Balancing a steady stream of candidates and clients is a challenge for any recruiter. In today’s connected and technology-driven world, and with the growing need to accelerate the hiring process, recruiters need software to manage their relationships with both candidates and clients, and that often comes in the form of two different types of software, the ATS and the CRM.

What is a CRM?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is a sales tool built to manage and track a company’s interactions with current and potential customers. Business development is a key part of any recruiting outfit, and it’s generally understood that small businesses need CRM software to manage customers. In fact, using a CRM improves customer retention by 27% and increases revenue by 41%. So there’s no doubt that running an effective recruiting business necessitates some sort of CRM.

What is an ATS?

An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a candidate tracking tool used to accelerate the recruiting process. An ATS focuses on moving and tracking applicants through different stages in the hiring process. Automation, effective internal communication, and organizational capabilities make the ATS a must-have for any modern day recruiter.

Do You Need Both?

There’s a myth that says an ATS only tracks candidates. The reality is that candidate tracking functionality can be used to track clients as well, and while it is true that some applicant tracking systems only focus on job orders and candidates, you don’t actually need a CRM if your ATS has CRM capabilities built in.

Customer Relationship Features Your ATS Should Have

Extensive Client Profiles and Tracking

Building client profiles is necessary for any business development strategy. Extensive profiles will help you understand your customer, and an ATS that lets you customize the data in profiles is even more useful. Client profiles with customized data makes tracking and business development easier because you’ll avoid sifting through any superfluous information that some applicant tracking systems force you into.

Furthermore, client profiles should allow for extensive note-taking and documentation. Notes allow you to effectively communicate with your team, and they will serve as a reminder of how to talk with specific clients. Being able to attach documents to a client profile is equally important, as you’ll want to easily find contracts and forms you may need to reference later. The more information you can put into a client profile, the easier it will be to communicate with them, and the easier it will be to convert them to business.

Finally, your ATS should let you move a client through different stages of the sales process in the same way you would move a candidate through the recruiting process. You should be able to build custom workflows for both contacts and companies so you can tailor the ATS to your specific process. Doing so lets you immediately know where a client is in your sales cycle and will lay out the next actionable steps you should take. Client tracking is a must-have if you want to use your ATS as a CRM.

Customizable Data

Being able to pull and compile data in multiple different ways is important to understanding your clients and helps you review and reassess your current business development strategy. Also, if you run a recruiting outfit with multiple employees, being able to see individual recruiter data will also help you assess if your employees are exceeding expectations or in need of support.

The ATS should have searchable, sortable, and exportable data. This data should reflect the custom profiles you’ve created, meaning the ATS lets particular fields be sorted and ordered. Rather than presenting you with out-of-the-box data, your ATS should let you experiment with custom filters and searches to return highly specified data, helping you to better understand your ideal client and leading you to a more targeted business development strategy.

Tasks, Reminders & Calendars

Any effective CRM features tasks and reminders, so your ATS should function the same if you want it to work as a CRM. Being able to set reminders will keep you informed, on track, and free from distractions. Furthermore, you should be able to assign specific tasks and reminders to different team members, which will help your company avoid missed cues. The importance of reminders cannot be understated. They are there so you never miss an appointment or call, and that’s paramount in business development, because staying in the client’s mind is half of the battle.

82% of people say they terminate business with a service because of a bad experience. Much like candidates, clients want a quick and engaging process. It’s your job as a recruiter to make working with you easy, so find an ATS that provides a great client experience. Quick scheduling is an often overlooked and increasingly necessary feature in a CRM. Scheduling functionality avoids the phone tag and instead lets the client choose a time to meet based on your availability. In addition, your calendar should sync to your ATS, so you’ll never miss a meeting and demonstrate to your clients that they are important and taken care of.


Automation seeks to cut down on the time it takes to do repeatable tasks such as sending an email or creating an event. These common tasks take up more time than you might expect. According to a study by The Radicati Group, Inc., the average worker receives and sends 140 emails a day. The time spent reading and responding to those emails amounts to many wasted work hours. With automation, that time is significantly cut.

Automation should happen in response to a particular action, for example, when you mark a client as "interested", an email with more info is sent and a reminder for you to follow-up is created — all automatically. Using an ATS that features this type of automation means you can focus on building a sales workflow. Using automation effectively takes meticulous work on the front end, but it does wonders for productivity and efficiency once those processes are in place.

If you’re managing client relationships in your head or on an excel spreadsheet, then you should investigate whether or not your ATS can support a sales process. If it doesn’t, consider CATS, an ATS that features CRM capabilities. If you’re looking for an ATS that can work as business development software, or if you’re simply looking for great applicant tracking software, CATS might be exactly the software that need.