Candidate relationship management (CRM) is defined as the structured process of maintaining a healthy, positive relationship with past, current, and potential candidates. This is done to have to a ready pool of talent for hiring whenever the need arises.
In a shrinking labor market, the typical candidate has evolved from the seeker to the desired. And to attract these candidates, as a recruiter, you must engage in continuous candidate relationship management. We bring you a guide on what CRM is, what its importance is, and some best practices for CRM.
What Is Candidate Relationship Management?
Candidate relationship management is a method by which recruiters define the candidate experience – the overall experience of a candidate’s interaction with a potential employer during the entire recruitment cycle. CRM helps create a talent pipeline that recruiters can use for hiring.
This talent pipeline includes active candidates, passive candidates, and former candidates (who may not have worked out in the past but will in the future). It also includes hourly candidates, remote workers, gig workers, and full-time employees.
Glassdoor says that it costs US $4,000 and 24 days to hire a new employee. But you know that it sometimes takes months to fill a position, and that just adds up to the loss in revenue from keeping an important position unfilled.
Getting to know these candidates better and staying aware of their current employment status is essential for effective CRM.
Consider a campus recruitment drive – you have met some promising candidates there. You may not be able to hire all the promising candidates, but you can use a CRM solution to keep them engaged. When the need arises, you can reach out to these leads before you put out a job posting.
When using a CRM solution, you can also segment potential candidates into categories – marketing professionals, for example. You can then tailor your recruitment marketing and employer branding efforts to directly target these leads.
Now, there are automated solutions to help you attract, nurture, and hire high-value candidates. But does every company use them? Not yet. If you are among those who doesn’t, the next section tells you exactly why you need a CRM solution.
Learn More: What is Talent Sourcing? Definition, Process, Strategy, with Examples
Why Is Candidate Relationship Management Important?
The way a company handles its relationships with candidates directly affects how candidates will perform when they become permanent employees. It determines their engagement levels and defines the employee experience, which begins when the candidate first learns about the employer and its brand.
“In hiring for traditional roles, evolved candidate expectations are sure to shake things up. With more distractions than ever due to an increasingly digitalized lifestyle, the responsibility is on the employer to sell themselves to in-demand audiences,” says Nicole Dorskind, Managing Director at ThirtyThree, an employee branding solutions provider, on how candidates influence recruitment.
Fig 1. Here’s why candidate relationship management is essential for recruiters
Both, the candidate experience and the employee experience can be equated with customer experience. Just like customers are an organization’s clients, so are its potential employees and current employees. Employees do, after all, define the ultimate customer experience.
And this is why candidate management is critical.
1. CRM gives you a head start on hiring the highest-value candidates
Consider this. Your competitor just laid off several key employees. You have been using a CRM solution to build a pipeline of high-value candidates from that organization. You have been nurturing the relationship through personalized marketing and closely following their career trajectory.
If you foresee a layoff or hear about it, you can be the first to reach out to these candidates, who can now become high-value employees for your organization.
2. CRM allows you to build an employer brand worth remembering
The role of an employer brand should not be underestimated in hiring the right talent. In the Glassdoor era, candidates turn to employer reviews much before they contact the organization for a job. That’s where they also go when a recruiter contacts them for a job.
Regardless of who initiates the interaction, you want to be known for maintaining healthy relationships not just with current employees but with former employees and candidates as well. These potential candidates need to be convinced that they are headed to the right place that matches their values, their work ethic, and the kind of work they will be doing.
Using recruitment marketing through CRM, you can build an employer brand worth boasting about, to ensure that you attract the best talent.
Terri Herrmann, VP of Marketing at Montage, in an exclusive discussion with HR Technologist, says that “Recruiters who think like marketers and employ recruitment marketing tactics have the edge in today’s candidate-driven talent market. By placing the candidate first in each recruiting strategy component, candidate interaction and communication, recruiters will not just improve their candidate relationship management – they’ll also be able to better find, attract and engage top candidates.”
3. CRM gives candidates an insight into company culture
Candidates who identify with the culture you demonstrate through the CRM practice become better employees once hired. They are more engaged, more invested, and more passionate about the goals that are set out for them.
4. CRM tells you at what stage of the recruiting cycle you lose talent
If you find candidates dropping out of your recruitment process, using a smart CRM solution, you can identify exactly at what point of the recruiting journey they dropped out. Smart recruiting technology such as a CRM solution records every communication touchpoint with the candidate and captures analytics data that can help you identify what event led to a dropout in your CRM efforts.
5. CRM helps you show that you notice good talent and will nurture it for mutual benefit.
Sometimes candidates are not selected for a job, but that doesn’t mean they should be forgotten. Instead, one of the key aspects of CRM is keeping in touch with such candidates. It lets them know that they will be considered for future opportunities and that they can also make changes to their profiles to come back for a different job.
6. CRM helps you analyze the demographic and diversity of your candidate pool.
This is important as you ensure that your talent pipeline is made up of diverse skill sets and a wide demographic. If not, you can proactively make changes to the pool and target your recruitment marketing efforts towards more specific candidates. A CRM solution allows you to segment your candidates, so you can get a one-stop overview of what your current talent pipeline looks like.
The Candidate Relationship Management Process
The candidate relationship management process is made up of five key functions:
Fig 2. Five key steps of the candidate relationship management process
This is the stage at which you find potential talent through a variety of channels – right from applications that have arrived in your email to job postings to social media to LinkedIn. This data is held in your CRM solution. Recruitment marketing and employer branding will be part of this effort, as will social media recruiting.
When you announce new positions and place them in your CRM solution, it should be able to bring up old candidates with whom it did not work out the previous time. It should be able to also bring forward passive candidates you have earmarked for future reference.
A CRM solution should also be able to record all your interactions with these candidates so that new team members are able to pick up where you left off.
A pool of top-tier candidates should be your first go-to when initiating discovery. Your CRM solution should be able to maintain this pool and allow you to contact them easily.
Talent is attracted through a range of efforts – from recruitment marketing to social media posts announcing hackathons, for example.
You can use this phase also to promote your employer brand through demonstrating the organization’s participation in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, new hires, or major events happening at your organization.
At this stage, remember that you are also reaching out to passive talent that can turn into applicants through your recruitment marketing strategies.
Interested candidates are then filtered, and an engagement strategy is put in place. Regular communication, company updates, and a streamlined recruitment process can be initiated. This includes sending them feedback on whether they were selected or not. If not, providing a reason always helps them build on missing skills that may have cost them the job.
Your CRM should have readymade email templates that address candidates at every step of the journey. This includes acknowledgments for applying to a position, emails stating that they have made it to the next round, or emails stating that they could not make it through the next round. Continuous candidate engagement is critical to the CRM process.
“Candidate relationship management technology is typically used pre-apply to create a network or community of candidates. Technology post-apply should be considered, as candidates want timely and transparent communication. Tools like on-demand text and automated scheduling go beyond the typical email newsletters and correspondence to give candidates real-time responses from the company and overall better experience and relationship with recruiters. Plus, candidates expect a high-touch, high-tech experience in all aspects of their lives now – including hiring,” says Herrmann.
Should candidates not make it through the round of interviews, they are still considered as potential candidates for other positions in the future. They can be recommended about what they need to do to get the position, sent out regular emailers to let them know of what’s happening in the company, even have their birthdays remembered to keep them engaged. These relationships, when nurtured, can easily translate into a potential employer-employee relationship when needed.
Your nurtured leads are now ready to be hired whenever the need arises. With a nurtured relationship, you already know what you are getting into, and the candidate knows exactly why they want to be with your organization. The effort you put into building an employer brand through CRM is what will help you nurture these relationships. The CRM process can help you hire top talent through a thoroughly vetted pipeline.
Learn More: What is Full Cycle Recruiting? Definition, Process and Best Practices
Features of a Good Candidate Relationship Management Solution
To help you make a better decision about choosing a CRM solution, we have a list for you of some of the top features a CRM should have.
1. Candidate profile creation: The CRM allows you to create a candidate profile based on resume data and all your interactions with them – emails, offer letters, assessments, and any other communication. If you belong to a staffing agency and have an external client, the candidate relationship management solution should be able to allow you to share this profile directly with your client.
2. Resume parser: The CRM solution should be able to parse through several resumes in a short period to help you streamline the candidates most relevant to the job you are looking for.
3. Automated workflow: It should be able to automate certain actions, such as personalized notifications via email to candidates after they have uploaded their resume or after an interview has been scheduled.
4. Ratings: You/Managers should be able to rate candidates as per their skill set so that they are prioritized when the need arises. In fact, some solutions allow you to rate candidates based on certain assessments such as cultural fit, giving you an overall rating for their candidacy.
5. Talent pool creation: It should allow you to create talent pools for different roles belonging to different departments in the organization.
6. Integration with ATS: The CRM should be able to integrate with your current ATS and leverage your existing data to identify and source candidates.
7. Reporting analytics: How do you track the progress of your CRM campaign? A CRM solution should be able to tell you which sourcing channels are performing well, how many employee referrals are coming in, whether they are conversion-worthy, how many conversions you have, and so on. You should be able to customize your report and download it in a convenient format such as CSV or PDF.
8. Cross-device functionality: Having a mobile app for the CRM software would be a great option for recruiters on the go. Keep in mind that some platforms do not offer the same functionality on the phone as they do on the desktop. So, the best way to go is to take a free trial and assess all these features before you decide to buy.
Candidate Relationship Management Solution Recommendations
Here are some of the leading candidate relationship management solutions (in no particular order) that you can consider when you begin on your CRM journey.
1. Zoho Recruit
Zoho Recruit’s candidate management solution is extensively customizable and requires a thorough knowledge of the different areas of candidate management you want to access and leverage. You can keep trying the different customizable options until you arrive at the features that are most suited to your requirements.
2. Hire by Google
Hire by Google is an AI-powered tool that serves as a great option for smaller businesses that use the G-suite for their operations. It seamlessly integrates with Gmail and offers readymade email templates for quick communication. By syncing with Google Calendar, it allows you to track your conversations with candidates. In addition, it can be integrated with your existing HCM as well as job platforms such as Indeed and Monster.
Jobvite is known particularly for its social recruiting capabilities, and it offers a specific recruitment marketing and CRM solution and may work best when beginning the CRM process – i.e. during the “attract” phase. From sourcing talent across channels such as job sites and social media platforms, to allowing you to create talent pools and engaging with passive candidates, this tool seems to be a good choice for the first-time CRM user. It also provides a background screening option.
This collaborative CRM platform helps small business engage in finding the right candidates for various open positions. It works well for both staffing agencies and internal HR teams. It also allows you to track sourcing channels and how they work for organizations.
Beamery is an enterprise-level cloud-based CRM software that allows you to track your interactions, schedule and manage interviews, and parse resumes. It can support up to 1,000-users, which means you can use it easily to collaborate with your HR teams in other countries too.
The Best Practices for Candidate Relationship Management
Professional relationships are volatile, and no one is obligated to maintain them without an agreement in place. Yet, recruiters need to build as many relationships with candidates as possible to ensure that they are on the right track.
CRM has certain best practices that should be followed to hire the best talent.
1. Keep expectations real – yours and the candidates’
Overpromising and underdelivering has been the norm in most marketing exercises, and it is no different in recruitment. Candidates are made to get excited about their role and responsibilities, but a lot of candidates are disappointed with the actual job they are hired for. So as a recruiter, it is your task to ensure that you have the right job description and communicate it clearly.
Also outline the job application process and the definitive timelines involved – “you will hear back from us in 2 weeks” as opposed to “you will hear back from us soon.”
2. Keep the promises you make
This involves communicating often and communicating all the important things. This means getting back to them in the 2 weeks you said you would get back to them, and letting them know if there will be a delay in, for example, learning about their application status. Continuous communication is the pillar of good candidate relationship management.
3. Keep all stakeholders in the loop
Candidate relationship management is an organization-wide exercise. Attracting and recruiting talent is no longer just the responsibility of the recruiter. It requires everyone in the organization to be responsible for a) defining the ideal candidate; b) setting expectations from candidates, and c) interacting with candidates to some extent to ensure that they remain engaged. So, ensure that candidates hear from everyone involved in the job between the “nurture” and the “hire” phases of candidate management.
Are You Leveraging the Power of Candidate Relationship Management?
CRM is now imperative because it is a massive time-saver that gives you the edge when it comes to hiring talent just when the need arises. Having a pre-screened pool of candidates can put you in the driver’s seat of recruiting the right person for the job rather than rushing through to hire someone who may not be the best fit.
Additionally, as Herrmann says, “Good candidate relationship management improves your employee brand and increases your ability to attract, hire and retain high-quality candidates. Candidate relationship management doesn’t just cut down on time-to-hire – with increased retention rates as a result of happier candidates-turned-employees, it can also cut down on the number of open positions recruiters need to fill.”
But that’s not all. CRM has another great benefit too, and Herrmann tells us what it is. “Additionally, candidate relationship management works to reduce ‘ghosting,’ an all-too-common hiring phenomenon that notoriously keeps candidates in the dark about their status in the hiring process. When recruiters are consistently communicating – instead of never getting back to candidates – candidates feel valued, appreciated and more comfortable during the days leading up to their start date and throughout the onboarding process.”
So the message is clear. If you aren’t using a solution already, now is the time to invest in one to gain a competitive edge in talent sourcing and find yourself the cream of the talent pool.
Do you use a CRM solution in your organization? How is your experience with it? Let us know on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter!