How Important is Recruiting Software in Determining the Success of an Executive Search or Staffing Firm?
Not very! You might find that answer surprising,
considering I am the president of a recruiting software
company. We have been producing recruiting software for 25
years. I have also spent 25 years as a recruiter in the very
competitive Los Angeles market.
I talk to a lot of
recruiters every day who are trying to decide on recruiting
software. There is a variety of recruiting software products
out there and it seems as if a new one pops every other day.
The ERE has a running Discussion group, Finding The Right
Recruiting Software, where recruiters can ask questions and
get advice from each others regarding recruiting software. I
get emailed discussions daily from this group and almost
every time someone mentions software that I have never heard
I get the feeling that many of these recruiters I
talk to every day are on the wrong track. They are looking
for the secret potion that will turn either themselves or
their firm into a super star of the recruiting industry with
the slickest resume database and applicant tracking features
I maintain that if you take a good recruiter
or recruiting firm and make them use bad recruiting
software, they are still going to be successful. Conversely
if you take a bad recruiting firm and make them use good
recruiting software they are still going to be a bad
recruiter or recruiting firm.
When I was still
recruiting during the day and writing software at night I
worked elbow to elbow with fellow recruiters. I used to
criticize the recruiter who was always fussing with the
computer and their files. Do you know why? Im guessing you
think it is because I am so arrogant that I did not want to
listen to anyone elses ideas. You are wrong, although I do
like my own ideas! The real reason, however, was that I knew
this recruiter was never going to be successful and we would
lose money. Time after time, year after year for 15 years, I
found that the recruiters who focused on the recruiting tool
and gimmicks rather than execution failed. Someone once told
me that Vince Lombardi, a very successful football coach,
had only about 6 plays. The success was all in the
The recruiter who focuses on the execution
of the client and applicant call and is always thinking of
ways to improve the call is going to be successful. How you
identify this type of recruiter is the subject for another
So, why have I spent half of my life writing
recruiting software and trying to make it better? Because I
love my work and the creativity of it and I know I can give
a really good recruiter an edge. I know the recruiting firm
will be successful with or without me but I can make a
difference. I truly enjoy working with successful people and
the rewards and appreciation mean so much more to me.
What makes good recruiting software? This depends on the
recruiter or recruiting firm and their business model. There
are a number of good recruiting software packages but
fundamentally the software must be extremely easy to use, it
has to focus on the execution of the client or applicant
call and it has to gather information through, what I like
to call, the natural process of recruiting. If the software
gathers information naturally and easily it will feed into
the critical element of recruiting, marketing!
software must compliment or follow the natural process of
recruiting. Notice I did not say the software must be
intuitive! You might ask what exactly is natural? If your
applicant tracking, staffing or resume database software
requires you to perform tasks that you would not ordinarily
do then you must question the recruiting software. Now, I
have to admit that everything you do as a recruiter might
not be considered natural.
Natural or not, the recruiting
process can be simplified into a few basic steps.
a job order by calling clients and recording the calls for
future marketing and follow up.
2. Research a database or
databases for applicants or referral sources that would be a
good fit for the job order.
3. Call identified applicants
and record calls.
4. Determine the applicant(s) to
present and present the applicant(s) to the client.
Track the interview process to the point of hire and the
applicant starting to work for the client.
only 5 steps! This is what is so alluring to people thinking
about recruiting as a career. But any experienced recruiter
will tell you that each of these steps demands a fantastic
amount of skill, resources and marketing to be successful.
The job of executive search software is to make sure that
each of these 5 steps can be performed without any wasted
motion. Note that my emphasis is on saving recruiters time
and is not on features. I cannot begin to count the features
I have reviewed and discarded. They looked like a good idea
at the time but simply could not stand up to the daily grind
of a recruiter.
I have always said that I could take
six seniors majoring in IT from any university and come up
with a recruiting system in about 6 months. It would then
take me about ten years to make it really work for a
I think everyone would agree that there
are many ways to perform the 5 steps. But I like to think of
them performed in an ultimately natural process. We only
give in grudgingly to the limitations of computer code
making the recruiter do something besides talking to a
qualified applicant or client.
So what would be the
ultimate? Have the recruiter sit next to a phone and be told
or shown who to call and be informed of the full nature and
objective of the call. Have all the information available
that might be needed for the call without doing anything but
talking. Then when this call is finished all the follow up
information regarding this call is recorded without any
effort by the recruiter. Then the recruiter talks to the
next client or applicant. This is the ultimate goal of any
applicant tracking, staffing, recruiting software or
whatever else you want to call it. This is what I like to
call the natural process of recruiting. To me anything else
takes away from the effectiveness of the recruiter.
For example, if using a resume database or any recruitment
tool causes the recruiter to stop at the end of the day to
'feed' the database just to keep the rest of the executive
recruiters, management and himself/herself informed then the
recruiting system is not natural. The recruiter had to
perform a task not related to talking to an applicant or
client. The recruiter had to run back behind the lines,
count noses, inform and organize for the next assault
because the army was in disarray. What if the recruiter
Notice I have not said a thing about
features, even though I have spent half of my life writing
them and continue to write them with all the excitement I
had 20 years ago. A feature is only valuable if it suits the
way a recruiter or recruiting firm works. Also, be careful
that you do not get so dazzled with a feature that it takes
you off of your successful game. The feature must be an
enhancement to what is working for you right now. This is
very hard to see and really can only be determined by using
the product. Be careful of demos as they can be very
misleading. A long trial period is best.
recruiting product fits your natural style and it is a
proven product with a good track record then you are almost
home. Almost? Yes, if the product does not allow you to
focus on using the database of information gathered for a
powerful and deliberate marketing program then keep looking.
Marketing is everything in recruiting!