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Creating a Template for Tracking Job Applicants in Excel for Small Businesses

Posted by Johnson, Donna at Thursday, 05/09/2013 6:10 pm
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2.9 from 23 votes
One of the things our HR professionals in larger organizations have to do frequently is track the incoming resumes, cover letters and applications for individuals applying to open jobs. This can be done using Applicant Tracking Software, but if you're working with a smaller business, what do you use to track applicants?

To avoid having to reinvent the wheel every time we need to track job applicants and begin to create a resource database for us as our company grows (we've gone from just a couple courses to delivering 20+ business application training courses, and have had to ramp up the number of trainers to meet that need) , it’s pretty simple to create an Excel template.

1.       First, create a new Excel document and write a header that works for you – we used “Applicant Information,” but you could use “Prospect Data” or “Admin Assistant Candidates” – whatever works for your organization.

2.       From there, select the categories you would like to track.

In our example below, we use, “Last Name,” “First Name,” “M.I.,” “Address,” “Preferred Phone,” “Email Address”– which are all necessary, in my opinion. The position category is optional – or unnecessary if included as part of the header.

You may want to create a drop-down list for some of the categories like “Status” using examples like “Received,” “On Hold,” “Rejected,” “Under Review” – again, figure out what works best for your company and use it.

Toward the end, there are more optional and business-specific categories – for instance “Recruiter Name” and “Recruiter Notes” are only useful if you’re working with a recruiter. “Visa Status” is only helpful if you expect to receive international applicants. But things like “Education,” “Current Employer,” “Current Position,” “Years of Experience,” and “Relevant Skills,” are all helpful for comparison purposes. To simplify you may again want to create a dropdown list of choices for the hiring manager to select from.

Last, but not least, “Source of Application” is a helpful category to have if you’ve advertised the position in a variety of places and need to determine which source is giving you the greatest ROI.

3.       Simply for the sake of readability, I find it helpful to have the rows shaded. You can do that by selecting “Format as Table” and selecting a color scheme that you enjoy, or one that matches your company's branding colors.

4.       Be sure to select the row that includes your label, and when you’ve clicked on a color scheme, Excel will pop up a box that asks you whether you’ve made the selection you want (using an Excel formula), and whether your table has headers – it does, so be sure to check that box:

5.       The most important part of this entire tutorial is to be sure to save your document as a template – this way you can save individual versions for each job opportunity you have, or save the applicants by year or quarter, if that is how you prefer to track such things. Templates can’t be modified unless users are given permission – so if you have a number of HR generalists working on a variety of jobs, you won’t run the risk of someone accidentally saving over someone else’s work.

Now you have a simple template to turn to for job applicant tracking that can be reused for any position you post without having to dig in to Applicant Tracking Software. That said, using an Excel spreadsheet can only take you so far, and once your company has grown, this template is not as scalable as some of the software solutions, so use judiciously.

Feel free to use our Applicant Tracking Template for your own purposes- and let us know if you have any feedback!

Donna Johnson is a trainer at
Versitas, an on-site/online software training company delivering training courses to corporate clients across the United States

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