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Of course CRM has it’s roots in Salesforce Automation and is more commonly known as Customer Relationship Management. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s CRM technology boomed, you have probably heard of Salesforce.com. The core functionality of a CRM allows a company to better manage contacts, interactions with customers and prospects, and supports the tracking of sales processes, marketing campaigns, and customer support activities.
During the same period the applicant tracking systems market exploded with new products, all delivered over the web, all with candidate portals that allowed job seekers to apply online and immediately show up in the database. A great way to filter the incoming. But as the War for Talent raged on, the ATS simply did not do enough to support the ever growing need to proactively source and engage candidates.
In order to stay competitive Talent Acquisition leaders starting to apply sales and marketing concepts to recruiting. The three key areas: candidate prospecting, employer branding, and relationship management. So we began to use web crawlers like InfoGist and AIRS Oxygen (which is now AIRS SourcePoint CRM) to gather up contact info and imported it into the ATS. We partnered with our Ad agency to develop an employer brand and marketing messages.  We built out “micro” career sites to target specific types of candidates with relevant content. And we used the “group” features in the ATS to send mass email messages to market our open jobs to candidates.
But all of this was still falling a little short, because spamming candidates does not constitute relationship management.
In 2005 Electronic Arts set out to configure Salesforce.com into the first ever Recruiting CRM (They may not have been first, but they were close to it, and the most widely known). Since then we have seen a proliferation of products with different combinations of the functionality, some calling themselves CRM (like Avature), others Recruitment Marketing (like SmashFly), and Social Recruiting (like JobVite). And what about all those job board aggregators? It can be quite confusing.
So here is my attempt to provide a recruiting industry definition of CRM:
Candidate Relationship Management is a widely implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with internal and external job applicants and candidate prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally recruiting activities, but also for promoting the employer brand, and the development of talent pools or communities. The overall goals are to find, attract, and engage new prospective employees, nurture and retain the candidates the company has invested in but cannot yet hire, entice former employees back into the fold, and measure the return on recruitment marketing and job advertising costs.
A CRM system may include some or all of the following 5 components:

Job Posting Syndication – This includes everything from Job Board Agregation/Cross Posting, to distribution through social networks, and Search Engine Optimization. When candidates click on your postings, they are directed to a specific landing page (see micro sites) and the system will track where they came from – a huge benefit in determining the effectiveness of your sourcing dollars.
Candidate Prospecting: At a minimum there should be an easy way to upload contact information either individually or through mass data import (like from a directory). Ideally this includes some ability to launch a search against internal and external databases, and the broader Internet for specific criteria. The results are automatically loaded into the contact database.  
Easy Segmentation: Either through folders, or some sort of tagging, candidates can be easily grouped into user defined categories. This may or may not include requisition specific folders, but this is where candidates are organized into pools for future contact.
Micro Sites: The ability to create custom branded career landing pages for any given segment with tailored content. There is also a simple and easy way (easier than applying for a job) to capture the job seeker’s contact information, either by signing up for a newsletter, email updates, or joining a talent community (they are not really communities, but that is the subject for another day). You will probably want to make sure that registration information here will flow through to your ATS, however in most cases today, candidates will need to register again when they apply to the job. 
Campaign Management: The ability to launch email marketing campaigns to any of the segmented candidate groups, usually using a variety of rich media. Campaigns can be used to market specific jobs, offer referral bonuses, announce upcoming organizational events, etc. The campaigns can be run all at once or asynchronously where any new member of a segment will receive a series of communications over  a specified period of time. The most important part of the campaign is in tracking the results. You should be able to see who opened the email, what did they click on, did the apply, etc.

In order to get all of the functionality above, you may need to integrate multiple products. One of the most common combinations I have seen is the use of Jobs2Web and Avature, and while there are still some gaps on the integration front, there are several big clients driving the development for the fix.  
While I think my definition is pretty good, I know there is plenty of room for improvement. If you have an opinion, please share in the comments.
 

AuthorEd Newman
Original source article: Inside Talent Management Technology