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This post originally appeared on Cornerstone OnDemand’s ReWork Blog

While applicant tracking systems (ATS) have enabled companies to organize applicants in one system, magnified reach from digital advertising and job boards has created other challenges. In our effort to get more applicants, we’ve moved away from quality—HR teams simply can’t evaluate 250 applications per job posting. Because of this, relationship building between company and candidate is often lost.

According to SmashFly’s 2018 Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks Report for the Fortune 500, 33 percent of Fortune 500 companies that offer candidates an opportunity to opt-in to job alerts or a talent network never send an email post-confirmation. And the Talent Board’s 2016 Candidate Experience research report revealed that 47 percent of candidates were still waiting to hear back from employers two months after they applied.

The jig is up—applicants are onto us. Increasingly, they’re sharing their negative experiences on Glassdoor and social media, and then opting for (or recommending) companies that offer better follow-up or more transparency during the hiring process. It’s clear that, as talent acquisition leaders, we must embrace a more relationship-driven recruitment strategy.

Augmenting traditional ATSs with recruitment-focused candidate relationship management systems (CRMs) can help employers more effectively engage with talent before they become applicants. Still, relationship building doesn’t result from new technology, it comes from HR’s effective and strategic utilization of the technology.

Technology Isn’t Enough to Build Talent Relationships

Despite what some organizations assume, simply investing in a recruitment CRM system and migrating contacts from your ATS won’t improve candidate experience. Why not? Because the power of a CRM system doesn’t just stem from the contacts in its database—it stems from an organization’s ability to activate those contacts.

SmashFly’s research on how Fortune 500 companies use recruitment marketing strategies showed that while 35 percent of companies have a talent network in place, many companies still have a limited understanding of what it takes to create an excellent candidate experience.

Looking at key data points on how top companies nurture relationships with talent today, it’s clear that technology is the mechanism, but it’s up to leaders to fuel the strategy.

  • Ninety-five percent of companies with a talent network only share jobs. No employee stories. No content about diversity or culture. No videos. No positive press or employer awards. Just jobs. This is a missed opportunity—in most cases, potential candidates that sign up to learn more about a company and available opportunities are expecting to receive more than just a list of job openings every week.
  • Only 41 percent of companies send personalized job recommendations. Companies that share job recommendations with candidates often don’t personalize them based on candidate interest or behavior. Smashfly research revealed that, for example, companies are suggesting engineering or maintenance jobs to a candidate who made a marketing search query.
  • Just half of companies send monthly communications. If there’s one thing most people do every day, it’s check their email. Companies that repurpose employee stories from their career site or use messaging from events to create content to share with their talent network gain the opportunity to stay top-of-mind for candidates who might be thinking about a new opportunity, but who are not ready to act.

The Path Forward

The outlook is not entirely grim—companies have, for example, made progress by providing candidates with other ways to connect with them besides applying for a job. Some are also communicating with talent before they become applicants. But since 2015, when SmashFly first started analyzing and collecting data on the Fortune 500, change hasn’t come very fast.

Building relationships with talent throughout their application journey is the gold standard, and that means crafting an experience that doesn’t hinge on the career site or a job description on Indeed. A recruitment CRM is built to automate and fuel the employee experience with behavior-based, automated triggers that prompt more personalized information and actions—but it’s up to you, the talent acquisition leader, to act on the opportunities that CRM tools identify.

We need to start using technology to break down barriers with our talent. Our candidates expect it—and yearn for it. And our businesses will reap the rewards, both internally and externally.

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