It’s All About Customer Relationship Management: Some Tips on Doing It Better

“CHARLOTTE, N.C. October 25, 2000 – Nearly eight out of 10 companies are not adequately using their Web sites for staff recruitment and retention, says one of the nation?s leading information technology and professional staffing services companies.” This from a press release issued by the Personnel Group of America on October 25. The release goes on to point out what firms like and others have been consistently saying all year: we as recruiters aren?t understanding how critical customer (read: candidate or potential candidate) relationships are on the Web. Or if we do understand, we are not selling what we know well enough to our management. If so, corporate websites would have a much stronger appeal to candidates and would meet the minimum requirements that I outline below. Yesterday I attended a meeting where an investment banker was discussing the tools of e-commerce. She discussed three categories of e-commerce tools (Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management and Business Process Improvement) that have emerged over the past few years, and, as she talked, it struck me how these apply to recruiting. In this article I will focus on Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and cover the other two in later articles. I have made the case for months now that recruiting has to learn from the e-commerce world and remake itself in a parallel way. Some of you have read my 10 rules of e-recruiting, which are adaptations of the 10 rules of e-commerce, put forth by Business 2.0 magazine. And any of you who are closely involved with Internet recruiting will understand how there is a great need to re-look at everything we do in recruiting and reinvent it. Whether or not we like it, the Internet and our websites are becoming the primary place candidates go when they think about changing jobs. And, when someone sees an advertisement for your company, uses a product or wants to know what your sales are; they go to your corporate website. While they are there, they are potential candidates if you can attract them. So the first tool category of e-commerce is called Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is often referred to as the “front-end” of the sales or recruiting process. It consists of acquiring customers or candidates, communicating with them and building on-going relationships by using email and other communication technologies. In recruiting, customer acquisition consists of understanding what the candidates need and want, generating awareness of your company and the positions you have available, pre-selling candidates on your company, capturing data about the candidates as they use your website, analyzing that data and learning from it to improve the relationship, and distributing that information to the appropriate recruiters or hiring managers – perhaps even in a real time way. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> How do you do this? Here are several ideas on how you can make your web approach much more customer focused and CRM-like:

  1. Incorporate some of these features into your website:

    • A very easy to find “careers” or “employment” or “jobs” button on your corporate home page. I suggest you fight hard for this, if you are having a problem getting the permission to put it on the home page. If talent acquisition is a strategic priority, which it is in almost all the companies I work with, then you should be able to make a strong argument for getting it on the home page
    • A section that describes the culture of your company and what it is like to work there. A couple of good websites to visit to see how this is done: Retailology and Texas Instruments
    • An interactive, personalized information profiler like the one at Boston Consulting Group (
    • A way for candidates or potential candidates to set up an ongoing communication process with you. Asking for email addresses can achieve do this if you also promise a newsletter periodically. Or you can invest in some of the great tools that do this for you such as those provided by
  2. Allow the customer to direct the search process by offering her a choice of information. If a candidate is interested in knowing what someone does day-by-day, or if she would like to know more about the products you make, there should be a quick and easy way for her to find that information. There should be a way to apply without having a resume. Do you know that perhaps as few as 6% of us have a resume prepared and ready to submit? If I were a casual visitor to your site, the chances are pretty high that I would not have a resume. So you need to have a form, or a profiler, that will gather information on the spot. Remember, the best tools allow the customer to interact with the site and thereby have some control over the process.
  3. Capture information about how your website is used and by whom. Get together with your marketing department, because I am sure they have purchased tools that let them analyze traffic to the website. You need to know which recruiting pages are being used the most, which are never looked at, and you need to capture the flow that candidates take through the website so that you can improve it and make it simpler and easier. You can also gather competitive intelligence about employees in other companies. You can see if employees from a certain company are suddenly hitting your site. If so, you can perhaps figure out why and capitalize on that. And, if you do what I advocate in the next step, you can find out who these people are and target your recruiting messages to them.
  4. You need to provide a series of communications tools so that candidates can provide you their email ID for further information. As I mentioned above you can send a newsletter or you can offer to notify them whenever a job with a particular set of skills comes up. You can send them periodic inquires about their status, offer them to return to the site to take a quiz and perhaps win a prize, or let them know when you?ve updated the content.

The whole reason to have a website is not to duplicate the corporate recruiting brochure. It is to build relationships and develop an on-going communication process with anyone who might at anytime become a candidate for one of your open positions. You should think of the web site and the entire Internet as your database. You will always have to develop strategies to attract people to your website, but when they arrive you need to make sure you have this robust, powerful CRM-like tool or you will have wasted a lot of money.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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