“I have a CRM and I know how to use it!” - A really good recruiter, probably.
Recruiting is all about finding qualified people to match open positions. At its essence, the job of a recruiter is to serve as a matchmaker between job-seekers and hirers, to balance two ever-changing pipelines and make some type of lightning strike between them.
This proverbial lightning strike is the act of a candidate being hired, and it requires timing, patience, organization, and lots and lots of skill. The candidate pipeline is perpetually updated with new applicants with a diverse array of skills. The client pipeline, which supplies open positions, is also constantly rotating with different skill requirements, salary ranges, and so on.
It’s tough to get it right, which is why Customer Relationship Management tools (CRM) and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) exist, and why they keep getting better and better.
Why recruiters use CRMs
Recruiters use a ton of different tools to keep track of their various pipelines. One of the biggest ones, however, is CRMs. As a functional SQL database designed for keeping track of many moving parts and data points, CRMs have enough versatility to be a good one-size-fits-all solution for recruitment as a whole.
In order to have a steady stream of open positions, clients need to be communicated with regularly. CRMs are the perfect tool for client relation management, with a range of communication and tracking capabilities, organized pipelines, workflows, automations, and more, that render CRMs instrumental in managing the client pipeline.
CRMs also help recruiters save time is by automating tasks. Most CRMs have personal email sequences that allow recruiters to automatically send a series of emails with standardized messaging, which is great for new candidates, soliciting open positions from clients, and much more.
Tracking applicants’ journeys through the recruiting pipeline is also critical to recruiting as a whole, and CRMs do this phenomenally. A lot of CRMs, like Nutshell (just sayin’), provide a range of stellar reports that can be used to analyze and optimize pipelines and processes in the recruiting space and beyond.
How recruiters use CRMs
Although it’s not abundantly clear, recruiting processes and sales processes are similar enough that a CRM, often perceived as software for salespeople, can satisfy the needs of both industries. CRMs typically have a bunch of functionality specifically designed to serve a diverse array of industries. Some cost a ton, others don’t.
CRMs with forms, for instance, are a wonderful resource for reposting jobs (directly on your website, which is cool), as well as collecting information directly from candidates. Forms basically eliminate the need to solicit repetitive information via emails and phone calls, which opens up a lot of recruiting possibilities.
Recruiters also take advantage of CRMs’ automation capabilities by automating as many communications as possible.
There are tons and tons of standardized messages that need to be sent in the recruiting biz. Resumes, contracts, consent for submission to open positions, retainers, etc., all of which can be automated within a CRM to trigger at specific points in the recruiting pipeline.
And CRM reporting features are instrumental as well. It’s always crucial to inspect any pipeline from the top down, and CRMs make this a piece of cake. From looking at reports regularly, recruiters can see which parts of their candidate pipelines and client pipelines aren’t functioning as they should.
Reporting also helps identify which clients are good clients, which recruiters are filling positions, and any trends that may arise within a specific recruiting organization’s pipelines.
Essentially CRMs serve to manage the two recruiting pipelines:
Pipeline one: Candidates and applications
The first recruiting pipeline serves to manage the ever-changing talent pool. The talent pool is the current accessible market of candidates, and keeping track of every single one is no easy feat.
Fortunately, software like ATS systems and CRMs both solve for this by allowing recruiters to make a new entry in the database for each person, and document their associated data (skills, requirements, education, location, preferences, etc.) on their profile in the system.
CRMs also allow recruiters to attach candidates’ resumes directly to their profiles as well. Having the resume accessible on-hand is great for doing candidate phone calls, communications, and also for attaching the resume to emails to submit to clients.
The various ways of viewing data in CRMs are also useful, for instance, a skill (or any data point) is something that can be searched directly within the system, making it easy to parse big lists of candidates with a diverse set of data points.
For instance, if trying to find a candidate with SQL skills, a recruiter might start the search by typing SQL into the CRM search bar and exporting the results.
At the end of the day, this pipeline serves to manage all of the candidates that a recruiter might want to submit to a client. If it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it doesn’t matter how many open positions there are, there will be no applicants to match them with.
Pipeline two: Clients and open positions
The second pipeline is the business development pipeline. It is often referred to as the client pipeline, which implicitly highlights the contrast against the candidate pipeline.
This pipeline literally serves the function of new business development, which is a standard practice performed by business development representatives in any industry. Sometimes the goal is to secure investors, sell a product, or score a work contract.
In this case, the goal is to garner open positions that can be staffed with applicants from your recruiters, who become employees at the client’s company. If this pipeline isn’t functional and the open positions stop flowing, all the applicants in the world can’t help, which is why it’s important to keep both pipelines healthy.
The client pipeline is almost always serviced by a quality CRM, which helps BDRs and recruiters keep track of open positions, client communications, and all of the clients’ needs in one place.
Furthermore, since this is often a collaborative process, CRMs with team collaboration tools built-in are instrumental in preventing wires from getting crossed, communications from being duplicated, or any members of the business development team being left in the dark on the status of a lead or deal.
A final important point on the client pipeline is that it absolutely needs to remain up-to-date at all times in order to approach clients and candidates alike with the most relevant information.
What is an applicant tracking system?
Technically speaking, an applicant tracking system is quite similar to a CRM. They’re almost entirely the same software—a SQL database at its core with a neat UI—but branded differently and fitted with industry-specific functionalities. CRMs typically lean in the sales direction, and ATS systems lean in the recruiting direction.
ATS systems and CRMs both serve as a repository for candidates and their pertinent information. They both allow each person their own “page” where all of their skills, employment history, and current information is viewable like a hub. Furthermore, both systems allow for attachments to be uploaded such as resumes and employment documents.
Another critical feature that both systems offer is the ability to search the system quickly with keywords, making finding applicable candidates an effortless experience.
The most commonly used feature that both systems possess is the ability to keep notes on each candidate throughout the recruiting process. Notes can be for feedback, reminders, or anything pertinent to the candidate (or client), and are viewable in real-time by all members of the team.
Applicant tracking systems versus CRMs
CRMs and ATS systems have a lot in common but there are a few key differences, including:
- ATS systems are geared towards recruiting, CRMs are open-ended
- CRMs offer more general-purpose functionality
- ATS systems often manage the application process out of the box
- Some ATS systems can manually create candidates from a resume