January: The month of kale and spinach smoothies, packed gym classes and a new Fitbit.

The New Year often makes us think about our personal and professional goals and what we can do to be healthier and happier.  But have you thought about giving your Application Tracking System a health-check?

In 2016, the candidate continues to be king. The skills shortage doesn’t show signs of abating and the competition for talent is fierce, particularly in sectors like tech and engineering.

It’s important, then, to make sure you’re using your Application Tracking System in the most effective way to help you secure high-calibre candidates.

Are your processes and Application Tracking System in fighting-fit good health to help you engage with passive talent?

Find out with our 2016 ATS Health-check #1: Passive candidates

1. Are you using talent pools?

Your candidate database should hold a wealth of talented passive candidates. To efficiently manage this myriad data, make use of talent pools in your Application Tracking System.

You should be able to set up talent pools for any category, such as region, skillset or sector.

Search your database for candidates according to your criteria and then populate your new talent pools with the best candidates – candidates who you may have already screened and possibly already interviewed.

These talent pools become your first stop for identifying suitable candidates for new roles.

If you set up talent pools, you should have a good number of relevant passive candidates ready for you to revisit when you’re recruiting for a new opportunity, rather than searching your entire database.


  • Yes, my Application Tracking System offers talent pool functionality
  • Yes, I know how to set up talent pools and add suitable candidates into relevant ones


2. Have you asked passive candidates to update their profiles?

Having lots of talent in your database is well and good – but not if that data has become irrelevant or unreliable.

A time-saving and cost-effective way around verifying your passive candidate data is to make use of supplementary forms. Create a form which provides a link for candidates to update their skills, experience, location and more.

The updated candidate profile is sent back to your Application Tracking System. So next time you’re searching for the ideal candidate in your talent pools, you should have more confidence that their skills and information are up to date.


  • Yes, my Application Tracking System offers supplementary forms
  • Yes, I know how to create supplementary forms
  • Yes, I know how to send forms to candidates to allow them to update their profiles


3. Have you set up skill tags?

It’s a good idea to set-up skill tags which can be used to filter passive candidates in your database.  These can be general – ‘evidence of customer service’ – or specific to certain vacancies – ‘UX design’, for example.

Ask candidates to use these tags to categorise themselves with the relevant skills when they update their candidate profile. It should make your candidate filtering and talent pooling even easier.


  • Yes, I can set up skill tags in my Application Tracking System

4. Are you sending eShots to your candidates?

A key part of engaging passive talent is to maintain communication. Allow candidates to sign up for job alerts so they remain up to date with opportunities in your organisation.

Send them emails as mentioned above with links to update their candidate profile. Explain that it’s because you’re continually reviewing your talent database due to ongoing recruitment, or because of upcoming opportunities.

By keeping in touch with passive candidates, you’re reaffirming both your interest in them and their value to you.


  • Yes, I can create branded, personalised email templates in my Application Tracking System
  • Yes, I can send bulk emails to candidates in my database

So that concludes the first part of our ATS health-check. Do you feel confident that your system is ready to support you engage passive candidates?

If the answer to any of our Checklist questions was ‘No’, it’s probably time to have a word with your supplier to find out why not…or talk to us 🙂

Find out more

11 essential reads about Application Tracking Systems

Meet the Hireserve team

5 blogs about candidate experience

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.