When will Applicant Tracking Software Get the Message?

"We were not able to identify your contact e-mail address. Your login e-mail address will be used as your contact e-mail address instead. Please be aware that this contact e-mail address will be used to contact you."

The message above was sent to a prospective candidate from an applicant tracking system -not ours. This system is managing a fortune 500 company’s careers site. Yikes! It can hardly be debated that enterprise software is way too complicated and for the most part, pretty thoughtless when it comes to user experience. The message above is a perfect example. The expensive applications that businesses use to run their human resources are some of the least friendly, most difficult systems ever committed to code. If you work at a company that uses buinsess software or you’ve ever had to do something that should be simple, like apply to a job — or, heck, even look at a job on a corporate careers site — then you’ve probably encountered some really annoying user experiences.

How did we get here? Part of the problem may be that the people using enterprise software just don’t demand anything better. They think all business software has to be complicated - it’s all they’ve ever known. People have just been dealing with poorly-designed technology for so long that they internalize the flaws. Maybe it’s that a lot of these systems, applicant tracking software particularly, are built for “power” users so thoughtful, consumer-like, usability concerns are sacrificed for massive amounts of options that ultimately “sell” the technology. In the end, buyers do compare features and typically the software with the most features wins. But, the question that constantly nags us is - Does the user win? We think not.

Clearly, the real topic here, the usability of enterprise software, is a huge can of worms and I’m only scratching the surface of an increasingly incendiary topic. I can tell you this though; the “error” message above actually encourages us. It’s evident that a majority of our peers that develop recruiting software ignore design / usability. We don’t. It’s also clear that buyers of software are increasingly eager to find well designed software that improves usability and ultimately makes their lives easier. We like this trend, it plays to our strengths.

Finally, we want to make a public promise. We will NEVER send another human a message that doesn’t make any sense. It’s the least we can do.

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