Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software tools that recruiters and hiring managers use to find top candidates. They save time by storing applications and tracking job seekers throughout the recruiting process—from job ads to hiring. You should consider an ATS that is free, simplifies job posting, filters incoming resumes and applications, and improves candidate-employer communication.
Top 7 Free Applicant Tracking Software
(Best Overall) Any business with fewer than 50 employees posting to multiple job boards
Restaurants and retailers looking for a free and easy way to find hourly workers
Startups wanting to post jobs and track applicants free on the top job board
Fast-growing firms (with professional recruiters) planning to upgrade talent acquisition features in the future
Field-based companies with under 75 workers
Tech firms that prefer open source software for customization and systems integration
Regulated industries wanting to do background checks from within their ATS software
Which Applicant Tracking System Is Right For You?
How We Evaluated the Best Free Applicant Tracking Software
Usually, applicant tracking systems are 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 features your business might need to manage your recruiting and hiring process, from posting a job to messaging candidates.
We used the following criteria to evaluate the best free applicant tracking software options:
- Price: The ATS software is 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 for free (additional advertising of those jobs often costs extra).
- Track applications: The software stores job seeker application forms and resumes.
- Parse resumes: Some systems can extract resume data so you can easily compare applicants.
- Contact applicants: Send email or text messages so you have records of your communication.
- Manage candidates: All software 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 with which your business can start and grow.
Freshteam: Best Overall Free ATS for Small Businesses
Freshteam continues to the top spot for best free applicant tracking software because it offers so much in its free version, including a link to share open jobs on your website. It’s best for businesses with 50 or fewer employees, because it remains free—letting you post up to up to three jobs at a time.
Freshteam’s Sprout plan is free if you have 50 or fewer employees and can get by with posting only three 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). They also offer an Estate plan for enterprise businesses.
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 a free applicant tracking software 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 email 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 24/5 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 like 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.
Homebase: Best for Brick & Mortar Businesses Like Restaurants & 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. Cool add-on features 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 their 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 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. Higher priced tiers merely add customization and additional reporting options.
Homebase Location-based Plans & Pricing
$19.95/site per month
$49.95/site per month
# 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 potential recruits. 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 applicant tracking system “free” 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 data 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. You can provide last-minute information, schedule an interview, and ask for follow-up documentation using text. Also, any communications sent to or from the candidate via email are logged within Homebase. You’ll 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 offers a top-rated employee scheduling and time clock app. Once you hire your new team member, you can onboard them, schedule them into shifts, and communicate about work expectations—all from one integrated software. Homebase tracks their work hours, including overtime and leave requests too. That makes it a super all-in-one software to hire, onboard, and manage your hourly workforce.
Homebase Customer Support
Homebase offers support via phone and online chat, as well as through email. Their customer service hours are weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Times. On weekends as during weekdays, they will typically respond to email within 24 hours. You’ll also find video guides. Or, join one of Homebase’s 30-minute training webinars to help you get set up.
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. 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 how easily it integrates with their existing point-of-sale (POS) software and payroll systems.
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 and basic applicant tracking. For example, you get a careers page and can contact job seekers via email. You’ll also get salary tools and templates to build your job ads. Further, 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 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 email contact between 30 and 100 passive 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.
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. Sponsoring your ad is one way 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 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.
There’s no need to recreate 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.
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.
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.
Indeed Customer Support
Indeed provides employer support via phone, email, chat, or a contact form on their website, as well as 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 a 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.
SmartRecruiters: Best for Growing Firms With Professional Recruiters
SmartRecruiters’ core product is an applicant tracking system designed for corporate and enterprise talent acquisition teams. In other words, it is a professional ATS software designed to manage a large-scale talent pipeline. However, its free version, SmartStart, lets small businesses with under 250 employees use most of its ATS features at no charge, including to post up to 10 jobs.
SmartRecruiters offers its SmartStart ATS version 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.
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.
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.
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, and by interacting with the chatbot on its site. Its help center is nicely organized by topic, such as getting started, General Data Protection Regulation (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, and if you want to upgrade, you’ll have to contact SmartRecruiter for custom pricing.
What Users Think About SmartRecruiters
Our SmartRecruiters user reviews included nice 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 share concerns regarding its customer service.
When I Work: Best for Small Businesses With Field-based Workers
Like Homebase, When I Work also 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 interview and selection process using web-based 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 listed 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 hiring manager who interviews the candidate. Using When I Work, your applicant’s interview notes can be shared as you screen candidates for open roles. Once you hire a person, you can input their start date and pay rate—allowing managers to see that the new hire is now available for scheduling.
When I Work Customer Support
When I Work offers user support weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. You can contact them via email or online chat. Like Homebase, they also provide training videos. And, 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 isn’t yet much online feedback regarding its new applicant tracking features.
OpenCATS: Best Free Open Source Applicant Tracking System
OpenCATS is best for IT firms and 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, 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.
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.
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. You can easily 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, 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, but 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. Since it is free, customizable, and scalable, it may work if 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
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.
JobScore: Best Applicant Tracking Software for Background Checks
JobScore lets you run background checks right from the system—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.
Another nice feature JobScore has is one-click job applications. Research has shown that job seekers 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 $99 to $299 per month and up. If you need an unlimited number of jobs posted, or are a professional recruiter, you can contact them for pricing on professional and enterprise versions.
|# 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 15 free and over 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.
Your team members can refer job seekers to you based on their social media connections (Facebook, LinkedIn, and 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. It’s open from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time. It 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 professional or enterprise 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.
Additional Recruiting Alternatives to Free Applicant Tracking Software
Recruiters and staffing firms that source candidates for clients
Employers that want to cast a wider net using job boards like Indeed
Job Site Aggregators
Specialty industries needing to find top candidates across the internet; consider ZipRecruiter
Sales and service firms needing to integrate HR and onboarding; try Zoho People
Techies who can download and track applicants found on free job sites
Small businesses that want to manage staffing through a co-employer
Busy executives outsourcing to hiring experts (costs about 30% of 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. We urge you to give it a try and see how much time an ATS can save you.