By Jessica Miller-Merrell

If you read or listen to industry news, you’ve probably heard the buzz about something that many are referring to as a CRM, or a customer relationship management tool. It’s certainly not a new term but the way in which it’s being used is. In the world of sales or traditional customer acquisition, CRMs go a long way in tracking customers, logging details, following up and closing the sale. But they are now crossing over into the world of HR as a way to track candidates, log their details, follow up and engage, and even hire them.

If this type of system sounds familiar, it may because HR has been using something similar (yet different) for quite some time. Applicant tracking systems, or an ATS, is likely already part of your recruitment strategy, but there are some major areas in which it’s probably lacking because it wasn’t created for the same purpose as a CRM. For instance, an ATS is simply a database. This is where a CRM comes in. However, just like any technology, it has its limitations. The missing element here is the human element, which we can all agree is vital in recruiting.

So while a CRM can transform your recruitment strategy, a better way to look at it is that a CRM used the right way can transform your recruitment strategy.

Use your CRM to plug candidates into a community
What will really make the difference in the long-term development of your talent pipeline is a community where you can engage with them. As great as a CRM is, it’s an internal tool you and your team use. It’s not a community and in fact, it’s something your candidates will likely never know about. What it does do for you is makes it easier to identify which candidates should be plugged into a community, what part of the community they’d fit best in and track their engagement and involvement. Play to the strengths of your CRM and use it as part of your talent community strategy.

Candidates and jobs are constantly shifting – make sure your CRM isn’t static
A CRM is only as good as its administrator. One of the jobs you have as an administrator is to be involved in the CRM because it’s not a George Foreman rotisserie oven – you cannot “set it and forget it.” It’s up to you to determine which candidates to track, which to stop tracking and what jobs to identify candidates for. You cannot expect to be successful if you identify candidates to track only once every few months and only engage with them when you have an open position. CRMs track, but CRMs can’t read your mind and do not have human intuition.

CRMs don’t impress your candidates, so you have to
As I mentioned already, your candidates won’t know that you have a state-of-the-art CRM, no matter how cool it is, how much easier it makes your job or how you’re the only company you know with it so far. A CRM will set you apart behind the scenes, but it won’t set you apart to your candidates. It won’t create dynamic conversations or engage candidates, so you must. CRMs certainly have a role to play, but they are not a replacement for developing long-term relationships.

Overall, CRMs can be a good investment, as long as their users understand that there is no substitute for creating a talent community, engaging and building a long-term pipeline by fostering relationships. Your CRM is a powerful tool, but in and of itself, it is not a strategy.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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