It’s true that an applicant tracking system (ATS) is an investment, and you may be asking yourself, “how much does an ATS cost” and if it’s an investment that your company should make now or in the future? Since ATS companies may price their platforms and additional services differently, it may be challenging to tell at first glance how to measure ATS cost to benefit. Here’s a breakdown of the most common applicant tracking system pricing models, so you can better research what you get for your money.
Pricing Model: Pay Per Recruiter
Of all the ATS pricing models out there, the PPR (or pay per recruiter) method may be the most common. You’re charged based on how many hiring professionals or recruiters you have that will need to access the system. Each will need a login and user privileges, and some privileges may come at a higher price—depending on functionality. This pricing model is best for companies that keep a standard number of hiring managers or recruiters each month, as this helps maintain a steady, predictable budget. It’s also ideal for small teams who would need to access the ATS regularly.
The cost: Expect to pay $60 to $100 per user each month that they need access to the system. There may be an additional setup or “activation” fee, as well.
Pricing Model: Pay Per Employee
Whether or not you hire more, this pricing model will charge you based on the number of people that work for your organization. Bigger companies (in theory) pay more than small ones, no matter the hiring frequency. The good news is that this model usually gives a bulk discount, so really big companies may pay less per employee than mid-sized companies. For that reason, this is a best buy for startups and small businesses with a handful of players or a company with more hiring professionals using the same ATS than the norm for its size.
The cost: Charges range from $4 to $7 per employee per month. This can add up for big companies, but the largest enterprises may see discounts that drop their fee to as little as $.20 per person.
Pricing Model: Pay Per Job Opening/Applicant
Will you be doing a lot of hiring at once? This method of pricing may cost you. That’s because pay-per-applicant ATSs charge per person who answers your job ad, qualified or not. You will get charged by the number of résumés you have in the system at a time.
Another variation of this pricing model is per job opening. If you’re hiring five positions, you’ll pay a fee per position. Once the job is filled, it gets archived, where you will no longer get charged for this active position. There may also be set up fees and a fee for each recruiter or human resources professional that needs access to the system. If you do a lot of hiring at once and then none for a while, the fees could fluctuate greatly from month to month. This model is best for companies who do a lot of hiring consistently every month.
The cost: Expect to pay between $5 and $19 per active job position and/or a fee per resume of $.01 to $.20, both charged monthly. Add in any recruiter fees, and you’ll know your monthly total.
Pricing Model: Flat Fee
If you are certain that the ATS you want is the only one you’ll need, investing in a one-time fee for purchase could work best for you. This model gives you a license to use the applicant tracking software as often as you like, for as many positions as you need, with unlimited access for your teams. Occasionally, this flat fee may be bundled with another pricing model.
This model is best for those who are confident in their ATS choice and see no reason to switch after such a significant initial outlay of funds.
The cost: If the model includes just the flat fee (and doesn’t bundle it with anything), expect to pay a minimum of $200. Some companies will charge much more, however, as this is their only opportunity to recoup their costs.
Pricing Model: Free and Open Source
Finally, there’s an option for those who don’t want to pay a pretty penny up front, but it will take a considerable amount of work to make it functional for your unique needs. Open source ATS programs are downloadable to use as you wish, at no cost to you. However, you’ll likely need someone with extensive tech experience to help you set it up, customize it, and troubleshoot any issues you experience along the way.
Free ATS software solutions don’t come with tech support, although you may find a community of users online that you can chat with about some of the more common problems. This option is best for those who aren’t afraid to tinker a bit with a solution and have tech teams on hand should anything go awry.
The cost: This is free, except for any money you pay for in-house tech help and upgrades you make to help it function more as you need.
Which Pricing Model Works Best for Your Business?
How can you know what will meet your ongoing needs? You should look at not only what you’ll need now but also at your staffing goals over the next 5 years. Will the ATS you choose scale with your company? You should also price out each option under a few different staffing scenarios, so you can see how the cost comes into play in a real-world situation that’s likely for your unique business, not just the examples given to you by the ATS rep.
Is an ATS Worth the Cost for My Organization?
With a cost of zero to a few hundred dollars a month, only you can truly answer if a quality ATS will give you the ROI you are seeking. However, it has many perks, including a more consistent experience for everyone in the hiring process from recruiters to candidates. And those benefits make it one of the best things you can do to boost your brand reputation and get everyone in your organization on the same page. If it helps with sourcing and retaining better talent, it’s absolutely a win-win worth looking into.