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, screens applicants, and organize and manage referral programs to boost recruitment efforts.
In this guide, we evaluated 11 free applicant tracking systems and narrowed it 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
$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
$0 to $449-plus per month
$0; 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
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 that the initial implementation should not have been overwhelming.
More than 7,000 customers worldwide use Freshteam.
Multichannel job posting
You can create, manage, and publish job postings from your ATS within minutes. Also, you’ll have the option to choose where and how you want to publish them—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.
Hiring team and archived resumes
Compared with the other solutions, you can select and set up your hiring team using Freshteam. A rep will work closely with you to find your job postings’ matches and modify your hiring process depending on your requirements. Also, you can access Freshteam’s database of passive candidates that can be tapped easily when similar job opportunities open up in the future.
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.
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 having to depend on you. You’ll just have to sync your career email inbox with Freshteam and convert every email you receive into an application.
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 criteria at the moment and for future reference. Your selected hiring team can make their opinions count through comments and ratings.
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.
Instead of waiting for your applicants’ feedback, you can sync your email with Freshteam to correspond with candidates from your ATS. Simultaneously, you can keep all hiring stakeholders automatically informed by sending out notifications for any updates. You can even create canned responses, schedule emails, communicate with applicants and your hiring team in bulk, use tasks and reminders to manage workloads, and assign tasks.
Freshteam allows you to collect feedback from the hiring team using scorecards. Once you decide to hire a candidate, you can make and manage offers, configure offer fields, generate offer letters, and even record candidate decisions.
Freshteam’s Android and iOS apps help you keep up with your recruiting pipeline from anywhere. You can email candidates, submit feedback, get complete context on a candidate or the interview process, and advance candidates through the recruitment stages with just a few taps.
The platform works well with Skype and Google Hangouts. These integrations allow you to communicate with your top leads faster. You can schedule interviews easily with its Google Calendar and Microsoft 365 integration.
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
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 got a hit in popularity because of its limited online reviews. It also scored lowest on reporting as it doesn’t allow customization.
MightyRecruiter has around 9,200 global candidates.
Job posting and distribution
You can post job openings to leading job boards and sites simultaneously—something that Freshteam and SmartRecruiters also do. Also, it integrates well with social media accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook, so you can schedule your posts easily, and MightyRecruiter will post your open jobs for you.
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 that only MightyRecruiter offers.
Customizable career site
Similar to all solutions on this list, MightyRecruiter lets you easily customize and let your company culture attract potential talent using a career page. You can place your company logo, advertise your company culture, use your own accent colors, and upload custom images and videos to get qualified candidates’ attention. If you have an existing career page, copy and paste the widget code into your site where you would like it to appear, and the software will update it for you.
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.
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.
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
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 make use of 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 rate of employee turnover.
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.
Homebase Standout Features
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.
It has an easy-to-use platform with intuitive controls that enable users to create and post jobs to multiple online job boards and social media platforms, such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn—similar to how Freshteam reaches a wider database. Applicants can also send their resumes through the job boards and go directly to the Homebase Hiring dashboard, where you can message, interview, and hire applicants all in one place.
Like Indeed and MightyRecruiter, you can use screening questions to make the vetting process even easier with Homebase. You get up to three questions that can be attached to a job post. Applicants can respond to these questions when they apply.
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.
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 that only Homebase offers.
- Career page: Customize your career page and use it 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.
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
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 those offered by Freshteam. 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).
Indeed Standout Features
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.
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.
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.
Like all the other providers, Indeed lets you and members of the hiring team send messages to candidates or schedule an interview from its platform. It also stores all messages, allowing you to track applicant communications easily.
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.
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
JobScore is an all-in-one recruitment platform great for recruiters and companies that need a multichannel job posting site with a strong referral program. Its free plan allows you to post an unlimited number of job ads—both paid and unpaid—to access an unlimited number of candidates. It also lets you get more applicants with its employee referral programs—as an employee, you can get a reward once a successful referral gets hired.
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.
JobScore Standout Features
Customizable career page and application forms
JobScore allows you to configure your career page using videos, pictures, and team profiles that showcase your company, environment, and products. Similar to SmartRecruiters, you can use pre-built or customizable short or long application forms to build a better candidate profile.
Automated job posting
Users can automatically post jobs to free job boards or have them posted on paid job board sites at negotiated rates. In case your niche job board doesn’t integrate with JobScore, you can create a custom tracking link and insert it in your job posting. The solution also keeps track of your job postings.
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.
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.
To motivate your employees more, you can make rewards available when they have a successful referral.
New candidate alerts
As an administrator, you get to control who gets notified when a new candidate applies for a specific position. You can also ask hiring managers to make a special preference for referral candidates and search firm (vendor) submissions.
Immediate candidate response
Employers and hiring managers can sort resumes using applicant scoring (1 to 10). The scores will help you decide who to contact or decline. You can create email templates, schedule when emails are sent, and decide whether you’ll respond to candidates individually or in bulk.
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.
JobScore lets you extract all pertinent information from resumes to easy-to-scan profiles. You can set scoring criteria and ask inbound questions that will filter and sort qualified candidates easily. Scale and Enterprise subscribers can use a powerful action menu to move candidates to any step in the hiring workflow, tag candidates for future roles, or re-assign candidates to different jobs that are a better fit—all in one click.
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.
JobScore synchronizes with Google Calendar and Microsoft 365. So, you can view the availability of your team and every conference room in real time and add calls or interviews directly to your teams’ calendars.
JobScore helps you focus on what’s important by taking care of reminders like confirmed interviews and appointments and feedback collection.
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
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.
SmartRecruiters Standout Features
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.
Collaborative hiring tools
To fast-track the hiring process, SmartRecruiters allows hiring managers and other stakeholders to communicate, share resumes and notes, and collaborate on one platform. You can maintain communication records with its historical message tracking and create a consistent messaging system with SmartRecruiters’ template library.
This lets you stay connected with your hiring team at any time—and only SmartRecruiters, Indeed, and Freshteam offer one. Aside from staying up to date with hiring activities, you can screen, review, and approve candidates using your iOS or Android device.
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 prevents workflow stagnation with configurable tasks and reminders, easy approvals, and real-time dashboards. You can also keep passive candidates updated with scheduled check-ins, improve candidate experience with timely feedback, and even set reminders to reduce the time you spend on each vacant job position.
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.
Interview scheduling and process
You can schedule virtual interviews with multiple candidates and provide interview updates automatically. Standardized scorecards are used to get objective feedback from interviewers.
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.
Based on our evaluation Freshteam is the best free applicant tracking system for small businesses with up to 50 employees. It earned an overall score of 4.56 out of 5, with high marks on popularity, applicant tracking, and reporting features. It is also scalable, making it a great ATS with which your business can grow.
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. Freshteam, Homebase, 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.
Who Should Use Free ATS
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 you 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the best free applicant tracking system?
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.
What are the benefits of using an applicant tracking system?
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.
What should I look for in a free ATS?
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.