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CareerBuilder rewrites its job description

June 24, 2015, 12:30 PM UTC
CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson

As it enters its third decade of existence, CareerBuilder is tired of being pigeonholed into the role of online job board.

For the past two years, the world’s largest Internet career site has invested substantially—through acquisitions and organic software development—in an extensive suite of systems for recruiting, applicant tracking and workforce analytics.

Collectively known as the CareerBuilder1 platform, the services are already used by close to 1,000 companies. It is adding another 30 to 50 every month. CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson describes the offering as a mashup of job advertising services, analytics and sophisticated search algorithms. In fact, almost 16% of the company’s revenue over the past 12 months came from software applications, he said.

“The move into software as a service was natural for us, because we were always delivering our software over the Internet and dealing with upwards of 25 million candidates each month,” Ferguson said, commenting on the platform’s official launch. “We were able to learn as Internet technology matured, closely track labor trends and build cutting-edge software systems.”

CareerBuilder, which employs about 2,500 people, is owned by Gannett, Tribune Media, and McClatchy Company. Its search technology underlies the career sites for more than 1,000 organizations, including MSN and AOL.

One megatrend behind CareerBuilder’s strategy shift is the tightening labor supply. Close to half of the human resources managers responding to a national survey by Harris Poll suggest they can’t find enough potential candidates when a position opens, even though they might have thousands of resumes in their databases.

CareerBuilder’s new platform enables searches that peek across multiple external and internal sources of job applicants to provide a more unified picture of who’s available, and who’s qualified. The net effect is that recruiters are alerted about existing resumes that might be appropriate for a new posting. You can think of this as a form of candidate remarketing. Right now, at least half of the hiring managers surveyed by Harris don’t have a process in place to re-engage with these individuals.

“Especially in fields like IT or health care, individuals might have added new skills after the initial submission,” Ferguson told Fortune. “Some of these resumes might still be valuable five years later.”

CareerBuilder also seeks to address another reality: the application process at many companies takes much too long in an increasingly competitive job market. This could be discouraging qualified candidates, especially those highly dependent on smartphones and tablets such as millennials.

When Wynn Resorts engaged CareerBuilder two years ago, for example, it took an astonishing 54 minutes to fill out an application. Now, this requires less than five minutes, said Mary Kate Bachand, senior employment specialist for the Las Vegas-based hospitality and gaming company. “That’s a really important number in the world today,” she said. In particular, it ensures that Wynn continues to add to its candidate pool even when it doesn’t have any official opening.

Equally as important from Wynn’s perspective is the discernable improvement in the quality of applicants, which Bachand measures in employee retention. Prior to using CareerBuilder’s platform, Wynn’s turnover was 16.5%; now it’s 13.9%, she said. Wynn has about 154,000 applicants in its database; it typically hires 2,500 to 3,000 people every year across its properties. (Total headcount is 12,000.)

“We are hiring more jobs more quickly,” she said.

CareerBuilder is just one of the established companies attempting to reshape “candidate relationship management” along with the likes of CornerstoneOnDemand, Smart Recruiters, Successfactors and Workday, said Forrester Research analyst Claire Schooley. There also plenty of startups hoping to provide better recruiter intelligence. One example: Connectifier, an early-stage company that disclosed $6 million in Series A funding in mid-June. It applies “Google-style” algorithms to filter candidate searches for the likes of eBay, Netflix, Palantir and Twitter.

Schooley noted:

“The applicant tracking system is becoming a commodity. You should, instead, as an organization, have in place a process to move through the steps of finding and onboarding a new employee. You should be able to put candidates into a talent network, where you can market a future job. … This is a very outward-looking process.”

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