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I like no nonsense. Simple, direct, easy-to-use yet engaging no nonsense. Like my daughters’ elephant air ball toy contraption.

You turn it on. Air blows through the nose spout. You put the balls in back. The air shoots the balls out the nose spout. That’s it.

You may laugh, but user adoption is 100% for this thing and has been consistent since we got it for our youngest’s birthday a month ago. If you have kids, you know how fleeting user adoption can be.

But when something this simple sticks, it’s no nonsense magic.

What I like even better with no nonsense magic is a little dry wit thrown in for good measure.


That would be my recent Advanced Personnel Systems, Inc., SmartSearch tour with Sylvia Dahlby. I can’t speak for the rest their 24 employees, but Sylvia puts the smart in SmartSearch, as well as a little snark when she tells me they’re the “Anti-Taleo of talent acquisition systems.”

I’m telling you, no nonsense.

Originally launched in 1986 as resume scanning system for staffing companies, SmartSearch launched web-based app in 1999, still serving the staffing industry primarily. They then moved into the corporate market in 2003, with their largest corporate client being Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global consulting firm assisting public and private clients to plan, develop, design, construct, operate and maintain critical infrastructure.

Now, 45% of their customers are corporate clients, the rest staffing, and 80% are agency users with the remaining 20% being recruiters. They work with companies that are in the 300-15,000 employee-size ranges.

It’s one thing for firms to tell me customer service is really important and highly emphasized in their businesses (as it should and better be), but when I hear that finding the right cultural fit during discovery with prospects is of high priority, that gets my attention. It’s not something I hear enough of in business, especially in the highly competitive talent acquisition system business. SmartSearch doesn’t do a lot of marketing, so maybe that’s why their referral business is so huge (or so they claim).

The SmartSearch navigation is very simple, clean and streamlined and clean with highly configurable tool bars, widget and folder functionality. Users can create a “spotlight page” where the system pulls in chunks of info (recent applicants per job opening for example) and create “spotlights.” It also has very robust search capabilities — SmartSearch ain’t named that for nothing. There’s social media integration with FB, LI, Twitter, which is pretty standard these days for most talent acquisition systems. There’s decent out-of-box reporting and users can also slice and dice the data to create customized reports, again pretty standard.

SmartSearch also recently announced the addition a new “Apply with LinkedIn” integration (which I’m a huge fan of, since I want the resume to die). Any candidate who clicks the “Apply with LinkedIn” button that does not have a profile is given an opportunity to create one (thank goodness).

I also like the choice of modes: AutoApply or PartialApply. The AutoApply mode automatically pulls in the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and allows them to bypass any online employment application or additional screening questions that may be posted. The PartialApply mode pulls in the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, but the applicant will still need to complete any missing data on the employment application or required screening questions. I understand it’s not that big of a function, but it’s still a big deal for the likes of folks like me who want the resume to die and horrible death. Did I say that already?

And Amen — it runs on a Mac platform in the Firefox browser. Thank you.

One thing that was missing for me was any functional native mobile app, but Sylvia told me that was a future development. However, SmartSearch was actually one of the first talent acquisition systems to offer mobile access. Their mobile access currently gives recruiters (and hiring managers) access to critical functionality that includes look-ups, notes, email and auto-dialing.

For most clients, the system can be installed and trained on within 10 days. There’s also an HRIS/Payroll Gateway module that integrates with billing/payroll (for agencies) or HRIS/Payroll (for corporate employers) and includes a time card capture component, which is optional but included in their price.

They provide plenty of customer support webinars, tutorials, etc., as well as offer a couple of onsite experts for train-the-trainer sessions for large organizations.

Pricing is highly competitive with a monthly subscription of $100 per user or less (minimum of 5 users, though). Set up costs start at $3,500 and there are other add-on charges for extra search portals. Monthly user pricing goes down after 5 users, and then it’s only $75 per month each and drops again after 15 users to $35 per month each.

Hey, put the applicants in. Pull them out for interviewing. Put them back in again. Just like the balls for the toy elephant. (No, that’s not what I said.)

No nonsense magic.