Getting people to start using an Applicant Tracking System

I spent the last few months at a company called Credentify designing an applicant tracking system. It's simple applicant tracking system with built in screening tools (background checks and credential verification).

I've spent the last few weeks talking to business owners and hr managers trying to get them to start using some type of applicant tracking system. I thought it would be easy to get people to adapt this new technology, but a lot of people are still reluctant to switch.

I've been an web/application designer for the past 5 years and am new to the world of HR and Recruiting. I was wondering if some of you could enlighten me to some of the HR road blocks and concerns that prevent someone from using some form of applicant tracking.

Views: 180

Comment by Slouch on April 23, 2009 at 11:14pm
You have come to the right place.
Comment by mark on April 24, 2009 at 12:43am
I'm all ears! Any advice you could share would be awesome
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on April 24, 2009 at 12:58am
I could actually write an entire book about the question of ATS user adoption. From your post, I will assume you are only marketing your product to corporate HR, and not staffing agencies or executive search firms.

Frankly, user adoption has to be organic. The NEED for an ATS cannot be created, so the first step is to get the users to acknowledge they need one and that the tools would be helpful to them. You get that by asking questions about what they are doing now, and finding out what's working and what's not. This is qualifying the buyer; you learn what the road blocks and concerns are for each particular organization: How about why do I need an ATS in the first place? What business problem is this going to solve? Why is a web-based solution better than something I can install on my PC? Why go with Credentify over the hundreds of other, PROVEN and more mature solutions out there; most of them being under-utilized. Why is the sky black?

The next step is to get them to WANT to use your product it by engaging them in the selection/installation process -- show them how the technology will actually make their jobs easier. They are not going to change the way they work unless it can be clearly demonstrated that your ATS is the BEST solution to the problems/concerns they've already acknowledged they have.

The third step is to TRAIN them to use it consistently, again by showing them how it actually benefits the business/recruiting goals or just lets them go home on time for a change. At this state it comes down to personal motivation for whatever the desired outcome. Will it make them look good to their boss or on their resume? Eliminate the tedium of manual reporting or sifting thru paperwork? Avoid a lawsuit for questionable hiring practices or OFCCP compliance?

I'm oversimplifying, but that's the basics.

The catch is that you have to lather, rinse, and REPEAT this process with every upgrade, and continuously improve the tools based on user feedback, suggestions, changes in business requirements etc.

For a web-based app, you're not really selling a product at all, you're selling a service. Working with the buyer on defining their needs/problems/goals, setting expectations, and providing user training & ongoing support is part of that service.

If you're new to this market, you're going to be outgunned by sales professionals that understand and have worked in the world of HR/Recruiting. So I suggest attending some conferences, getting on these online communities and learning more about the day-to-day life of what it's like to be a recruiter or HR person who would be your end-user, not to mention learning as much as you can stand about your competition. Hanging out on RecruitingBlogs is a good start.

Welcome to the club.
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on April 24, 2009 at 7:10pm
LOL, I'm happy to NOT be one of the 23 or 24 pests who hit Sandra's voice mail this morning.

Just goes to show you how hungry for biz some of the ATS vendors are. SmartSearch has been around for 20 yrs so most of our new business happily comes from our network, referrals and former customers - as well as scaling up our solution with various add-on components as our clients' business grows.

So dear Mark you see what you're up against?
Comment by mark on April 24, 2009 at 8:06pm
23 or 24 calls is just plain wrong. I wouldn't wish that upon anyone. I'm trying to figure out a ways to start generating traffic to Credentify website. It 's a hard task and even harder since I'm new to the HR and the recruiting community. I don't want to spam sites with links back to my site. My goal is to learn about the recruiting and HR community and develop relationships and have conversations.

I'm not a fan of the way a lot of companies approach sales. I hate getting numerous telemarketing phone calls during the day. I would never do that to anyone, and I wish they wouldn't do it to me. However, you have to spread the word about your product. I'm not sure what the most effective way to do that is.

But, I do know I need to understand what recruiters and HR professionals go through and how they operate (and every now and again throw in a shameless plug for my ATS). That's why I joined this community. The more I learn, the better ATS I can design.

Thanks for being understanding and replying.
Comment by mark on April 24, 2009 at 8:07pm
If any of you know any good HR / Recruiting blogs and start reading that would be great!
Comment by Jill Czeczuga on April 24, 2009 at 9:16pm
Hey Mark - This post just stuck out for me. Recruiters are a special group of people who know what they want :-) Without going into a sales pitch, What is the one thing that makes your ATS stand out from the rest?

FYI - I am not in the market for an ATS - just curious.
Comment by Sylvia Dahlby on April 24, 2009 at 10:35pm
Mark, with all due respect, you might want to hire a sales & marketing person with industry experience and contacts who already knows the answers - hard to be an expert designer, marketer and sales person all rolled into one. How much time can you divide between learning, product development/maintenance, and sales, not to mention servicing existing clients who call in with questions or need training/tech support?

And when you figure out what the most cost-effective way to market an ATS is, I hope you'll share that with the rest of us (now I'm being sarcastic, sorry - truth is, there is no pat answer because it's a moving target).

Jill has given you one clue, and that's you'll need to figure out what your differentiators are and come up with compelling reasons why your product is a better choice for whoever your target market is.

Visit - plenty of recruiting pundits hang out there & contribute content. Pay attention to the advertising. Join and get the magazine - participate in your local chapter, if you're in a city I'm sure there is one.

Have fun.
Comment by mark on April 25, 2009 at 2:08am
I think the biggest lesson I've learned is that I need to do a better job of product differentiation. I was thinking about it today and our product has one key difference then every other ATS I have seen. However, as a designer I have done a poor job of showing why Credentify is different then the other ATS systems out there. I my design failed to highlight that one key feature that makes us different, not to mention it's the feature that lead us to start Credentify.

Thanks for helping and your kind words.
Comment by Louis Bina on April 30, 2009 at 12:15pm
Hi Sandra,
I can completely understand your frustration. Sometimes I can't believe how thick sales reps are; the more you bug me, the less likely I am to listen to you. It's like verbal junk mail. In any case, I might suggest you check out CATS Applicant Tracking System ( if you're still interested in an ATS. We're a tiny company in Minnesota, have no sales reps, and offer a complete demo on our website (no registration needed). You can also sign up for a 14-day trial, all on your own terms. No calls, no using up your time trying to force your hand. If I had to name one unique feature, it would be that we have all the components and great features of expensive ATS' but at a fraction of the price. Hopefully this is useful info!


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