The Problem with Standalone Recruiting CRM


More and more organizations are moving toward the use of recruiting CRM to increase their pre-applicant talent acquisition effectiveness. This is a good trend. We work with many organizations who are looking to implement candidate relationship management for the first time, and many who are replacing their CRM after initial efforts with another vendor.

One common theme we see is that too little importance is placed on integrating CRM with their applicant tracking system. Typically, full integration means a sync of candidates, jobs, and applicant stages between ATS and CRM. For many who have tried and been disappointed with competitive CRM solutions, the decision not to fully integrate resulted from numerous factors, including:

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  • Lack of vendor support for integration. Many organizations chose CRM vendors that simply couldn't integrate with their ATS.
  • Impatience. Whether it's cost, time, or resource availability, organizations have gone with standalone CRM in order to meet recruiter demand and move toward more relationship based recruiting strategies.
  • Cost/licensing. Some CRMs charge by user license, incenting organizations to try and save money by implementing CRM as a single tool for specific sourcers or recruiting groups, rather than as a tool for leveraging value across their recruiting organization.
  • Misunderstandings about what integration means. Some vendors tout ATS integration but deliver a service-based integration. This basically means "we'll take an export from your ATS and upload it to your CRM on a periodic basis." There's nothing wrong with this, but our experience is that manual integration tends to be limited. Fewer fields are synced. Plus, manual integrations tend to fall off the radar, leaving users and leaders with different info in their ATS than what's in their CRM. That's a problem. Especially when analytics don't reflect up-to-date metrics on source of hire and stage of candidate.
  • Light integration. Oftentimes, integration turns out to be a sync of candidates who have reached the Hire stage in the ATS. This closes the loop on source-to-hire analytics, but only scratches the surface as to what's possible with ATS integration: Full sync of candidates, jobs, applicant stage, and more.

Deep Integration, Light Integration, or No Integration?

Evaluating your need for integration with your ATS should be driven by strategy and process rather than time, cost, or the capability of the system your are evaluating.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we want to be able to market jobs to past applicants? If yes, you could periodically upload applicants from your ATS into your CRM. But this would quickly get out of sync as new applicants enter your ATS everyday. A near realtime sync of candidates with your ATS would allow recruiters in both systems to see current activities and avoid having to go back and forth between two systems.
  • Do we care if applicants get emails from both systems? A near realtime sync of candidates allows for suppressing CRM emails out to candidates that are engaged in the hiring process for the same or other roles in the ATS.
  • Do we want to be able to search past applicants by hiring stage? A near realtime sync of candidates in the ATS allows you to target past applicants who have previously reached late stages in the hiring process (silver medalists).Download Free Predictable Hiring Handbook
  • Do we want a unified view of all our candidates? A near realtime candidate sync allows you to source applicants and non applicants (i.e. downloaded candidates from resume database searches, uploaded candidates from hiring events and sourcing activities, etc.) with a single search. It also allows you to pipeline all your available talent by job family without having to go back and forth between systems.
  • Do we want to be able to pipeline candidates against active jobs? A near realtime job requisition sync allows recruiters to quickly and easily add potential candidates in the CRM to pipelines for current jobs in the ATS.
  • Do we want to be able to invite candidates to apply to current open jobs? A near realtime sync of ATS jobs enables recruiters to easily personalize invitations to apply with live job application links from the ATS.
  • Do we want to know how many of the candidates we engage through CRM go on to apply and get hired? Deep integration feeds apply and hire data back to the CRM to track applications and hires resulting from email campaigns, sourcing efforts, recruiter activity, CRM pipelines, and more.

For more strategies for using recruiting CRM to make your recruiting efforts more effective, download our CRM handbook Predictable Hiring here. Once you know what you can accomplish with modern talent acquisition strategies, you can confidently evaluate whether CRM/ATS integration is the right thing to do with in your organization.

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