Science & Technology

ATS vs. CRM: Why do you need a Recruitment CRM?

Application tracking systems (ATS) or customer relationship management tools (CRM) – can they be made sense of, and which, if any, do you need for recruitment?

While the world has seen all too much of the ATM vs. CRM debate online, it’s important for you to understand and be completely clear on the differences. These are both powerful tools that can be leveraged to streamline and turbocharge the recruitment process within your company. The right software can help you save money, time and put you way out of your competitors. So, to put your mind at ease, let’s find out more about these tools.

ATS and your business

ATS is a tool that holds a repository for managing your applicants and their application process. Most of the time, it is a compliance requirement, and it’s a system that traditional recruiters have relied on for many years. So, you might think, why would your company need CRM for recruitment? The details may not be so obvious, but they make a world of difference. Let’s look at why common ATS software might be no match for CRM.

Inputting required fields manually

If you find that your team is wading knee-deep through forms and fields, wasting precious hours by entering data manually, it may be time to step away from ATS software. Inefficiency is the main issue in recruitment, and actions need to be time-critical. Candidates aren’t going to wait around forever! You want to do anything that can bring a positive impact on candidate conversion and anything that can reduce time to hire.

A largely administrative candidate database

When using ATS software, ask yourself if the data is for a compliance or workflow process. While the information on your candidate database can be a large asset for reporting and sourcing, it may not help your ROI after all. Very few ATS programs can help you improve your ROI.

Screening resumes

Are you able to give candidates a rating without their resumes? If you find that you’re dependent on a steady stream of incoming new resumes to find candidates, then you probably need a CRM. 

Inability to measure the engagement

If your team doesn’t have any real way of seeing whether a candidate is active or engaged, then this is a red flag. If you can’t track relationships, then this will make things pretty disorganized in the long run. You’ll have to rely mostly on face-to-face interactions with candidates to get any insights, but why should you only rely on this?

Recruitment CRM advantages

Many people prefer a recruitment CRM over an ATS system, but why is this the case? Does one system offer some concrete advantage over another? Let’s do some digging.

Targeting prospects

If you find yourself actively sourcing candidates, ATS systems can only be used for candidates that have applied. CRMs can facilitate all of your needs, allowing you to actively source candidates, target the prospects that you’re looking for, and build new relationships. How neat is that?!

Efficient and organized

If your team has been using spreadsheets to manage all of its recruitment data, there’s a lot of room for improvement here. While spreadsheets can be useful for managing some data, e.g., accounting figures, they’re a poor match for any recruitment process. Everything has to be manually updated, so besides spending a lot of time doing this, you’ll always be jumping around from your spreadsheets to other tools (e.g., email) and back.

Large teams

Unless you’re an individual recruiter who may very well be able to keep the details of a few individuals on a spreadsheet, there will need to be a place to manage all data succinctly and reliably, and this is where CRM comes in. Moreover, CRMs have tools that are essential for managing recruitment data and relationships, e.g., sharing notes, tracking, and documenting specific things. All of this will be transparent across the whole company and there’ll never be any ambiguity about a lead or where they are in the process.

Difficult to fill roles

If you ever find that your company is hiring for roles that are difficult to fill, with way too many applicants to handle, you’ll need CRM. It can help build up a pool of talented non-applicants that fit any open roles. Posting to job websites constantly just won’t do the trick sometimes!

Maintaining good relationships

Recruitment is all about developing key relationships and seeing which candidates are the most important and can add value. CRM is great for segmentation, allowing you to compartmentalize the most favorable prospects or clients. You can aggregate all the information you need and create some detailed client profiles, outlining ongoing campaigns, recruitment needs, and any other information. The entire team can have a clear understanding of each candidate’s value and the steps they need to take to convert them or maintain a relationship.

Workflow and process optimization

Unlike most ATS systems, CRMs don’t need a massive amount of constant tweaking or attention. The result is that you won’t have much wasted time for your team using CRM. If you’ve got an enormous pool of candidates who have applied over the years, much of your data may be unusable or out of date. CRM can automatically update all ATS data, letting you target only the most suitable of previous applicants. In essence, the latest tools automate the vast majority of “heavy lifting”, letting your team focus on the important things.

Use with careers fairs and online campaigns

If your recruitment strategy is based heavily around marketing campaigns, online, in person at careers fairs, or whatever it may be, it can be difficult to measure ROI over time. It can be hard to track anyone that saw your marketing online or came to your event. The great thing about CRM is that it can easily track all attendees automatically. Over time, it will give you data and control over the whole process.

Being in touch with the client journey

It can be difficult to turn your leads into employees themselves. Without proper monitoring of every step in the journey, conversions may fall through the cracks. Modern CRMs have features where you can customize recruitment pipelines to track every candidate’s progression from a lead to a fully-fledged employee. Data can be centralized and easily available for team members who need to make decisions.

Closing remarks 

Any candidate relationship management system that can present information transparently, automate processes, and build trustworthy relationships will be key for your recruitment process.  The good news is that CRM can do all of these things – it’s an engine that lets you create reliable talent pools, helping to nurture relationships and convert leads.

While an ATS can serve well as a compliance and workflow tool that manages applicants, the real power comes from CRM. It is a centralized ecosystem for all kinds of candidates, plus anybody who has previously applied for jobs. It will be the ultimate source of intelligence for your company, and it’s no wonder that many analysts believe that in the future, around 80% of recruitment processes will be handled by CRM’s alone. We hope to have shown you the key differences between ATS and CRM, the pros and cons, and why your company needs to use CRM for recruitment.


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