Cut & Polish

A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Talent CRM

Talent CRMs can be incredibly valuable—IF you choose the right one. So how do you go about choosing a talent CRM? Here are our steps:

Companies suffer and thrive, live and die, by the collective quality of their employees; so how those employees are discovered, nurtured, and hired is of absolute importance. Having the right recruitment software in place should be at the top of every organization’s priority list; and talent CRMs in particular can play a valuable role. A talent CRM can increase recruiters’ productivity and improve the candidate experience and company brand. It can help foster prospect and candidate relationships and ultimately allow the business to make better hiring decisions. The best ones even help you source candidates directly from professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. So choosing a talent CRM is a critical part of the talent acquisition journey.

That's because a recent Gem survey revealed that more than half (54%) of CRM implementations are failures—which suggests that, while talent CRMs can be incredibly valuable, they’re only valuable if you choose the right one. So how do you go about choosing a talent CRM? Here are the steps to making the right choice:

Reviewing Your Recruitment Process

Talent CRMs typically become necessary because business processes demand them. So whether you’re working off of spreadsheets and post-it notes right now, or you’ve got a CRM that doesn’t align with your workflow, step one is to uncover why your current system is at odds with your process. 

Sit down with your recruiting team/s and document their process. Map out every step (Gem's Talent Pipeline can help you visualize the candidate journey). What tools are they currently using to source prospects, find emails, and perform outreach? What’s the step-by-step of each workflow, and how often do they perform each of these steps? How do they stay organized? How do they know if another sourcer has already reached out to a prospect? Where are they spending the most time? Where are they doing too much manual work, and possibly costing you productivity? How are they keeping in touch with prospects who aren’t ready for change, but want follow-ups in the future? How is your team keeping candidates “warm” between steps? What do your sourcers and recruiters say their biggest pain points are in these processes?

Mapping Your Priorities / Determining Your Requirements

Now that you have a grasp of your current processes and where they could be better, it’s time to establish your requirements and priorities. This exercise will ensure you don’t lose sight of what’s important as you move into the research and demo phases. It’s easy to get distracted by bells-and-whistles and lured in by feature lists; soon enough you’ve forgotten why you needed a CRM to begin with. So: What are the priorities when it comes to recruiting for your company in the next 1-3 years? 

Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to divide it into two buckets: non-negotiables and negotiables. The non-negotiables are the features that, if your recruiting team does not have access to, will prevent them from creating or sustaining the hiring processes they need. The “negotiable” bucket contains the features that would be nice to have, but that you could imagine workarounds for. Think of this second bucket as a wishlist. Maybe they’re the features you won’t need for another two years, and that a provider might be able to build in the meantime. Maybe they’re just the features you’re not entirely certain would improve your hiring process. 

Considering Your Budget

How much you’re willing to invest in a CRM will hinge on a number of factors, including how much of a priority hiring is to your organization. CRMs are typically priced per seat, so you should be clear, first of all, about who’ll need access to the system. Recruiters? Hiring managers? Executives? Who will need to log in to get high-level views of your pipeline and of recruiter behavior? Who can get printed reports from your sourcers and recruiters without requiring a seat?

When working out your budget, account for the costs of the things you’re currently paying for that a talent CRM would allow you to dispense with. This may include job ads, external agencies you’re using for recruiting support, or the salaries of your internal TA team, whose productivity might easily double once your CRM is in place. Keep in mind that a talent CRM is likely to reduce your time to hire and cost per hire. And so on. Putting the cost in the context of your current recruiting spend is a useful exercise—it’s much easier to justify when you see reductions in cost and increases in productivity elsewhere.

Doing the Talent CRM Demo Right

As you research vendors, the shortlisting process should be easy if you’ve identified your requirements and priorities: Any platform that doesn’t have a feature you’ve deemed “essential” can go. If there are a few remaining vendors who can support all your needs, you’ll need to evaluate and compare. That’s when it’s time for demos. 

As your team goes into any demo, remind them to both hold firm to the requirements you’ve collectively determined and keep an open mind—especially if they haven’t used a platform like this before. We are creatures of habit; and it can be difficult to break people away from their established workflows, even when there’s an alternative out there that will make their lives easier. We have a list of questions you should ask a CRM provider during or after the demo elsewhere; but some of the high-level things you should be looking out for include features for sourcing prospects and generating outreach, candidate management and engagement, reporting, and collaboration.

Have an agenda prepared so you can get the most out of your call. Know what needs to be asked, whom the best person is to ask it, and what objections they might need to bring up. You know your workflows and scenarios better than we do; be prepared to ask how each provider would support every possible scenario. 

Choosing a Talent CRM

Be wary of CRM providers who give you a short list of customers you can contact. At Gem, we encourage our prospective customers to reach out via their networks to any of our customers—not just to the first name we give them. Our users stay with us for many reasons; and it’s in your best interest (and ours!) to have as many conversations as necessary to make the most informed decision. So no matter the provider you’re considering, leverage your network. We particularly recommend getting reviews from businesses of a similar size, with similarly-structured TA teams and hiring needs (and loads) that look like yours. You know what a song of praise sounds like; you also know what a red flag sounds like… so listen closely. 

Once your CRM is up and running? Congratulations! Dig in; get to know it; let it become second nature and the most valuable element of your workflow. Because with your newfound speed, efficiency, analytics insights and reporting capabilities, it will be.  

Need more detail about choosing a talent CRM? Keep an eye out on this space. We've got more content in the pipeline about how to ensure you're making the best decision for your TA team, and your organization as a whole.

Questions? Ideas? Comments? Whatever this post brought up for you, we'd love to hear it.

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Content Strategist
November 15, 2019
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