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Everyone is talking about candidate application-experience, but few ATS are doing anything about it. In today’s digital age, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have become a cornerstone of the recruitment process. While ATS can help employers efficiently manage applications and identify the right talent, they can also play a significant role in shaping the candidate experience.

This article delves into the importance of creating a seamless application journey in the age of ATS and offers insights on how employers can prioritize the candidate application-experience while leveraging these powerful tools.

Applicants have different candidate experiences

We speak with candidates everyday and we have developed avatars that represent common personalities. We use our ATS automation process to identify them. Our goal is to use our ATS to filter them according to the user experience that better suits their personalities, and offers them a process that anticipates their individual needs and behaviors.

It’s never perfect. People are people, they are not data points. They are individuals with unique expectations. By creating Avatars, we can begin to classify them by their behaviors – which in many ways is determined by the way they interact with the on-line application process. Some are focused on getting their application submitted at high speed. Some are more thoughtful in their approach, book mark the job description and come back to it. Some want to make changes to their application after submitting. Some resist work culture assessments some embrace them, some complete them reluctantly. You get the point.

As an hiring professional, your job is to find the best person for the opening that is available, and each of these behaviors offers insights into the unique person on the other side of the device.

Here are 3 simple avatars:

Pete: Wants to review and apply to as many jobs as possible in the least amount of time and opens all emails sent to his inbox within 30 minutes. It’s all about volume and speed for Pete.

Christina: Wants to take her time and consider the job. Ask questions about the job description, applies to one job in a sitting. Takes a day to respond to her emails and spend a lot of time on her assessments and skills tests.

Mike: Applies and then argues with every email sent and expects a personal response to each of is emails. Also follows up and argues with chat room experts about his requirements to take an assessment. Argues about his need to register within our ATS. Argues about his need to take a skills test.

You may be surprised to learn that, over time, or by speaking with us, you can manage each one of these personality types and more with a great ATS.

Before you tackle this in your ATS start with the basics.

Here are the 10 steps to improve your Candidate Experience.

  1. User- Friendly application process is key in the candidate experience

The first step in ensuring a seamless application journey is to provide a user-friendly application process. The online application must be intuitive, mobile-responsive, and straightforward. Avoid lengthy and complex forms that may discourage candidates. A streamlined process can set a positive tone from the beginning.

Some ATS do this well. Test this before deciding on a new one. Try your solution out from the candidate’s perspective.

  1. Make certain you have a standard Job description format

The first touch point, your most important touch point, is the job description. We can’t think of a time that the job description from multi-national clients of ours with large HR departments have delivered a decent job description. Call us if you would like to learn how to do it.  Basically, it should be concise, accurate, and informative. Use language that candidates can easily understand, avoiding jargon or vague terminology. By providing a clear picture of the role, responsibilities, and qualifications, you enable candidates to make informed decisions about whether to apply.

  1. Tailor the communication for each job opening.

Effective communication is key. ATS can automate email notifications to acknowledge receipt of applications, update candidates on their status, and request additional information or schedule interviews. Tailor these messages to be clear, personalized, and timely. This keeps candidates engaged and informed throughout the process.

  1. Transparency is important in the candidate experience.

Transparency is essential for a positive candidate experience. Inform candidates about the stages of the hiring process, including approximate timelines and what to expect at each step. This not only reduces anxiety but also fosters trust in your organization.

Think about a time you accepted a job and then had to work with a person who was not responsive or inconsistent with you during the interview process. Did that increase or reduce your confidence in working with that person?

  1. Candidate Experience and support

The ATS should not replace human interaction entirely. We say this a lot. It should make you a better hiring professional, not an absent-one focused on efficiency first. You can do this by offering candidates a point of contact for questions or concerns. Providing support and guidance demonstrates your commitment to a candidate-centered experience. And it takes only a minute or two.

  1. Smartphone Accessibility – Crucial for today’s candidate experience

In today’s mobile-driven world, many candidates prefer applying for jobs using their smartphones or tablets. Ensure that your ATS is mobile-friendly to accommodate this trend. A responsive design can significantly enhance the application experience.

  1. Bias Mitigation

ATS can help mitigate bias by focusing solely on qualifications and skills. Employers should regularly audit their ATS to ensure that it does not inadvertently introduce bias into the selection process. This ensures a fair experience for all candidates.

We’ve written an article on this. Have a look.

  1. Feedback

Consider implementing a feedback mechanism for candidates who are not selected. This allows candidates to understand areas for improvement and leaves a positive impression, even if they are not chosen for the position.

Ever be selected to the final interview round and, after completing the process never hearing back from the company again? How did that make you feel about the company? How do you think about that company now?

  1. Improving the candidate experience incrementally

Yes, we can say during our 20+ years of recruiting and building HR tech we’ve blown it and created whole processes or even parts of processes that didn’t work for candidates. When possible and if you are taking numbers 1 – 8 seriously, gather feedback from candidates about their experience with your application process. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and refine your ATS workflows. Continuous refinement is key to creating an ever-smoother application journey.

  1. Your ATS can improve On-boarding – Key for candidate experience.

The candidate experience should not end with the hiring decision. Post-hire engagement, such as onboarding, is also crucial. Leverage your ATS to facilitate a smooth transition from candidate to employee, ensuring that the candidate’s positive experience extends into their tenure with the organization.


We have found that a seamless application journey not only attracts top talent but also enhances your employer brand and fosters positive relationships with candidates, even those who are not selected. By prioritizing user-friendliness, transparency, and effective communication, employers can leverage ATS to create an application process that leaves a lasting positive impression on candidates, ultimately contributing to the success of their organization.

And BTW we recommend a lot of Mikey’s and they get hired!