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Tony Sternberg on Challenges in Modern Hiring

Tony Sternberg
– President, CATS Softwares –

According to a survey done by Jobscan over 98% of fortune 500 companies use ATS for Recruitment. There are hundreds of companies developing ATS software. One of the most popular and leading ATS Company on the globe are CATS Software. As a part of Xobin Leader Stories, we had an opportunity of interacting with Tony Sternberg who is the president of CATS Software.

Tony Sternberg headed CATS Software is doing an exceptional job in this  field. They provide a highly intuitive and  customizable recruitment software to over 1,600 companies in over 50 countries.

With over a decade of experience, CATS has demonstrated its commitment to continually develop and improve the software to provide recruiters with an ATS that accelerates the hiring process and keeps them focused on the human side of recruiting. For one, recruitment is a data-intensive profession. CATS ATS organizes the data in a format that is easy to consume and understand. Once that data is in the system, they allow recruiters to search and recall that data very quickly. Finally, CATS keeps recruitment teams on the same page. Every action is documented and allows for anyone to know exactly where a candidate is at in the hiring process.

The Inspiration for CATS Software

Sternberg, the president of the CATS software states that one woe, for them was, seeing recruiters get frustrated because job boards were “not giving them enough candidates”. In 2006, when they were a small IT recruiting firm in Minneapolis, they  found themselves frustrated with the same problems. Lack of power, customizability and, ironically, tracking capabilities that applicant tracking systems had at the time. With a strong team background in development, they designed a system that they felt would meet their needs. Over a decade later, thousands of recruitment agencies and HR departments alike depend on them for their recruitment software.

Challenges faced by CATS

When asked about the challenges faced by Sternberg at the start of the company, He states that there wasn’t a ton of money to spend on marketing. As early adopters of SaaS and web-based apps in general, there were early technological challenges of getting CATS ramped up from a logistical perspective. Finally, they began as an open source app, so they definitely had to balance the expectations of the open source community vs their own expectations of how they think software ought to be built. 

Challenges facing now

The challenges faced now are that  there are thousands of players in the Talent space, all offering a little piece of the recruitment tech puzzle. As a platform provider, you have to think very critically about what avenues to pursue. When you come across a new technology, you only have 3 choices: integrate, innovate, or ignore. If there’s value in the product, you have to decide whether to integrate it or to build it yourself, if you think you can do it better. And if it seems like a flash in the pan, sometimes the best choice is to choose not to integrate it. Ultimately, we rely on our users’ input and on our own experience to make our best judgment calls about what to add to the product.

Building a Scalable Recruitment Process

Sternberg’s one of the core philosophies  is scalability, meaning that they value the idea that whether you’re a startup or an established company, you get the same level of service from them at  predictable cost, predictable function, and predictable service. However, in the case of a startup, it’s particularly helpful, because you’ve got 1000 things on your plate. CATS automates a lot of the recruiting process, so that you can get a lot done as an individual or small team, and still have time to focus on other things.

Launching CATS Software

CATS first customer actually were they themselves, and then they shared it with other staffing companies around town. But the big bang moment for their software was in 2006, when their founder shared a question on slashdot, a popular tech forum, about whether it was possible to take our new open-source ATS to market, and all of a sudden they were inundated with hundreds of signups – and lo and behold, they got their answer.

How does a Modern HR Software Suite look like

Sternberg points his finger towards AI , which is being implemented into many systems. We’re probably going to see some awesome job-candidate matching, which will have the great side effect of helping to resurface old candidates. Tech is helping the speed of hiring to increase in general, of course – integrations mean that checks get done quicker, forms get signed faster, etc.

Differentiating CATS Software in a Crowded Market

Sternberg explains that the biggest players in the market have really honed their products for the enterprise-level customer, which means that SMB-to-mid-market companies either end up paying too much for features they don’t need, or get a customer service experience that’s less personal than they need. Their focus, right now, is on building out a platform for midsize staffing companies that provides everything those companies need with none of the fluff.

In addition, one of their company values is “Real People”, and that’s a combination of a lot of little things. Company culture is huge for them. they have a team of people that know each other well – they do a lot of things to bond, like company outings and retreats, as well as happy hours throughout the week. That culture flows into how they do business as well; every customer touchpoint and experience is guided by their goal to be real people, whether that’s on a support call where you get a real person every time, or requesting a new feature on their community page. It’s important to them, as they are in the business of human relations, to remain as human as they can.


Author – Nandu Krishna

Strategic Partnership Lead at Xobin