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Next-Generation CRMs Spark Enthusiasm Among Recruiters


A group of people sitting around a table looking at a laptop.

​Four words reveal Tommy Jenkins' passion about recruitment management software: candidate relationship management (CRM) systems.

"I love the CRM space—absolutely love it!" said Jenkins, vice president of recruiting at San Francisco-based RocketPower. "It has made our job as recruiters so much more efficient."

RocketPower doesn't use just one CRM, either. The recruitment services company has several CRMs, each with their own strengths. In fact, Jenkins said, choosing a CRM really depends on the type of roles you are looking to fill and where you want to reach candidates. 

RocketPower wants to reach candidates where they are, and it uses a variety of CRM tools to do so.

The company uses RecruitBot to scan its database of over 600 million global candidates. Another tool called Gem provides RocketPower with personal email addresses of candidates who don't want to respond to recruiter outreach over their work email.

SourceWhale's CRM tool allows RocketPower to communicate with candidates via text messages, which Jenkins said is important because "if our company is looking at a high-volume recruitment project, many of those folks are out in the field and they would rather be connected over text."

Additionally, RocketPower uses hireEZ, whose artificial intelligence platform helps the company plan and develop candidate communication strategies.    

"Essentially, we have become super users of those CRM systems," Jenkins said. "As super users of some of the best recruitment tools in the talent ecosystem, we are able to provide immediate value to clients that may have recruitment needs and have difficult roles to fill. On those projects, we are able to source, find and fill those clients' roles quickly."

Using CRMs to Broaden Capabilities

As CRMs leverage the latest technology, recruiters and other human resource professionals are viewing the tools as an increasingly important part of the talent management ecosystem. 

Hiten Sheth, director analyst in the Gartner HR practice, said the talent acquisition function has historically relied on the applicant tracking system (ATS) to meet the core tracking, posting and automation requirements of the requisition-to-hire process, but another layer of software is needed as employers compete for talent.

"Talent acquisition applications have evolved to cover a broader set of activities, such as recruitment marketing and candidate relationship management," Sheth said.

As the market increasingly focuses on candidate experience and persona-based design processes to attract and engage critical talent, CRMs' capabilities are increasingly being seen as a "must have" instead of a "nice to have," Gartner research shows.

Gartner defines candidate relationship management tools as software that's capable of marketing to build talent pools, nurture prospects, utilize social media and attract passive candidates. These tools track candidates and use career sites, landing pages, content libraries, chatbots and virtual events to drive candidate engagement.  

When Booz Allen Hamilton deployed Avature's CRM, the consulting firm wanted to add software capabilities to its core ATS, run by Workday. 

According to Melissa Ebeling, vice president of talent acquisition at Booz Allen Hamilton, the company is constantly nurturing its talent pipeline, but it found that Workday's ATS wasn't built to source and manage candidates the way that Avature's CRM does.

Avature's system provides marketing automation that allows companies to design and build campaigns, AI algorithms that match qualified candidates to the requirements in job posts, dashboards and reports for real-time collaboration, and links to communities where companies can find individuals with specific skills and experience, as well as qualified candidates who are members of underrepresented groups.    

"The Avature CRM platform allows Booz Allen to reach potential job candidates through connecting with communities and has the ability to nurture candidates and build talent pipelines and talent communities. We can reach out and potential job candidates can opt in to be a part of our community," Ebeling said.

CRM Vendors Innovate, Make Acquisitions

On the vendor front, several CRM providers are raising money and adding features to their products as competition intensifies.

In April, global talent acquisition software company Radancy acquired Ascendify to boost its CRM capabilities and enhance its approach to hard-to-find talent for its customers. Radancy also acquired Brazen, a virtual recruiting events platform, in October.  

In July, RecruitBot raised $8.2 million in additional seed funding to fuel its AI-powered software as it builds out its recruiting platform featuring a CRM component.  

And talent cloud company iCIMS unveiled its next-generation CRM tools in May. The latest software iteration is designed to help talent teams build automated and adaptive recruitment marketing campaigns and help reduce costs by building talent pools of qualified candidates so that employers don't have to start every search from scratch.

Additionally, the iCIMS software can refresh old pipelines of candidates. The aim is to convert passive candidates into eager applicants with tools that constantly connect with skilled talent.

One piece of the strategy is to target the "silver medalists"—those candidates who nearly got the job—because their skills and experience may come in handy when future jobs become available.

"You want to keep the silver medalist engaged for the future, and keep them actively interested in your company," said Christy Spilka, former vice president and global head of talent acquisition at iCIMS.

She added that recruiters witnessed swift changes to the employment landscape during the pandemic, including a surge in remote and hybrid work. Other recent employment challenges, such as the Great Resignation, made talent acquisition teams focus more on candidate pipelines and engagement.

"Recruiters were caught in a situation where they didn't have engaged candidates at the ready and when they were not expecting it, all of a sudden they had to hire more people," Spilka said.

She added that when recruiters and HR professionals think about implementing CRM software, they need to focus on the entire recruiting life cycle, the components of that life cycle, and what their process looks like today in terms of how they are staying in touch with those silver medalists.

To find answers, recruiters and HR professionals need to ask themselves how they are re-identifying candidates once they have another position open that is similar to one they recruited for before, Spilka said. Questions should include how long it's taking to hire and how long it takes the recruiting team to go through candidates once the job is open.

"Start looking at data and identifying areas where you may want to improve and where CRM engagement and recruitment marketing can definitely help," she said. "Just thinking about that and starting to write that down is a really helpful place to start."

Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.

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