Recruiters take it for granted that the technology to manage the three-way relationship between clients, candidates and themselves should be simple and intuitive; and so they should. Despite the complex web of communications between these three parties growing exponentially, we assume that any system should stand up to regular and flagrant abuse, and yet still know what we want, when we want it. Given our experience of the gargantuan relational databases used daily in the social media space, then surely a typical small recruitment agency dataset would be a doddle?

Let me be totally clear on what I mean by a recruitment CRM. The “C” for Client Relationship Management, must also be interchangeable with “C” for Candidate. Uniquely, in recruitment firms, candidates very often are or become paying clients in their own right. In addition, the responsibilities all recruiters have to candidates means that they are more than just commodities. The complex nature of communications with both clients and candidates dictates that in 2013, not only is recording every interaction essential, but also that the tools exist to read the data in far more intelligent ways.  Going into 2014, the bar has been set even higher, and there are new entrants to this highly competitive sector, including yu:talent, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.

Are recruiters and agency owners being reasonable, or unreasonable? Honestly, I would argue both. In the absence of interfering, obstreperous, forgetful, awkward and downright obdurate human beings, any system can be shown to work like a charm. Insert your average recruitment consultant into the ix (with those same qualities), and before you know it, cries of “Who wrote this piece of crap” and “Why won’t it just let me send a bleeding CV?” are to be heard around any agency office.

I know, because I’ve been there. From a system perversely called Talent on an AS400 server in 1990, then studying Borland Paradox intently, through the beauty parades of buying for my own agencies, to being on the verge of throwing PC screens across a room in frustration.  I know only too well that agency owners can be sold on a dream of IT perfection, only to later find their recruiters will do anything to avoid using the damn thing! In all this time, I have learned that by far and away the most important factor, which affects the successful implementation of any recruitment CRM system, is the active engagement of not only the agency owner and supervisors, but particularly the front line recruiters themselves.  Put simply, a great system can be trashed in a trice by recruiters from the awkward squad. Conversely, even a pig of a CRM can be made to work by a team of dedicated recruiters intent on doing so, and who don’t mind working around its many foibles.

So, just as buying an Aston Martin does not make you a great driver, a top of the range CRM will not necessarily produce great recruiters. However, with good training and a little commitment, it will enrich most recruiters, and enable the very best to reach their full potential.


Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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