites. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that its free plan only provides one job post at a time, it may have moved up in our ranking too.
Homebase: Best for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Like Restaurants and Retailers
Homebase offers a free applicant tracking system to make it easy for brick-and-mortar businesses like cafes and retail stores to fill open positions quickly. It posts jobs to popular online job boards and tracks hourly applicants throughout the recruitment process. It also has add-on features that let you stay in touch via text message and upload newly-hired workers to the job schedule with a click.
Homebase is best known for its free employee scheduling and timekeeping software that integrates with point-of-sale (POS) systems and payroll software. Adding an applicant tracking system free to its existing free software is a bonus for any small business operating out of one restaurant or retail store location.
Homebase is free for an unlimited number of employees in one physical business location. Otherwise, it’s priced per site (monthly fees start at $19.95) based on the number of business locations you have—with no limit on the number of employees. All the basic ATS features come included with the free package. Paid tiers add premium features such as performance management, compliance tools, and API access.
Numbers of Employees
Numbers of Locations
Job Posting and Applicant Tracking
Time and Attendance
Payroll and POS Integrations
*Discounts available for annual pricing.
Homebase also offers add-on services like job posting boosts (fees start at $79 per post) to help enhance your job distribution reach. You can also request HR advice from Homebase’s team of advisers. The said service costs $99 per month but is available for free to those who subscribe to the All-in-One plan.
- Careers page: Similar to Freshteam and Indeed, Homebase will automatically create a career page for your business so that job seekers can find open jobs you have available. You can share that link on your own website, social media page, or emails as you encourage job seekers to apply.
- Job posting: Jobs you post appear on popular job boards (like Indeed and ZipRecruiter) and the posting process is easy thanks to free job description templates.
- Candidate management: When candidates apply to your job posts, their application and resume show up within Homebase, saving you from having to manage data across multiple platforms using different login IDs.
- Candidate communications: Homebase’s free ATS offers ad hoc text messaging so that you can communicate with job candidates via smartphone. Any communications sent to or from the candidate via email are also logged within Homebase.
- Employee scheduling, time clock, and other features: Once you hire your new team member, you can onboard them, schedule them into shifts, and communicate about work expectations—all from one integrated platform. Homebase also tracks their work hours, including overtime and leave requests. That makes it an all-in-one software to hire, onboard, and manage your hourly workforce.
- Software integrations: It integrates with POS solutions (like Clover, Square, and Vend), payroll systems (such as ADP, Gusto, Paychex, QuickBooks Online Plus, Square Payroll, and SurePayroll), and other business tools (like BevSpot, Restaurant365, and Shopventory).
Homebase Customer Support
Homebase offers support via phone and online chat, as well as through email. Its customer service hours are weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time. On weekends customer support will typically respond to emails within 24 hours. You may also join one of Homebase’s 30-minute training webinars to help you get set up, as well as watch the video guides.
What Homebase Is Missing
Homebase isn’t designed for staffing firms and therefore doesn’t have a job offer letter tool like some of the larger enterprise applicant tracking systems have. Once you decide to hire someone, you’ll need to come up with your own offer letter. Or, simply send them a text.
Also, it’s designed for hiring hourly staff with the assumption that you’ll want to keep track of their work schedules and hours—features you may not need with a salaried exempt workforce.
What Users Think About Homebase
We found that Homebase receives solid reviews for all its software, including scheduling, time tracking, employee communication, and hiring tools. Users like its ease of use and how easily it integrates with their existing POS software and payroll systems.
SmartRecruiters: Best for Growing Firms With Professional Recruiters
SmartRecruiters’ core product, StartRecruit, is a talent acquisition software designed for corporate and enterprise hiring teams. In other words, it is a professional ATS solution for managing large-scale talent pipelines. However, its free version, SmartStart, lets small businesses with under 250 employees use most of its ATS features at no charge and post up to 10 jobs.
SmartRecruiters offers its SmartStart ATS version for free if your company has fewer than 250 employees and requires up to 10 active job posts. However, once you outgrow its free plan, you’ll need to upgrade to its paid SmartRecruit solution. You need to contact the company directly for a quote, but third-party sites claim that its fees start at $10,000 per year.
Numbers of Active Job Post
Up to 10
More than 10
Multi-board Job Postings
Job Widget to Integrate Your Jobs on any Webpage
ATS and Candidate Database Management
Interview Scheduling Tools
Full Marketplace Access with 350+ Partner Recruitment Systems and Services
If you want candidate messaging and recruiting CRM tools, then you can purchase its SmartMessage and SmartCRM solutions. Its other add-on products include SmartGlobal, which lets you configure its platform for multi-country deployments, and SmartAssistant, which uses artificial intelligence to find, screen, and score candidates.
SmartRecruiters operates like most ATS software. You can post jobs, evaluate candidates, get feedback from interviewers, and view data analytics. It also has a hiring app to make it easy for job seekers to apply.
- Careers page: Similar to Freshteam, you get a branded website or can add a widget to your existing site. You can upload videos and employee testimonials to tell your story and encourage workers to apply by giving them a sneak peek into your culture.
- Job posting: It offers one-click job posting to Google, LinkedIn, and more than 200 partner job boards. You can also share jobs on social media, like Facebook. If you have an employee referral program, then you can ask your existing employees to provide candidate referrals through its applicant tracking software.
- Team collaboration tools: Collaborative hiring is a great feature that SmartRecruiters offers. It lets you view interviewer notes and scorecards all in one place. That saves you from tracking down emails, notes, and feedback from those who need to weigh in on the suitability of the job candidate.
- Candidate tracking and management: After candidates submit their resumes, SmartRecruiters lets you track their application status online. You can view which candidates have been interviewed, given an offer letter, hired, and rejected.
- Software integration: SmartRecruiters offers integration so that you can upload the data for your candidates to your HR software or payroll service once they’re hired. One of the services SmartRecruiters offers that other ATS systems don’t is access to business partners and recruitment firms when you upgrade to its paid edition. And, you’ll get to keep all the data you’ve gathered about jobs and applicants while having used the free version.
SmartRecruiters Customer Support
SmartRecruiters provides customer service via email, online help, and the chatbot on its site. Its help center is nicely organized by topic such as getting started, GDPR, and integrations. Paid plans provide a designated administrator for support.
What SmartRecruiters Is Missing
The free version lacks API integration to other business software you might use and doesn’t offer an analytics dashboard. In addition, the free plan doesn’t include configuration for multiple brands and hiring workflows, plus if you want to upgrade, you’ll have to contact SmartRecruiter for custom pricing.
What Users Think About SmartRecruiters
SmartRecruiters user reviews included good feedback about the ATS in the 4 out of 5-star range; other sites have mixed reviews. Some recruiters don’t think the reporting features are adequate, and others complained about having experienced software glitches from time to time.
Additional Recruiting Alternatives To Free Applicant Tracking Software
Applicant tracking software that’s available for free can help you manage your hiring pipeline without breaking your recruitment budget. However, there are also other recruiting solutions and services that enable you to efficiently find, engage, and hire qualified candidates. Here are some recruiting alternatives that you can use:
- Paid recruitment software: These platforms are typically used by recruiters and staffing firms that source candidates for clients.
- Job boards: If you want to cast a wider net to find candidates, then job board sites (like Indeed) can help you tap a large talent pool.
- HR software: For sales and service firms that need to integrate HR and onboarding, you can try Zoho People.
- Applicant tracking spreadsheet: This is ideal for techies who can download and track applicants found on free job sites.
- Professional employer organizations (PEO): This is a good recruiting alternative for small businesses that want to manage staffing through a co-employer.
- Staffing agency: Busy executives can outsource their business’ recruitment needs to hiring experts (costs about 30% of the hire’s first-year salary).
While pricey applicant tracking software is often used by larger companies to manage their recruitment pipeline, a free applicant tracking system software tool can save your small business time while providing a broader talent pool. Why not give your company a competitive edge when sourcing and hiring candidates for open jobs? After all, free ATS software is, well, free.
Freshteam, part of the Freshworks’ business software suite, provides free applicant tracking if you have fewer than 50 employees and don’t need to post more than three job openings at once. You can try it at no cost and see how much time an ATS can save you.