Choosing an Applicant Tracking System – Best of Breed vs. Single Source

An issue that comes up quite frequently in my discussions with potential new ExactHire customers is whether it makes sense to purchase a stand-alone applicant tracking system (ATS) or utilize those capabilities within their existing payroll/human capital management (HCM) solution. Admittedly, I have a biased perspective on this. Despite that, below is a brief list of the pros and cons for each option, based on feedback from others over the past few years.

Single Source (Integrated with Payroll/HCM Software)


  • Single sign-on from existing solution
  • Core applicant information (name, address, phone, email) passes through automatically upon hire
  • Potentially lower cost (often discounted if purchased with the rest of the payroll/HCM solution)


  • Key features and functionality may be missing
  • Provider’s development budget for this part of the solution may be limited, with more focus on the core aspects of the solution
  • Implementation and support may not receive the same attention as the other core aspects of the solution

Stand Alone Applicant Tracking System (ATS)



  • Separate vendor for support needs (compared to one vendor with HCM)
  • Can be more expensive (ATS pricing varies based on several factors)
  • No ability to automatically transfer core applicant information (name, address, phone, email) to payroll/HCM solution – though may be available via custom integration

There are certainly more factors to consider than what I’ve represented here. Things such as the size of your organization, number of people involved in your hiring process, the amount of hiring you do, your relationship with your current payroll/HCM vendor, whether that vendor offers applicant tracking, etc. are all items you should consider as you weigh options for your organization.

Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. The unique aspects of your organization and the factors mentioned above will drive you to the best option for your needs.

To learn more about ExactHire’s applicant tracking software (ExactHire ATS), please visit our resources section

Image credit: the garden of forking paths by craigCloutier (contact)

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