How Did CRM Become a Dirty Word in Recruiting?

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

August 6, 2020

At Gem, we understand why the talent CRM has been categorically labeled a failure. But we’re doing things differently here.

In August of 2017, Kyle Lagunas, then research manager for emerging technologies in talent acquisition at the market research firm IDC, published an article on LinkedIn called “The ATS: No Longer the Most Hated System in HR Tech??” According to IDC’s research, the technology that had taken its place was the talent CRM: Indeed, 31% of TA professionals surveyed that year said they were dissatisfied with their CRMs. In the two years since, it seems we’ve gone from bad to worse. In a recent survey we conducted at Gem, 40% of respondents said they’d attempted to launch a talent CRM… but more than half of those implementations were failures.

What do you make of a 54% “failure” rate? At Gem, our first best guess was that these technologies weren’t built to suit the workflows of recruiters. Talent CRM providers have brought products to market that imitate sales CRMs and marketing automation platforms—which focus on features like branded emails—and serve them up to recruiters and talent leaders as though recruiting teams have exactly the same needs. As such, the functionality on hand is irrelevant. The fallout is bad user experience on both ends—for recruiters and talent. After all, the very thing those sales CRMs are missing is the personal touch that drives human communication and engagement.

Talent acquisition leaders deserve better than this. Building relationships with passive talent has never been more important; and a CRM is where those relationships get held. Talent CRMs are the only pre-ATS solution for better tracking and visibility, allowing recruiters to expertly—and warmly—nurture talent over the long-term.

At Gem, we understand why the talent CRM has been categorically labeled a failure. But we’re doing things differently here. For one, our view of CRM is specific to talent acquisition. It was imagined by two engineers who were heavily involved in recruiting at Facebook and Dropbox. Both were in positions to feel the singular pain points that would have to be addressed, and the unique workflows that would have to be acknowledged, in a platform built for recruiters at growing companies. Here are some other ways we’re working to repair the reputation of the talent CRM:

  • Rapid but thorough implementations. Gem implementations are typically complete within a few weeks of our initial kickoff call. More complex implementations are typically complete within 90 days. Our commitment to aggressive launch windows is often supported by explicit deadlines and milestones in our contracts. (And we haven’t missed a deadline yet.)

  • Comprehensive onboarding—including ongoing coaching on strategy and best practices. Even the most powerful technology is rendered powerless when there’s no strategy behind it; and the last thing we want at Gem is for you to own the platform without the training on how to create, deliver, and scale quality messaging on it. That’s why our product launches include regular check-ins with dedicated CSMs, as well as data-backed best practices—pulled from the million-plus emails sent on our platform—to make your outreach as effective as possible.

  • A solution your team will adopt. We've designed Gem to speed up your team rather than slow it down. A CRM is only valuable if every talent relationship is tracked along with every touchpoint. For recruiters, this often means getting bogged down by manual data entry. With Gem, it takes just one click to create a complete prospect record—and all touchpoints are tracked automatically, so your team can focus on what matters: building relationships.

  • Analytics and insights. The majority of talent leaders we speak to express frustration with a lack of visibility into their recruiting pipeline. Gem’s pipeline analytics provide talent leaders and recruiting operations professionals with the actionable insights they need.

  • Reliable metrics. Our metrics work precisely because they don’t require recruiters to perform manual data entry. Because every touchpoint is automatically logged, Gem becomes your team’s trusted source of truth.

All that said, we encourage talent leaders to do their homework and make informed decisions. The best way to do that is to reach out to our customers—and not just to the first name we give you. Reach out via your network to any of them! Our users stay with us for many reasons; so it’s actually in our best interest for you to have as many conversations as you need with the people you trust when making your CRM decision.

There’s plenty of room for talent CRMs to become the most loved—and the most indispensable—solution in HR tech. After all, between 70% and 80% of “recruiting” happens prior to application; the global recruitment market is valued at more than $215 billion and is expected to exceed $334 billion by 2025. With these numbers, sourcers and recruiters deserve technology built just for them. They deserve software that allows them to focus on what matters: Tracking every touchpoint they’ve ever had with passive and active talent and thoughtfully nurturing those relationships over time, so that prospects can become candidates when the time is right.


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