Over the past decade recruiters in many organizations have migrated from folders of resumes and stacks of paper to some type of computer system to help them sort, locate and track large numbers of candidates through the recruiting and hiring process. Today there exists at least three levels of tools for recruiters: Level I tools are simple, non-networked applications for tracking candidates. These are usually software packages sold to individuals and are heavily used by executive search people and individual recruiters. Some may allow rudimentary networking in a small office. Commonly used Level I tools include Excel worksheets, ACT, and Goldmine. These tools do not offer much capability. They allow candidate data and a few key words to be entered for later searching. They also allow the recruiter to keep notes about conversations with candidates. Their weaknesses are many and they are really not very useful in a large organization. They require all the data to be input by hand, are limited in the number of candidates they can handle at a time, are not networked so it is difficult to share data with others, and their searching capabilities are quite limited. Their primary strength is cost which is usually less than $500 and their ease of use. Anyone can buy, install and start using one of these packages in a day or two. The next step up, the client-server powerhouses of the 1980s and 1990s, evolved from the convergence of scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) systems and database technology. The first system was called Resumix which remains a major player in this market today. These level II tools are the mainstay of recruiters in almost all Fortune 500 companies and in many smaller ones as well. They allow resumes to be scanned, faxed, or sent by email or input directly from a corporate web site into a relational database that resides on an internal server. Software also exists on the recruiter’s computer (hence the term client-server systems) to allow him or her to search for applicants using key words and to keep track of where a candidate is in the hiring process. These systems can produce all sorts of reports and allow a recruiter to keep extensive candidate information in an easily exchanged and emailed format. Commonly used systems include EzHire, Greentree, Personic Software, Restrac, Resumix, and Skillset. These systems are networked and can cost upwards of $200,000. Their weaknesses are cost and the fact that each recruiter has to have a copy of the client software installed on their computer. Each software package requires a license fee to be paid and consumes hard disk space. Managers do not have any access to the databases unless they, too, have a client package installed. Everything is controlled by the recruiting department and all reports are generated by request from management. This takes time and may not produce the exact reports needed. Enterprise recruiting systems are changing all of this. At their best, enterprise recruiting systems help plan how many employees are needed and can be afforded, create and manage job requisitions, track applicants as they are considered for open jobs and connect hiring managers to the entire recruiting process via the Intranet or Internet. In addition, they create pages for posting to corporate web sites and to various job boards, allow organizations to post internal jobs on the Intranet, track costs and time in real time and generate reports for management as needed. They can provide tools for screening candidates and for delivering important orientation information. And, they can link to benefits, payroll and career development systems to provide tools and data for retention and promotion. The vision is for these systems to eventually provide automated employment applications and conduct background screening of potential candidates. Early level III systems are just beginning to appear. None of them have all the capabilities I have listed above. However, I believe that most of those capabilities will be available within 24 months – maybe sooner! A recent startup called Icarian is now shipping an early version of what promises to be an exciting level III tool for recruiters. Personic Software is hard at work building a next generation of its already available web-enabled Personic WebBench. If you use Lotus Notes or Domino there is a good early Level III tool by Skillset called the Desktop Recruiter. Restrac and Resumix also have versions available. If you are not using any software at all, you’d better get on the bandwagon. If you work inside a medium sized organization, you really should be looking at level II tools. But, if you are involved in large-scale hiring in large organizations with global offices, the emerging level III, enterprise recruiting tools will be your friend. Believe me.
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