The State of Applicant Tracking Systems 2020

Talent Acquisition Strategy

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About this Survey

The survey, called “State of Applicant Tracking Systems 2020,” ran in September and October of 2020. There were usable responses from 285 HR and recruitment professionals. The study was conducted by through its HR Research Institute. The participants are HR professionals representing a broad cross-section of employers by number of employees, ranging from small businesses with under 50 employees to enterprises with 20,000 or more employees.


The State of Applicant Tracking Systems 2020

The research analyses the state of applicant tracking systems in the year 2020 following the coronavirus outbreak.


What a difference a year makes. In September 2019, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, a mark that some economists deem “full employment.” A year later, the U.S. September unemployment rate was 7.9%. This means, of course, that the circumstances surrounding last year’s survey on applicant tracking systems (ATS) were dramatically different from this year’s. In light of the global pandemic and accompanying global recession, some recruitment professionals have been forced to adopt modified recruitment approaches. These modifications often result in changes in the way ATS are leveraged as well.’s HR Research Institute surveyed the human resources (HR) community during the autumn of 2020 to learn the details of those changes.



We have summarized the key findings below:

  • Most organizations have been adapting their technology systems and recruitment processes to circumstances associated with the Covid-19 pandemic
  • In terms of their ATS usage, organizations with high performing TA functions are overall more satisfied with their ATS than lower-performing firms
  • Despite the utility of ATS, many HR professionals still say that, for now, their systems suffer from a number of weaknesses
  • Participants are excited about some recent developments and are expecting advancements over the next three to five years
  • The data suggests that firms that use an ATS have advantages in the area of talent acquisition
  • Most organizations have an ATS and more are considering one


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