Applicant Tracking | The HBS Blog | Business Strategies


applicant tracking

I know what happens. You post a new job and you get about a hundred resumes in response. They all start looking the same, they pile up in your email folders or a Google Doc, and you don’t respond to the majority of them. You probably miss the few excellent ones. It can all be very time consuming. If you are ‘fortunate’ you might have several job openings up at the same time. Which, unfortunately, just multiples all these burdens.

It’s time to join the big leagues. I’m talking about an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which will gather and organize all applicants, track where they are in the process and follow up with them! It’s easy to implement, easy to use and can even be free. I’m the first to admit this topic can instantly cause your eyes to glaze, but I’ve recently set one up it’s been an instant game changer!

I’m in no way an expert, nor even know of all the systems out there. I’ve heard great things about Resumator and Jobvite but I chose Jobscore (, mostly because it has the same core features and is free. They primarily make money with the candidates you leave unclaimed, releasing them into a huge pool of applicants that other employers can pay to access. They also have great customer support - thanks Lisa!

So, here we are. You’ve admitted you have a problem and are willing to get some help. You don’t need to hire an HR staff, get extensive training or migrate and integrate your data. Just take an hour or so to familiarize yourself and start plugging away!

  • Create a job posting and have one place to manage it. A web page is automatically generated, giving you a link to easily share the posting.
  • Easily post the job across all kinds of popular job boards and social networks with one click.
  • All applicants are pulled into the system and organized by job. A work history summary, resume, cover letter and notes are all attached.
  • Easily track where the applicant is in the process.
  • Email applicants automatically when screening them. Email templates can be sent, thanking and declining, or setting up a meeting, for example. Applicants want to hear back, even when it’s a ‘no’. This is branding and can result in good-will and referrals.
  • You can collaborate with others, forwarding a resume and notes to co-workers.
  • Get reporting, to see who you have met with, who is still in the pipeline, how long it takes to fill positions and and which posting boards have the best results.

I’m really just touching the surface here, but I hope you get the point. If you don’t already use something like this it can be quite powerful. Immediately. It can help with periodic hiring, but is also highly scalable - if you grow, this is something you will put in place. Get your HR foundation in place. It’s also fun!

More By Matt Cholerton
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