A View from the Top: What is Applicant Management Software and why do I have to care about it?


Many years ago I served as the HR generalist for a 1,000 person organization. One of my many responsibilities was to solicit and review candidates for open roles. This was the pre-internet age, and every day’s mail brought numerous business sized envelopes containing resumes. I’d sit at night with 40 to 50 resumes around me and would use the position specifications and needs to sort candidates into 2 piles: Definite Yes, Definite No and Needs more review.

Flash forward a few decades to my time as the SVP of HR for the Energy Division of Shell Oil Company –Applicant Management Software allowed us to quickly and efficiently seek out our preferred profile for hiring the 4 to 6 HR interns that we hired each year, with the expectation of making offers to 2 of them at the end of their internship. Software allowed us to set filters, which then quickly parsed out all applicants and provided us with the small subset that met our criteria. Our criteria included the following elements: GPA (a certain minimum level was set), attendance at certain schools (we pre-established 10 schools that we felt possessed successful programs), proficiency at Office Suite and a concentration or degree in certain fields (we looked at liberal arts, HR majors and psychology majors). AMS searched through the thousands of applications we received, and quickly winnowed the list down to no more than 15 or 20 potential resumes which we then reviewed carefully. In other words, if your GPA was .1 below our cut off, or your degree was in sociology (not psychology), your resume was electronically placed on hold, unless we went in and reset the specifications.

This process is used extensively in most large organizations, or in any organization that engages in ongoing hiring. The software allows you to be as restrictive or inclusive as you might want.

Looking for a new hire who can program Java and Python, has a GPA of 3.2 or above, attended a school in the greater Boston area and has had two Information Processing internships under their belt? It only takes a few key strokes to set the parameters.

“This is not fair” I’ll hear many of my students say when we discuss these programs in class. “How can I break through this?”

The answer lies in careful analysis of the job specifications of the role accompanied by equally careful crafting of your resume so that you can demonstrate that you possess the necessary skills to be considered for an open role. Our Career Services organization has classes that focus on this area – taking advantage of their assistance can help you to most successfully demonstrate your skills. (Note to Colleen, do you want to insert a link here? I think this specific advice should come from your shop).

Technology allows any individual to apply for any job at any time, which in turn created the necessity for Applicant Management Software to streamline and manage this digital information. Knowing how the software works can mean the difference between being placed on digital hold, or that all important first interview.

You are encouraged to send questions directly to me at e.walker@bentley.edu or to visit me at 310 Adamian. Or simply bookmark this blog which will occur on a regular basis. In our next blog we’ll discuss what a job board is, and how to use job boards effectively.

By Elaine Walker
Elaine Walker Lecturer Elaine Walker