Collaboration Tools

Yes, You Can Turn Gmail Into a Free Applicant Tracking System (ATS)!

By 31st August 2020 No Comments
free applicant tracking system

If you are looking for a free Applicant Tracking System (ATS), you’ve just found it. Better yet, a solution that works inside Gmail.

Since most applications start as emails, it makes total sense to manage them directly from your inbox. This way you can stop switching between Gmail and a recruiting tracker.

In this article, you are going to learn how to use Drag as a recruiting software to speed up your team’s recruiting process, by powering up Gmail with the benefits of an ATS and a shared inbox.

What is Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Applicant tracking systems help companies with their recruiting and hiring processes. The main function is to create a database for job applicants and manage them during the selection.

Companies usually receive dozens or hundreds of resumes for an open opportunity, so collecting and sorting them can be hard work without the help of an ATS.

Besides helping to sort candidates that best match the position, they offer a communication channel with the applicants and it allows interview scheduling. But an ATS also saves resumes for later, so the HR team can fill future openings without open another selection.

How to manage applications in Gmail

You can use Gmail as a free applicant tracking system with a little help from a Google Chrome Extension: Drag. It is a shared inbox tool that works inside Gmail

These are the steps you need to follow, so you can manage your applications from Gmail using Drag:

  1. Build a visual talent pipeline
  2. Add applications to the board
  3. Standardize your recruiting process
  4. Use labels to categorize candidates
  5. Schedule interviews
  6. Use templates to save time
  7. Use automations to stop manual work

Step 0: Installing Drag

Before following the complete step by step you need to add Drag’s Chrome Extension to your browser. Don’t worry, it’s free and it just takes a couple of seconds. Next, open, or refresh your Gmail tab.
After that, an automatic popup from Gmail’s authorizations will appear. Read it and accept the permissions to enable Drag to work on your Gmail account.

That’s it! Now you are all set up to start setting up new talent pipelines in your inbox.

Step 1: Build a visual talent pipeline

free applicant tracking system
With Drag it’s possible to turn your recruiting pipelines into boards, like the one above. You can customize them with kanban or list views, according to your needs and preferences. Both views provide easy visualization of your processes and facilitate tracking all the applications with simple drag and drop’s between columns.

These columns can have the names of each one of the stages the applications will follow through. For example, you may want to name your first column as “Incoming resumes”, or ” New Candidates”. Then, each one of the next columns will follow the order of your pipeline.

After creating a board and setting up the columns it’s time to start populating it with cards. Cards can be emails that hit your inbox or tasks you create yourself. Simply drag and drop the cards between the columns, according to the stages the applicants are at the moment. It helps individuals and teams to keep track of their processes in a much easier way.

Step 2: Add applications to the board

After choosing the best view, and creating columns with all your stages, you need to populate your boards with applications. In Drag you can do this in three ways:

  • Receiving applicant emails on a team shared inbox, such as careers@ or jobs@;
  • Automatically receiving data from a website form, or from an employment website in your email;
  • Creating cards and filling them with candidate’s information;

Share your HR inbox

add applicants
When we talk about managing talent pipelines inside an inbox, we need to consider that teams usually have alias email addresses, such as careers@company.com, for example. And most HR teams still share logins and passwords to work inside their team accounts. Besides not being a safe process, it is difficult to understand what is happening in the inbox without the right tools.

Even if each teammate has their own company aliases, if they need to share specific emails with others there are a lot of steps involved to copy or forward them.

With Drag, teams have dynamic shared inboxes, where emails come in real-time to their team inbox. You can add all the team members to the shared board, where they will be able to read and reply to emails as part of a team without leaving their own accounts.

So when an applicant sends an email with a CV to the HR inbox, this message will arrive right into the board you set as a shared inbox.

Incoming applications from forms and employment websites

talent acquisitionMany talent acquisition processes can start with forms on your organization’s website. That’s why you can send the forms’ results directly to your boards in Drag. In the same way, the applications coming from employment websites like Indeed or Glassdoor that arrive as emails can go directly to your HR board.

To do that, you can set specific automation that makes every incoming email from a specific address —such as @activecampaign.com— be automatically moved to the recruiting board. This saves the team a lot of time they would spend copying and pasting candidates’ information on a card.

Applicants coming from other channels

There are times when applications don’t come as emails. For example, referrals can come from anywhere: from a phone call, or even in person when a team member gives you information about a candidate they want to refer to. Or maybe you made an outreach on LinkedIn and received applicants’ resumes through this channel.

Drag makes it possible to create new cards that you can fill with all the data available about candidates from scratch. Notice that you can also create cards inside shared boards, so you can centralize all the applications in just one place.

Step 3: Standardize your recruiting process

free applicant tracking system

A hiring process needs to be consistent along all the way. With a team, collaboration features can help on accomplishing this goal. The good news is that with Drag you can have all the context you need about a candidate from one place.

Drag provides some features for team collaboration:

  • Team assignments: to delegate tasks and emails to other teammates;
  • Tasks and checklists: to make a standard process in each step of the way;
  • Email notes: to write down the candidate’s profile, contact information, or interview notes;

Step 4: Use labels to categorize candidates

free ats

Adding labels to the candidates can make a huge difference in leading a hiring process. They allow the Human Resources team to just have a quick look at the pipeline to identify the most qualified candidates. For example, you can add tags with key skills the candidates have, or years of experience.

Tags also allow the team to sort the cards containing what they need to see at the moment, so they can make quicker and smarter decisions.

Step 5: Schedule Interviews

free applicant tracking system

No matter if the interview will be by phone, video meeting, or in person. Scheduling interviews with a tool like Google Calendar keeps everything organized in a better way. Mainly when you are using Gmail to track applicants.

Drag allows you to add due dates to your emails or cards, that can represent the date and of an interview. After setting the date you can invite the candidate by sending a direct email, or by using Google Calendar’s integration with Gmail. On the menu at the right of your screen, select the Calendar icon, to open a preview of your schedule. Then open the interview event and add the candidate’s email, so they can receive the invitation.

Step 6: Use templates to save time

free applicant tracking system
Instead of typing the same answer email over and over again, you can save time by creating Drag email templates with just a few clicks. Drag allows you to personalize your email templates with custom fields —such as the applicant’s name —, avoiding impersonal emails.

You might be thinking about the email templates in native Gmail. And yes, they work almost the same as Drag’s, but with an outstanding difference: you can’t share the templates with teammates. That’s because they are only available per email address.

Drag has its own feature that allows you to share templates, synchronizing them across an entire team, department, and even an organization. It helps to keep the processes transparent and consistent.

Step 7: Use automations to stop manual work

automate recruiting

A hiring process can have a lot of repeatable tasks every single day. So to optimize your talent management strategy you can use Drag automations in your boards.

You may know the Gmail filters. Drag automations work very similarly to them. For example, you can automate actions like sending an email when moving candidates from a stage to another, ideally a specific template you set on the previous step.

Since each board and workflow is different, it’s possible to create several different automations for each one of them. It’s possible to customize three factors in automations: board, conditions, and actions. Besides that you can choose from 5 actions:

  • Move to (someone)
  • Assign to (someone)
  • Change color
  • Gmail action
  • Apply tag

Wrapping up

Instead of switching between a paid talent acquisition software and your email inbox every ten minutes, having a solution that works inside it can save a lot of time. You can simply spend more hours of your day focusing on the hiring process, by letting Drag do the things you would manually.

Consider taking the step 0 of our guide, and let Drag work in your inbox. You will surely see how managing a talent acquisition pipeline with your team can be very straightforward and productive.

Above all, we hope that this free applicant tracking system can lead you to the best hires for your organization. We know that after following all the steps you will certainly nail the software in your processes.

Turn Gmail into an Applicant Tracking System.

Drag turns Gmail into your Team’s Workspace – One single place to support customers, manage tasks and close deals, from the place teams love: Gmail. We are a Techstars-backed Company, trusted by 30,000 users around the World.

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Samantha Anacleto

Author Samantha Anacleto

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