It’s the time of year when predictions run wild, and the world of online recruiting is no different. To better understand what to expect in 2014, we should first look at a major trend in 2013: the fusion between recruiting and marketing. We wrote about this late last year in “Social Recruiting 2013: Think Like Marketing”.

As 2013 went on, we heard about the recruiting/marketing theme from leaders at companies big and small. These recruiting leaders were focused on their employer brand, and looking to attract passive candidates online. Recruiting had to communicate with marketing more than ever to tell a holistic story of the employer.

During 2013, we talked to forward-thinking talent leaders who were going as far as implementing a “Talent CRM”. Most people are familiar with a CRM being a Customer Relationship Management tool. The CRM is best known as a platform to track current and target clients, as well as view progress toward business goals.

In 2013, we saw this concept begin to work its way into recruiting in earnest. Many Fortune 500 companies we talk to just started using a Talent CRM, are implementing one, or are evaluating them. Talent-related CRM platforms mentioned included Avature, Jobvite Engage, Talemetry and SmashFly.

And it makes sense. Candidates are behaving more like customers every day. Thus, we believe that a new genre/breed of software will emerge as the number one trend in recruiting in 2014. We call this software platform the Talent CRM.

Introducing the Talent CRM

The concept of a Talent CRM is to build relationships with passive and target candidates, ultimately building a pipeline of talent. But lets take this a level deeper by understanding how a good Talent CRM will make this happen.

If you’re evaluating a Talent CRM in 2014, you’ll want to take a look at how it performs in these key areas. These criteria will be helpful even if simply assessing marketing’s impact on your recruiting efforts in the coming year.

1) Content Management

The term “Content Marketing” was Google-searched twice as much in the last month as it was this time last year, according to Google Trends. That’s because content sells (and recruits!).

The Talent CRM will help recruiters manage marketing content such as job descriptions, videos, photos, infographics or any other media that optimizes recruiting.

Video and pictures, in particular, are increasingly used by recruiters, whether it be on their own careers sites or on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook or Twitter — yet there’s no easy way to organize them. The Talent CRM will allow you to find, organize and store such recruiting media.

2) Localization

An effective Talent CRM will put a focus on localized content. What makes an effective hiring campaign in London will be vastly different than Malaysia — the first question you may have to ask of a Talent CRM platform is whether it accepts text in another language like Mandarin.

A second aspect of localization is understanding which Web channels are best for advertising your jobs. For example, you may be a recruiting leader in the U.S. tasked with building up a team in Hong Kong and may not know where to start with advertising your jobs. A good Talent CRM might show, for example, that hk.jobsdb.com is an effective place to drive traffic.

3) Recruiting by Department, Team, Individual, etc.

It used to be that you’d recruit for an entire company (e.g. “Google has great stock options and yummy food”).

We see a shift to more granular recruiting. Check out what Twitter’s Engineering department is doing with their @TwitterEng handle — that’s attracted 510,349 followers; or what Dolby did for its new Dolby Voice department where they recruit at the team/technology level, including showing the CTO Mike Hollier in recruiting videos.

A good Talent CRM will allow recruiting at multiple levels, whether its location, department or individuals (e.g. a hiring manager).

The recruiting landscape continues to evolve with the best candidates facing multiple options and a free-agent mentality. The candidate experience is exacerbated by the fact that most companies are willing to outsource their attraction strategy to Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, StackOverflow, The Daily Muse and every other website that wants you to pay for a company page on their site. You need to focus on having your own kick-butt careers site before you build one on another site.

All it takes is a Google search of your own company and jobs, and you’ll see the impact those sites have (read The Top 5 Sites a Candidate Lands on When Searching Your Company). They often take the traffic away from your careers site, and into their site where they advertise jobs for all comers with a checkbook.

A “best in class” Talent CRM will understand that getting candidates and prospects engaged on your own site is paramount. In fact, the Talent CRM should be agnostic of any social sites, job boards, job aggregators, etc. The focus of the Talent CRM is to help recruiters gain control over what Web pages candidates land on, and what the candidate experience is like.

5) Passive Calls-to-Action

In recruiting, you can’t just bucket people into either “looking” or “not looking” for a job. We all know that some of the best candidates are passive: in fact, they could be so passive that they may not even know that they’re looking for a job.

But just about every person will consider a new job opportunity if it’s the right one in front of them at the right time.

A good Talent CRM is going to help you engage candidates with passive calls-to-action such as:

  • Join your Talent Network
  • Follow you on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Share your job on social networks
  • Comment on your job or company

6) Hiring Activity Feeds

The Talent CRM will elevate messaging to a whole new level. You’re going to start to see “hiring activity feeds”as a standard feature.

Examples of what may appear in such activity feeds:

  • Hiring teams messaging each other about candidates(think Facebook/Yammer/Chatter meets Recruiting) — SmartRecruiters recently announced its HireLoop feature for its ATS
  • Recruiters messaging candidates
  • Candidates messaging hiring teams (publicly and privately)

Talent CRMs will also help integrate social media conversations into your recruiting.

7) Insights & Analytics

“Big data” has been a buzz in recruiting and the next level will be to have actionable insights on that data.

How do you know what numbers are good, and which are bad? How do you know what to do about them?

The Talent CRM will help you get these insights from analytics. The more you learn about the behavior of your target audience, the better you can tune your attraction strategy while knowing where to source.

Examples of key analytics/insights that need to be measured include:

  • Application by source (Google vs. LinkedIn vs. Indeed, etc.)
  • Web site visits to hire ratio
  • Social sharing of jobs
  • Employee social sharing

ATS’s must integrate to survive

What does this mean for the ATS? As most of you know, the majority of recruiting leaders do not like their ATS. We don’t need a fancy infograph to prove that to you. It’s simply what we hear from nearly every recruiting leader.

Why do recruiters dislike their ATS? Most recruiters we talk to don’t like their ATS because they see it as clunky, having a bad candidate experience, and being compliance-driven. Recruiters only use the ATS for tracking purposes, and rarely look at it as the first place to go when working on a hot new job. That is a defensive mentality which is opening the door for other platforms such as the Talent CRM to gain mindshare with recruiters.

Yes, there are fantastic new ATS systems emerging (such as Greenhouse) that understand how recruiters work…and this is critical. For an ATS to be helpful to recruiters, they have to integrate with other software such as the Talent CRM. Greenhouse is an example of an ATS open to integrating with other recruiting software. This is important because it simplifies the life of the recruiter. With technology innovation moving at a brisk pace in recruiting, a successful ATS must have a progressive partner strategy.

Nowhere will integration be more necessary than between the Talent CRM, ATS, and interviewing platforms. Your Talent CRM, ATS and interviewing platforms (such as HireVue) must be able to talk to each other if you’re going to use them together successfully. If integration proves difficult, recruiting leaders and their teams will try to do both jobs with one or two of the tools, not all three. And they’ll remain unhappy about their inability to make their lives easier.

With literally hundreds of recruiting technologies on the market, integration and consolidation is inevitable. We expect integration to be highly prominent between the Talent CRM, ATS, and interviewing platforms in the years ahead. If you are a recruiter evaluating a new ATS in 2014, you should only consider an ATS if it integrates well with other platforms. Technology changes fast, and it’s difficult for an ATS to be everything to everyone.

Recruiters are hungry for the opportunity to tell their story to candidates, and encourage 2-way dialogue. They are looking for ways to pipeline talent for the long-term, versus having to create a new sourcing strategy for each new job opening. That is the offensive strategy recruiters are striving for, and why they will take a look as the Talent CRM matures in the marketplace.

We expect this to be the number one conversation for recruiters in 2014.

Jason Webster

Jason Webster is a social recruiting enthusiast and co-founder of Ongig, a platform that creates shareable, visually-appealing job descriptions. He has spoken at multiple social recruiting events, where his passion for candidate experience is the primary topic. Connect with Jason and Ongig on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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