Why Does Everyone Love to Hate Taleo Applicant Tracking Software?

Remember old school job search, in a bygone era long before applicant tracking software, scanning the Sunday classifieds with a red pen, circling jobs you want to apply for? Filling out paper application forms with a black ballpoint pen, and listening to the receptionist tell you “We’ll call you if they want to interview you.” Or driving from place to place, looking for help wanted signs in doors and windows. Printing and mailing dozens of resumes and cover letters addressed to “To Whom It May Concern?”

Those days are gone forever. Thanks to applicant tracking software such as iCims, Jobvite, and Taleo, applicants can go online and apply for a job across town, across the state, or across the country, right from their laptop or even their mobile phone. Before they do that, they can thoroughly research the company they want to apply to, read employee reviews about working there and benefits and compensation, and even talk to current employees by looking them up on LinkedIn.

Many companies, and especially large national or global corporations, use applicant tracking software like to streamline their recruiting processes. These let them store applications and resumes into databases searchable by keywords and sort them by position and/or skills, as well as other useful features. It’s turned paper applications and resumes into virtual candidate data that’s more easily accessible during the recruiting and hiring process. Great applicant tracking software for recruiters.

Not So Great Applicant tracking software for Applicants

Now, I have no axe to grind with Taleo. But applicants seem to hate it. It’s a very strange phenomenon, given the meteoric growth and seeming popularity of Taleo as shown by sales numbers. Many applicants just abandon the application when they see its Taleo. They go online and complain about Taleo. They feel it’s a black hole that is a frustrating waste of their time.

A little sample of applicant comments about Taleo:

  • When it’s Taleo, you know you’ll be completing a 45 min application.
  • Taleo is just one of the resume black holes. You can apply all you want but you’ll never hear anything in most cases.
  • It’s a clunky system full of stupid bugs, including when you click go back to search results when looking at a job you get kicked all the way back to the first page.
  • And our favorite – the resume uploader that then requires you to enter your resume a second time, piece by piece, into certain special fields.

Are you using Taleo as your applicant tracking software? Is it giving you the return on investment and recruiting effectiveness you need? Are your candidates abandoning your postings when they see the application is in Taleo?

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Taleo Hate

This is how Taleo applicant tracking software is referred to online in different forums and sites:

  • Taleo – Tool of Darkness Wow!
  • Taleo still sucks beyond belief. This sounds like a jaded applicant who has run into Taleo in a dark alley many times and it has not changed at all.
  • I wince in pain whenever I see Taleo. Physical reaction to Taleo. Hmmm.
  • Taleo is my enemy. Its sad when online application system is the enemy.
  • Taleo is the application software from the worst kind of hell. That’s hating, but what exactly is the worst kind of hell?
  • Taleo is a stain on this world. Ewww, icky visual.
  • If Taleo were a physical entity, I would give it a roundhouse kick and then set it on fire. Um, violent huh?

So that’s a lot of hater hate out there for Taleo applicant tracking software. Sounds like a Taleo application is not a fun process. Takes a long time, buggy and frustrating, duplication of tasks applicants have to do to complete the applications.

Why is anyone still using Taleo as their applicant tracking software? Oracle recently acquired Taleo for almost $2 billion, so there is a lot of value in their product, at least for employer and recruiters. Taleo has a feature called Talent Intelligence with embedded analytics, automatic information-gathering throughout the entire recruiting process, and many valuable ways to manipulate and extract recruiting data.

So let me ask you readers…do you use Taleo? Please share your Taleo experiences, the good and the not-so-good. Let’s see if we can settle this puzzling applicant tracking software battle once and for all!


  1. Lamar Smith on September 3, 2016 at 4:34 am

    I hate Taleo. Your resume never gets to a hiring manger. My dream company that I want to work for uses Taleo. I have 36 applications in my jobpage, I was never selected for any of them. I know well over have of the jobs I met the requirements but do to flawed and insulating keyword requirements I have yet to be selected. I can not stand Taleo.

    • Seth R on December 26, 2016 at 11:19 am

      I agree here. Taleo is ridiculous to the core. How many different combinations /customizations for an applicant can ever be there? Instead of a common data gathering front that pulls all data from millions of applicants and then sharing relevant info to companies, instead, it has these boxed deployments for each company which makes applicants do things all over again… again and again and again! Each time wasting an hour.
      So much for ease of use, friendly and all that @#!!!

  2. Chris on September 6, 2016 at 4:56 am

    I simply don’t apply to anything with Taleo any more.
    There have been many jobs opportunity a that fit my resume to a T that I’ve skipped simply because of Taleo.
    Only when k find a job the fits extremely well and is WITH IN A 30 min commute will consider using Taleo.
    Even then I will still try and circumvent it.
    Go to their website /linked in/ anything I can find to contact them directly first.

    Taleo might be great for HR mangers who want to “look” good for their bosses, but I the end they are just lazy HR employees. And when they hire. It’s rarely the best… It’s just the best of who had the time to fill out the 45 min survey.

    There in lies the problem. Those who have time does not Equal those who are BETTER qualified. Chances are of the 75% job seekers who skip this posting the majority are better suited than the 25% that do take the time.

    What’s surprising is that HR departments are still getting a away with a flawed system in 2016.
    If their managers took just 1 minute to google Taleo, they’d quickly start asking…
    Is this good for us?
    And aren’t You just getting a computer to do your job for you?. (And a poor job at that)

  3. Lynnette on September 23, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I have had to create new user names and accounts. For all of the Health industry use them. Insurance companies. It is a ridiculous site. One screen says I have been locked out while it will connect. Even when you use the forgot password and or and put in the correct access code it says it’s not correct.

  4. Brett on September 25, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Taleo still sucks!

  5. Jono on September 28, 2016 at 1:56 am

    Attempted to apply for a job, had to set up an account. Crashed 3 times in a row on first detail page, so left it for the next morning, my account no longer works. Job with major multi-national IT support business, decided I do not want to work for a business that uses non functional IT services. How can you sell IT services when you cannot even support your internal business?

    • Adam Pullman on September 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Jono,

      We actually do not sell or have anything to do with Taleo. We feel your pain though and know that it’s a rough system to work with.

  6. Felipe Díaz on September 30, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    My company uses Taleo and I’m the project manager in charge of it in terms of software tool, not as part of the recruitment process area.

    We have been suffering to tune it once implementation was done. Matter of the fact is it wasn’t intended to work on common companys, let’s say a company that needs to invest on marketing and use job posting pages as its main resource of recruiting (so let’s not considering companys such as Apple or Google where you will spend even 2 hours posting if want to get in).

    That said Taleo isn’t easy to work with as the application flow is a pain, the architecture is not flexible to ensure the needs of most companys and most of all you will have to work a lot and spend a huge amount of money if want to achieve an integration with posting job pages.

  7. John Doe on October 2, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Applying for a job on Taleo is a living nightmare. It takes 45 minutes to an hour, it’s buggy, it’s really easy to lose ALL your work. It’s poorly designed and hard to navigate.

    As a programmer, it’s additionally offensive that whenever I apply via Taleo I have to sign up AGAIN EVERY TIME and create a new full application and profile every time. This is because each employer has their own Taleo site and they don’t share information with others! It’s infuriating!!!

    Why is Taleo so popular? Because the job seekers don’t pay for it, the employers do. I’m sure it’s because of a good sales pitch by Oracle. Employers probably don’t mind it because those who DO make it through the tortuous minefield of misery that is the application process end up with a profile that’s usable information for the employer.

    What is easy, good or desirable for the applicant is utterly of no import whatsoever.

    I hate Taleo with a burning passion.

    • Dan K. on October 31, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      @John Doe

      As a developer, it is additionally offensive. It’s stuck in 2005, before users could sign on with linkedin and aggregate all my data as an applicant in two clicks.

    • Sarah on January 1, 2017 at 8:10 am

      I have to use a new email each time, because I’ve signed up on some of the sites before and it says my email already has an account, and it tells me the username. Then I do the forgot password and it says That email address doesn’t exist. I hate having to create a new email account each time I want to sign into a taleo. I had to stop applying at jobs that use Taleo

  8. Michael on October 3, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Taleo, Kenexa and ICIMS are all equally dangerous. All three have subscriptions to offshore databases, which may include whether you’ve ever been flagged as “do not hire”, outdated work histories, education credentials, credit reports, false criminal reports, lawsuit data, medical and insurance records, etc. When you finish your application the fine print says you agree to share your application with these offshore (read “India”) databases that have no transparency and no means of amending erroneous data. You never get to see how your application is treated in terms of validation, or what your “veracity” score is. For all intents and purposes John Smith may have negative credit, and be a litigious frequent murderer with AIDS and a bad credit rating who is a pathological liar, and there is nothing the REAL John Smith can do about it. Taleo and Kenexa will not allow non-HR personnel to view their products, and all three require a binding non-disclosure agreement to not share information about their products. Quite frankly all three contribute greatly to unemployment, especially in technology-related positions which tend to have higher career turnover. Some day there will be a class action lawsuit and these guys will be knocked down to size. Just because collecting, sharing and using illegal data in India isn’t illegal in the U.S, doesn’t make it ethical or acceptable, and none of it can be challenged legally until somebody in any HR or an employee of the big 3 steps forward and says they intended to skirt U.S. law by going offshore to evaluate you as part of their offering.

    • Andrea Rosss on January 12, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      Michaels informed opinion about Taleo and why we hate it made me laugh, because it was funny and well written, but of course NOT FUNNY, when you really have to use it.

  9. Raj on October 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Organizations need to treat future employees as they do with their customers. Would they put up a Taleo-kind of interface when customers try to engage with them ?!!!
    Please value your and individual’s time

  10. Tom on October 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Taleo is a nightmare from the applicants perspective. If I see a company is using Taleo, I will generally move on. The process is such a pain in the ass – you have to create a new account for each company, the system is buggy and I often have to put information into the system multiple times to ensure my information is captured, formatting always gets messed up so I don’t know what my application looks like to a recuriter/hr person.

    As for analytics, the companies using Taleo are likely getting bad data due to the issues mentioned above. Also, it would be interesting to know the quality of candidates who move on when they see Taleo (vs actually complete the online application.)

    My feeling is that when I run into a company using Taleo; I wonder if their HR organization is really top-notch. Do they really know how Taleo works? Have they used it? How do they know if it is capturing the best talent? In short, I sorta fell that if the HR teams uses Taleo, they are likely not very competent. If HR is bad, it will be hard for the company to attract and retain great talent.

  11. B Vincent on October 28, 2016 at 1:46 am

    As both a hiring manager and occasional job seeker I dislike systems like Taleo.

    As a manager I find these systems a crutch for sometimes lazy recruiters and HR workers. Instead of reading resumes to find candidates with interesting backgrounds and relevant skills for my team and our organization, they let keywords and some silly arbitrary metrics spit out piles of resumes with little relevance. This is not a failing of the software, its a failing of the operators who lean too heavily on the filters. While I believe these tools can be used as a start to get resumes from the right ballpark, they are too often abused.

    As a sometimes candidate, I find these sites demeaning. There is nothing more irritating than submitting a perfectly crafted resume and then being asked to retype the entire thing over again in an unimaginative format along with drop downs designed to simply categorize you as opposed to show your strengths. These apps will often have screen after screen so once an application is started its not clear how long or how many fields it might take to complete. They are about as much fun as filling out tax form.

    Also I cant think of a time that I’ve ever got a call back submitting through one of these online apps since htey cropped up in the early 00’s. Nearly every job I’ve gotten since crossing the professional barrier, has been the result of a personable recruiter working with me and then introducing me to an employer. Its also true that I’ve sometimes clicked on a link for what sounds like a great job and seen one of these meat grinders and have simply stopped. Given the frustration with the data entry, and the poor return on the time invested, these things are about as useful as a lottery ticket for a professional seeking a job.

  12. Urbie on October 31, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I absolutely loathe and detest Taleo. It is not only the worst software product ever created; it is the worst THING ever created by humanity. My experience is the same as that of other commenters — endless forms, stupid error messages, total inability to parse a resume, and the thing randomly crashes, blanks out everything you’ve entered, and makes you start over. I often just do not apply when I click on “Apply Now” and find myself directed to Taleo.

    Also, it is — as others have said — a black hole. I track my job applications in a spreadsheet, and as far as I know, I have NEVER HAD AN INTERVIEW for a job app submitted through Taleo. Why do I even use it at all? I guess it’s like Charlie Brown hoping that one day, he’ll get to kick the football.

  13. Deborah on November 4, 2016 at 3:58 am

    I hope whoever designed the Oracle Taleo system ROTS IN HELL. I just spent two hours cutting and pasting pieces from my resume into their system. I changed one character in my resume and re-uploaded it. Everything I had entered in the Taleo blanks disappeared and Taleo tried to parse my resume and overwrote what I had previously written.
    I am not a child. I have had more than two jobs. I hear HR departments LOVE Taleo because it creates a bunch of reports for them. It may be a benefit to the HR department, but TALEO IS A SERIOUS DETRIMENT TO ANY COMPANY THAT USES IT.

  14. Sales Guy on November 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Taleo must have some handome sales guys or drop dead gorgeous sales ladies that make the pitch for this system.

    When a company decides to use taleo, they are basically saying, we choose to have nice reporting and candidate categorization over quality candidates. Because the most qualified candidates, usually will not have the time to surf job boards submitting 45 minute taleo applications for every job that get’s their interest.

    I bet the majority of the people that made the decision to use taleo at their company, never got hired by submitting an app to any employer that uses taleo. It’s sucks. I’ve only submitted one application (partially) through taleo, and I know my worth. If a company want’s to hire someone of my caliber, I will take 10 to 15 minutes max to submit my resume and information, but you’re going to have to take from there to recruit me. I definitely don’t have an hour to give away just to submit an online app to a company that has not even interviewed me.

    • Tony F on December 14, 2016 at 8:03 am

      At a previous company I was at they chose SAP’s sister product “Ariba” for political reasons. The decision came from the top.

      It’s probably the same with Taleo, since it’s an Oracle product.

      • Bob on January 23, 2017 at 7:17 pm

        Oracle has acquired Taleo on 2012 … so most of their customers did it by choice before the acquisition.

        I actually work as a programmer on the Taleo product. It is very complex but I must admit the management system used by the HR behind to manages candidates is a lot better than the Web application where people apply on jobs.

        By the way I do not work on the Web interface where you apply lol, but I had to apply like this to get my actual job and I must admit it is pretty long and boring to fill.

        Since the HR almost never use the candidate application forms they don’t see any problem in the product.

  15. Blinded by science on November 15, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I’ve been job searching in hopes of getting a new job with my upcoming Masters degree, graduating soon with a good deal of work experience in a portion of the industry already. I got a job before I even got my undergraduate degree through campus recruitment (which required at least a bachelors degree)- almost 9 months before I even graduated. Now, using the same proactive tactics to land a more specialized, in-demand job, Taleo screens me out as soon as I hit ‘submit’ because I get my degree one month from now. I’ve simply turned to finding individuals via LinkedIn or recruiters instead. I’d rather be told no by a person who knows what they’re doing than arbitrarily screened out by a terrible software package.

    Any businesses ever think this whole perceived “shortage of talent” is their own doing because of arbitrary and lazy recruitment tactics?

  16. SSGT Faith on December 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    As a recruiter, I agree. Taleo is pretty awful. On the recruitment aspect of it all, the system crashes consistently, is always “updating” so the system is unavailable for use, etc. As an applicant, every time I see that a company uses Taleo, I skip the application, and look to see if there is an HR Contact, so that I may email my resume instead.

  17. Stop bitching on December 13, 2016 at 6:40 am

    I see everyone complaining about a 45 minute application and in turn still have the nerve to take time out to complain about it and call the hiring committee lazy? Hmm…. how bad do you want the job? Nothing comes easy people. And damn sure not handed to anyone. I found my Taleo experience to be easy. I haven’t looked for a job in years. It just so happens mine is getting cut. Apparently whatever this ‘score’ is that they use, I ranked really high. But I was also honest and have a fantastic work history. Oh did I mention…. I want to work so…. yes I took 45 minutes to apply for the job. No complaints about Taleo just complaints for those who take time to complain about it but won’t take the time to use it.

    • Complainer on December 23, 2016 at 6:15 am

      You havent used Taleo friend. yes I take time to complain. Complaining has changed world. Clearly Taleo is a waste of lot of time for nothing. Especially if you are programmer, you can clearly make out how awful the software is. Clearly companies using it are also as good as taleo. No tech giants use Taleo (google, amazon, MS, FB)

  18. Tony F on December 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Every time I see that a company is using Taleo I think “oh well” and move on to a company that has a more customer-friendly HR/recruiting team.

    Taleo is a waste of time. 45 minutes per application for NOTHING in return.

    I worked for Adobe, but I got in through a contracting agency, so I filled it out AFTER I got hired :).

  19. Alessandro F on December 17, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Want to see real hell? Try to customize that thing with a branding file.

    • sunita on April 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      I hear you!!

  20. Sarah on January 1, 2017 at 7:57 am

    I thought it was just one taleo website, but it seems like every taleo website doesn’t have my password. I put in lost password and it says my email address doesn’t exist, so I try to make a new username and it says my email address already exists. It just goes into a loop..then I ask for my username and it sends it to my email, and it says the same one I use when I try to find my password. So I’m not sure what to even do. I can’t apply to half of the jobs I look at because it’s Taleo

    • Bob on January 23, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      In fact, each enterprise using Taleo have his own list of users/password, so you have to recreate a new account every time.

  21. Mysterio on February 11, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Taleo is horrible! And I thought Unicru and G.A.T.E. were bad! Taleo takes it up a notch. If you aren’t constantly answering the questions, then Taleo will time out on you and you’ll have to restart. Do that too many times, and you lose the “privilege” to apply for that job again. I am a 4.0 student at several different colleges, and I speak multiple languages, and you mean to tell me that I can’t get a part time retail job that pays $10.00 an hour because some job assessment personality test named Taleo says so? Whatever happened to speaking to a HR in person? Have we as a nation gotten so complacent that we can’t even do that anymore? There are jobs that I lost out, jobs where I had more then enough experience to qualify, but I wasn’t allowed in the door becaue of “tests” such as Taleo. And people wonder why the unemployment rate is high!

  22. Geoff Bishop on April 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I despise Oracle for allowing this software to exist. They should know better. I have applied to MANY positions through Taleo, and NEVER ONCE have I received an interview. 9 times out of 10 the system doesn’t even bother to tell you when a position is filled. You spend an hour applying, and then your resume just goes into a black hole, never to be seen again.

    Garbage software, created by garbage people, utilized by garbage companies.

  23. David B. on April 21, 2017 at 2:00 am

    I used to put up with Taleo at times. Then it dawned on me: I never had gotten so much as a phone call or e-mail back for all the times I had applied with it. As others have said, the phrase “black hole” comes to mind. Given that Taleo appears to be a total waste of my time, every time I see it come up, I now just forget about that job and move on.

    My theory is that it sucks for the HR people using it, too. So they tend to ignore it. Thus the only way to land a job at a Taleo-using company is to use alternate channels.

  24. Brad S on December 21, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    I’m back in the job market in 2020, and, guess what, Taleo still sucks. After filling out 20 years worth of jobs, the system kicked me out; I lost everything because the username and password apparently don’t register in the system until you complete an application. I’ll be skipping over Taleo systems from here on out. I swear that in all total I have wasted at least 40 hours on Taleo dating back to about 2015. Moreover, I have never received any interest on those applications. I have 20+ years experience in IT and two MBAs, but Taleo brings me to my knees every time.

  25. Christine on January 14, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Taleo has always sucked. I think I’ve only ever been successful once or twice in making it past the “create username” / “login” page. Doesn’t matter if it is my phone or my laptop, taleo pages DO NOT LOAD!!!

    It’s a pity, because a lot of these jobs have an interesting description, jobs I’m quite qualified for, etc. But if I can’t get into your application, then obviously I can’t apply.

  26. Tina on January 25, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Oh good! I thought it was me! I even tried various internet setting on my system just to apply for a job at a company I love – who’s manager TOLD me to apply! craziness I tell ya! I’ll walk in a resume tomorrow – heck, I might have better luck, the old fashioned way.

  27. Hate Taleo more than Zendesk on February 18, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    I swear Taleo drove me to tears more than once during my unemployment in the economic crisis and I still have PTSD from it. I will not apply to or work for a company that uses that horrible software designed for stupid, lazy recruiters. As a hiring manager, I bypassed HR and found my own people on LinkedIn.

  28. C. A. Strong on November 9, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    After going through a loop of lost username and then lost password, I decided that the company wasn”t worth the bother – unfortunately, I know the company – it is a good one – and I know that I would be reviewed because I know a number of high-quality people in the organization. But this hassle just isn’t worth the bother – I’ll find my next job the old-fashioned way, through networking and real recruiters.

  29. Ana on January 16, 2022 at 1:12 am

    Just left a job that uses Taleo. It was like going back to the dark ages. LOL. Adios Taleo.

  30. Bill on April 10, 2022 at 8:01 pm

    Looking for a per diem gig and so am back in the job market after 8 years. I am shocked that Taleo still exists, and NOTHING has been done to improve it. I need to make a new account with a new email address because the password reset doesn’t work. I have the username. I get the password reset email. The password reset code does not work. I can’t even get TO the nightmare that is actually applying. I’m having flashbacks from applying to 100’s of jobs out of college and spending countless hours duplicating work on Taleo applications. It’s absolute garbage and makes me not even want to apply for this position that I know the company is desperate to fill.