I hate cocktail menus at chain restaurants because they never tell you what the drinks actually cost.
They want to trick you into ordering some overpriced, colorful drink that’s more sugar than booze. I’m a sucker for drinks with tiny umbrellas, but I always have to ask what the price is before ordering one because I hate being surprised when the bill comes around.
Just like with drinks, you don’t want sticker shock when you go to purchase new applicant tracking software for your company. And unlike drinks, you actually need an ATS—the best job ads in the world won’t help you if you have nowhere for candidates to apply.
Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer when it comes to ATS pricing. Software vendors use several different pricing models, and some vendors only offer price quotes by request, regardless of what pricing model they use. Your specific requirements for the software also play a big factor in how much you’ll pay.
However, we can break down the various pricing models and estimate the price range for each so you know what to expect when you ask for quotes.
Pricing model: Pay per recruiter
This is the most common pricing model. “PPR” means you pay a fee each month based on the number of recruiters and hiring managers you have using the system (sometimes the amount is different for each user type). There may also be a one-time setup or implementation fee with this model.
Typical price range: $60 to $100 per user, per month
Pricing model: Pay per employee
Many applicant tracking systems set prices based on the size of your organization, and use the number of employees as a measure to gauge that. This means, regardless of the number of users, you will be charged based on the total number of employees in your company.
Typical price range: $4 to $7 per month, per employee. However, costs go down significantly (to the $0.20 range) as employee numbers rise into the thousands.
Pricing model: Pay per job opening/applicant
Some ATSs will determine pricing based on how many jobs you have open at any particular time, or how many total applicants/resumes you have in the system. This is often used in conjunction with some other pricing model such as number of recruiters or employees, or a one-time setup fee. This typically doesn’t count archived job openings or inactive/dormant resumes.
Typical price range: $5 to $19 per job opening, per month and $0.01 to $0.20 per resume, per month
Pricing model: Flat fee
While often seen in conjunction with another pricing model, some applicant tracking software systems can be purchased for a one-time flat fee, after which you’re free to use the software as much as you like, however you need.
Typical price range: $200 at the absolute lowest. This plan usually has the highest price tag, as you only pay it once.
Pricing model: Free and open source
If your budget is roughly $0, you may be glad to know that some ATSs are totally free of charge.
Free and open source software can be downloaded and kept as long as you want, used however you please, and you never owe anyone a cent. The “cost” comes from the tech side of things: with no cost also comes no tech support, so this option is best if you have someone in-house with software programming experience to help you troubleshoot. Also, be aware that just because the software is free, that doesn’t mean you won’t end up paying money related to the program at some point.
Typical price range: Free!
Which pricing model works best for your business?
Have you seen any other applicant tracking pricing models that I missed? Any recommendations of colorful cocktails for me to drink? Add them in the comments below!
Make sure you check out Capterra’s awesome (and totally free!) list of the Top 20 Most Affordable Applicant Tracking Software. No matter what the pricing model, this list will help you find the most bang for your buck.
Looking for Applicant Tracking software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Applicant Tracking software solutions.