How an Applicant Tracking System Transformed Boston College's Recruiting for the Better
June 21, 2017
For many, landing a job at Boston College—a private-Jesuit Catholic institution located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts—is a dream come true. Having earned a reputation in higher education as an excellent place to work thanks to their tuition remission for employees and their families and generous retirement contributions, they receive 150-175 applications per job opening, says John Bogdan, director of employment at the college.
But while the college teaches students to be innovative and cutting-edge, their application system was quite the opposite. Antiquated and slow, it was not only causing frustration for applicants who would get timed out midway through the process, but taking managers hours to manually download, print and sort through resumes to identify the most qualified candidates.
"We may be the best around, but if you make the application process frustrating, that applicant is going to go somewhere else" says Bogdan. Data backs him up: A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 3 in 5 candidates don't complete an application process if they feel it's too long.
Searching for the 'Magic' System
The search for a more efficient, streamlined system began with the hiring of a new VP and other innovative leaders who discovered that while the department had a strong reputation and worked well together—managers, employees and applicants were incredibly frustrated with the process.
After vetting several leading applicant tracking systems and getting recommendations from other institutions in higher education, the college decided on Cornerstone's Recruiting, Learning and Onboarding solutions thanks to its simple interface and user-friendly design.
"It's been fantastic. I can show someone how to use Cornerstone quickly and then they can just start using it," says Beverly Sobers, associate director of employment at Boston College.
Improving the Candidate Experience
The college's previous application system was time-consuming and confusing, often leaving candidates wondering if they had even applied. This isn't an isolated problem, as 93 percent of job seekers point to unclear instructions as their number one frustration.
With the new system, candidates can submit applications in just a few steps using their Management / Applicant Job Center built within Cornerstone Recruiting.
"We call it 'magic,' because that's how we felt about it," says Bogdan. "It has LinkedIn features, as well as other surprises. Candidates can complete the process in one screen, and because there's a trail, it's easier to backtrack to where they were."
Communicating Culture and Values
As the application process is one of your first touch points with potential candidates, it's important that it reflects your true company culture and values. The legacy system at Boston College was not only consuming time and turning off potential candidates, but also conveying a message of antiquity—a message directly in conflict with the college's emphasis on innovation and commitment to the highest standards of teaching and research.
"When you visit our splash page [now], you immediately get a feeling of what kind of institution we are," says Bogdan. "We've been able to add videos, descriptions and other features that really communicate who we are."
Photo: Creative Commons