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Alan Whitford

Abtech Partnership

Managing Partner

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Why HR should upgrade their recruitment systems

Alan Whitford outlines the benefits of implementing a recruitment management system that can help your recruitment process run smoothly and be more effective.
The evolution of technologies which support HR and, more specifically, recruitment has now reached the point where it should be more difficult to justify not having a purpose-built, professionally-developed and supported system in place than it would be to prove the case for investing in such a system.
The perception is that ‘everyone can recruit online’. With the all-pervasive reach of internet job boards, corporate career sites, social and business networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, search tools such as Google, and information broadcast sites like Twitter, the corporate recruiter can be inundated with candidates, while at the same time is still using techniques and systems from the late 20th century.
You can easily promote your business online, but without the tools and process in place to manage application volume, sift and select qualified candidates and communicate your corporate brand message effectively, you run the risk of tarnishing your reputation as an employer.

Managing the recruitment process

A number of terms describe the systems that you can use to manage your recruitment challenges. Recruitment management system (RMS), candidate management system (CMS), talent management system (TMS) and applicant tracking system (ATS) cover essentially the same ground: A system that can be used to manage the end-to-end recruitment process, from generating the initial job specification to handing off the new employee information to your on-boarding module in your core human resource management system (HRMS).
A number of other systems or modules are available to assist your recruitment process, ranging from testing and assessment tools, job ad distribution (multi-posting of your job ads to external job boards), reference and background checking and on-boarding management tools.
Let us focus on the core RMS applications. What do they actually do? More precisely, what do these systems enable the HR/recruitment professional to accomplish, along with their customer, the hiring manager?
The RMS should equip your recruitment team and hiring managers to work closely together to develop an integrated approach to requisition management, job posting and candidate attraction processes and candidate communications. It should not cost the earth while providing you all the functionality you could ever need to reduce cost-per-hire, save administration time and integrate seamlessly into your corporate HR system and processes.
Tangible and measurable benefits delivered to the HR manager include:
  • Compliance with the Data Protection Act by having a provable and legally supportable recruitment selection and decision process, with a transparent audit trail from job creation through to employment decision
  • Savings in the cost of recruitment – reducing the reliance on external labour providers, permanent agency fees, print and online advertising and, with an improvement in speed to hire, reducing ‘empty-chair cost’, the lost revenue or costly short-term impact of not having the right person in post in a timely manner
  • Improvement of your employment brand, i.e. the perception that candidates have of your company as a potential employer
  • Significant reduction in administration-based tasks with a corresponding increase in time spent in the value-added selection steps in the recruitment process
The technology powering today’s recruitment systems can be quite complex, yet at the same time the user interface should be as easy to use as any other web-based application we are familiar with, such as email or using an online shopping site.
The offerings for today’s recruiter can be delivered in a Software as a Service model (SaaS – formerly known as ASP solutions), self-hosted web-based systems, desktop proprietary systems, by web design companies who will build a client-specific offering, business applications modified for recruiting functions – including CRM software such as, spreadsheets, databases with templates or even email with a set of recruitment folders.
SaaS is an increasingly popular way of supplying recruitment software using internet technology. All of the major global providers and most of the recruitment software vendors who have appeared in the last three years will host your e-recruitment system – job postings, CV databases and so on – instead of you paying huge amounts up-front to install software on your own machines and having to take responsibility for maintaining and supporting the requisite IT infrastructure. The more advanced systems will include hosting of your careers site, with a seamless integration to your overall corporate website, as the links will be invisible to the candidates and other participants in your recruitment process . All you need as a user – recruiter, line manager, candidate or recruitment agency partner, is a simple internet browser and you can access the system anywhere in the world.

How do you prepare for selecting a new recruitment system?

With over 100 systems available to manage recruitment and other elements of the HR process, it can be a real challenge for an HR professional who does not have the training or previous experience to evaluate or select IT systems.
First of all, a small home truth. Most suppliers claim to have robust ‘end-to-end’ solutions. Depending on your budget, a single supplier may not have all the functionality to cover all your recruiting needs, from marketing your organisation as an employer of choice, through CV management to optimising the hiring process and cycles and completing the on-boarding process. Therefore, you should evaluate and prioritise all of your needs and then assess your vendors on the 80/20 rule. If you can get 80% of your wish list as standard, then you should be able to configure the 20% over time.
Critically, to ensure that you maximise the value of online recruitment, you need an easy to use, dedicated career site, integrated to a back office recruitment system that deals in structured data (candidate and job requirement) which facilitates the sharing of this structured data between HR and the hiring manager. If you are being clever about attracting candidates to your career site, then you must deliver to them a great candidate experience. Whether or not you hire the individual, this initial contact with your company sets the groundwork for the long term direct relationship you have with that person, In addition, the perception that candidate now has of your company can easily be extended throughout that person’s extensive social and business network.
Your RMS can be particularly important in this current economic climate. It is, to me at least, a ‘no brainer’ that companies of all shapes and sizes should be spending more time thinking about the candidates they have already attracted and who have expressed an interest in a career at your company and less time (and money) being devoted to the pursuit of the 75% of the so-called ‘passive’ candidates who may not even be looking for a job or career change. Use your new system to build a talent pipeline or ‘talent pool’, send marketing messages regularly to the candidates in your database to keep them interested and engaged with your company and when the right opportunity comes up, they will be receptive to a career opportunity with you.
Checklist for selecting your recruitment system
Assess your company’s recruitment needs:
  • How many employees do you have?
  • How many jobs do you fill a year?
  • How many CVs do you receive a year?
  • How many locations does your organisation have?
  • How complex is the internal recruitment workflow?
  • Are there different levels of access required for recruiter, hiring manager?
Assess your company’s recruitment strategy and hiring processes. Prioritise where the need for technology is greatest – the must-have processes:
  • Candidate sourcing
  • Screening and sifting
  • Workflow management
  • Retention
  • Increased efficiency of recruiters and hiring managers
  • Reporting
How do your CVs come in?
  • Career site
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Post
  • External providers
Candidate database:
  • What data do you need to keep on applicants?
  • Will you be building a talent pool for future hiring?
  • How sophisticated a search engine do you need to search your CV database – are keywords enough?
What are your key hiring metrics?
  • Number of interviews a candidate attends
  • Number of CVs a recruiter forwards to a hiring manager
  • Interview to hiring ratio
  • Cost-per-hire
  • Time-per-hire
  • Source of hire

Alan Whitford is a co-founder of Recruitment Community Europe, an online-based community and information portal launched to serve the European corporate recruiter and the staffing and recruitment industry. Alan has over 20 years’ experience providing strategic and practical insights to the automation and web-enablement of HR and recruitment process activities throughout Europe

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Alan Whitford

Managing Partner

Read more from Alan Whitford