Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software that HR, recruiters, and hiring managers use to find job candidates. An ATS saves your small business time by managing applicants throughout the recruiting process—from job posting to hire. Many offer their applicant tracking systems free to smaller businesses. Check out the seven below, which are truly free.
Top 7 Applicant Tracking Software (Free)
|Free ATS||Best For|
|Freshteam||(Best Overall) Businesses with fewer than 50 employees that post to multiple job boards|
|Indeed||Any company wanting to post unlimited jobs and track applicants free|
|SmartRecruiters||Firms that want to upgrade talent acquisition features in the future|
|Homebase||Restaurants and retailers looking for a free way to find hourly workers|
|When I Work||Alternative to Homebase for field-based companies with under 75 employees|
|OpenCATS||Companies that need open-source software for customization and systems integration|
|JobScore||Employers wanting to do background checks from within their ATS software|
How We Evaluated the Best Free Applicant Tracking Software
Applicant tracking systems are generally used by larger companies and recruitment firms. They can be costly, but there are several free options accessible to small businesses. These no-cost, cloud-based ATS software tools include all the basic applicant features your business might need to manage your recruiting and hiring process—from job postings to candidate communication.
We used the following criteria to evaluate the best free applicant tracking software options:
- Price: The ATS software had to be absolutely free for small business owners (we excluded any that only offered a free trial or demo).
- Post jobs: It posts jobs to be linked on a job board or your career page.
- Track applications: The software stores job seeker application forms and resumes.
- Parse resumes: Some can extract resume data so you can easily compare applicants.
- Contact applicants: It lets you contact job seekers via email or text.
- Manage candidates: All manage candidates through application, interview, and offer.
- Interface to system: Ability to push (or upload) data to your HR or payroll software.
- Reports: Provides standard reports to see how your hiring process is going.
We recommend Freshteam as the best free applicant tracking system for small business 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 for your business to start and grow with.
Freshteam: Best Overall Free ATS for Small Businesses
Freshteam takes the top spot for best free applicant tracking software because it offers so much in its free version. It’s best for those who have 50 or fewer employees wherein Freshteam remains free—allowing you to post up to five jobs at a time. You get all the basic ATS features, including a link to share open job postings on your business website. You’ll also be able to track where applicants are in the recruitment process using a mobile-friendly site.
Freshteam’s Sprout plan is free if you have 50 or fewer employees and can get by with posting only five open positions at a time. As you grow and need to post more job openings, bulk import candidates, or access resume parsing features, you might want to upgrade to the paid Blossom package for as little as $50 per month (if you pay annually).
Freshteam ATS Plan Options
|# of Employees|
|# of Job Postings|
|Posts to Job Boards|
*Discounts available for annual pricing. Additional employees cost extra.
For $75 per month, your open jobs will be posted to job boards like ZipRecruiter and Indeed. If you upgrade to the Garden plan for $150 month, you’ll even get social media recruiting, offer letters, and customization to support your employment brand. Nonetheless, the free Sprout program lets you try out an ATS at no charge until you grow past 50 employees.
Freshteam provides free job posts and it sets up a free career site that you can direct applicants to; you don’t have to create one from scratch. Once an applicant applies, Freshteam stores their resume. Then, you can schedule interviews, storing feedback from interviewers in one place.
Below are the features that make Freshteam stand out as our top recommendation for free ATS software.
Even with the free version, you’ll get a careers page. Or, you can also use the “embed jobs” feature to put a link on the careers page of your own business website. In the free version, candidate applications come to you through email.
Collaborate With Hiring Team
Freshteam lets you see where each candidate is throughout the recruitment process, allowing you to view emails and interviewer notes in one place. This helps you to hire top candidates faster. In the free software, you get one account. You can upgrade to a paid plan if you need more users to access the software.
Freshteam is designed to work with other software. It integrates with Office 365 and calendar tools, as well as Google apps and Facebook. In fact, Freshteam is part of a larger application set called Freshworks—affordable business software that manages everything from your IT help desk to your call center.
Freshteam Customer Support
Freshteam provides 24/7 support via phone, email, and online chat. They also have a help request form you can send directly from the website.
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. You also have to upgrade to a paid plan before you get features like resume parsing and hiring reports.
What Users Think About Freshteam
We found great ratings on third-party review sites as well as our own, where Freshteam earns nearly 5 out of 5 stars. Who doesn’t love free software—especially when it’s easy to implement, use, and customize? For more information, read our complete review of Freshteam.
How to Sign Up for Freshteam
The best way to sign up for Freshteam if your business has fewer than 50 employees is to choose their free Sprout package. You can see how it works and decide to upgrade later if you need additional features as your business grows. Get Freshteam applicant tracking software free.
Indeed: Best Free ATS Built Into a Free Job Board
Indeed is the largest job board with over three million job seekers each month. It’s great for any business wanting to maximize its reach with free job postings that include basic applicant tracking. For example, you get a careers page, and you can contact job seekers via email. With Indeed, you’ll have a dashboard to see all applicants who have applied and can track where they are in the hiring pipeline.
Job posts are free on Indeed (subject to 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 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.
You can also pay $100 to $250 per month extra if you want to contact 30 to 100 passive candidates that you find while searching Indeed’s free resume database.
Indeed contains many applicant tracking software features in addition to its free job posting service—from creating a careers page to allowing job seekers to apply via their mobile phone. For more information, read our full article on how to maximize your job post on Indeed.
Some of the features that make Indeed a great free option for applicant tracking include:
Indeed offers many ways to screen job applicants. You can ask screening questions right 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.
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.
There’s no need to re-create common emails, such as “thank you for applying,” or “we’ll be contacting you for an interview.” With Indeed, you can set up an email template with variables like the candidate’s name, the position they applied for, and their email address. That lets you correspond using standardized communications to keep job seekers in the loop.
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. Here’s an article on salary tools for more information.
Indeed Customer Support
Indeed provides support via phone, email, a contact form on their website, and Twitter. 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. Further, they don’t offer support on the weekends like Freshteam does.
What Users Think About Indeed
Indeed is our top recommended job board thanks to its easy to use features and free ATS software. It has mixed 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. Read our Indeed review for business insights.
How to Sign Up for Indeed
You can register for a free account on Indeed by filling out a form and posting your first job for free. We recommend using Indeed as a free job board and claiming your free company page even if you don’t use it as your ATS—as Indeed can pass job and applicant data to any ATS you choose. Indeed offers $50 in free sponsorship credit to new users.
SmartRecruiters: Best Applicant Tracking System for Professional Talent Acquisition
SmartRecruiters core product is an ATS designed for corporate and enterprise talent acquisition teams. In other words, it is a professional applicant tracking software designed to manage a large-scale talent pipeline. However, their free version, SmartStart, lets small businesses under 250 employees use most of its ATS features at no charge, including being able to post up to 10 jobs.
SmartRecruiters is free if your company has fewer than 250 employees. However, once you outgrow their free plan, its pricing is much higher than Freshteam—starting at about $4,000 per year. Recruitment firms or larger companies need to contact them directly for a quote.
|Price per Month|
|Multiboard Job Posting|
|Mobile Apply for Candidates on the Go|
|Distribute Your Job to Aggregators|
|Job Widget to Integrate Your Jobs on any Webpage|
|Full ATS & CRM Functionality|
|Full Marketplace Access With 370+ Partners & Recruitment Services|
|Global Job Distribution to 200+ Job Boards|
|API Access for Developers, SSO & More|
|Custom HRIS Integrations|
From a best ATS standpoint, the reason SmartRecruiters didn’t make our top spot is that its pricing is high if you need to upgrade. And, they charge a $2,000 setup fee once you outgrow the applicant tracking software free option. Freshteam, in contrast, costs only $75 to $150 per month with no setup fee when you move to a paid plan (even less if you pay annually).
SmartRecruiters operates like most ATS software. You can post jobs, evaluate candidates, get feedback from interviewers, and view data analytics. They also have a hiring app to make it easy for job seekers to apply.
With SmartRecruiters, you get a branded website or can add a widget to your existing site, similar to Freshteam. 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. SmartRecruiters further differentiates you from other employers with a one-click application process and the ability to track their application status online.
Collaborative hiring is a great feature that SmartRecruiters offers, similar to Freshteam. 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.
Social Engagement Tools
Given that many job seekers start by asking their friends, it’s nice that SmartRecruiters integrates with social media and can synchronize with Facebook. Your existing employees can also provide you with candidate referrals through the applicant tracking software.
Additionally, 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’ don’t is access to business partners and recruitment firms when you upgrade to the Corporate 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, phone, and by interacting with the chatbot on its site. Their 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 doesn’t push your jobs to as many job boards as the paid 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 workflow, as Freshteam does.
What Users Think About SmartRecruiters
Our reviewers share nice feedback about SmartRecruiters 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 share concerns regarding its customer service. For more insight, read our review of SmartRecruiters.
How to Sign Up for SmartRecruiters
The easiest way to get started with SmartRecruiters is to request a demo by completing a short online form on their website that includes a question about how large your company is. Once you respond that you have fewer than 250 employees, they’ll redirect you to the SmartStart page, where you can sign up for free.
Homebase: Best for Brick & Mortar Businesses Like Restaurants & Retailers
Homebase recently added a free applicant tracking system to help brick-and-mortar clients fill open positions quickly. It posts jobs to popular job boards and tracks hourly applicants throughout the recruitment process, letting you stay in touch via text message and adding them to the job schedule once hired.
Homebase is best known for its free employee scheduling and timekeeping software that integrates with point-of-sale (POS) systems and payroll software. That makes this new ATS feature a bonus for any small business operating out of one location.
Homebase is free for an unlimited number of employees in one physical business location. Otherwise, it’s priced per site based on the number of business locations you have. All the basic ATS features come included with the free package. Higher priced tiers merely add customization and additional reporting options.
Homebase Location-based Plans
|# of Employees|
|# of Locations|
|Time & Attendance|
Homebase offers a free job posting service that posts your open jobs to common job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter, as well as to Facebook. Like Freshteam and Indeed, it creates a company job posting page that you can share with job seekers. In fact, if you get walk-in job seekers, you can give them a text code linking them directly to your job ad so they can apply online.
What makes Homebase great as an ATS tool is it assumes you don’t have a full-time HR manager on staff. Jobs you post appear on popular job boards and the posting process is easy thanks to free job description templates. When a candidate applies, their application and resume show up within Homebase, saving you from having to manage applications across multiple platforms using different login IDs.
Homebase’s free ATS offers ad hoc text messaging so that you can communicate with job candidates via smartphone. That allows you to provide last minute information, schedule an interview, and ask for follow-up information using text. Also, any communications sent to or from the candidate via email are logged so that you can easily see your contact history with the candidate.
Like 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 within emails as you encourage job seekers to apply.
Homebase’s Other Features
Homebase offers a top-rated employee scheduling and time clock app. Once you hire your new team member, you can onboard them directly into the system, schedule them into shifts, and communicate about work expectations. Homebase tracks their time, including overtime and leave requests, all from the same system. That makes it a super all-in-one software to hire, onboard, and manage your hourly workforce.
Homebase Customer Support
Homebase offer support via phone and online chat, as well as through email. Their customer service hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time. On weekends, they will typically respond within 24 hours. You’ll also find video guides to help you with common recruiting tasks like job posting and applicant tracking.
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. Therefore, once you decide to hire someone, you’ll need to come up with your own offer letter. Or, simply send them a text.
What Users Think About Homebase
Homebase receives solid reviews for all its software, including scheduling, time tracking, employee communication, and hiring tools. Users like how easily it integrates with their existing point-of-sale (POS) software and payroll systems. Read our Homebase review.
How to Sign Up for Homebase
You can sign up for Homebase for free by providing little more than your email address. No credit card is required. In addition to the applicant tracking software that’s free, you’ll get access to free employee scheduling tools, free time keeping, leave management, and employee communications options. Get your free account.
When I Work: Best for Small Businesses With Field-based Workers
Like Homebase, When I Work also recently added hiring features to its scheduling software that’s free for businesses with up to 75 employees. It lets you post jobs and share those job postings on your website or social media. Job seekers can apply via mobile app, and you’ll be able to track them through the web-based software.
Once you make a hire, the candidate’s data passes through to When I Work’s free scheduling and timekeeping software.
When I Work Pricing
When I Work is free as long as your business has 75 or fewer employees. Hiring features are included at no additional cost in all packages. Once you grow past 75 workers, it remains affordable for all that you get. For example, monthly pricing ranges between $1.50 and $2.25 per employee, per month, with the difference in cost based primarily on the additional team and task management tools.
When I Work Features
When I Work’s applicant tracking system lets you post jobs for free as well as share those jobs across multiple free job platforms like Indeed. Once jobs are posted, you can collect and gather job applications in one place. Then, you and your managers can review applications, interview candidates, and make notes within the software. Once you choose to hire someone, their data will already be in the system, making it easy to add them to your work schedule.
Posting a job on When I Work is about as difficult as crafting an email. You input the job title, type in the job description, and complete a few additional data fields. Your job will then be posted on free job boards like Indeed. You can share the link to your open job on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, via a direct link on your website, or in an email to candidates who reach out to you.
Job seekers who apply via the When I Work job posting link will have their information uploaded to the system automatically so that you can see key data on all candidates in one location. If you have walk-in applicants, you will need to upload their information manually. It doesn’t have an easy text link option like Homebase has.
You’ll often want more than one person to evaluate job seeker information, such as an HR rep who may do a phone screen or a hiring manager who may interview the candidate. Using When I Work, your applicant’s interview data can be shared in an online system as you consider candidates for your open roles. Once you make a hiring decision, you can input the candidate’s start date and pay rate, allowing managers to see that the worker is now available for scheduling.
When I Work Customer Support
When I Work offers support weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Central Time and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. You can contact them via email or online chat. Like Homebase, they also provide training videos. But, if you prefer, you can pay extra to get on-site training for yourself or your staff.
What When I Work Is Missing
When I work doesn’t offer support over the phone (only via email and chat). And it doesn’t post to as many job boards as Homebase and some of the other ATS systems do. In addition, its new hiring feature has few online reviews.
What Users Think about When I Work
Business users give When I Work software glowing reviews for its scheduling and timekeeping functions. However, there aren’t yet many reviews of its new applicant tracking features. Here’s our When I Work review. If you’ve used When I Work’s ATS and can share your insight, we’d love to hear from you.
How to Sign Up for When I Work
Those already using When I Work for free employee scheduling need look no further than the new “Hire” menu option at the top of the screen. Otherwise, sign-up is free and it doesn’t require a credit card. Get your free When I Work account.
OpenCATS: Best Free Open Source Applicant Tracking System
OpenCATS is best for those who want open source software that they can download and customize for free. OpenCATS offers resume imports, document conversions, search features, email integration, and the ability to copy candidate data to and from the site. It supports Linux, WAMP, and XAMP operating systems, and is best for organizations that have competent IT tech support.
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.
As open source software, OpenCATS is free. The download is fully functional, although some configuration will be needed for specific features, such as full-text resume search.
OpenCATS offers the ability to import talent, manage users, and create reports. It can be customized and branded, with options to configure it to your organization’s specific applicant tracking process. It supports multiple document types, such as DOC, HTML, and PDF.
Here are some of the highlights of OpenCATS:
Because it’s open source, the code is available to your programming team so that you can brand your site, label fields and tabs the way you want, and give your recruitment staff the application they need to support the hiring function. OpenCATS includes email integration and templates, and allows you to create and use extensions.
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.
OpenCATS does a great job of organizing resume data so that you can search the database for existing applicants to fill open positions.
Customization & Integration
As open source software, you have many options for data exports to third-party systems and reporting. Customization and language support can be added by using third-party tools. And being open source, they 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. You can access their technical documentation here for complete details on their code and what it does. Release notes can be found here.
You can post questions to a blog like GitHub, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response. Your best bet is to join an online user community, like the OpenCATS Slack forum.
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. But since it is free, customizable, and scalable, it may work if you’ve got some IT tech-savvy. And, it can save you from subscribing to cloud-based software.
What Users Think About OpenCATS
Those who have installed and are using OpenCATS give it decent marks on third-party review sites. Customization options (to match their brand and business processes) are what users like most. We don’t currently have our own review of OpenCATS.
How to Sign Up for OpenCATS
CandidATS is an offshoot of OpenCATS, and is also a free open source ATS. It’s provided by open source vendor Auieo. It was last updated in April 2018. As open source software you can download, CandidATS can be found on websites like SourceForge. Otherwise, you can get the latest version of OpenCATS code directly from their website.
JobScore: Best Applicant Tracking Software for Background Checks
JobScore lets you run background checks right from the system. 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.
Another nice feature JobScore provides is one-click job posting. Research has shown that job applicants don’t appreciate a lengthy job application process. You’ll get more applicants if they can apply for a job easily.
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 $49 to $249 per month. If you need more than 10 jobs posted, you can contact them for pricing on an enterprise version.
|# of Job Posts|
|EEO & Compliance|
|Customization, Forms & Workflow|
|Internal Job Board & Extra Inboxes|
|Onboarding & HRIS Integration|
*JobScore provides a 33% annual pricing discount.
In the free package, you can have unlimited candidates apply to your one job and you can sort and tag them in your database. You can also view each candidate, and see where they are in the applicant tracking cycle with drop-down menus visible from the dashboard. Candidates and data can be downloaded, making it easy to transfer data to other systems, such as your payroll software, once the candidate is hired.
Using JobScore, you’ll get to post jobs to over 40 free and 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.
Your team members can refer job seekers to you based on their social media connections (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) or via email. Data from SHRM has shown that referrals are your best source of top candidates and are much more likely to result in hires, as your employees aren’t likely to refer bad candidates.
Workflow is a great feature, but you have to upgrade to the professional package to get it. However, you can email resumes directly into JobScore to minimize redundant manual data entry, saving you at least one step in your workflow.
JobScore partners with background check company VerifiedFirst to offer background checks ranging in price from $22 to $99, depending on how many different background checks you want to run. Being able to do a background check from within your ATS saves you time and keeps your candidate data in one place.
JobScore Customer Support
Customer support is provided by phone or email, both posted directly on their website. They’re open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. They also have 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 like Freshteam. In addition, you have to upgrade to its pricey Professional version if you want upgraded features like workflow.
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. Here’s our review of JobScore.
How to Sign Up for JobScore
You can sign up for JobScore on its website by answering a few simple questions. They also offer a free 30-day trial, which is the best way to check out their more advanced ATS software features. Get your free account.
Additional Recruiting Alternatives to Free Applicant Tracking Software
|Paid Recruitment Software||Recruiters and recruiting firms that source candidates for clients.|
|Job Boards||Employers who want to find more job boards like Indeed.|
|Job Site Aggregator||Companies that want software like ZipRecruiter, which sources candidates from across the internet.|
|HR Software||Business that want to integrate HR and onboarding, like Zoho People does.|
|Spreadsheets||Techies who can download and track applicants from free job sites.|
|PEO||Small businesses that want to manage staffing through a co-employer (professional employer organization, or PEO).|
|Staffing Agency||Outsourcing to a hiring expert for about 30% of an employee’s first-year salary.|
Applicant tracking software is often used by larger companies to manage their recruitment pipeline. However, with free ATS software available to small businesses, why not give your company a competitive edge when sourcing and hiring candidates for open jobs?
Freshteam, part of the Freshworks’ business software suite, provides free applicant tracking if you have fewer than 50 employees and you don’t need to post more than five job openings at once. We urge you to give it a try and see how much time an ATS can save you.