The Cost of Implementing an Applicant Tracking System

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While applicant tracking systems (ATSs) can help recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals streamline their processes and make them easier to manage, they aren't free. In fact, these tools come with a host of costs that could surprise even the savviest of recruiters. Before signing on the dotted line with an ATS vendor or vendor partner, it's important to understand just what you'll be paying for upfront—and what hidden fees could come along down the road.

Submitting the right candidates to the right jobs can make or break your business. But a lot of startups have had mixed experiences with applicant tracking systems (ATS), finding that they don't get what they need out of their ATS, or that the cost ends up being too high for their budget. If you're on the fence about whether it's worth investing in an ATS for your company, here are some things to consider:

ATS costs by system

The cost of a system depends on the features you need. If you only need basic ATS features, such as applicant tracking and resume parsing, a lower cost system will suffice. However, if you need more advanced features like background checks or pre-screening tools for your recruiters to use when reviewing resumes, then the price tag on this type of software will be higher.

ATS costs by feature

The price you pay for an applicant tracking system is determined by the features that you need and the number of users who will use it. The more comprehensive your ATS, the more expensive it will be. For example: If you’re looking for a system that can manage multiple types of applicants and has extensive reporting capabilities, expect to pay more than if you were only interested in tracking one type of applicant (e.g., job seekers). Likewise, if your business has a large number of employees—or plans to grow rapidly—you may need a robust ATS with many user licenses so everyone on staff can take advantage of everything the tool offers.

An important downside: A lot of the more advanced features are tucked away in add-ons that can quickly hike up the price.

While the basic price is reasonable and there are no setup fees, you'll need to factor in the cost of any add-ons you want.

For instance, if your business needs extra help with onboarding or employee training, you'll need to purchase an additional module for each user. If you want to allow employees from multiple locations but only have a few offices yourself, then this could work out well for you—but if not, then it would make more sense for everyone else at your company (including those working remotely) to buy their own 10-seat licenses individually instead of buying one big license with fewer seats. You'll also want to look into how many integrations and customizations come with each plan before signing on: some companies offer discounts for longer contracts while others charge extra fees upfront or require paying by subscription rather than monthly payments

One-time installation fees

  • Installation fees: The cost of hiring a professional to install and set up your ATS. This is usually an ongoing expense if you want to keep using the system, but it can be rolled into a monthly fee with some systems.
  • Training costs: The cost of training your employees on how to use the system (and any third-party software that's needed). Depending on how many people need training and how long it takes, this can be quite expensive.

Ongoing maintenance fees

Ongoing maintenance fees are the amount you pay to keep your ATS up and running. It’s usually a monthly fee, but it can also be an annual or quarterly one. The more complex your ATS is, the more it will cost to maintain—and the more employees you have, the more it will cost to maintain.

Licensing fees

Licensing fees are another expense to consider. The cost of a license will vary widely, depending on the size of your company and the features you need. Some ATS vendors charge per seat, while others charge a single fee for the entire company. Large businesses may qualify for discounts from certain vendors, so it's worth checking with multiple providers to see what they offer.

Training costs

Training is an investment in your company, and it's important that you choose a provider that can deliver on their promises. Look for these qualities in a training partner:

  • The trainer should be an expert in the software they're teaching. It's not enough for them to know about ATSs; they need to have experience with your specific ATS.
  • You want trainers who are passionate about what they do and love sharing their knowledge with others. They should also be open to answering questions from students or clarifying any issues during the course of instruction.
  • Training can be a great way to learn new skills outside of your comfort zone or learn more about something you already know how to do well—and meet people who share similar interests!

Data import fees

Importing data from other systems: If you're switching over from another system, chances are there will be a fee to import the data. This may not apply if you already have an ATS that has features like importing, but if your old system doesn’t have that functionality and you want it for your new one then there will be an import fee. Importing data from a database: The same goes for databases; if you're switching over from one database to another then expect to pay around $15 per thousand records to get all of that information into your new ATS. Importing data from spreadsheets: This can work both ways; let’s say that you want to bring over all of your existing applications into a new ATS because it will allow for better reporting and analytics capabilities (which any business needs). Or perhaps someone wants their hiring manager or recruiter access only—but not their entire team—to see what they've submitted before deciding which applications should go through others on their team who have less expertise in hiring practices yet still need access as well (for example). Either way this is something worth considering since there's no free lunch here either way!

Testing fees

Testing fees are the costs associated with testing your ATS. These include:

  • The cost of setting up a test environment
  • The need for a testing team to perform tests, including any additional pay you will need to give them compared to what they make normally (e.g., if a salesperson has been performing most of their work as part of their normal daily tasks, adding a new task that requires them to have an entirely different set of skills might be expensive)
  • Testing tools like emulators and simulators

The costs and expenses of an ATS can be confusing to figure out.

The cost of an applicant tracking system (ATS) is not just the price of the software. The total cost of ownership over time includes training, support and data migration.

The cost of an ATS includes:

  • Training - If you're new to using an ATS and don't have staff who are familiar with it, it may take time for them to learn how to use it effectively. This can be a significant investment for your company and should be factored into your decision-making process when choosing an ATS solution.
  • Support - You'll need to invest in IT support as well as hiring people who understand applicant tracking systems well enough to provide quality service via chat or phone calls during peak times when there are more applicants than usual.
  • Data Migration - Most ATS providers offer free data migration services, but they won't do this work themselves; they will give you step-by-step instructions on how best achieve this goal yourself through their API or other means (such as Zapier).

ATS cost comparison review

The key to getting a good deal on an applicant tracking system is to compare prices and make sure you're choosing the right one. Here's how to do that:

  • Make sure you know what you're looking for. You want your ATS to be able-to do all of the following things:
  • Track job applications, resumes, and interviews from start to finish
  • Keep track of who applied for what jobs in your company (and which ones have been filled)
  • provide applicant analytics so that HR can better understand why people are leaving or staying at their current job

A big factor can be how many users you need to pay for.

The first big factor can be how many users you need to pay for. If your company is small, you may not need the same amount of licenses or features as a larger business, which can save you thousands on the yearly licensing fees.

Next, consider whether or not your business type would benefit from having an applicant tracking system in place. For example, if your company is hiring seasonal workers who will only work for a few months out of the year and then look elsewhere once they're no longer needed (like at ski resorts), there's no real benefit to implementing an ATS—you'll just be wasting money on something that won't get used often enough to warrant its expense.

In general though, it seems like most startups should invest in an ATS because it's virtually impossible (and very expensive) for them not to hire employees at some point during their lifetimes.

We definitely recommend shopping around for an applicant tracking system that's right for your budget and needs.

As with any purchase, it's important to shop around. Look for a system that fits your needs, budget and employee training. Make sure the system you choose is easy to use, easy to integrate into existing systems and that it can be implemented quickly. You won't want to spend months or years implementing an applicant tracking system if it doesn't meet all of these criteria!

Take a look at some other articles going into detail as to the costs of ATSs and pros and cons of implementation. 

The Flatwork, a new ATS in the market, may the best option to choose!

If you want to reduce your time-to-hire and cut costs by 80%, use Flatwork: an all-in-one hiring & recruiting software with powerful features all built for speed, and you can actually get started for free or book a demo to understand whether or not the product meets your needs.


We hope this blog post helps you understand the costs and expenses of ATSs.

As you can see, there are many factors that make up the cost of an applicant tracking system. So the first step is to figure out what you need and then compare those features with software packages available on the market today. This will help make sure that your investment in any ATS is worth it in terms of time saved and efficiency gains for your business down the road as well!

If you are interested in other articles related to ATS, please have a look at our recent blog posts.

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