6 Best Free Applicant Tracking Systems in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
The best free applicant tracking systems (ATS) simplify job postings, filter incoming resumes and applications, and improve candidate-employer communication. A good ATS can store resumes for future reference, screen applicants, and organize and manage referral programs to boost recruitment efforts.
In this guide, we evaluated 11 free applicant tracking systems and narrowed them down to our top six recommendations:
- Freshteam: Best overall for companies with 50 or fewer employees
- MightyRecruiter: Best for small businesses in industries vulnerable to discriminatory hiring processes
- Homebase: Best for restaurants and retailers requiring applicant tracking, scheduling, and attendance management solutions
- Indeed: Best for companies that want unlimited job postings over advanced ATS tools to support hiring increase
- JobScore: Best for recruiters and companies that need multichannel job posting and referral programs
- SmartRecruiters: Best for fast-growing firms with professional recruiters planning to upgrade talent acquisition features
Do you want to use a spreadsheet to manage applicants while you’re deciding on an ATS? Download our free applicant tracking spreadsheet.
Free Applicant Tracking Systems Compared
New Hire Onboarding
$0 to $4.80 per month, per employee plus platform fee*
$0 to $99.95 per month, per location
$0 to $5 per day pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
$120 to $300 to contact candidates
$0 to $449-plus per month
$0 for 10 user seats; also has custom pricing
*Freshteam’s paid plans include a monthly platform fee of $71 to $203, depending on the plan.
In addition to the features highlighted above, all our best applicant tracking systems offer:
- Job posting
- Customizable career page branding
- Applicant tracking and screening
- Applicant assessment
- Interview scheduling
- Mobile access
Are you interested in learning about other recruiting systems? Explore our guide on the best recruitment software.
Freshteam: Best Overall Free ATS for Small Businesses
- Customizable career site
- Job posting on multiple channels
- Feature-rich mobile app
- Fully automated parsing and candidate profile populating
- Overwhelming features that can be hard to navigate at times
- Limited editing features
- Limited third-party integrations
Freshteam Monthly Pricing*
- Free: $0
- Growth: $1.20 per employee plus $71 platform fee
- Pro: $2.40 per employee plus $119 platform fee
- Enterprise: $4.80 per employee plus $203 platform fee
*Discounts available with annual plans.
Freshteam is a cloud-based HR software best for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Its feature-rich free tier lets you publish up to three job postings per month and manage a basic career site. It also allows you to establish a strong candidate pool, collaborate with your hiring team, receive job applications via email and referrals, and track successful candidates using Kanban boards anywhere through Freshteam’s mobile app—all for free.
In our evaluation, Freshteam got an overall rating of 4.56 out of 5 because it has robust applicant tracking and reporting features and is popular among users. It got a low score on pricing since its paid tiers are quite expensive compared with other providers on our list. Online reviews are mostly positive, though some users said the initial implementation should not have been overwhelming.
More than 7,000 customers worldwide use Freshteam.
- Multichannel job posting: You can choose where and how you want to publish jobs—externally or internally. If you do not have templates for posting an open position, you can choose from Freshteam’s 100-plus prebuilt job description templates or customize your own—similar to what MightyRecruiter offers.
- Smart candidate sourcing: Unlike Homebase, Freshteam allows you to customize your mobile career site with your own branding. To reach a wider talent base, Freshteam allows you to post jobs on free job boards like Adzuna, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Glassdoor or share it on social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can even add a custom tab on your Facebook brand page to source candidates.
- External recruiters: You can tap your vendors to increase the number of applicants using Freshteam. Vendors get exclusive access to your applicant tracking software through the vendor portal, where they can add candidates and track them without depending on you. You’ll just have to sync your career email inbox with Freshteam and convert every email you receive into an application.
- Resume screening: Freshteam parses the uploaded resume immediately and populates the candidate profile with it automatically. The profile contains every applicant detail plus interaction history, feedback, and interview scores. You can also archive them if the candidate doesn’t fit your current criteria and for future reference. Your selected hiring team can make their opinions count through comments and ratings.
- Preassessment: During technical rounds, Freshteam is the only provider that offers pre-assessment test integrations with HackerEarth, HackerRank, or Codility to screen a high volume of applicants.
- Flexible customer support: Freshteam has 24/7 free email, unlike the other providers on our list, and a 24/5 chat and call support.
MightyRecruiter: Best for Small Businesses in Industries Vulnerable to Discriminatory Hiring Practices
- User-friendly and highly accessible
- Free full-featured ATS
- Resume database with more than 22 million candidate profiles
- Job posting approvals take 24 to 48 hours
- Unresponsive customer support
- Limited free job boards
- Free: Includes unlimited jobs, resume searches, and user accounts.
MightyRecruiter is a free end-to-end ATS that can post to 29 job boards and social networks with just one click. It enables you to manage candidates and keep you compliant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) via its reporting features. You can create screening questions for candidates, review and rank them, and communicate with them using customizable email templates—all in a single platform.
The platform earned an overall score of 4.43 out of 5 in our evaluation for its strong applicant tracking features, transparent pricing, and ease of use. Access to a dedicated account manager also contributed to its high score. However, it took a hit in popularity because of its limited online reviews. It also scored lower on reporting as it doesn’t allow customization.
MightyRecruiter has around 9,200 global candidates.
- JobPromote: If you need help finding qualified applicants in highly competitive job markets, MightyRecruiter’s JobPromote can help. It gets your work opportunities in front of the right candidates and fills your position in no time—a unique function only MightyRecruiter offers.
- Searchable resume database: MightyRecruiter has a database of more than 22 million resumes that can help you find employees from those unique, opted-in candidates.
- Prescreening: For the application process, you can include screening questions from MightyRecruiter’s Question Library or customized ones to eliminate applicants who fail to meet predetermined requirements, such as location or age requirements and certifications and essential skills.
- Reporting and analytics: You can generate reports for job postings, candidate sourcing, job advertising costs, and even data to comply with the EEOC and OFCCP in the case of an audit, which is a function JobScore also offers.
- Customer support: Only MightyRecruiter has a dedicated account manager available for all customers. You can also contact MightyRecruiter’s support team via chat, phone, and email for basic troubleshooting and quick questions from Monday until Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time.
Homebase: Best for Restaurants & Retailers That Need Applicant Tracking, Scheduling & Attendance Management Solutions
- Post jobs for free on top online job boards
- Message applicants and schedule interviews within the platform
- Applicants can use quick response (QR) codes and Text-to-Apply to submit resumes faster
- Job posting boost is expensive
- Constantly lagging
- Notifications are overwhelming
Homebase Monthly Per-location Pricing
- Basic: $0 (for one location)
- Essentials: $24.95
- Plus: $59.95
- All-in-One: $99.95
- $79 per post for Job Posting Boost
- $99 per month to access HR Pro advisers and resources
- $39 base fee plus $6 per active employee for Payroll
Homebase is an applicant tracking, employee scheduling, and time tracking solution perfect for restaurants and retail shops that have one or more locations and mostly hire hourly workers. Aside from sending resumes via your career page, applicants can use Homebase’s QR codes and Text-to-Apply to reach you faster. After you accept applications, Homebase allows you to contact, screen, and interview applicants using the same platform almost automatically. These recruiting tools are optimal since restaurants and retailers have the highest employee turnover rate.
In our evaluation, Homebase received an overall score of 4.43 out of 5, taking a hit because of its inability to create custom reports. Most online users find its interface straightforward. Some, however, say that it has a lot of features but is not well-integrated. There were even times when the software lagged.
Homebase is used by more than 100,000 businesses.
- Per-location pricing: While other providers charge monthly fees on a per-employee basis, only Homebase bills you based on the number of business locations you have. This is optimal for employers with plans to grow their workforce in one location.
- Feature-rich free tier: Compared to all of the applicant tracking software we reviewed, only Homebase has a robust offering of free-to-use hiring, scheduling, and time tracking tools. You even get a built-in team messenger and a self-service portal where employees can manage their own information.
- Premium boost: To get your job post in front of more applicants, you can purchase Homebase’s Premium Boost, which lasts for 30 days and increases the number of applicants you’ll receive.
- Applicant management: Aside from reaching out to applicants via job boards and social media platforms, Homebase offers different ways you can find applicants:
- Referrals: You can send a link to your job post to your team members.
- QR code: Applicants can download a QR code that they can scan on their phones.
- Text-to-apply: To capture walk-ins, you can send applicants a text message with a link to your job post—a unique feature only Homebase offers.
- Career page: Customize and use your career page to describe your business and advertise your company culture. You can also send the career page’s link to applicants.
- Manual: Add applicants directly to Homebase through its Hiring page.
- Multiple filters: Only Homebase narrows the number of applicants down using different filters—Status, Distance, Application Quality, Source, and Availability.
- Automated onboarding process: New employees hired using Homebase will receive a welcome packet and can e-sign direct deposit, W-4, W-9, and I-9 forms.
Indeed: Best for Companies That Need Unlimited Job Postings to Support High Turnover or Hiring Increase
- Post unlimited jobs for free
- Indeed Assessments evaluates candidates’ on-the-job skills and qualities
- Access to 200 million resumes
- Have to submit a ticket to get support
- Some jobs sponsored on desktop may not be sponsored on mobile
- Software sometimes glitches when posting a job
- Free (unlimited jobs)
- Optional: $5 per day PPC advertising fee for job promotion
- Indeed Resume: $120 or $300 monthly to email 30 or 100 candidates, respectively
Indeed is a free job board site with more than 3 million job seekers each month. It’s great for any business that wants to maximize its reach with free unlimited job postings and basic applicant tracking. Its management tools allow you to message candidates throughout each stage of the hiring process, schedule interviews, and send assessments—and it updates the candidate’s status automatically. Meanwhile, its salary tools provide employers information about current pay rates based on the job title.
The provider received an overall score of 4.11 out of 5 in our evaluation because it is easy to use and navigate. Even though it earned mixed reviews, it is popular with online reviewers. However, its reporting features and workflow options aren’t nearly as robust as Freshteam’s. Indeed also scored low on pricing as it lacks multiple tiers, and its paid option for contacting potential candidates in its Indeed Resume plan is costly at $120 per month (for 30 contact credits).
- 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 to customize your careers page.
- Sponsored job postings: Indeed’s Sponsored Jobs is the only PPC plan to boost your job postings in this guide. You can post jobs directly on its platform for free, but you can also pay a small fee (starts at $5 per day) to sponsor jobs. Sponsoring your ad is one way to maximize your job post on Indeed. If you have an existing company career site, you can post a job for free in the general search results or pay to advertise.
- Mobile recruiting: Like Freshteam and SmartRecruiters, you can cast a wider net for qualified applicants since Indeed job postings automatically receive applications via Indeed Apply, even on mobile. Indeed Apply is a feature that allows job seekers to quickly send their applications using an Indeed Resume or a traditional resume file.
- Applicant screening: Like MightyRecruiter and Homebase, you can add screening questions to 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.
- Third-party integration: Only Indeed works seamlessly with more than 200 third-party platforms, such as Applicant Pro, Breezy HR, Greenhouse, Hirebridge, JazzHR, TalentReef, Workable, and Zoho Recruit.
JobScore: Ideal for Recruiters & Companies That Want to Develop Referral Programs
- User-friendly and highly accessible
- Customizable career page and application forms
- Reward referral for employees
- Advanced features cost extra
- Takes more than 48 hours for customer service to respond
- Filters need improvement
Job Score Monthly Pricing
- Free: One active job post
- Start: $149; five active job posts
- Scale: $449; 10 active job posts
- Enterprise: Custom priced
JobScore is an all-in-one recruitment platform great for recruiters and companies that need a multichannel job posting site with a strong employee referral program. Its free plan allows you to post an unlimited number of paid and unpaid job ads to access an unlimited number of candidates.
If you want to take advantage of employee relationships to find and hire talent, then JobScore can help you do that. With it, you can quickly see who is referring, how often, and how their referrals are moving through the hiring process. You can also evaluate how your employee referral program performs over time by looking at the total referrals and the number of referral hires.
The platform earned an overall score of 4.06 out of 5 in our evaluation and received high marks for its robust ATS. However, it did not do well in popularity since it has a limited number of online reviews on third-party sites. In addition, you have to upgrade to its pricey enterprise version if you want premium features, such as custom data exports, account analysis and insights, and a dedicated account manager.
JobScore has more than 1,000 active employers, holds 15 million-plus job applications, and serves more than 150 countries.
- Social recruiting: JobScore promotes jobs via social media. However, instead of cross-posting the open jobs to social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you’ll have to send a referral campaign email to prompt your employees to share open positions through their social media networks.
- Overdue reports: With JobScore’s Scale and Enterprise plans, you can set the maximum time a candidate should be in each workflow stage—or else their status will be “overdue.” The Overdue Report shows how many people are overdue in each stage and prompts you to take action.
- Employee referral portal: Like Freshteam, JobScore lets your employees take part in your hiring process by using their networks for referrals. There will be an employee referral portal so your team can easily send resumes and track their referrals in the hiring process.
- Reward referral: To motivate your employees more, you can make rewards available when they have a successful referral. Just input the email addresses of your employees, draft your message requesting for referrals, and then blast it through your company—watch the referrals come in. You can also add a monetary reward for extra incentive. JobScore then tracks the referrals you receive, and employees can also monitor the status of their referrals.
- Search firms management: With JobScore’s Enterprise plan, you can invite search firms to submit candidates for open positions via email with detailed submission instructions. When agencies submit candidates, JobScore parses and sends the resumes to the hiring team. Search firms will be kept in the loop in every communication between you and the candidates.
- Interviews: Among the other providers, only JobScore’s Scale and Enterprise plans help you prepare interview templates that you can use at each stage of the hiring process. Scheduled interviews link to these templates, so your team can always be prepared.
- EEOC- and OFCCP-compliant: Similar to MightyRecruiter, JobScore helps you stay in compliance with state laws and regulations with its disclaimer that gives applicants the option to volunteer their gender, ethnicity, disability, and veteran status. Its self-identification form also matches the recommended OFCCP font and layout. JobScore has configurable “disposition codes” to disclose the reason for declined and withdrawn candidates.
SmartRecruiters: Ideal for Fast-growing Firms With Professional Recruiters Planning to Upgrade Talent Acquisition Features
- Easy to set up, use, and deploy in multiple locations
- Unlimited number of users and candidates
- Mobile-optimized career site
- Candidate database management
- Pricing is not transparent
- Self-scheduling feature is glitchy sometimes
- Job posting approval process for the free version takes longer than usual
- Free: Up to 10 active job posts
- SmartRecruit: Custom priced
SmartRecruiters is a scalable end-to-end talent acquisition software with seamless integration and collaboration, making it ideal for fast-growing firms. It helps recruiters and hiring managers by augmenting their HR functions and has a free version that supports multiboard job postings, pre-integrated assessments, candidate management, applicant screening, interview scheduling, offer management, and onboarding. Its SmartGlobal tool, which comes with multilanguage customer support, enables you to recruit globally and hire locally.
The solution earned an overall score of 4.06 out of 5 because it has efficient applicant tracking and reporting features. Also, it has more than 400 online reviews with a lot of positive feedback; users commented that it is user-friendly and that its free version supports an unlimited number of users and candidates. However, it lost points on pricing because it lacks transparency; you need to contact its sales team for a quote to upgrade from the free plan.
Many popular brands, including Visa, Etsy, Verisk, Marc Jacobs, Skechers, and Gameloft, use SmartRecruiters.
- Multiboard job posting: With one click, SmartRecruiters can post jobs on more than 300 job boards. Its SmartDistribute tracking reports and post-to-hire metrics even identify which job boards are helping you fill your talent pipeline, a function only SmartRecruiters offer.
- Workflow management: SmartRecruiters’ unique workflow management is one of the best in the market as it’s so simple to configure, unlike other providers where inexperienced users may need guidance. This solution, similar to JobScore’s overdue reports, prevents workflow stagnation with configurable tasks and reminders, easy approvals, and real-time dashboards.
- Applicant screening: SmartRecruiters has customizable application forms that let you identify qualified candidates quickly—a function JobScore also has. It even has fully integrated assessments and skills tests to predict if a candidate is fit for the role and if they will stay with the company for a long time—something Freshteam and Indeed can also do.
- Hiring plans: You can set hiring goals and monitor and improve the hiring team’s performance during the recruitment process.
- Offer management and onboarding: Only with SmartRecruiters can you extend timely offers to applicants using integrated and configurable offer letter templates and forms and automated approvals via any mobile device. You can even let candidates view, sign, and accept their offers quickly and from any device using SmartRecruiters’ DocuSign integration. It also has an automated onboarding process complete with background checks for new hires.
How We Evaluated the Best Free Applicant Tracking Systems
We compared each ATS on price and ease of use. Also, we looked for essential features like free job board postings, candidate management and tracking, team collaboration, referral programs, integration options, and a careers page. We excluded those that only offered a free trial and demo.
To see our full evaluation criteria for the top applicant tracking software, click through the tabs in the box below:
25% of Overall Score
We selected providers that offer free plans and transparent pricing for paid tiers. Additional points were also given if the software has no setup fee and its paid plans are less than $30 monthly. Among the shortlisted solutions, only MightyRecruiter is free forever and caters to an unlimited number of users, job postings, and candidates.
25% of Overall Score
We awarded more points to free applicant tracking solutions that allow you to post jobs on multiple job boards. Plus points are given if the provider has communication features for both applicants and hiring teams, a document management functionality for resumes and application attachments, and a customizable career page where you can track the entire recruitment process. Out of the seven ATS in this guide, Freshteam, JobScore, SmartRecruiters, and MightyRecruiter have the most robust applicant tracking functionalities that many can utilize to their advantage.
25% of Overall Score
We gave high scores to free systems that real users find intuitive and easy to learn and navigate. We also considered solutions with quick response turnaround via live phone support, how-to guides, and multiple third-party integration options. Additional points were awarded if a user can export documents into a CSV file. Indeed and MightyRecruiter got perfect scores because they are easy to navigate and have tutorials and how-to guides for new users.
15% of Overall Score
For this criterion, solutions with an average score of 4+ stars from online user reviews on sites like Capterra and G2 get high scores. Additionally, points were also given if the software has 200 or more reviews on third-party sites. Only JobScore and MightyRecruiter did not get perfect marks in this criterion.
10% of Overall Score
Aside from having access to standard reports, users should be able to create their own reports and view information within their recruitment system. Freshteam, JobScore, and SmartRecruiters have a list of very useful pre-built reports that help users track the candidates’ progress accurately and efficiently.
Do you need more help with the hiring process? Use our step-by-step guide on how to hire employees to make it easy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Free applicant tracking systems aren’t suitable for everyone because they have feature limitations. For other organizations, paying for upgraded features is more cost-efficient. If the following situations fit you, then using a free ATS is recommended:
- You have a simple hiring process. If your recruiting process is simple and works for you, then a free ATS should be all you need to iron things out and save time.
- You have a limited recruiting budget or only hire occasionally. If you’re not hiring year-round, getting a paid ATS may not be worth it, especially if a free ATS can already get the job done.
Applicant tracking systems come in different price ranges and features. Free applicant tracking systems come with limits, but the best free ATS should, at the very least, help streamline job posting, manage and store resumes, and enable hiring members to communicate and collaborate.
For businesses, the primary advantage of using an ATS is to reduce the time spent on mundane data entry tasks and streamline the hiring process as a whole. It helps save time, especially if you’re regularly managing a huge volume of applicants.
While you can’t expect to get the same features of paid software, the best free ATS should at least let you:
- Create a careers website
- Sort applications
- Parse resumes
- Collaborate with other hiring members
- Communicate with candidates
- Import or export resumes
- Add screening questions
- Create basic hiring reports
An ATS not only streamlines your recruitment process but also saves you time. All the solutions on our list offer free options, simplify job postings, filter resumes and applications, screen applicants, and improve candidate-employer communication.
Among the providers in this guide, Freshteam is the best option. If you need a job-specific hiring team that you can collaborate with to screen, track, and communicate with applicants using both a web and mobile app at no cost, then it is the perfect solution. Sign up for its free plan today.