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The way you work is evolving. Is your hiring software? Keep your hiring moving with flexible tools for remote interviewing, collaborating and more. Read more

ATLAS by Workland

ATLAS, powerful ATS software to virtualize recruitment. ATLAS allows companies, agencies, and groups of organizations to virtualize hiring. Read more

Atomic Hire

The hiring tool you will love to use. Atomic Hire is a powerful and simple way to make quality hiring decisions, improve recruitment efficiency, and provide a superior candidate experience. Read more

Avature CRM

Avature Makes Strategic HR Possible We develop technology that allows our customers to design and deploy HR programs that generate strategic impact to their organizations. Read more


The recruitment solution (ATS) that boost your hiring and employer branding thanks to automation and video. The best way to collect, screen and hire the best talents. Read more


HR Software for Mid to Large Organizations. AI-Powered and Hyper Configurable. Open API Platform. Robust data integrations to support your global workforce. Read more

CEIPAL TalentHire

Fully Scalable, Fully Integrated Applicant Tracking System Better Value. Superior Candidates. More Hires. Read more


At Circa, we believe diverse teams have the power to transform business. More than simply a mandate, workforce diversity is a proprietary advantage. Read more


A new and better way to acquire, engage and hire talent. Collaborative recruiting software for your entire company: Find better candidates, automate processes and grow faster. Read more

Crelate Talent



Automated Talent Acquisition System. Video Screening Applicant Tracking Advanced Job Board Read more


Online Accounting Software for Amazon Sellers. Join thousands of sellers who know their exact profits using Fetcher. Read more

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Applicant Tracking Systems Complete Buyer's Guide

Introduction To Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems are among the most disruptive technologies to ever appear in the field of Human Resources. Not only has ATS software improved the results of the recruitment process, but it is also significantly easier to use.

In order to understand why ATS systems are so important, let's have a look at a world without them. Before the arrival of the ATS in the 90s, most HR professionals dealt with an analog purgatory. Imagine filing cabinets, Rolodexes, and endless, endless phone calls. HR departments were drowning in a sea of paper. When nothing is digital, everything is either printed or handwritten. That means tons of paper applications, Post-it notes and office memos, newspaper clippings of job openings, and more. The main challenge of a recruiter's job was their filing duties. And, of course, compliance was a challenge on a whole other level. When everything is on paper, it is easy for someone to copy it, alter it, or even steal it.

But then, everything changed. The ATS made the storing and processing of CVs automatic. Even though the earliest tracking systems bared little resemblance to today's software, they were a big improvement. ATS software improves the selection process in many ways. First of all, they give solutions to many compliance issues. Secondly, they provide HR professionals with a way to track applications digitally. But the most important thing they bring to the table is improving the recruiting process's efficiency while reducing the time it takes. This has really changed the game.

Since then, Application Tracking Systems have been a staple in every HR department. Every organization involved with medium or large-scale recruiting is using an ATS. This is why choosing the right ATS tool for your company can make a world of difference.

What Is An Applicant Tracking System?

An ATS program is an application that optimizes the digital handling of hiring needs. This software is very similar to customer relationship management (CRM) systems but is designed for recruitment tracking purposes.

What Is The Purpose Of An ATS?

ATS tools can help your organization achieve three important objectives. First, tools like these can help your organization reduce the number of potential applicants for a certain opening. This is extremely important since an HR manager might literally get flooded with CVs regarding a certain position. When you use an ATS to filter these resumes, your software will usually remove all the underqualified applicants. Secondly, the ATS is a huge time-saver. This is because it automates a very lengthy and tedious process—the first screening of the resumes. Last but not least, this is the best way to stay compliant with the Internet Applicant Recordkeeping Rule. This is a set of standards required by the U.S. Department of Labor in order to ensure strict recordkeeping of employees recruited through electronic means.

How Do ATS Systems Work?

The ATS is a very powerful tool, but how does it manage all these impressive feats? The secret lies in the way it uses tags, keywords, and its various features and integrations. This way, it can help the recruiter in every part of the process. First of all, the ATS can create job listings. It can then publish them to the appropriate websites. Once the applicants start responding, the software will screen their applications, store them, filter them and compare them. This automates the entire process and makes the selection of the ideal applicant easy and effortless.

Basic Functions And Features You Must Know

A good ATS will be intuitive to use and allow you to customize the recruiting process in a way that will help and support your HR department. The software needs to satisfy the needs of your organization, not the other way around. Each ATS has its own functions and features, but there is some common ground. At the very least, it will enable you to store and filter job applications automatically, essentially removing the need for paperwork and absolutely extinguishing the need for manual archiving.

Applicant Tracking Systems Vs. Recruiting Software

For business owners or HR managers of smaller companies that simply want to speed up the hiring process, ATS software is more than enough. However, for full-time recruiters that want to streamline the recruitment process and increase their output in general, online recruiting software might be better. They can get the full benefits of an ATS program, in addition to customer relationship management, email marketing, and collaboration features.

Can Candidates Cheat An Applicant Tracking System?

Can an applicant actually cheat ATS software? The short answer is that they can't, not in a sense that could harm an organization, anyway. However, there are some lifehacks that applicants use in order to improve their chances. These practices are not malicious in nature, they are merely smart preparation at best. Let's take a look at all of them and understand why they are not cheating the system but rather a byproduct of the system working properly.

Optimizing Their Resume For The Specific Job Listing

The main way an ATS scans and understands a CV is via keywords. Basically, the ATS parses and "understands" the resume and compares it to the job listing they have applied for. Then, it ranks how good a match they are for that specific job listing. That means if someone carefully rewrites their resume in order to make it more relatable to the opening they are interested in, they will rank higher than someone who sends the same CV for every job posting. When an applicant makes clear how their CV can relate to the job they are interested in is good practice, even if an ATS is not involved. This is not cheating, just common sense.

Using Optimized Keywords

ATSs understand that certain job listings are connected to certain keywords. They will scan a resume for these keywords, and weigh it accordingly. Keep in mind that this is not an excuse to overoptimize. Indeed, if an applicant spams keywords indiscreetly all over the CV without any sense of measure or purpose, it will do more harm than good. The best way to handle this is by using the right keywords but in a composed and accurate manner. So essentially, the resumes that have an advantage here are the ones that are written naturally and without exaggeration. Again, this is not a cheat—these resumes are intrinsically better than the other ones.

Keeping The Sections Clear And Concise

ATS software uses an automated process to understand the nature of the information applicants input and arrange it into four different categories. These categories are:

  • Education
  • Contact Information
  • Skills
  • Work Experience

These categories are more than enough to paint an appropriate picture of an applicant. If an applicant tries to submit information that isn't related to their education, skills, work experience, or education, then chances are that their information isn't really useful to the recruiter in the first place. So, once again, this is not a cheat, just the product working as intended.

Keeping Their Resume Neat And Focused

Letting the resume reflect one's personality is a good thing. Having that personality overflood the resume is...not so much. If they make sure that the information that makes them an ideal candidate for this specific position is written in a clear and concise manner, then they will definitely have an advantage over CVs that have not adopted this practice. But, at the end of the day, isn't this the entire point of a resume? If a CV doesn't paint a clear picture of the applicant, the software will rank it down as it should.

Checking Their Spelling And Grammar

Spelling and grammar are always important, even more so when the resume is read by a computer that will pick up even the slightest of mistakes and take it as a sign of professional negligence. This is by far the easiest thing to correct and optimize in a resume. The applicants who make spelling mistakes on their resume make a poor first impression. And of course, the applicants who send proofread resumes that are well-written are definitely not cheating.

Who Can Benefit From ATS Software?

Everyone can benefit from such software, but these examples are usually among the most prominent.

HR Managers

HR managers everywhere are of course the main point of focus for ATS tools. Human Resources managers have various roles in organizations. These HR jobs may also have overlapping responsibilities, always depending on the size of the organization. With that in mind, HR managers will either need to carry out the entire recruiting process themselves, or they will at the very least be involved during the final stages. So, any tool that simplifies this process will indeed be a great boon to the HR manager. ATSs are just that: designed to make the life of an HR manager a whole lot easier.

It goes without saying that the better an HR manager is equipped for the recruiting process, the greater the impact on the entire organization. Every major talent within your company was once an unknown applicant. The better your department is at dealing with this process, attracting new talent, reaching out to every potential candidate, and filtering through the resumes in order to find the best option, the more impressive your staff will be tomorrow.

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies are a solid choice when it comes to finding the ideal candidate for a job. These agencies need state-of-the-art automated systems to deal with the vast amount of recruiting they need to do on a day-to-day basis. Without the appropriate ATS program, it would be impossible for them to even function.

An ATS is ideal for recruitment agencies because it can:

  • Keep track of every applicant and their resumes
  • Make communication with applicants easy and efficient
  • Cut down significantly the time lost on various procedures
  • Ensure compliance with data protection standards

Customer Types For Applicant Tracking Systems

The market for ATSs is extremely diverse and ever-growing. No matter who you are and what the nature of your organization is, there is definitely an ATS that can help your HR functions. Here are some examples of how an ATS can help every kind of organization:

Large Enterprises

Large enterprises are one of the biggest markets for Applicant Tracking Systems. This is because enterprises have large-scale recruitment operations that simply can not succeed without the proper tools. Applicant Tracking Systems for large enterprises are able to handle the stress of the enterprise culture and support large HR teams that need to have everyone on the same page.

Small/Medium Businesses

Small and medium businesses are the bread-and-butter of the ATS software market. And in addition, the ones who can have the biggest benefits from it. While it is true that SMBs don't recruit quite as often as larger enterprises, nor do they have the same scale of operations, they are at a greater risk of underestimating the process. Applicant Tracking Systems for small businesses are easy to use, budget-friendly, have an amazing learning curve, and will help you fill your job opening as efficiently as possible.


Non-profits operate in a way that is vastly different from what for-profits do. This is why it is so important to have the recruitment process in these companies be flexible and versatile. Non-profit recruitment managers often have to deal with volunteers, applicants from vastly different professional backgrounds, teams that are located in different countries, etc. With the right ATS for non-profits, these challenges can become a breeze.

Public Administration

Recruitment in the public sector is quite different than recruitment in the private sector. When hiring for the public sector, the recruiter needs to be able to support their decision. The most transparent way to do this is by using one of the Applicant Tracking Systems for public administration. With the many features this kind of software can provide, the recruiter will be able to make a meritocratic, fair, and transparent decision.


It is important for universities to have modern ATS tools. When the entire academic environment is going through a very competitive period, it is vital to be equipped to hunt for the best talent. Although it may not necessarily show, universities are in fact corporations. In order to attract clients, they need to have a staff that will both attract and satisfy clients. This is why using Applicant Tracking Systems for universities is one of the best possible practices.


Many freelance recruiters wonder how they can improve their output and deal faster with their clients. This is because, for the freelance recruiter, speed and efficiency are everything. So, if you are looking for Applicant Tracking Systems for freelancers, you need to keep in mind that finding the one that fits your style of work is extremely important. Additionally, make sure that your choice has all the integrations you are used to having.

Applicant Tracking Software Use Case Scenarios

University In Need Of Faculty Members

For our first scenario, let us assume that a university has an opening for a new faculty member. These kinds of openings attract a lot of attention. There are so many young academics looking for their chance, and sadly not enough positions to keep everyone happy. The head of staff will have to evaluate and compare tons of different applications and filter out most of them even before any interviews take place. This is an excellent chance for an Applicant Tracking System to show what it can do. All the recruiter needs to do is have the applicants submit their resumes to the Applicant Tracking System. By using a basic filtering process, the ATS will narrow the resumes down to the desired amount that is closer to your specifications. You can then use the ATS's features to contact the applicants and arrange the interviews. You will have the entire process completed in just a fraction of the time it would take to do it manually.

Looking For Trustworthy Hotel Personnel

Being a hotel manager is a huge responsibility. You are not only responsible for your own actions but also for the actions of the people you have hired. Your employees need to be reliable because the well-being of your guests depends on them. You are looking to hire staff for the upcoming season and the applications come flooding in. If only you could do a background screening on each and every one of these applicants, your life would be so much easier. But what if you can? Your ATS, with the appropriate integration, can run a background check for you and filter out any applicants who do not clear. Combine this with filters that determine the desired work experience and age range, and you have narrowed down a flood of resumes to a neat list of ideal applicants. Now you can focus your time and energy on actually managing your hotel instead of going through all the paperwork manually.

Marketing Company Looking For More Creatives

Marketing companies are exciting places to work. The sheer amount of creativity is absolutely astonishing. Naturally, if you are recruiting for such a company, you need someone who can follow the company's pacing. You can customize your ATS's resume parsing in order to give priority to applicants that have worked in companies with a work culture similar to yours. This way, you will speed up the process and increase your chances of finding a suitable applicant in the very first round of interviews.

App Developers In Need Of A New Coding Ninja

You and your team are developing a new app and all of a sudden, you are one person short. You need to fill that position as fast as possible or you will not make the deadline. Can an ATS help with that? Of course, it can. You can use its normal selection features to only keep the applicants that can jump straight into the project from the very first day. But you can also use the social media integration feature in order to spread the message of your new opening to all your social media channels as quickly as possible. This is by far the fastest course of action in order to make that addition to your team. And, thanks to your trustworthy ATS tools and features, you don't have to make any sacrifices regarding the quality of the process.

What Are The Benefits Of Using ATS Tools?

Today's candidate market is extremely competitive. That's why recruiters and HR managers need to use every tool at their disposal to get the best fit for every position. A trustworthy Applicant Tracking System is required in order to improve the candidate experience and ensure that the process is smooth. Here are some of the benefits that come with using an ATS:

An Applicant Tracking System Will Save Time And Money

ATS tools save recruiters a lot of time, money, and energy. Of course, this will be important for improving the finances of your organization. Additionally, ATSs will help you automate tasks such as resume storing, processing, and screening. Similarly, this will cut down costs while collecting and processing the resumes. An ATS will reduce the recruiter’s workload and, therefore, improve their productivity. It can also significantly cut down communication times, efficiency, and social reach. Likewise, an ATS will provide automation to the recruiting process as a whole. Overall, it is a wise investment with a very fast return.

Candidate Reviews Happen More Efficiently With An ATS

By using an Applicant Tracking System, recruiters can effectively increase the speed and quality of their work. This way, an ATS will reduce the time it takes to hire the right candidate. Additionally, its integration features will allow recruiters to find better candidates. An ATS can also improve sourcing strategies for your business. Its features can make creating engaging recruiting posts easy. The ATS also improves candidate experience with continuous communication. Its analytics features will get you valuable insights. Last but not least, this is the best way to ensure legal compliance.

ATS Is Key To A User-Friendly Experience

An ATS can improve interview scheduling and automate communication with candidates. It has features that help you understand and improve your recruiting strategy. An Applicant Tracking System also helps recruiters build and maintain talent pools. It will help you identify the best candidates and propel the recruiting process. Additionally, it offers one single platform for all recruiting tasks and tools. Good ATS tools can access, track, and manage candidates’ progress. Overall, it is a necessary framework for easy team collaboration.

Applicant Tracking System Deployment Options

Depending on your organization's needs, there are several deployment options for ATS programs. The one that you will go for will depend on the nature of your organization. You need to understand your mode of operation fully before you can decide on the option that suits your needs. If you are looking to implement such a solution, here's what you should consider:

Desktop Application

This seems to be the de facto option for many ATS providers and users. A desktop application is running from your computer like any other software that you would normally use. This is why ATS desktop apps have a huge share of the market. A desktop application is usually more powerful than its mobile counterparts as it has more hardware resources to work with. Desktop applications are available for all major operating systems.

Mobile Application

Mobile applications have been on the rise for the last couple of years. They are great for HR managers on the go and teams that want to be able to access their recruitment process at all times. ATS mobile apps can also be a great option for smaller companies. Many mobile applications can work together with ATS desktop applications. This way, you have an entire Applicant Tracking System solution that works whether you are in the office or on the go.

Self-Hosted Cloud-Based

This is another popular option that requires more maintenance but offers plenty of customization capabilities. Hosting your system on your own cloud is not an easy task. However, larger companies that can support this will find that self-hosted cloud-based ATS software can be customized in ways other solutions can't.

Software as a Service/Cloud

SaaS is another ATS option companies use since it requires minimum installation. Basically, the software in its entirety exists on the provider's hardware and the client accesses it remotely. SaaS ATS software is updated and maintained regularly by the provider.

Self-Hosted System

A self-hosted system is the peak of customization. It requires a lot of effort and time to build and maintain, but its potential is virtually limitless. Self-hosted ATSs are usually a better option for much larger organizations that can support and maintain them properly.

Licensing Options For Applicant Tracking Systems

When it comes to ATS licensing options, there are three you can choose from: paid, free, and open source.


This is the most common option by far; commercial software that you pay for and use with the support of the company that created it. When you are looking for Applicant Tracking Systems with paid licenses, make sure to compare prices and what they offer in order to make the smart choice.


There are some Applicant Tracking Systems with free licenses but this isn't a common option. The free license allows you to use and distribute the software, but not charge for it, alter it or make any derivative works. This might be a good option for very small businesses with a small budget, however, almost all paid options offer a free trial period which is usually superior.

Open Source

An even less common option is Open Source ATS software. This is pretty much like the paid option, with the exception of the limitations. You can alter these tools all you want, in fact, this is actually the point. Users of open source software usually count on an online community of volunteers for support.

Pricing Models For Applicant Tracking Systems

ATS tools can be found in a diverse range of options, regarding both price and features. ATS programs are quite different from each other in what they offer and how they approach the recruitment problem, making the comparison between them a challenging task. The client's specific requirements for the software also play a big factor in how much they will pay.


This is the most commonly used pricing model in ATS tools. A subscription model offers the user full access to the latest version of the software. It requires regular fees, usually on a monthly basis, and sometimes an initial setup fee. However, the initial fee tends to be a diminishing practice. Subscription-based Applicant Tracking Systems also offer excellent support and rich integration features.

Free Trial

This usually goes hand in hand with the subscription model. Many of the products that require a subscription also offer a free trial. This free trial is only available for a limited time and sometimes has limited features as well. Its purpose is simply to help you test the product before you commit to a subscription. This can be really helpful and save you a lot of money. Since many subscriptions offer a major discount for larger periods of time, you can test a product for free and then buy a long-term subscription. Giving a shot at Applicant Tracking Systems with a free trial is also a great way to test the waters if you have never used an ATS before.


For those with a more modest budget, there are a couple of free options available as well. A free ATS program has many of the features one can find in paid versions of the software. However, they tend to lack the support and versatility. Also, integration can be an issue. Free software is by no means a bad choice though. At the end of the day, it all depends on your needs and means. If you can afford a commercial solution, great. But if you need to choose between a free Applicant Tracking System or nothing at all, then a free solution will be a good choice.

One-Time Purchased License

This is an uncommon option, but some solutions are available after a single payment. You pay a one-time fee for the Applicant Tracking System, and it gives you full access to all features. Regarding updates, minor and security updates are usually available for free, but if a new version is released, then it is sold separately.


The nature of the ATS makes this option less popular, but still, some ATS programs follow this model. A freemium Applicant Tracking System would essentially allow the user free use up to a certain limit. Then, it would require either a single payment or an active subscription.

Tips On How To Select The Best ATS For Your Business

How do I choose an ATS program? This question is definitely a hard one to answer. You have to keep in mind your organization's needs, your budget, and the features that interest you. Some of these might be:

Career Page Hosting

A career page is very important for recruiters and new applicants alike. It can be part of your system's self-service portal. So, if your ATS supports career pages, everyone will be on the same page regarding the company's mission statement, values, and culture. A career page will help you attract candidates that not only match your requirements but your company culture as well.

Job Distribution

Job distribution is one of the most important job posting functions of the recruiter. If you don't post the right listings on the right websites, you will have trouble finding the right candidates. An ATS with advanced job distribution capabilities will allow you to post on multiple sites without ever leaving the familiar comfort of its UI. It will also let you know which websites are more appropriate for specific job listings.

Receiving And Sorting Applications

It makes sense that the primary function of an ATS system should be receiving and tracking applications, but job application management is a task easier said than done. Some of the best ATSs out there are measured solely by their ability to sort applications properly. Especially in large-scale recruiting enterprises, it is important to have the ability to process a great number of resumes in the shortest time possible.

Resume Storage

We talked about how important it is for ATS software to receive and sort applications. Similarly, it is vital to be able to store them in a way that makes sense. That means, in a way, the recruiter will be able to search through resumes in the future and find exactly what they want.

Collaborating With Teammates

Recruiting rarely is a job for one person, that's why it is important to use software that allows all members of your team to communicate efficiently with each other. Various ATS tools have improved collaboration features, which you can usually integrate into your favorite remote working platform.

Messaging And Interviewing Applicants

When you need to send an email to one person, copy/pasting their email address to your email client is easy. But when you repeat this process for a hundred applicants, it's detrimental. The ATS can parse and understand the applicant's contact information, which makes reaching out to them easy and efficient.

Onboarding Tools

Once your applicants are hired, you will need to set them on the path of onboarding. When your ATS is able to provide them with the appropriate material at the right time, the job of your HR department will become much easier.

Social Sharing

Your organization's social media presence is an asset. Why don't you use that asset in the recruiting process? It's easy if you have an ATS with social sharing. By sharing your job listings on your organization's social media, you will be able to draw talent from people who already follow your company. This is a good practice because they will at least be familiar with your culture and brand identity.

Importance Of ATS Integration

With efficient ATS integration, your department will save time and money by gathering all of your workflows, training, and data in one integrated ATS/CRM product. Bring your team together through a common internal system so your salespeople and your recruiters are all on the same page.

The Advantages Of ATS Integrations

There are many reasons for you to go after an ATS with good integration with your existing systems. It will enable you to:

  • Sync your data among your different systems, keeping everything up to date;
  • Remove the need for manual data entry, have increased data visibility;
  • Allow the recruiter to focus more on their actual job;
  • Use data to back up your decisions; and,
  • Transfer data seamlessly.

Adding A Widget

One of the best most important factors in choosing an ATS program is its ability for integration. When your ATS works flawlessly with the systems you already have in place, then your company can perform its absolute best.

One of the ways you can achieve this integration is by embedding an ATS widget into your website. This will help the applicants who search your website for more information about your company. A widget can link straight to the ATS, which means that you won't have to restructure your website in order to accept applications. Additionally, this makes for a cleaner, nicer user experience.

Also, a career widget placed at the right spot on your website will look professional. It will definitely help paint a picture of an organized and efficient company that is bound to attract top talent.

Implement For Integration

Of course, the best time to have your team link your shiny new ATS with other platforms is during integration. This will not be an easy task and it will definitely have a few throwbacks. For example, you need to expect some website downtime or maybe a few flow-disrupting bugs. Your recruitment efforts may be put on hold, even if it is for a little while. Also, you may need to involve the vendors of your other systems in this process.

Which ATS Is The Best For Your Needs?

There are many ATS systems out there; that's why you need to look for an ATS that fits your company's needs. It will require a bit of research, but there is definitely one that fits your company's style and values. The right integration will make your ATS a complete software that can assist you with every aspect of the recruitment process, from attracting new candidates to driving them to apply for your job listing. By using the appropriate ATS, you are increasing your chances of attracting top talent and you are also making the process much easier for your recruitment team.

Understanding Your Organization's Needs

Before anything else, you need to understand your organization's needs. It all depends on the scale of your operations and the number of people involved. If you don't even have an HR department, you might want to consider an alternative, such as a recruiting agency. Similarly, if your Human Resources department is doing a lot of recruitment, maybe you need to examine a recruiting software option. These hiring tools offer a broader spectrum of features and capabilities. Of course, they do include Applicant Tracking, although this is not their main focus. Additionally, they offer options such as email marketing and candidate management. Despite that, later generations of ATSs have features that cross the thin line between an ATS and recruiting software, so in order to find the one that will work best for you, you need to know what needs you will try to satisfy.

How To Do An Applicant Tracking Systems Comparison?

In order to do your own ATS comparison, you are going to need access to as much information as possible. For example, you need to be aware of:

  • What are the available ATS options out there?
  • Have you read a review about the ATS that interests you?
  • What is the ideal buyer persona for each of them?
  • How many applications would you like to receive?
  • What is your budget?
  • How often will you be recruiting?
  • What are your organization's recruitment needs?
  • How tech-savvy is your recruitment team?
  • What is the scope of your recruiting operation?

Read Trustworthy Applicant Tracking System Reviews And More

If you want to explore your ATS options, you should visit our ATS software comparison directory. You will find a side-by-side comparison for all available software. You will also be able to read reviews from other users just like you. Additionally, you will be able to compare their features, their licensing and pricing options, and learn more about their providers. We hope this ATS buyer's guide was helpful!

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