Kula AI can help you generate better‒performing outreach emails with the press of a button.
Click here to try for free
Back to Blogs

The Ultimate Guide: ATS vs. CRM - What You Need to Know

Explore the distinctions between ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. Understand which solution suits your recruitment needs better.


Recruitment is not what it used to be - between advancing tech, evolving candidate expectations, and the rise of data-driven hiring, sourcing qualified applicants has become more complex than ever.

This prompts the need for innovative solutions. 

For this reason, recruiters and hiring managers actively use candidate relationship management (CRM) and applicant tracking system (ATS) - to amplify hiring efficiency. 

By 2023, ATS was used by 97.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and hiring managers actively employed CRM tools to source top talent.

While both tools help with candidate tracking, management, and communication, their actual purpose and functions can be confusing. But don't worry; we will break it down for you. In this article, we explore the topic of ATS vs. CRM in detail and help you choose between the two.

ATS vs. CRM: The what, why, and how

We'll have to look into each individually to understand what differentiates ATS from a CRM and vice versa. 

What's an ATS?

An ATS optimizes an entire recruitment process, from posting job openings to onboarding the right candidates. Its primary role is to simplify and automate tedious hiring-related tasks handled by recruiters, including tracking candidates' progress, creating a database with qualified candidates, and managing recruitment workflows

Key features of an ATS

Some of the key features of ATS software include:

  • Allows for automated resume parsing and evaluating candidate profiles in no time
  • Organizes, tracks, and manages applicant data systematically
  • Comes with interview scheduling features for smoother and more efficient coordination 
  • Let multiple stakeholders participate and collaborate on the platform 
  • You can push job postings to several job boards and platforms using one software
  • Customizable workflows for adapting to your organization's hiring process
  • Offers integrations to ensure you stay connected with other necessary recruitment applications
  • Delivers analytics and insights into your hiring practices and pipeline

Benefits of using an ATS

The benefits of using an ATS are spread across various aspects of a recruitment lifecycle. Some of the primary benefits are:

Candidate management and discovery

One of the critical areas of recruitment is discovering the right talent for your company and organizing these candidates into talent pools based on different parameters. 

As an all-in-one ATS for high-performing teams, Kula ATS software effortlessly excels at this:

  • Eliminates the grunt work of recruitment by automating tasks such as scheduling and interviewer matching with triggers. As candidates progress, Kula ATS efficiently carries out these actions
  • Lets you efficiently organize candidates based on parameters of your choice, such as skills, education, experience, location, etc.
  • Offers advanced search capabilities that work across integrated resume databases to ensure you find the most suitable candidates with minimal effort

Insightful reporting and analytics

Knowing how effective your hiring and outreach efforts are requires reporting and data tracking. An ATS lets you measure it all so you can manage it all with relevant reporting and tracking capabilities. With Kula's ATS in place, you can:

  • Build, export, and schedule high-priority reports in PDF or CSV formats
  • Access analytics reports on-demand that cover all the critical data, such as your applicant info, positions, hiring team, interview notes, etc., with zero configurations
  • Obtain time-to-hire and time-to-start reports that are filterable by recruiter, hiring manager, location, department, and job function

Seamless workflow automation

The main reason for the adoption of ATS software by companies is its automation capabilities. An ATS not only automates all the tasks we discussed before but also allows for easy coordination and timely task assignments. This results in two things: improved productivity and enhanced candidate experience.

Kula's ATS software enables this by:

  • Allowing the assessments per workflow step to trigger automatically when new candidates are added
  • Enabling users to task system users at the candidate and job level with configurable notes, due dates, and task titles
  • Sending reminders with links to the interview schedule, candidate profile, review scorecard, and CV/resume

An ATS software comes with many more benefits, including contributing to cost-effectiveness by improving the cost-per-hire and expanding the pool of applicants through job advertising. The tool simplifies onboarding for organizations, making talent acquisition a straightforward and manageable task.

What's a CRM?

A CRM system is designed to nurture and manage relationships with current and potential candidates throughout the hiring process. It is more focused on creating a talent pipeline, whereas an ATS is primarily designed to manage the application process and streamline recruitment workflows. 

For instance, every little interaction you have with a candidate, right from identifying the qualified candidate to providing a positive and smooth hiring experience for them, can be managed using CRM software. 

Key features of a CRM

Here are some of the best features of a CRM:

  • Track and log all candidate interactions, including emails, calls, and interviews
  • Set up automated and tailored communication workflows, enabling personalized and timely outreach
  • Manage and nurture your talent pipeline by categorizing candidates into different stages of the recruitment process
  • Make saved resumes easily searchable by incorporating keyword functionalities.
  • Send out surveys and collect feedback from candidates to continually improve and optimize the hiring process

Benefits of using a CRM

While there are many benefits to using a candidate relationship management software, here are three primary benefits you should consider:

Enhanced candidate engagement

Candidate relationship management (CRM) software enables proactive and personalized engagement between candidates and employers. This type of engagement is essential to attract the top and the best talent. 

For example, your company can use a CRM to send personalized messages to candidates, update them on their job applications, company culture, etc., and keep them engaged and active.

Creates an efficient talent pipeline

CRM software allows you to create and manage a sturdy talent pipeline for recruitment. With this, it becomes easy for you to categorize and organize candidates while allowing for strategic talent acquisition planning. 

Data-driven decision-making

With features similar to ATS, such as analytics and reporting, CRM software provides valuable insights into recruitment metrics, candidate engagement, and overall hiring performance. 

ATS vs. CRM difference: Which solution is for you? 

Now comes the trickiest part: choosing between an ATS vs. CRM. 

In order to get to the bottom of this, we need to understand the role either of these software plays in a recruitment funnel and their key differences.

Simply put, a CRM comes before a candidate shows interest in applying for the vacancy you've put up. An ATS takes over when the candidate shows interest and hits the apply button.

Based on this, let's break down some of the core functionalities of recruiting CRM and ATS.

Feature CRM ATS
Candidate Journey Nurtures before application Manages post-application processes
Primary Focus Proactive engagement, talent pipelining Application management, workflow automation
User Talent acquisition professionals Recruiters and hiring managers
Engagement Builds and nurtures long-term relationships Ensures efficient progress through hiring stages
Functionality Segmentation, automated engagement, strategic talent pipelining Application processing, compliance, workflow automation
Strategic Impact Builds a talent pool for future needs Ensures streamlined hiring processes

With both ATS and CRM having different roles in the recruitment process, it might not be wise to use one instead of another. For optimal efficiency and management, you should use both solutions together. 

Recruiting CRM and ATS integration: Should you use both? 

In the future job market, candidate experience will be paramount for successful talent acquisition. 

Most of the recruiting happens before a candidate applies, where a CRM is used to reach out to and attract the best and most suited talent for your organization. Since that is just the tip of the iceberg, you need an ATS to support the rest of your recruitment activities.

Let's understand this further using this example:

Company XYZ actively builds relationships and engages with potential candidates using a Recruiting CRM. A talented professional and a potential candidate, John, has been consistently engaged through these targeted messages and newsletters, showcasing the company's culture and industry insights.

When an appropriate position opens, John expresses interest and applies. At this point, the integration between the Recruiting CRM and ATS comes into play. The CRM transfers John's information to the ATS, ensuring a smooth transition from relationship-building to the formal application process. The ATS takes charge of application management, handling John's resume, progress tracking, and compliance aspects.

This integration allows you to maintain dynamic talent pools, make data-driven decisions, and provide the best possible experience for candidates navigating the hiring process within the ATS. It also simplifies processes for both ends while enhancing the overall candidate journey, taking up talent acquisition with a candidate-centric approach.

Choosing between ATS vs. CRM: Which one is better? 

There's no solid answer to this question. But, if you are still confused about choosing between the two, then here's what you need to consider: 

Use Cases

  • ATS: Most ideal for managing applications, automating workflows, and ensuring compliance.
  • CRM: Perfect for your organization if your primary focus is to enhance engagement and build long-term relationships with prospective candidates (even if they aren't currently seeking job opportunities) in the pre-application stage.


  • ATS: An ATS's focus is on the efficiency of recruitment. Hence, if you want a tool that can take up the A to Z of hiring workflow, then ATS is the one for you. 
  • CRM: If you are looking for a tool that nurtures candidates and manages them wholly, pushing them down the talent pipeline successfully, then CRM is your tool. 

Company Goals

  • ATS: It's suitable if you constantly have open positions with a high volume of applications coming in. At the same time, if you want to fill positions quickly, an ATS can automate these tasks and accelerate the process.

Kula ATS accelerates every step of your hiring workflow, including automated assessment evaluation, reminders, personalized notifications, and tasks. Moreover, the communication between recruiters and hiring teams, including the ability to share resumes, candidate profiles, and notes, all happen within the platform.

  • CRM: Ideal for large and fast-growing companies who want to manage large applicant pools, and nurturing relationships with passive candidates becomes increasingly challenging as company size grows. 

Step Up to Smarter Hiring with Kula

While integrating both ATS and CRM solutions can prove beneficial, the ultimate decision lies within your specific recruitment needs.

If you are looking for a trusted ATS with advanced features, Kula is the perfect choice for you. The all-in-one automation platform brings the power of AI and machine learning components to provide a smooth and practical recruitment experience. 

Get started with a free 14-day trial to experience the solution first-hand.

Happy hiring!

Sandra Rachel Oommen

Content Marketer

Related Blogs
Join our newsletter to stay up to date on features and releases.
By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from our company.
Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
© 2024 Kula.ai. All right reserved.