CRM vs. ATS: Do You Really Need Them Both?

Asha Martinez

Asha Martinez

7 min read

Finding and hiring top talent in the current candidate-driven market is a significant pain point for business leaders. The average time to hire a candidate for a role is 27 days, while the best candidates are typically only present in the job market for an average of 10 days.

To address this challenge, hiring teams are looking for new ways to optimize their processes and quickly onboard top talent. Recruiters need an updated recruitment tech stack that includes software such as an ATS and a CRM.

But when comparing ATS vs. CRM, you must figure out which one most aligns with your business needs.

In this article, we’ll look at each type of software and see how they can work together to create an optimal recruitment tech stack.

What is an ATS (Applicant Tracking System)?

ATS, or applicant tracking system, is software designed for hiring teams to streamline, automate, and optimize the recruitment processes for recruiters, talent acquisition specialists, and hiring managers. 99% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS as it offers end-to-end management of the entire talent acquisition workflow.

Leveraging an ATS also boosts candidate engagement and experience, making it easier to attract, identity, and retain top talent.

What is CRM (Candidate Relationship Management)?

CRM, or candidate relationship management software, creates and nurtures a talent pipeline of job seekers, existing employees, and passive candidates, which hiring teams can leverage for recruitment purposes.

Building a database of existing candidates means you wouldn’t have to outsource to recruitment agencies. It also increases the quality of applicants to job openings and reduces time-to-hire.

Why do I need CRM software?

A recruitment CRM platform allows your talent acquisition team to take a more dynamic approach to hire top talent. Instead of posting a job description on traditional job boards and waiting for the perfect candidate to apply on their own, a CRM enables you to reach out directly to candidates that would be a great fit.

Here are a few reasons why a Recruitment CRM is a must-have for your tech stack:

Access to a Larger Talent Pool

Using a recruitment CRM widens the talent pool for passive candidates, which is much more extensive than active candidates. A recent survey by Greenhouse found that:

  • 16% of candidates were not available for a new position in the next six months.
  • 26% were actively seeking a new job
  • 28% were looking for a new position within the next six months,
  • 30% were not actively looking but were open to a new role in the next six months.

Thus, 84% of talent is actively or passively open to a new position. However, there’s still no guarantee that they will somehow come across your careers page and apply for open roles.

A passive talent sourcing strategy will allow you to tap into passive candidate pools while ensuring your organization rises to the top of active job-seekers lists.

Build an extensive candidate database

No recruiter wants to start from scratch every time they have to fill an open position. Plus, in a high-volume scenario when you have to fill multiple open roles quickly, it gets nearly impossible to manually manage the recruitment process. To resolve this, it’s best to invest in a CRM where you can have an already engaged talent pipeline of active and passive candidates.

A recruitment CRM can help you build and maintain meaningful relationships with passive candidates so that your company is at the top of their minds when they start exploring a new opportunity.

Reduces time to hire

It’s no secret that a long hiring process frustrates candidates. In fact, 40% of candidates reject offers because another employer is quicker at making an offer.

A recruitment CRM can help recruiters quickly analyze their existing pipeline of all active and passive candidates and filter out the best-fit candidates. HR teams can identify and fix potential redundant tasks in the recruiting procedure, allowing recruiters to hire faster and offer a better candidate experience.

Lesser Chances of Making Bad Hires

A bad hire can cost your business 30% of your employee’s first-year earnings, which is highly detrimental in the long run. If you aim only to hire the best candidates, ensure you have the right systems.

Many recruitment CRM tools in the market today, such as Testgorilla, and HackerRank, can host online assessment tests or pre-screening tests within the system. This, in turn, helps increase productivity as it diminishes the chances of having a bad hire.

Enables collaboration between team members

A single software will keep all the hiring team members updated about the potential candidates, their application status, their hiring status, and more. All team members part of the recruitment process could use the information as they see fit and prevent any potential bottlenecks.

Simplify Candidate Outreach

In a high-volume hiring scenario, writing personalized outreach emails to every candidate seems impossible. Luckily, CRM tools can save you from the hassle.  Here is an example of Covey’s drip email campaign for Kubecost:

Covey includes a "one-click outreach" feature that allows recruiters to personalize their outreach in half the time.

Enhancing Candidate Engagement

Interacting with shortlisted candidates in the pre-hiring stage can excite them to work for you because people feel comfortable when familiar with a place, person, or organization. Here’s a template you can use to notify candidates about their interview:

Hi (Candidate Name)

Thank you for applying to (Company Name)

Your application for (Job Title) really stood out to us, and we would like to get to know you better via a short video interview with our (Department Name) Manager.

You will have the opportunity to discuss the role and learn more about our company along the way. Do let us know your preferred timings via the link below.

Looking forward to hearing from you

(Your Name)

(Your Title)

Sending candidates an email confirming that they are shortlisted for a screening shows that your company values their time.

When candidates submit resumes to job openings, the CRM software saves them. The software automates sending personalized emails, offers updates to candidates with their application status, and provides an opportunity for candidates to submit feedback about their experience. It shows that you value a candidate’s time and are interested in their expertise and skill set.

Improve Candidate Experience

Nurturing a relationship with a candidate doesn't end once they agree to apply for the role. When recruiters engage with candidates throughout the recruitment process instead of leaving them in the dark, it improves their experience with your company.

Recruitment CRMs play a crucial role in maintaining and strengthening candidate relationships by ensuring candidates receive a positive interview experience, prompt follow-up, and good communication. The CRM can also automate anonymous feedback surveys to rejected applicants, proving that you strive to offer the best candidate experience to prospective candidates.

Higher Chances of Gaining Referrals

If you install recruitment CRM software and automate personalized engagement, it shows your organization offers a positive recruitment experience, and candidates will spread the word within their circle. 66% of candidates say a positive Candidate Experience raises their chances of referring others, which can also go up to 79% for companies offering exceptional Candidate Experience.

Measure your hiring efforts

Traditional recruitment relied upon instincts, but today, it’s all about leveraging data. Having a data-driven approach toward recruiting can help you build a fail-proof hiring strategy.

A recruitment CRM software records various metrics such as

  • Time-to-fill an open position
  • Application-filling time,
  • Applicants-per-opening

so you can identify the gaps and optimize accordingly. Suppose you notice incomplete applications; it might mean your application process is too long or complicated. A recruitment CRM will help you get to the root of these challenges and take action for improvement.

Covey is the perfect tool for hiring teams to source qualified candidates in their talent database.

Why do I need an ATS?

An ATS manages the end-to-end hiring process by automating and organizing each step and making it easier to connect with qualified candidates. Using an ATS benefits your talent acquisition team in the following ways:

Automate tedious and time-consuming administrative tasks

One of the most significant challenges of finding new employees is the amount of effort that goes into shortlisting candidates and finding the ones who are the right fit. It’s far more complex than simply reading resumes and creating a list of questions for the interview.

ATS can automate the sourcing and screening part by posting job listings across multiple job boards to find qualified candidates, sending follow-ups, scheduling interviews, and other monotonous tasks that are important but time-consuming.

Integration with multiple job boards

You can attract more candidates with automated posting to numerous job boards such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and Monster and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. An ATS can help you reach millions of prospects without manually finding, visiting, and posting job openings on sites across the web.

It also diversifies your applicant pool by integrating with niche job boards like GitHub or Stack Overflow for tech-focused roles,  helping you stand out in a crowded hiring space.

Removes incompatible candidates

Correctly identifying top talent takes time because a recruiter must equally look at the expertise and soft skills. An ATS can help you strike the perfect balance between cognitive ability and personality and give more profound insights into a candidate’s profile.

Improve employer branding

An ATS can help create a branded job board, customize emails, and provide a professional look to all collateral and communication related to recruitment. It shows candidates that your company is established, professional, and trustworthy.

Offer a better candidate experience.

Using an ATS benefits you and prospective employees by making the process more convenient and informing all parties. Job seekers can initiate the application process via any device, receive timely follow-up communication that keeps them in the loop, and offers greater flexibility in scheduling interviews.

Eliminate hiring bias.

Unconscious bias has been a long-standing barrier in recruitment, and if left unaddressed, it can cost you some great hires.

Creating uniformity around the recruitment process helps remove hiring bias. An ATS ensures that every applicant undergoes the same screening rounds, protecting candidates (and employers) from unconscious bias.

Track and Measure Hiring Efforts

The ability to track and report recruiting analytics can help you enhance the hiring process and improve the quality of hire. An ATS helps track metrics related to the time of hire, candidate sources, and diversity surveys to accurately understand the productivity and performance of your hiring process.

Simplify Compliance Work

An ATS can take the administrative effort out of compliance. It can enable you to create inclusive hiring processes and demonstrate compliance with EEO and GDPR guidelines, optimize job postings, expand your hiring reach, and navigate local, national, and international regulations.

What’s the difference between a recruitment CRM and an ATS?

Many recruiters believe ATS and CRM software are similar as they help automate, organize, and optimize the hiring process. They share the following similarities:

  • Save time by automating resource-intensive tasks
  • Both tools store the resumes of interested candidates
  • They allow you to shortlist candidates via targeted keyword search
  • Both enable you to see the candidate's progress in the hiring funnel
  • They empower cross-team collaborations.
  • Avoid duplication of resumes in the database
  • Provide detailed reports and analytics to track and measure recruitment efforts

Although there is a visible overlap in the functions of a CRM vs. ATS, they’re two different types of tools, each with a distinct purpose. Here is a breakdown of the differences between CRM vs. ATS:

Candidate Relationship Management Software

A pool of both active and passive candidates

Used for sourcing candidates

Pre-formal hiring process

Used by sourcing recruiters

Designed to find and engage passive candidates

Applicant Tracking System

Workflow and compliance tool for managing and hiring employees

Used for sourcing, shortlisting, interviewing, and hiring candidates

Formal hiring process

Mostly used by full cycle recruiters for an end-to-end recruitment process

Designed to streamline and automate the complete recruitment process

When comparing CRM vs. ATS, it’s natural to wonder if you need one over the other. However, the real power lies in combining both software and leveraging their benefits to get the best of both worlds.

Should you Integrate your CRM with an ATS?

Most of the recruiting process takes place during the pre-applicant stage, so delivering the right messaging to the right people at the right time gives organizations an advantage when attracting top talent in today’s ultra-competitive market.

This is only possible when hiring teams leverage a robust and comprehensive TA suite that integrates CRM with an ATS seamlessly on one central platform.

Recruiters who manage their talent pools with CRM systems can make data-driven hiring decisions easily. And since CRM helps in nurturing relationships with past, current, and future candidates, you can hire quickly, making the applicant’s journey through the ATS a better experience.

Using a CRM with an ATS integration results in a tech stack that automates and optimizes talent acquisition, making it easier to source candidates from your qualified pool while effectively attracting other applicants.

An organized talent acquisition pipeline that includes clear communication and professional responsiveness imbibes trust with applicants while positively shaping your company's reputation in the industry.

7 Important Factors to Consider when Upgrading your Recruitment Technology Stack

Be it an ATS or a CRM, investing in a recruitment tech stack is a big decision, so you must make sure your investment pays off. Here are six factors you should consider when upgrading your tech stack:

Compatibility with Existing Tech Stack

A tool can offer multiple great features —but if it doesn't integrate with your existing tech stack, it will result in more problems than solutions in the long run.

For instance: if you invest in a CRM that doesn't integrate with your existing ATS, candidate data will be stored in separate locations, leading to confusion and errors in your hiring process.

Easy Functionality

When researching recruiting technology, consider ease of use a key requirement unless your team members can handle a more complex tool.

An overly complicated platform or clunky user interface will confuse your team members who have already established their preferred workflow.

Positive Customer Reviews

A company website and trained sales reps can make their recruiting platform seem perfect for your company. However, you must leverage customer reviews to get a realistic perspective of the product's quality.

Conduct extensive research by scouring review sites such as G2 and SoftwareSuggest. You may find a small detail or red flag that forces you to consider a different software altogether.

Quality Customer support

When buying software for your tech stack, it is essential to maintain relationships with the customer support team in case of any difficulties. A reliable customer support team will resolve your concerns at the earliest.

Decentralized Model

A decentralized recruitment model focuses on everyone's needs, whether hiring managers or recruiters. It enables collaboration to streamline processes, speed-up decision-making and adds a personal touch to the candidate experience.

Aligns with Budget and Offers High ROI

All businesses have a specific budget to invest in recruiting software, but considering the ROI along with the pricing is also essential.

Make sure to ask the following questions before considering the purchase:

  • What is the estimated ROI of this tool?
  • What is the timeframe to see positive results?
  • What is the payment structure for the tool? Is it subscription based, or a one-time fee?
  • Does this tool cut down any other expenses?

If you’re on a tight budget, consider pricing a priority. However, if the budget is flexible - invest in software that benefits your recruitment team in the long run.

Final Words

Recruitment has rapidly evolved post-pandemic, and recruitment platforms have become more sophisticated.

Integrating an ATS with the right CRM will bring you fruitful results in the long run. When selecting ATS tools, you can consider Lever, Greenhouse, and Ashby to integrate with your CRM.

If you are looking for a recruitment CRM that's affordable, transparent, and offers unmatched quality - your search ends with Covey.

Covey's powerful augmented sourcing solution empowers your recruiting team to interview more candidates in less time. You can source, send drip campaigns, gather referrals, and receive candidate pipeline reporting on our all-in-one dashboard.

Schedule a demo now to see Covey in action.

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