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 five recommendations:
- Zoho Recruit: Best overall for small businesses with occasional hiring needs
- MightyRecruiter:: Best for small businesses in industries vulnerable to discriminatory hiring processes
- 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
Paid Plans Monthly Pricing*
New Hire Onboarding
$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
*These providers may offer discounts on annual pricing.
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.
Zoho Recruit: Best Overall Free ATS for Businesses
Zoho Recruit stands at the forefront of modern recruitment technology, tailored to meet the needs of both corporate HR departments and staffing agencies. Through its comprehensive applicant tracking system, it brings ease and efficiency to the hiring process. Its free plan is perfect for any small business with occasional hiring needs since—unlike MightyRecruiter that offers unlimited jobs—Zoho Recruit offers only one active job post at any given time.
Zoho Recruit tops our list with a score of 4.81 out of 5—just a few points shy of a perfect overall score. It got perfect marks for ATS features, reporting, and popularity. Beyond the fundamental functions, Zoho Recruit also offers other capabilities, such as video interviews, client and applicant portals, and employee referral portals. These added features harmonize the search and tracking of the perfect candidate, guaranteeing a seamless and successful hiring journey.
Job Posting: Zoho excels in job recruitment by posting listings on an extensive network of more than 300 job boards. It also allows users to craft custom recruiting campaigns, helping them reach out to previous applicants for new job opportunities they may be qualified for. This unique functionality is matched only by Indeed.
Candidate Assessment: Zoho Recruit goes beyond the basics with its resume parsing and background check features, facilitating the identification of top candidates. Additionally, with the Enterprise or Professional plan, its AI-driven assistant, Zia, assigns ratings to candidates based on their compatibility with job requirements, presenting users with a ranked list.
Custom Reporting Capabilities: Zoho boasts the most comprehensive report builder among the recruiting software we evaluated. Users have the flexibility to create reports from scratch, selecting from up to 25 data points, configuring detailed filters, and determining the presentation format. These reports can be saved for future use or modifications, offering unmatched reporting versatility.
Branded Careers Site: You have the option of sending invitations to recruiters to submit prospective candidates through a custom-branded portal. This portal mirrors your organization’s unique branding, ensuring a cohesive and user-friendly experience for recruiters and streamlining the process of directly inputting qualified candidates into the system.
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 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.
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 businesses wanting to maximize their 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 with information about current pay rates based on the job title—which is why it also made it to our roundup of the best salary comparison tools.
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. 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.
- 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 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
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. With one click, users can automatically post to free job boards and share your listing via social and professional networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even email contacts. If subscribed to paid plans, you can also post to paid job boards.
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: 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
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 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 five ATS in this guide, Zoho Recruit, 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. Zoho Recruit, 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.
How to Choose an ATS for Your Business
Finding an applicant tracking system for your business is a crucial step toward making hiring more efficient. Here are the steps to help you choose an ATS:
- Evaluate your needs: Start by understanding your specific recruitment needs. Consider the size of your business, the volume of hiring, and the complexity of your recruitment process. Identify the key features you require, such as job posting, candidate management, communication tools, and reporting.
- Determine your budget: Small businesses often have limited resources, so it’s essential to find a system that offers the features you need within your budget. Keep in mind that some ATS providers offer free or low-cost versions with basic features. There are also paid applicant tracking software with more advanced features, such as customization and automation options.
Planning to use paid ATS for more advanced features? Check our roundup of the best applicant tracking systems for your business.
- Consider ease of use and scalability: A user-friendly interface reduces the learning curve and increases adoption among your staff. Consider requesting a demo or trial to evaluate the software’s usability. You should also consider your business’s growth potential and find an ATS that can scale with your needs. Look for flexibility in terms of the number of users, job postings, and additional features you might require as you expand.
- Check integration capabilities: If you’re currently using other software, check if the ATS can integrate with what you’re using, such as your HRIS, payroll, or email system. Integration can streamline your processes and data management.
- Check customer support channels: Evaluate the level of customer support provided by the ATS provider. For a small business, having access to responsive customer support can be invaluable, especially when facing issues or needing assistance.
- Read reviews: Check reviews from other small businesses that have used the ATS you’re considering. Additionally, ask the provider for references or case studies of businesses similar in size to yours.
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.
ATSes come with varying features—so the best one for your business depends on your needs. For occasional hiring needs, for instance, we’ve found that Zoho Recruit has everything you need to streamline job posting, manage and store resumes, and enable hiring members to communicate and collaborate during the hiring process. If you’re in a business in a high-risk industry for compliance issues, then MightyRecruiter is best for you.
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
Free ATS software typically has limitations on the number of job listings, users, and the amount of data storage. Some advanced features, like automated candidate sourcing or in-depth reporting, are often unavailable in free versions.
In many cases, yes. Several ATS providers offer a free version with the option to upgrade to a paid plan as your hiring needs grow and you require more advanced features.
Alternatives include paid applicant tracking systems, recruitment software suites, and using manual methods like spreadsheets or email for tracking applicants. The choice depends on your budget and specific recruitment needs.
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, Zoho Recruit is the best option. With its free-forever plan, you can post one active job at a time, send emails, schedule interviews, and create a branded site. Sign up for its free plan today.