wtaw13_introIf there’s one thing recruiters and talent practitioners place a premium on, it’s the tools of the trade. And not a day goes by, it seems, without another “killer app” for recruiting, carrying with them the same hollow promises that they’re somehow going to make the business of hiring easier. “This one is going to solve everything your system sucks at!” “With this tool, you’ll never miss your quarterly goals again!” “This tech is going to revolutionize recruiting.” 

Or, my personal favorite, “hire better talent faster,” which is, pretty much, the tagline for every tool on the market – although the proliferation of tens of thousands of these platforms doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact on efficiency and efficacy at most of the employers betting the farm on the next new thing – the one that’s going to change everything.

Recruiting Tools: Same Stuff, Different Day.

Of course, nothing changes – which is why, at this point, with the daily deluge of new product announcements, you can’t help but feel the software fatigue settling in in the industry.

Take CRMs, for example. There are literally dozens of new recruiting focused candidate relationship management point solutions and SaaS suites flooding the market, but despite their efforts to make their offering stand out or seem special, there’s never really anything that’s particularly great (or unique) about any entrants in this category, really.

They all accomplish the same end goal in the same way using more or less the same processes and pricing models, and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference besides maybe the UI/UX or some unnecessary bells and whistles being touted by product collateral collateral.

Of course, if you’re at a company saddled with legacy, archaic on-premise systems, you still have some sort of way of driving the same end results as the sexiest of CRM software, even if it’s just Excel. The best tech in the world won’t fix lazy recruiting or talent acquisition capability gaps, no matter what tool you use – it’s all marketing smoke and mirrors, really.

For example, almost every employer has a reliable (I didn’t say awesome) applicant tracking system (ATS) or a talent management system (TMS) or a human capital management system (HCM), or some combination thereof. We use and complain about these systems of record daily, but you’d be hard pressed to find a recruiter who could tell you what the hell the difference between these tools is, exactly. No matter how many blog posts or product marketing one sheets they happen to have read.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the tech iceberg. In recruiting, most of the focus and fixation on tools happens before candidates even enter these systems, which is why so many vendors focus on sourcing related stuff like SEO/SEM, semantic search, profile aggregation, talent communities and a bunch of other buzzwords that are more meaningless to most of us than your average Boolean String. Although those, at least, have a little bit of value – not so with most of the “tools” that seem to be monetizing what anyone with a little training and effort could figure out and do for free.

And don’t even get me started on big data – you know it’s a big deal, but haven’t been able to figure out exactly how to make it useful or workable, which is why so many vendors have stepped in offering solutions to a problem that might not even actually be a problem.

That’s the funny thing about analytics – if you’re on the market for a relevant tool, then chances are you’re not going to be able to analyze the efficacy of the business cases or case uses being touted by potential providers. Sucker.

The Real Recruiting Tool: HR Technology or HR End User?

publicserviceannouncementFor all the bells and whistles being touted by the average recruiting tool, there are many situations where, even in today’s constantly connected, technologically world of work, where recruiters are forced to go old school – no matter how advanced their systems might be.

Let’s take the example of working a job or career fair, where after a day of standing behind a booth, you’ve gotten a big old stack of resumes, dozens of people signing up for additional career information and probably a handful of cards from some of the other employers in the room, too.

You’ve made the time and resource investment in attending – and it’s paid off with a pool of potential candidates.

But unfortunately, you’ve got nothing but a pile of paper to prove it. The most expedient solution for dealing with this data is by simply sticking it on Excel – putting this info into almost any system is a pain in the butt, no matter how much time it purports it’s going to save you. But even that’s a pain in the ass when you get back to the office, so you probably hand it off for someone else to upload in there – if you do anything with that data at all – and promptly forget all about them, consigning these leads forever into the proverbial black hole of your recruiting system.

Of course, they’re likely already there since, you know, you told all of them if they were interested they’d need to go to your careers site and apply online anyway; problem is, once they get in the system, they’re free to self-select any source of hire, even if you gave a special code or submission URL to candidates at the event. But since they know that a job fair isn’t the most enticing source, they’re more than likely to choose whatever on the drop down menu they’re provided makes them sound the coolest or the most viable for any given opportunity.

Then, when your boss asks you how the career fair went, you tell him that it was pretty good, and you got a lot of candidates – and probably have the spreadsheet to prove it. Of course, there’s no way to track what happens next on a static document like a spreadsheet, meaning you actually have no idea how the career fair went, or how the ROI looks for the resources and budget you invested in attending. Which is kind of a major fail.

Never bring Excel to a CRM fight. You’re going to lose.

If you’ve spent a boatload of money on a system to automate or optimize your recruiting processes, but still rely on stuff like Excel or even your inbox to track submissions, candidate activity and notes outside of your system simply because it’s easier that way, you’ve screwed up. Because you’ve spent so much time thinking about all these tools, and sunk so much money into their false promise of making your life easier, but you’re still stuck in the same manual processes and paperwork as before.

Now, who’s the tool?

The Case for A Recruiting CRM

duhI’m sure you probably feel the cortisol stressing through your veins when you think about software and systems – for those of you unfamiliar, that’s the hormone that your body releases when it’s under stress; enough of it is potentially lethal.

And judging from the tenor of most recruiting technology related conversations, and the sheer antipathy most feel towards their systems, there’s a chance that HR tech could literally kill you.

The many physical illnesses and maladies directly linked to stress are all caused by bitter, bitter cortisol, and if you’re being stressed by your system, you’re basically punishing your body. And those days when the cortisol really starts pumping in full swing, it actually impairs mental performance, meaning that it’s true – technology actually CAN make us dumber. This seems to be the case when it comes to recruiting tools.

So, how do you get smart and choose the right tools, avoid spreadsheets and stop using paper-based processes even if you’ve got a system of record that’s supposed to handle this stuff? The answer for improving the plan for next time is simple: you need to start using a recruiting CRM. 

Avature, Smashfly, Salesforce, Bullhorn CRM – it really doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as you choose one. The real due diligence is in learning how to get the most and maximize your investment in the tool that you ultimately go with – which provider that is, largely, is irrelevant (as is the case for most categories in HR Technology).

Once you start using one and get the hang of it, you’re going to look like a recruiting rock star – even if you’re not particularly proficient, everyone’s going to at least be enthused at what a great job you’re doing, particularly compared to the traditional results generated by spreadsheets and other manual, paper based processes.

You’ll stop fueling the cortisol and start triggering serotonin instead – the hormonal reward your brain gives you for a job well done. In these cases, HR technology can literally be a drug – and a fairly fun one, at that.

With a recruiting CRM fully up and running, you and every member of your recruiting organization can seamlessly share notes, track candidates, develop and nurture leads and document activity collaboratively and transparently across your entire organization. Initiatives like career fairs or online campaigns can actually be tracked without having to actually do anything – and when your boss asks how an event went the next time, you can bust out the fancy numbers to prove exactly how it performed.

You’ll be able to easily figure out how many candidates or leads you collected, where they are in process and how many hires it created (and how fast those hires happened and what they cost). Now, that’s big data beyond the buzzwords and BS. The best thing? You don’t have to do anything, really – the right CRM is the gift that keeps on giving for recruiting and talent acquisition. Added bonus: you get to kiss Excel goodbye for good.

If you’re having trouble attracting talent, don’t look for tools as a stand alone solution – look at what you’re trying to get these tools to do. If the other recruiters in your organization are total idiots, you can’t source the right candidates to save your life or your compensation doesn’t stack up against the competition, then forget the system – you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

But if your goals are incremental improvements in your recruiting ROI, adding CRM capabilities remains an imperative first step to success.

Gotta Get ‘Em Integrated: Talent Search Engines & Recruiting CRM

47849432So, now that you’ve got the CRM implemented and fully integrated into existing systems and processes, you’re probably proud of your progress – and demonstrable results. In fact, the time savings created by automating and scaling these formerly manual, paper based processes means suddenly, you actually have time to invest in proactive pipeline building and intelligent sourcing. Which is way more fun than spreadsheets, any day – unless, you know, you’re a complete Luddite, Boomer or HR Generalist.

It’s rare that CRM and sourcing are discussed in tandem, but they’re both integral parts of a successful recruiting strategy. That is to say, once you find the leads, you’ve got to have something to do with them. You know, that whole candidate experience thing.

Of course, most of the time, sourcing is just as manual as any paper based process – it’s done outside those expensive systems, is often done manually or in a way that can’t be scaled, and entering profiles or resumes found through sourcing takes just as much work as entering in the ones you find from a job fair (albeit these candidates are much more likely to get hired, since they’re not, you know, totally desperate).

That’s why talent specific search engines, like HiringSolved (or its litany of competitors), are such an obvious solution – and exploding category – for talent organizations today.

So how do you get these two technologies to work together?  How do you connect sourcing and CRM? The answer is simple: while it doesn’t matter what CRM you choose, choose one that integrates with your other system, so you have all your results all in one place, actually automated processes and a single, simple way of finding, tracking, engaging and converting top candidates into new hires. A CRM and a talent search engine? Now, you’re cooking with fire.

There’s no reason for these two solutions to be separated – and in fact, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not pointing these point solutions in the right place through the right integration. And the right integration is something that’s already built and ready to plug, play and start kicking some recruiting butt.

A few options for this silver bullet exist on the market, which is why I was so excited today that talent search engine HiringSolved, a people aggregator that gathers data from across the web and filters the most relevant results for sourcing talent, has announced they’ll be integrating with recruiting CRM leader Avature, the first integration of its kind for one of the most widely used tools in this category.

According to the press release announcing the integration, “The move allows recruiters on Avature’s system to instantly import candidate data from an embedded HiringSolved search and use it with their talent management tools without having to leave Avature’s familiar interface.”

That’s a bunch of buzzwords and marketing speak, I know, but here’s the thing. It’s so damn easy. I love it. You will, too. Which is why I really, really think it’s worth checking out – and of course, while I’m a little biased, my background isn’t in recruiting. It’s in technology.

And from that perspective, I promise once you get under the hood, this is one solution that’s pretty bad ass. OK, that’s my sales pitch – but objectively, no matter what software you choose, if you’re not integrating social, search and CRM in a single solution, you’re making your job a whole hell of a lot harder than it needs to be.

And you just can’t excel by relying on Excel.

Chris_headshot03About the Author: Christopher Murray is a growth hacker at HiringSolved. He’s also a Gangplank Chandler community member and volunteer where he supplies a weekly newsletter and blog. When he started with HiringSolved in November 2014, his knowledge of sourcing, HR, and Recruiting were at first based on frantic Google searches and blog skimming. However, he has since been able to immerse himself in the knowledge of the space and continues to gain insights to help him form opinions.

Christopher has a strong background in freelance writing, hacking, and marketing. His duties at HiringSolved include site content growth, writing patents & press releases, conducting email blasts, and charting their marketing trajectory in the new media landscape.