Idea: using a helpdesk app as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Update Sept 2017: FreshDesk just release a new product FreshTeam that does exactly what I specified below.

I recently found myself in the position of having to hire a new colleague for the first time in a long while. This means, I get lots of emails with attached PDFs from people I’ve never heard of, I have to filter out the good ones, invite those and send a thank-you-email to all the other ones. I then evaluate the candidates after their first conversation, maybe invite them for a second interview. A classical funnel workflow. Surely this can be automated and optimised, I told myself (as I caught myself adding colours to Outlook mails in my ‘Applicants’ folder, in order not to forget who I invited and/or answered.)

So I checked what SaaS vendors there are in this solution space, which is called “ATS” for Applicant Tracking Systems.

(Mind you, most of these services do more than just ATS, they try to automate hiring, on-boarding, contracting, … So the prices are not always comparable)

Then I was thinking how I could build an ATS for myself using existing software components/services. A software that can process incoming emails, analyse them and forward them to a person who should take care of follow-up. A system that has standard reply templates, that has an escalation process, that will show you what emails still have to be treated. That sounds just like the Freshdesk I’m using at work for technical support!

Imagine I redirect all emails that I receive on to to Every applicant becomes a ticket. He gets an email confirming his application was well received and will be treated by the hiring manager.  The manager in question sees a dashboard of unanswered mails that he has to go through and either decline (template mails) or accept (standard mail with contact details and date propositions). I bet that I could start with a basic Freshdesk set-up, spend a day customising the mail templates, configuring the question categories as company departments etc, and I’d already have an ATS that does a pretty good job. Maybe when I need to hire ten more …



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