Best PracticesTalent Leadership

Here’s why you should run a CRM with your ATS

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

June 28, 2021

When used with an ATS, a Candidate Relationship Management platform can help you build stronger connections with talent to improve the candidate experience and diversity within the workplace.

It’s important to avoid cutting corners when assembling a recruitment tech stack. After all, your tech stack serves as the foundation of your hiring process; and your hiring process is what gets your org the only resource that matters: the people who make your company tick. Implementing the right tools can make or break your recruitment strategy. The good ones get you access to top-tier candidates and centralized candidate data, enhance your candidate experience, and keep your recruitment pipeline flowing.

Combining an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and a CRM (Candidate Relationship Management) tool can have major benefits for recruiters. With a good ATS, you’re able to track a candidate through the entire hiring process, from application to offer. Of course, the best teams already know this; and they’ve got an ATS at the center of their tech stack. But for many teams, an ATS is all they have—and it has its limitations. The biggest one? An ATS only tracks talent that has applied to your org. Combining it with a CRM, on the other hand, allows teams to keep in constant communication about current and future opportunities with all talent. What’s more, a CRM can help you secure diverse talent through targeted messaging and recruitment campaigns.

ATS vs CRM - what’s better? 

Okay, that’s a trick question! As far as we’re concerned, both solutions are critical to any modern recruiting function. An Applicant Tracking System allows recruiters to collect and organize job application data and provides them with insights about where candidates are in the hiring process. It organizes job postings, processes resumes, schedules interviews, and manages onboarding once candidates are hired. In between all that, it tracks applicants as they move through the stages of your hiring funnel. In short, it’s essential for any talent acquisition team (which is all of them) that needs a central repository for—and visibility into—every candidate who is at some stage in their hiring process. 

But classic ATS solutions reach their limits on a number of fronts—which is where CRMs come in. For one, they only give you data that candidates input themselves, rather than information you discover about them. They don’t give you visibility into whether prospective candidates are active or engaged, or let you track respondents or attendees to events (folks who are clearly interested in you but haven’t applied) so you can nurture more passive relationships over time. And if you have harder-to-fill roles—think leadership roles or diversity hires—for which you’re not exactly seeing a deluge of applications, your ATS won’t help you there, either. You need a solution that will set your team up for proactive outreach, so they can build a pipeline of passive, vetted talent—which means you’re not scrambling when that next role opens. 

Candidate Relationship Management is designed to help recruiters build stronger relationships with potential candidates. If an ATS is used reactively to respond to candidates’ applications, then a CRM is used as a proactive building block for communication between the employer and candidate. With a strong integration, the CRM-plus-ATS gives you a complete view of your entire funnel, from reach out all the way to offer-out. 

Improve your candidate experience with a dedicated CRM

95% of hiring is done to fill existing vacancies within a company, and most of those vacant positions are due to voluntary turnover. Poor employee retention and a lack of qualified candidates in the pipeline are some of the main reasons companies struggle to fill positions while keeping time-to-hire low. That’s why progressive companies have adopted a “sales model” that seeks out and nurtures the best talent to build ready pipelines of candidates for when those roles open. Instead of being completely reactive to applicants and slowly taking them through the hiring process, an approach to talent acquisition that provides real value to its organization anticipates the future (by preparing for those vacancies) and builds relationships with the best talent out there—not just with the talent that happens to be looking

Instead of letting qualified talent slip through the cracks when an opportunity and timing don’t align, a CRM puts hiring teams in power to nurture and communicate with candidates about future positions—ahead of demand. That includes former silver medalists. It includes talent you’ve met at (virtual) professional events and whom you think would be a good fit for your company. It includes referrals who are happy in their roles for the time being. It includes folks you’ve come across on LinkedIn, or GitHub, or SeekOut that you’d like to nurture relationships with for the next time a role opens. Nurturing not only keeps the candidate pipeline flowing; it also adds positivity to your prospective candidates’ experience. It allows them to get to know your org, its product, and its people over time. It gives them the opportunity to get excited about your company, to believe that your recruiting team is thinking about them and their futures, and to ensure they align with your goals and core values before they apply. And that’s a virtuous circle, because it decreases that employee turnover we just mentioned, and keeps retention high.

Track, and hit, your diversity goals with candidate relationship management

If you don’t have any serious diversity initiatives, you’re missing out on top talent—and we don’t just mean top underrepresented talent. 42% of job seekers (minority and majority) say they would turn down a position if a company lacked diversity in its workforce or had no serious goals for improving diversity within its hiring process. This is truer now than it ever was.

Sourcing and nurturing underrepresented groups through CRM

Whether your goal is to hire more People of Color or add more female-identified talent into your workforce, a CRM can help you build and nurture relationships with diverse talent. 

The diversity and inclusion benefits of using a CRM:

  • Create personalized and diverse talent communities: Referrals and applicants are typically inherently less diverse than the team you want to build—referrals in particular, when you’re not careful, often replicate the existing homogeneity of your team. CRMs allow you to target passive underrepresented talent to ensure you have a diverse top-of-funnel. And when you break those prospective candidates into projects, you can create targeted campaigns and deliver branded communication specifically for those demographics if you choose.

  • Make an impact: CRMs allow you to share impactful content with candidates. This could mean sharing videos of successful employees from underrepresented groups within the company or highlighting the support of a specific event such as International Women’s Day. The goal? Build relationships with both active and passive candidates in your pool who want to know they’d feel a sense of belonging with your org before they apply. Good CRMs will give you analytics on that outreach, so you know what content resonates with the demographics you’re trying to target and attract.

  • Mitigate unconscious bias: While many companies are intentional about D&I initiatives and mitigating unconscious bias, humans are still more likely to relate best with those who look like them. A solid CRM in conjunction with pre-screening tools can help mitigate both conscious and unconscious bias, so that you’re testing candidates based on skill, not “likability” or “gut feeling.” You can also track underrepresented groups as they pass through the funnel, and see if they’re falling out at certain stages where their majority counterparts aren’t. This will alert you to where biases may lie in your process.

Use a recruitment CRM in conjunction with your ATS

From screening to onboarding, every touchpoint with talent presents an opportunity to develop a connection and build rapport—including at the very top of the funnel, before prospects even apply. By building stronger relationships at that stage in the game, you’ll increase the size of your talent pool by gaining active and passive talent for future positions. And using a CRM to build those pre-application relationships ultimately means more applicants in your ATS.

Gem knows the importance of the ATS—it’s why they integrate with most of the biggest ones on the market. But they also recognize the importance of building relationships with, and keeping track of, passive talent. To help your recruitment teams source the best talent and win, check out their CRM tool

Sally Lee is the Head of Communications at Codility. Throughout her career, she has helped start-up technology brands reach and engage with their audiences on a creative, meaningful and impactful level through a number of successful communications, social media and marketing campaigns.


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