Did you purchase Taleo Business Edition?

If so, demand your money back. Then, give me $70k, and in 3 months, my team will have something better than they do. This will allow your company to have better job applicants: those that do not have negativity towards you.

Out of the 67 jobs currently on FlexJobs, at least 6 had this horrid system implemented as their job applicant & recruitment system. Of those, 5 out of 6 sabotaged the interface implementation in some shape or form. By this, the HTML & JavaScript they used to embed Taleo’s system had too much control given to those who do not belong having that level of design control, and thus made it unusable to those using the site. I think Brightcove was the only site that actually implemented it correctly into their branding and kept it clean.

Furthermore, each site used the same system, yet I had to input my information & re-parse my resume each time. It is the same system… why am I having to repeat myself multiple times? This doesn’t include the other sites that didn’t use Dice, Monster, or their own system which included it’s own registration system. I had to create a new user name and password for each job application. The registration forms themselves were not well designed, making me write my email 4 times vs. the needed once. Weirder still, probably because of too much freedom in implementation, Taleo’s registration differed from site to site! The worse was 10 pages of questions on some of the implementations with a 10 point, bold font; really hard to read.

I’m willing to bet money the same problem that plagues badly written e-commerce sites with abandoned carts plagues companies that utilize this system. I came EXTREMELY close to abandoning two sites, one of which wasn’t Taleo but some other badly designed interface with an unusable system. “As a software developer, do I really want to work for a company who can’t even implement 3rd party web application?” A resounding “NO!”.

There are 2 types of job hunters, active and passive. Passive people put their information out there in an easily accessible fashion on sites such as Monster, Dice, and various other job / recruiting sites. In late 2002, things started to pick up. Instead of 3 recruiting firms calling me for the same job posted at IBM attempting to be first in, I’d have 5 recruiting firms contacting me about different opportunities. If you were a passive job seeker towards the beginning of 2003 for Flash work, the opportunities would flood in. The websites suddenly provided good value to their users in forcing them to input their information into the web site systems through not-so-fun interfaces: employment opportunities. To their credit, Monster has improved over the years, and Dice was very active in their community seeking user feedback.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed in 5 years is for the active job seekers, those who seek out work from various companies & individuals, is the process and thus experience of looking for & applying for new jobs is still horrible.

The same websites of companies or their middle-man recruiting firms all had horrific systems, all varied, all requiring unique registration that you’d never use again, and all having stone age abilities at parsing resumes. For those larger companies who have set systems in place with questions & processes for legal issues as well as controlling the influx and type of information sent to HR, these systems were built for those goals in mind, and in the end fail. They result in the job seeker having a negative impression of the company (if I’m applying for a web application position, you already look pretty bad), frustration in what is supposed to be a positive endeavor, and built up expectations derived from those negative experiences that may be unreasonable compared to what they had set before starting to apply. If you are hiring, you want someone who wants to work with you because you offer work that they will excel at. Having the applicant demanding more than usual to compensate for a negative job application experience is ridiculous, but I bet accurate. I’d go so far as to say that their answers have the potential to be flawed in the job application process because of the negativity built up during the process. Just because they are the ones applying for a job from you doesn’t mean they have to suffer to work for you. Job hunting is supposed to be a fun and exciting experience to the benefit of both parties.

5 years people… 5 years and things are WORSE now than they were before!

You have 2 options. If you are a small to mid-size company, use Dice.com. Their application form is the greatest on the Internet with Google-like simplicity allowing quick use for the user, a positive impression, and no implications or perceptions implied towards the company being applied to (vs. negative from the above):


If you are a larger enterprise with the need to filter applicants based specific questions, skill sets, and other legalese controllable in a CMS like system to prevent too many responses, see my first sentence.

12 Replies to “Did you purchase Taleo Business Edition?”

  1. omg Jesse,
    my boss sent me this post. Our largest client started using Taleo about a 18 months ago. What a disaster. Something else to mention – to get any kind of relevant granularity out of their system is a MAJOR TASK if not impossible. I sat on a conference call with one of their reps about a week after they started using the system as it was not providing the solution the client was promised and had paid for. The Taleo guy even said, ‘I’m sorry for leading you on.’. They have got to be the worst recruitment tool I’ve ever seen. So nice to hear those unkind words from someone else.

  2. $70k. hmm you could just build yourself and charge. In reality you should make that money back and more since it will be your product.

  3. Blimey guys – you think it’s hard now. 5 years ago I was jobhunting and had to send a CV with covering letter, or even post a different application form, for every differnt company I wanted to work for!
    Can you belive that? If they all use the same postal system, why can’t I just post one application form or CV and they all see it?
    Mate – I don’t like Taleo that much either, but I fundamentally DO understand the type of software they sell. I’m not sure you’re on the same page – DICE and MONSTER are jobboards, a different business all together.

  4. I have used Taleo for 5 years, and I have seen the product evolve thru some ups and downs. It is a good tool if it is properly deployed and used by the companies that pruchase the product. Many times, companies don’t give a rats ass about HR as it is not considered a strategic part of the business, so unfortunately very little investment is made in deploying and maintaining an ATS .

    Taleo Business edition costs 100$/month per user…70K seems steep compared to this to design a tool that you would have to be hired to maintain…at say 5k/month or more…

    Your post blasts both Taleo and the Customers implementations…Let me submit to you that if some customers can get it right than the fault lies mostly on the customer for botching their implementations not Taleo who simply provide the platform for managing the recruitment process.

    Taleo is not a Job Board it is a web delivered software application where individual customers store candidates similar in kind to Saleforce.com. Would you expect all Salesforce.com customers to share their sales leads? So why do you expect Taleo customers to share their candidate databases, which a kind of sale lead? You have to create a new profile when logging into a customers instance of Taleo because your information will only be reviewed by that customers recruiters. This is not the case with Dice or Monster.

  5. @Paul – I know Dice & Monster are different, but I DO know that I, as a user, significantly love using them to job hunt way more than the hell I’m put through via Taleo.

    @Ed – Regardless of price, I know I could do better. I know I could create a better, more controllable deployment model to ensure customers don’t botch it as badly as they do with the implementations I’ve used, and still be able to get the data they need out of it.

    Yeah, expecting them to have a central database if info is quite idealistic, and plain ridicioulous implementation wise. However, there is no excuse for their pathetic resume parsing. I’ve already written down my personl information, if you can’t read it, you’re system is broken. I’ve seen better resume parsing engines out there so I KNOW it can be done. Thus, there is no excuse. It needs to be easier for job applicants.

  6. Taleo Business Edition is a very flexible ATS . Customers have complete control over how the entire system is configured and can customize it deeply to match their needs.

    This includes the ability for a non-programmer to customize the entire careers website experience. Customers who have so-called ‘botched’ implementations clearly haven’t taken the time to involve their webmaster in hooking up their careers site portal.

    Are you really suggesting that we blame the software vendor for providing a high degree of flexibility? Forcing customers to use a plain-Jane careers site UI is very short-sited — I invite you to try it, you will quickly find that they will ask you for more and more flexibility. Try building a talent management system that works for 1000s of companies and you will quickly find your biggest challenge is building enough customization capabilities to match demand.

    Regarding your comments about applying to multiple Taleo Business Edition customers, the Salesforce analogy mentioned by a previous commenter is a good one. Compaies pay for this product to create a Private candidate database that is custom-tailored to their needs. They ask pre-screening questions and create custom database fields to track and manage applicant-specific data that is specific to their business. Each customer’s database is a separate entity. Therefore you cannot simply assume that each company’s application process or the information they collect in that process, is in any way similar between any given 2 customers.

    What you are suggesting is a very simplistic applicant tracking system that would not hold a candle to this market-leading product in real world scenarios. Moreover you are suggesting charging $70k for it, an absurdly high price for something inflexible. Here is a challenge for you — words are cheap; can you really build something that 100s of companies will buy every month? This number is growing fast… good luck to you

  7. You are comparing apples to oranges. DIce and Monster are job boards that provide the same application process for all their job postings and applicant resumes go into a central pool that EVERY dice or monster subscriver can access. If you are a company and you spend money building your brand you often don’t want them to end up where other companies can hire them so you need an applicant tracking system something that will host your own private career site where you can ask questions and collect any information you want from applicants. After all who would share their sales leads? And how many companies would ask the same questions to prospective customers as another? Its the same issue with recruiting.

    You do have a valid point though about job seeker frustration. It is annoying to have to fill out different applications for different companies. But think about it from the employers side for a second. Would you want to hire someone who doesn’t take the time to answer questions that you need answered to determine whether that person is worth spending your time on? Especially when you receive hundreds of resumes a day?

  8. but why do you think you can build a better system than taleo offers? and why do you think taleo customers should ask for their money back? after all they are making over 100million per year and companies wouldn’t be spending that much money on their product if they weren’t consistently happy with the results. maybe keeping candidates like you happy has nothing to do with helping companies recruit better. most companies have a dluge of resumes to deal with and don’t worry about people who fall off because of unhappiness answering a few custom questions. its usually better to get these kind of people out of the way up front anyway

  9. I’ve been developing software for 7 years, both design side & developer side. I know what works, what doesn’t, and what team members can effectively be aimed at solving problems. I have confidence in my abilities, as well as in those of my team (assuming I could hand-pick them, if not, we’ll make it work). In using some of the Taleo implementations, they clearly gave the user too much control, and thus sabotaged the experience. You can fix that by not giving the user too much control, but still give them the branding control & information gathering they need.

    Regarding payment, that is such a loaded statement.

    after all they are making over 100 million per year and companies wouldn’t be spending that much money on their product if they weren’t consistently happy with the results

    There are plenty of people who have purchased software in the Enterprise who hate it, but they have no choice. For whatever reason, there is no refund policy, and they are forced to use the software. I’ve seen plenty of cases where there is so much red tape that those who are forced to use it can yell all they want to management, but nothing changes because ‘the decision was already made’, even if the decision was the wrong one. The Enterprise dollar doesn’t work like the consumer dollar since purchasing decisions are not always made by those in the know.

    Take the medical industry. When I was working on software for them, we tailored our software to be appealing to the CTO’s and Hospital Managers for HIMM’s. When you charge $20,000k more than your competitors for basically the same software, you need to justify that price beyond the selling on quality angle… at least to get the sale anyway. One way we did that was make it more visually appealing. They were the ones who wrote the million dollar checks to purchase the software, so we catered to that. It was a flawed model, though, because the nurses were the ones actually USING the product. In effect, their purchasing decisions were made for the wrong reasons. I fully believe that’s not an isolated case, either.

    I totally agree with your last statement; if a candidate is not willing to take the time, and answer some questions electronically, then that shows they might not be willing to do a lot of other things when the job ‘doesn’t go their way’. I wouldn’t want people like that working for me either.

    …however, I’m a software developer. If I’m applying for a job to develop software, and the company in question has a horrible web application resume submission process, then yes, maybe it is best I not work for them if that’s what they consider acceptable user experience. Of course, being benevolent, I’d like the opportunity to make that my first priority to fix while on the job.

  10. Jester, you seem to forget that Taleo is 100% a subscription model. For SMBs they can cancel at anytime as there is no long term contract to deal with. If customers are not satisfied they can move on as simply as flipping a switch.

    The situation is similar with large enterprise customers. Although they sign long term contracts there are plenty of exit clauses and according to recent filings Taleo have a better than 90% contract renewal rate across all their platforms…

    Where is the dissatisfaction?

    If you think you can top Taleo then, dude, create your app and market it!

  11. You are a complete idiot!

    ATS systems are PRIVATE databases — they are NOT job boards like Monster or Dice. They are designed to collect very specific information that the company requires — they are NOT designed so that candidates can have the same application experience across many different companies – – quite the contrary.

    With any real company valuing talent you will have to enter your information from scratch and answer custom questions that allow the company to evaluate you in detail according to their UNIQUE and PRIVATE requirements. If you aren’t willing to deal with this then you aren’t serious enough about the companies you are applying to.

    Get real dude

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