The recent economic slowdown has caused some significant reactions by recruiting departments – many of which seem to be knee jerk. Advertising budgets are being cut, contract recruiters eliminated, and, in many cases, full-time recruiters laid off. The result is that many of the remaining recruiters are as frenzied as they were during the height of the hiring boom. Just as recruiters were hoping for the time to serve their clients more thoroughly, and possibly leave the office at a reasonable hour, they now have picked up all the work of their former co-workers/contractors. While these recruiters may have fewer requisitions to fill in total, the number of clients they are supporting and disciplines they need to recruit for has increased, putting them in a position that is equally as challenging as it was in high growth times. In the past, when crunched for time to source candidates, recruiters turned to agencies for support. Now, with slashed budgets, that option is gone as well. On the flip side, some companies have been fortunate enough (or forward-thinking enough) to be able to keep their staffs intact during this period of slower hiring. These companies are utilizing their recruiters’ time for special projects that will help cut costs, improve efficiencies, and foster employee retention. Their recruiters are working on projects like agency reviews, new-hire orientation programs, and revamped employee referral programs. In both situations, recruiters are looking for ways to save money and become more efficient. But whether you are the recruiter who suddenly has minimal support and more clients to service, or the recruiter who is working on a special cost-reduction project, the first place to go to achieve your goals is literally right at your fingertips. Over the last several years many companies have implemented Applicant Tracking Systems, candidate management systems or other sourcing/screening tools that have not been used to their fullest capacity or for the purposes for which they were intended. Now more than ever is the time to embrace their functionality. Log on to your current recruiting technology tools. Explore their functionality, test their options, search their databases, create and analyze some reports. You will be amazed at the results. In some cases you may even become the company hero by uncovering untapped candidates or producing actionable reports that lead to thousands of dollars of savings for your company. As an industry consultant, I have had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of recruiters from organizations as diverse as Fortune 50 corporations, small start-ups, government agencies, and non-profits. The breadth of recruiting technology they use is equally diverse. I am amazed at the polarization of opinions on the effectiveness, ease of use, and total value of tools companies have implemented. When I talk to recruiters within the same companies their opinions about these their tools are often so different that I feel like I am talking to people from different planets. Some of the “water cooler” conversations I’ve heard include things like:
- “The system is too cumbersome. I get my work done faster on my own.”
- “It takes me too long to go through all the steps to post a job through the system. That’s a waste of my time.”
- “The prescreening system is supposed to give me more qualified candidates. I have not found that to be true so why bother….”
From within the same organizations, I’ve heard the following positive comments:
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- “I almost paid an $18,000 fee for a candidate but then for some reason I decided to log into the candidate management system. By re-sorting the candidates that had applied through our website for a different but somewhat similar position, I found the perfect candidate. I now have that $18,000 to spend on a situation where I really need it. I used to be a skeptic. Now I am addicted to using the system.”
- “I am way more organized than I used to be. Every morning I log in and know exactly what my candidate calls need to be, which managers I need to follow-up with, and who has recently applied to my positions.”
- “My time to hire has decreased from 54 days to 41 days, which translates to dollars in recruiter’s and hiring manager’s time as well as increased company profitability by having an employee productive over two work weeks faster than before. If you multiply that by over 1000 new hires a year, there’s a lot of money to be saved. The system has more than paid for itself.”
There seems to be a direct correlation between product satisfaction and product usage. While I have no hard statistical support for this, it appears that those recruiters that take the time to learn the functionality and make a habit of using the systems find that systems help them support their client’s needs better, follow-up with their candidates faster and spend less money in sourcing and search fees. One anecdote I’d like share is from a corporate recruiting manager in a large multinational corporation. One of his recruiters, a self-proclaimed non-user of the new CMS system, submitted an invoice for a search fee on a technical candidate he just hired. The name being familiar, a second recruiter jumped on the system and did a search on the candidate. What he found was that this particular candidate was already in the database through a direct application on the company website and through an employee referral. The end result was that the company had to pay the search fee and the employee referral fee. To me that is a travesty! Situations like this demonstrate that using these systems not only saves money that can be used for other things but also helps not waste money uselessly. The recruiter responsible did not lose his job, but he certainly lost credibility with the hiring manager who had to pay the bill. So, what’s the point of all of this? Take the time to play with the system functionality. At first, it may be frustrating but then it becomes really easy. I remember the first time I used Word. All those icons were confusing. I couldn’t indent things. I didn’t know how to change fonts. I couldn’t put a header or footer in place etc… Now, if I had to go back to pen and paper I would be lost. I guarantee that the majority of you recruiters will feel the same after just 1 month of dedicated usage to your company system. Granted, all systems are not perfect. They all have their bugs, and some features are a bit cumbersome or do not fit exactly with the way you are used to recruiting. Don’t give up. Don’t let those few frustration deter you from using these systems. The payoff in time and savings will happen if you are dedicated to exploring, learning and trial and error. But remember, technology does not actually do the recruiting for us. We still have to sell candidates on the opportunities, make lots of phone calls, meet with hiring managers and generally provide a high-touch service. For those pieces of the process that can have a lower touch component, technology does wonders. It allows us to more effectively source within our own databases, filter the highest potential candidates through the initial pre-screening component, to produce actionable reports and metrics, to more effectively write and maintain requisitions through templates, launch job ads more easily, and more. Taking advantage of these tools will free up time for you to provide more high touch service. If you are the type of person that needs to ease into a system, then I recommend the following as your top priorities:
- Before posting a position, search the database for candidates that may have applied to other positions or to your website in general.
- Work closely with the hiring managers to determine the highest priority filters to include in the pre-screening component. Expose them to the system as well so you can work together to the most valuable information.
- Explore the tool. often we don’t know what we don’t know. You may discover that you can post to some new sites through the system or that the communication tool is easier to use than anticipated.
- Ask questions. Seek guidance. Most vendors provide free customer service. Call them and get help with the functionality.
Once you’ve started to use the system, make use of the reporting tools. You may have a big story tell and you may become the recruiting department hero. Imagine, you could become the poster child for internal savings and recruiting efficiency. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>