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What is a Talent CRM? A Recruiter's Guide.


More than two-thirds of companies believe that building a high-quality talent pool is a strategic priority for them. Recruitment has come a long way from an immediate, tactical approach to a well-planned strategic function. That means forecasting the talent needs, and planning steps to fulfill them, well in advance, by relying on long-term measures.

In a candidate-driven market, recruiters who chose to begin their search after an opening is prioritized, are already a few steps behind their peers. Candidates expect a continual, personalized engagement resulting in a relationship that is not just transactional.

The world doesn't function like this anymore:

recruiter follows up after 1.5 years without context

Talent CRM or Candidate Relationship Management makes it possible to build that kind of contextual and continual connection with the candidates.

What is a Talent CRM?

There are two things that you need to know about Candidate Relationship Management (which we call a Talent CRM interchangeably):

  1. Talent CRM as a concept.
  2. Talent CRM as a software.

Candidate Relationship Management as a concept - it refers to the consistent process of engaging with talent, outside your company, in order to forge a long-term meaningful association of your employer brand with the overall talent pool.

Candidate Relationship Management software — otherwise known as recruitment CRMs or talent CRMs — help in creating an enriched profile for all prospective candidates and act as the single source of truth for all candidate data.

Candidate data is usually of two types:

  1. Candidate Attributes: These are static details of the candidate such as name, work history, and contact information.
  2. Candidate Behaviour: A comprehensive talent CRM would also capture data points regarding the candidate's interaction with your hiring pages and reach outs.

Just like the sales CRM software has been developed for sales teams to improve the long-term relationship with customers and drive customer retention, the talent CRM software has been developed for recruitment professionals to build and maintain relationships with candidates before and beyond the hiring process.

TRM solutions act as a platform for recruiters to manage talent relations and continuously connect with candidates, however, they also act as a central repository for candidate information. If this sounds similar to what an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) does, then you’re on the right track—but a TRM can do so much more. But there are some key differences between the two. 

A talent CRM platform helps recruiters to manage talent relations by categorizing and prioritizing information, therefore acting as a central repository for all sorts of candidate information. Of course, there are some similarities between a talent CRM and an ATS, but there are also differences. Let us explore them.

Talent CRM vs ATS

Recruitment teams across companies use both the terms interchangeably. In most cases, they're used in place of one another as well. However, while the ATS is a pretty standard piece of software with consistent features from one platform to another, the talent CRM category is fast evolving and getting redefined every day.

Applicant Tracking System

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS), as the name suggests, is software designed to help HR teams track and manage applications. ATSs acts as a database for resumes and other candidate information and helps track the candidate through the application process. There are often more features that let you post openings on multiple job boards or your company's website career section. A few nuanced platforms also offer AI capabilities to match candidates with open roles as well.

An ATS was built for a world where inbound applications for a role were the default way of recruitment. It first surfaced in the 90s, when recruitment happened in an employer-driven market. A role would open up, their HR team would simply post their job openings and waited for great candidates to apply. That world doesn't exist anymore.

Talent CRM 

The talent CRM is also centered around the candidate profile. However, the data in the talent CRM is more nuanced than just capturing resume-level data as in ATS. While the ATS might let automate a few steps in the application process, it works only for inbound applicants. On the other hand, the talent CRM can also work on outbound engagements hence works with both active-inbound and passive candidates. 

Here are a few of the fundamental differences between an ATS and Talent CRM:

  • A Talent CRM is candidate-first by design. While an ATS is by design, company-first.
  • Talent CRMs include channels for engagement - emails and InMails being the most common. Few also provide metrics for these engagements like Open Rates and Click Rates.
  • The goal of Talent CRMs is to get candidates into the application funnel. After which the ATS kicks in.

Both ATS and Talent CRM solutions are key components of the recruitment tech stack. Both of these tools co-exist and complement each other. They both serve to automate portions of the hiring process, making the recruitment function more efficient. However, a Talent CRM is tilted towards being a system of actions while the ATS is a system of records.

The must-have features for a Talent CRM

Talent CRM is at best, scattered. With multiple tools defining themselves and the category, evaluating a Talent CRM becomes a pain. However, we see the following as the defining features for a Talent CRM.

  1. Candidate Profile: You can create a single profile for every candidate by either pulling the data directly from LinkedIn, GitHub, job boards, bulk uploads through spreadsheets or simply creating a profile, one at a time.
  2. Email Reach-out: Engaging with candidates over emails (personal emails) is sort of the make or break feature for a Talent CRM. If it does not let you create drip emails in a flowchart fashion, with emails to be triggered based on time-lapse and candidate action, such a CRM would just be another redundant 'system of records'.
  3. Email Templates: Recruiters are not full-time copywriters. The talent CRM should provide easy-to-implement, readily available templates for multiple roles across seniority.
  4. Campaign Analytics: Sending an email is one thing but gauging the effectiveness of your communication through delivery rates, open rates, and click rates makes you win.
  5. Talent Pipeline Analytics: Talent CRMs should also effectively clear out the data darkness around the talent pipeline with a possibility of accurately predicting the talent pipeline so that you're not gasping for air in your next quarterly review.
  6. Collaboration: Recruitment as a function just cannot operate without collaboration with internal (team-level) and external (company-wide) stakeholders. You need features such as internal notes, tags, and team-level visibility to function effeciently.
  7. Integration: The Talent CRM is the central piece of the hiring tech stack. That means it is pivotal. It also means it cannot exist in a silo. It has to integrate with all the other players like ATS / Email / LinkedIn and the others.

Is Kula a Talent CRM?

Yes and No. If you would qualify Kula as a Talent CRM it would pass all the tests, check all the boxes. However, Kula is more than a Talent CRM. It is the next generation of Talent CRMs - Kula is a Recruitment Automation Platform.

What is Recruitment Automation?

Recruitment Automation is the most efficient way to engage with the top talent and build an endless top of the funnel, with automated reach outs, timely nudges, and periodic follow-ups. It builds relationships between the recruiter and the candidates, so the brand is on top of their minds when a candidate finally decides to explore.

The framework of Recruitment Automation can be boiled down to 3 stages:

  1. Building your talent pool
  2. Continual engagement with candidates
  3. Measuring and optimizing the talent funnel

A recruitment automation tool helps you build a vast talent pool by unifying candidates from previously scattered sources. And then automate multiple email nudges and timely follow-ups in an intuitive workflow. With analytics embedded into every step of the process, you always have a real-time view of your predictable and reliable talent pipeline.

It automates your outbound hiring, increasing the recruiter yield by at least 50% and hence impacting the bottom line.

We would love to hear from you - your opinion, comments, disagreements - everything. Find us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Rohit Srivastav

Founding Marketer

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