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Candidate relationship management: The complete 2021 guide

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In today’s candidate-driven job market, finding ways to attract and engage top talent is becoming more difficult for recruiters. Thankfully, there is a solution—by systematically and meaningfully engaging with candidates, recruiters are able to retain quality applicants and place them in well-fitting roles. Otherwise known as candidate relationship management (CRM), this proactive model for engaging with talent begins early in the recruitment process and results in better hires.

What is candidate relationship management?

Candidate relationship management is much more than just sourcing talent to fill job vacancies. Recruiters skilled in candidate management foster relationships throughout the entire recruitment process, rather than waiting to connect with talent until they apply for jobs. Candidate relationship management (CRM) is the ongoing process of attracting, developing, engaging, and maintaining relationships with candidates through the hiring process and beyond.

When recruiters invest in long-term relationships with candidates, there is a stronger connection between candidates and the organization overall. This bond increases the rate at which top talent applies for, then is hired into, available jobs.

Why is candidate relationship management important?

In a job market where candidates have the advantage of options, effective candidate relationship management is a must-do for recruiters hoping to attract and engage talent. Making CRM a priority helps maintain relationships with candidates and provides them with an experience that keeps them engaged.

CRM Builds Trust

Investing in relationships with those in the talent pool builds up trust between candidates and recruiters. With that strong foundation, candidates are more likely to turn to those same recruiters when they’re looking for their next job. Employee referrals are also likely to increase. In all, HR professionals skilled in CRM have a better chance of filling open positions.

CRM Speeds Up Recruitment

When HR professionals have a wide network of talent they are already engaged with, they have a pool of candidates to reach out to as soon as there’s a position to fill. Less time, and money, is wasted outsourcing the talent search to agencies. With an updated database of candidates at their fingertips, recruiters can easily reach out to potential applicants in no time at all.

CRM Manages the Pipeline

Maintaining relationships with a network of potential candidates means that pre-screened professionals are already in the pipeline the next time a position needs to be filled. Recruiters can revisit candidates they’ve previously worked with, interviewed, or know through networking.

HR personnel who are skilled in candidate relationship management also categorize their contacts by education, experience, or interest. Keeping in regular contact with candidates who meet unique criteria is especially important when it comes to finding applicants for those harder-to-fill roles like STEM or leadership positions.

CRM Addresses Recruiting Challenges

Today’s competition for top talent makes hiring more challenging than ever before. Thankfully, a good candidate relationship management process addresses these concerns. Hiring teams who proactively stay in touch with their database of talent stay top of mind. As a result, recruiters who took the time to maintain relationships will be in better shape to fill positions than those who neglected their candidates.

Some statistics show that candidates are twice as likely to open cold emails if they’ve engaged with a brand in the past, and 66% of candidates feel that interacting with company employees is the best way to get to know that company. Connecting often with potential applicants will provide some of the consistent engagement and insight that candidates need to feel comfortable joining an organization.

Types of recruitment CRM tools

In order to execute an successful candidate relationship management strategy, HR professionals not only need to have a way to effectively maintain, track, and communicate with their talent pool, they also need tools that help them deliver a positive candidate experience through all stages of their candidate journey.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) vs. recruitment CRMs

Applicant Tracking Systems and Recruitment CRM software make up some of the core technology HR teams use to manage candidate relationships.

Basic applicant tracking systems (ATS) are used to manage the application process. Commonly used by recruiters to keep track of applicants, they’re both record keeping systems and a compliance requirement. Unfortunately, the ATS often requires a great deal of data input from recruiting teams. While it can screen and sort resumes, it does not measure candidate engagement, and can be largely inefficient.

In contrast, candidate relationship management tools actively nurture relationships with both active and passive talent. They can be integrated with the ATS to systematically connect with groups of potential candidates and automatically target top talent. CRM tools also make it easier to analyze recruiting data and keep candidate information updated. Better than an outdated system of spreadsheets, a centralized CRM is both more efficient and more accessible to other members of the hiring team. CRM tools are so important that some believe they will manage 70-80% of recruiting tasks in the future.

Other candidate relationship tools

Besides having tools that help maintain candidate information and data, HR teams need to rely on other tools that help them effectively interact with talent by creating meaningful touch points through out their relationship.

With large talent pools they must constantly stay in front of, recruiters turn to automated email platforms to help reach, engage and nurture candidates. These platforms not only help recruiters automate emails at different stages of the candidate journey, they allow them to create highly personalized emails that help foster ongoing relationships. Making use of SMS text messaging or social media campaigns can also be a good way to stay in touch with members of the talent pool. Providing content that is helpful or valuable, as well as content related to potential jobs, will keep job candidates engaged.

Other useful tools, like intelligent interview platforms, will improve the candidate experience once candidates are actively pursuing positions. Recruiters who have a candidate-friendly interviewing process will strengthen their relationship with applicants and deliver more engaging interviews. Great interviews will also keep the best talent interested in a company if a job opportunity presents itself again later on.

Even if an applicant is not selected for a particular position, a meaningful interview experience will make it easier to place the candidate in a role that is better suited for them in the future. Platforms like Clovers have the ability for recruiters and hiring managers to share candidate interviews and highlight reels with other teams and open requisitions for which a candidate might be better suited for.

Top benefits of candidate relationship management

Candidate relationship management is invaluable to the recruiting process. When recruiters invest in nurturing candidate relationships and fostering a positive candidate experience, recruiting becomes a proactive process, rather than reactive. There are many benefits to this proactive approach.

1. Stronger candidate profiles

When HR professionals connect with their talent and take the time to build relationships, they have a better understanding of each candidate’s background and level of interest in potential job changes. Candidates in the talent pool can be categorized based on those data points or others like education or experience.

Having a clear picture of each candidate will make it easier to connect based on current or projected talent needs. Maintaining those relationships also makes it easier to accurately recommend, and hire, top candidates.

2. Applicant pool growth

With an increase in meaningful interactions, recruiters are able to strengthen relationships with candidates in their network. Maintaining strong connections with past, current, and potential candidates leads to a greater number of quality applicants when it comes time to fill job openings. Investing in relationships with passive candidates also proves invaluable when job openings are niche, harder to fill, positions. When there is a relationship already in place, qualified contacts are more likely to apply or refer someone for those positions.

The more recruiters invest in relationships, the more likely they are to know of someone, or someone who knows someone, able to fill the role. The successful recruiter is also able to adjust candidate outreach according to pipeline needs.

3. Streamlined workflow and hiring

At first glance, investing in relationships with candidates may seem like extra work. However, the commitment pays off—with strong relationships already in place, hiring the right candidates can be done more quickly when positions open up.

Tasks that support candidate relationship management can also be completed more efficiently when thought of, and organized, as an outreach system. Setting reminders for communications or sending automated content incorporates CRM seamlessly into the workflow.

For example, text or email marketing campaigns are easy ways to stay in touch with candidates. Providing interesting content—like social media links, professional development programs, or opportunities to connect at virtual events—are also simple ways to increase engagement. Better yet, when content is personalized, branded, and mobile-optimized, click through and conversion rates are higher. All in, a well-executed CRM plan provides a customer-like experience to candidates and leads to better hires.

4. More data for improvement

A candidate relationship management system helps HR professionals assess their recruiting process. When analyzing their candidate network, recruiters become more aware of the diversity of talent within their database. This can be compared to company needs, then recruiters can decide whether or not they need to source new talent.

Measuring outreach rates and comparing them to important statistics, such as time to fill or employee retention, can also help recruiters improve hiring in the future. The quality of candidate relationships can essentially be measured against the quality of hires. Adjustments to CRM strategies and hiring processes can then be made if necessary.

How CRM is changing the hiring process

Everyone benefits from good candidate relationship management. While video interview solutions like Clovers are improving the interview process, establishing a system for candidate relationship management improves the candidate experience before, during, and after those interviews. Having strong relationships with recruiters keeps talent engaged—and engaged talent has the potential to convert to great hires. When recruiters focus on CRM, results are nothing but positive.