16 Differences Between Free and Premium Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Top 16 most important differences between Free and Premium Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). A comparison between Qandidate.com and Lumesse Talentlink.

Note: this article was originally published on LinkedIn. Read or follow my latest posts on LinkedIn.

Often I get asked, “Can you recommend a good recruitment system for our organisation“, without giving any additional information. That’s like asking do you know a good car/ book/ restaurant/ movie for me, but you don’t know the person very well. So this question is impossible to answer if you don’t know whom it’s for, what the current situation is, why they have a problem, how they want to solve it, and when and where they want it.

Having said that, more and more I’m implementing free applicant tracking systems (ATS) at my clients, who don’t use an ATS at this moment, or are in the process of buying one. It’s a great way of getting started and its get them used to automating the recruiting process with a lot of quick wins.

But if all options are open, I do favour solutions that can be customised or configured in many different ways. Of course the first question my client will ask is: “why should we pay for an ATS when there are so many free(mium) solutions available?”.

It makes sense to raise this question so let me share you my response by comparing a free ATS Qandidate.com with a premium solution, Lumesse Talentlink. The latter which is listed as one of the leading suppliers in the Gartner Magic Quadrant Talent Management Suites.

Free versus Premium ATS

Here are the most important differences between these 2 ATS solutions:

Qandidate.com (Free)Lumesse Talentlink (Premium)
Target market: Designed for Small and Midsize companiesTarget market: Primary suitable for large international corporate enterprises
Implementation: Plug and play – Self service setupImplementation: Full supported paid implementation project
Configurability: Standard solution (5% configurable)Configurability: 95% configurable
Functional scope: Sourcing, screening, interviewing, selectionFunctional scope: Approval management, sourcing, screening, interviewing, selection, onboarding, learning
Languages: English, Dutch with more to come later this yearLanguages: 30+ languages
Login facility: Username/password on login page, social profile login capabilities in developmentLogin facility: Username/password on login page / Single-Sign-On
Career site: Plug and play career site or API integration. For internal/External recruitmentCareer site: iframe corporate career site integration, API integration. For multiple career sites
Reporting: Standard reports and status overviewReporting: Custom reports, status overviews and analytics
Import/Export: Manual upload candidate data, data export as additional serviceImport & export: Import and export of data
HRIS integration: No integrations availableHRIS integration: Bespoke integrations can be setup
Data privacy: Compliant with Data Privacy legislationData privacy: Compliant with Data Privacy legislation
Data Protection: Data securely hosted at Rackspace in the UKData Protection: Data securely hosted at TelecityGroup in Frankfurt (Germany)
Search: Elastic search / free field search, full CV search in developmentSearch: Custom and smart searches
Licence: No subscriptionLicence: Subscription fee (approx 1 EUR per month per user)
Support: Available for all users: 12/5 European business hours via community, mail, telephone and in-system chatSupport: Available for Key-user 12/5 business hours via community, mail, telephone. Extension to premium package 24/7 possible.
Time to implement: 1 dayTime to implement: 12+ weeks


Note: this list is by far complete as both solutions, especially Lumesse, offers a lot more functionalities. But the basic requirements to support and improve a recruiting process are covered here.

There is a (nearly) perfect ATS for every company

At this moment Qandidate.com is running within a small (110 people) government organisation and fits their needs perfect, with no intention to change this. Lumesse Talentlink is favoured by a large international (5000 people) technical organisation with the ambition for a state-of-the-art recruiting process. They are also using Qandidate.com at this moment as a temporary solution to avoid Outlook Recruiting.

Are you using a free or premium ATS? If so, why did you choose for this solution? Let’s share your thoughts and ideas!

Image: Qandidate.com

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author (5 books). He has more than 20 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruiter University and Recruit2 he provides companies with recruitment training and consultancy. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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