Online Job Apps Are Not Applicant Tracking Systems - Agile Product Solutions
  • Online Job Apps Are Not Applicant Tracking Systems

Over the last few years, we have encountered many potential clients that respond to our inquiry about their current applicant tracking system with something close to the following statement.

“Oh yeah, we already have one of those. You can see it on our website. It allows candidates put in their information, and then I get an e-mail with all of their info.”

I am concerned every time we hear that response.  Applicant tracking systems are not simply a web version of your job application, they are integrated tools for helping you identify and hire top talent.  Let me propose a scenario, and you think to yourself if this is close to the process that you use now. Imagine for a minute that you just posted a new job opening and have already received 30 candidates for the opening. Good results, but what will you do with that information now? How will you manage candidate workflow status or track candidate interviews? For that matter, what tools do you have now to help you identify the top candidate in that requisition pool? Have you really helped yourself in any way, except to change the delivery method of the candidate data?

If this is where you stop with gathering candidate information, you would be better served staying with paper applications. You are still left with the tedious task of sorting and evaluating candidate experience, education, references, etc. In many cases, you may have made the job even more difficult by individually separating each of those e-mails into candidate specific folders inside of your e-mail. Sound familiar? This is not an indictment on you or your process. As a matter of fact, you are one step further than your peers who are still requiring candidates to download job applications in Word or PDF format to fill out manually and bring with them to the interview. The fact remains that you are still going to have to spend your valuable time sorting through applications and resumes in your e-mail. So many HR and hiring managers don’t really understand the difference between a web-based job application and a true applicant tracking system.  For example, can you:

  1. Efficiently (be honest) search those applications and resumes for desired experience, education or skills?
  2. Do you have a process in place for evaluating candidate/company culture fit? What about those of you that would still need to compile EEO-1 and OFCCP reports?
  3. Track candidates through your hiring workflow?
  4. Create custom reports on hiring status and candidate source?
  5. Search all candidate resumes through an extraction process known as resume parsing?
  6. Score and rank candidates based on job specific questions?

Right now, how easy is that with your current process? The truth is that many of you don’t understand the true power of an applicant tracking system because you have allowed your IT department to convince you that they can build a tool that will accomplish what you desire, “a way to have candidates apply on our website.” Robust applicant tracking systems can provide you with so much more than just a way to gather candidate job application information. However, unless you have an IT department with software developers that also have experience in the HR industry, you are never going to get a tool that will address all of your needs. I am not trying to place blame on your IT department, they just don’t really understand what you are asked to do with such little information. You are asked to provide the company with its most important resource, high performing employees. How can just an online job application help you do that?

When I developed my first Applicant Tracking System (some 15 years ago), it was my desire to create a tool to help our hiring managers accept candidate information online and to save our company money. I accomplished neither goal. While I did deliver an online tool that allowed candidates to apply to our company, the compiled candidate information was difficult to evaluate and had little to no use in helping them identify top talent. As a software developer who has 10+ years of experience developing Human Resource industry software, I implore you to take the time to explore and evaluate the factors you need to make the evaluation of job candidates more efficient and accurate. You will find that usually means more than just “a place on the website to apply for jobs”.

2c44c67 Eric Carlson is the founder of Agile Product Solutions, Inc., an HR talent management software provider. Eric has 10 years of developing HR software for industry leading compensation and performance management software providers. Reach Eric by e-mail or visit us at

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