Introduction and Overview

OpenCATS is a free and open source, full-featured, web-based applicant tracking system, or ATS. It helps you manage the complete recruitment life-cycle from business development through finalizing a placement. It manages a huge range of information for you, including:

What is an Applicant tracking system (ATS)?

An Applicant tracking system, or ATS, is software designed specifically for Recruiting firms, and HR departments within organizations to organize and track everything within the recruiting process for their organizations.

How is it free and what is Open Source software?

Without getting too specific or technical on what is and is not open source, open source software is community developed software that is available to use for free, by anyone, at any time, in any way they choose to. It is truly “free” software. Furthermore, because of the open nature, if you want to dig into the code and customize it, you are allowed to. If you want to share your changes back with the community, you are allowed to (please do!).

There are a lot of different variances in open source software and they’ve been covered extensively online. If you want to really dig into, and understand the purpose, intentions, limitations of open source software, please read up on it.

The developers behind OpenCATS will never contact you to try to sell you anything. We are a community of people creating recruiting software for people who do recruiting. Pure and simple.

OpenCATS vs CATSOne vs “open source”

OpenCATS is a free, open-source ATS. This means that there are no charges or limitations to install or to use it.

  • For software developers, this also means that you are free to modify or extend the OpenCATS software, and to participate as a member of its development community.

  • This also means that there is no help desk that you can call for support, though we do have this documentation, some YouTube videos, support forums and a community that helps.

The origins of OpenCATS are in a commercial/open-source development effort called CATS, which split into two separate efforts:

The commercial CATS product is a highly polished, professionally supported, hosted software service.

OpenCATS, on the other hand, has somewhat less functionality, is installed on your server(s), and is supported only by you – with some help from the community.

The OpenCATS team and the CATSOne organization are not associated in any way. We will not push anyone into any paid service, any time, ever.

What can OpenCATS be used for?

If you have to fill jobs, even if it’s only one or two jobs a year, OpenCATS can make your life a lot easier. It will work in small to enterprise sized environments. From one user to hundreds.

How does OpenCATS compare to other free software and paid Applicant Tracking Systems?

If you compare OpenCATS to free resources out there, there’s nothing to compare. As far as I know, there are currently one open source applicant tracking system out there right now, which is an off-shoot of OpenCATS. The options as far as I can tell, are free tiers of paid applicant tracking systems that in my opinion don’t provide enough functionality to be practical for daily usage for any but the smallest recruiting environments. The only accurate comparison of a free Applicant tracking system would be the folks out there who are doing their tracking on excel sheets and storing resumes on their hard drives.

If this is you….STOP IT! There is no reason to do that any more. OpenCATS solves your problems and is free.

When you start comparing OpenCATS against the paid applicant tracking systems out there, it’s not such an easy decision. For example, even the lower priced applicant tracking systems generally are competitive or even far better than OpenCATS in terms of features. The higher priced, enterprise applicant tracking systems make OpenCATS (in it’s current state) an afterthought.

So if you are willing to pay the monthly cost of even a cheaper applicant tracking system, and features that OpenCATS are lacking in are important enough, then a paid ATS may be a better option for you. The advantage in that scenario that OpenCATS still has however, is that OpenCATS is still free for multiple users. So, a low end applicant tracking system might bring value at $50/month for a solo recruiter over a free OpenCATS system. But, what if you have ten users? Are those features worth the $50/month per user price-tag ($500/month total)? These are factors to consider.

Another aspect to OpenCATS that should be considered is data privacy and data security. With a self-hosted OpenCATS system, you are solely responsible for your data security. If you are managing that well, you won’t fall victim to the occasional hacks and data breaches you hear about on the news. Also, there is no chance of coming into the office one day to find that the company running your applicant tracking system has suddenly closed their doors overnight with no way to access your critical recruiting information. OpenCATS allows you to control the security of your data, and control of your recruiting information. There is tremendous value in that, if that is important to you.

While OpenCATS is a perfectly functional applicant tracking system. It does not compete with most modern paid applicant tracking systems feature for feature. Whether it is the right solutions for you and your company is up to you! Test it out and decide.

OpenCATS General Features

Try our demo!

What better way to dig in to the OpenCATS capabilities and feature than to dig into it for yourself?

OpenCATS Demo (Currently offline!)

Free: OpenCATS is open source software. Which means it is free (no cost) to use, and you are free to modify it in (almost) any way you want. Seriously, if you can do it, get down into the code and change absolutely anything!

Support: It also means support may be hard to find. We have an active community of people that are willing to help as much as possible though. Also, we are slowly adding to our documentation and YouTube channel.

It is easy: OpenCATS has an easy to use, intuitive interface. This means minimal training time for you and your recruiters. The job portal has a simple search and application process that your candidates will get through easily.

Web based or local: OpenCATS can be installed in a variety of environments. For the solo recruiter/single user, OpenCATS can be installed on your local computer, accessible only by you. OpenCATS can be installed on a local network, accessible by everyone within the office, with no limit on users, yet still protected and removed from the outside internet. OpenCATS can also be installed and accessible via the internet, through a public facing web server, A VPS, a shared-hosting environment, so multiple users from all over the world can access and use OpenCATS together. Keep in mind though, that because OpenCATS is open source software, security is your responsibility. Make sure the appropriate measures are taken for the setup that you choose.

Full recruiting life-cycle: OpenCATS provides the infrastructure for the entire recruiting life-cycle, regardless of the type of role that you are recruiting for, or the volume of openings that you are dealing with.


OpenCATS can get cumbersome for very high-volume recruiting due to the current lack of bulk recruiting features. Importing and dealing with many candidates at once per role may be prohibitive in OpenCATS. You would need to gauge the effort against the results and decide if OpenCATS is the best solution for your situation.

OpenCATS will walk you through the process, including the sales cycle, from building targeted lead lists, making client calls, getting signed agreements and taking job orders. It will handle all of recruiting, from initial candidate intake, job posting and applications, through the interview, offer, acceptance and candidate start. OpenCATS was designed by recruiters, for recruiters and continues to be developed with recruiting as the sole focus.

Internal and external recruiting: OpenCATS has all the functionality for companies that need an Applicant Tracking system for their internal recruiting as well as recruiting companies that are recruiting for multiple, external clients.

For internal recruiting, all recruiting can be done by checking the “Internal posting” check-box on the job order. Departments can be created and customized within any organization, and contacts added for those departments. OpenCATS can be as thorough and specific as you need it to be. For recruiting firms with external clients, each client can be tracked individually, even if they have multiple locations, departments and hiring managers. The flexibility is there within OpenCATS to ensure accuracy throughout the recruiting process.

Company branding: OpenCATS can be branded for your organization, you can replace the OpenCATS logo with your company logo, and the public-facing job posting page and outgoing emails, can be changed to match the look of your company’s website and emails. www Skills based tagging: Initially, OpenCATS had resume parsing and resume search built in. Over time, that functionality has been lost. The development team is focused on implementing long term solutions that will allow parsing and keyword search in OpenCATS. In the meantime, skill tagging is included in OpenCATS, and serves as a very functional alternative to keyword searching.

Lists: OpenCATS can make lists for whatever you need. Lead lists for sales?Yes. Candidate hot-sheets? Yes. List by geographic location? Yes. Anything you may need a list for, sales or recruiting, you can generate in OpenCATS for quick access. Lists can also be conveniently be exported as a csv file for any external applications.

Calendar: OpenCATS has a rich and immersive calendar built in that provides a thorough and accurate overview of activities. If you use the calendar system, you will always know what is coming up, and be able to quickly find information from past scheduled events. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no integration with any external calendar systems. OpenCATS can not sync with anything outside of OpenCATS.

Website integration and job board: OpenCATS has a company job postings page built right in. All you have to do is turn it on and brand it however you want. All the “public” marked jobs in your OpenCATS system will show up on your jobs page, and candidates will be able to apply through your site. You can create questionnaires for candidates to answer prior to applying, to ensure only candidates that fit the requirements apply. The candidate would then be added to the pipeline of the job order, and the recruiter working the role would be notified of the new application for review. Lastly, your newly added openings can be automatically posted to certain job posting sites via a built in XML feed. This feature does not work with every job board out there, but it does work with some of the larger ones.

Candidate and client management: From the first phone call to the last email. OpenCATS will help you keep track of all the details, activities, records, contact numbers and keep your work-flow managed.

Reporting: Generate reports on recruiting activity for a quick and accurate overview.

Ownership of data: You own it. It’s yours. You can control it and secure it however you want. No need for your data to be on someone else’s servers, unless that is how you choose to do it.

Backup and restore: Your OpenCATS system can be backed up as often as you want, ensuring no loss of data, ever. There is an easy and intuitive GUI-driven backup/restore system. System administrators can also perform backups/restores through the MySQL database and file system if they prefer. Anyone can backup and restore OpenCATS, regardless of technical knowledge and ability.

User access levels: Currently there are different access levels for users in the OpenCATS system, which the administrator can set up and assign. These are focused on the ability to manipulate data within OpenCATS. The OpenCATS dev team are working on features that will allow administrators to limit access to the records within OpenCATS (example: a recruiter will only be able to see the candidates/clients that are assigned to them, if that’s how you choose to set it up).

Built in Emailing: The email functionality within OpenCATS is substantial. Currently, OpenCATS can be used to send emails to candidates, clients, and contacts. It can also be used to notify of status changes and new applications, or anything you would like it to do. Templates can be set up and used and branding can be included.

Built in modification system: There are certain aspects of modifying OpenCATS that are built in and do not require any technical ability or coding. Fields can be added to the candidate, client, and contact pages quite easily. Any information you want included, or tracked, that isn’t built in to OpenCATS can be added through the intuitive interface with a few clicks.

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