Everyone into the pool?

The Burgeoning Role of Candidate Relationship Management in Talent Acquisition

Candidate Relationship Management

Posted by Robin Erickson, Ph.D. on November 19, 2013

Six months ago, I transitioned from Deloitte Consulting’s Talent, Performance & Rewards practice to Bersin by Deloitte to lead its Talent Acquisition practice. For a brief description of how I got here from there, check out my recent Hire Innovation blog.

The first report I chose to write for Bersin by Deloitte’s Talent Acquisition members was The Talent Acquisition Primer.1 Just as it sounds, this report introduces talent acquisition concepts and tracks its evolution from the basic recruiting practices of the 1940s to today’s complex mix of processes and stakeholders. One of the more recent talent acquisition innovations, driven by a shrinking talent pool overall and shortages in critical talent segments, is the idea of candidate relationship management or “CRM.” What its same-acronym counterpart (customer relationship management) aims to accomplish with customers, candidate relationship management aims to accomplish with candidates. CRM is about establishing a “never-ending” connection with individuals who are potential employees — in essence, creating a pool of talent that can be dipped into to fill job openings when needed.

CRM encompasses a few components: (1) the strategy for managing interactions with internal and external job applicants and potential candidates, (2) the software and related processes to support the strategy, and (3) the effort to build a positive candidate experience, manage candidate communities, and maintain positive relationships with those candidates not selected.

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have overtaken traditional job board postings as a way for companies to not only promote open positions but to also maintain a running dialogue with employees and potential employees that reinforces their talent brand. The idea is that whether or not potential candidates are actively seeking employment, they are still passively exposed to the company as a favorable employer.

This is a far cry from the common practice many of us probably experienced as a job candidate just 5–10 years ago: You’d invest a great deal of time and effort interviewing for a position and perhaps get quite far in the process, only to lose out to another, more qualified candidate. You might have received a nice, consoling phone call at best (or a form letter at worst), but you probably weren’t encouraged to “follow” the company on social media and apply again when you saw another position of interest pop up. Nor were you likely to be actively courted by the company when it felt you were a good fit for the next new opening.

But in today’s world of persisting talent scarcity, even with relatively high unemployment (aka the Talent Paradox), and because it’s increasingly easy (and simply makes sense) to maintain ties with superior, already-vetted candidates, many companies aren’t letting go of viable candidates that easily. In The Talent Acquisition Primer, we cite the example of an automotive manufacturer that has developed a strategy for cultivating “runner-up” candidates as well as promising potential candidates met at recruiting fairs, university visits, and the like. At the same time, the company is careful not to create a disadvantage for new candidates who haven’t previously been interviewed to avoid overlooking a potential star.

CRM and the creation of candidate pools is just one of the ways talent acquisition has evolved over the years. Roles have changed, stakeholders have changed, and the technology has grown to become arguably the most mature in the talent management market. Three recent Bersin by Deloitte newsletter articles, The Evolution of Talent Acquisition: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, highlight how finding employees has changed over the last 70 years from tactical personnel management to strategic integrated talent acquisition.

I’d love to hear how your organization is managing candidate relationships differently today than 5 or 10 years ago and whether you think it’s had a measurable effect on your ability to hire the right people at the right time for the right positions. Please comment below with your insights.

1 For more information, The Talent Acquisition Primer, Bersin by Deloitte / Robin Erickson, Ph.D. & Kim Lamoureux, October 2, 2013. Available to research members at www.bersin.com/library.

Robin Erickson Robin Erickson, Ph.D., is the Vice President for Talent Acquisition Research at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. She writes about various topics in talent acquisition, including integrating with talent management, improving quality of hire for critical jobs, leveraging social recruiting to build talent pools, and building a global recruiting function.
Follow Robin on Twitter @RAEricksonPhD

2 thoughts on “Everyone into the pool?

  1. Robin,
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. My observations (admittedly not as a candidate) are that although Talent Acquisition professionals have generally embraced the concepts of CRM and understand the benefits, there are too few examples of organisations doing it well in high volume areas. By that I mean ones that have prioritised investments in staff levels, skills, tools and strategies that drive better candidate experience and relationships. My sense is that the shift from a mass-recruiting machine culture to a relationship-based model will take time. I have seen some great examples of CRM in low-volume recruiting, but fewer have made the necessary investments required to imbed CRM into a high volume hiring environment. Fortunately we have a few here at Deloitte!

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