I’ve had two experiences implementing executive recruiting systems, once at a boutique search firm and another at Lockheed Martin. In the former, we were moving from a paper-based system to a digital one. In the latter, the function was in start-up, so we had the luxury of beginning from scratch.
I learned a lot through both experiences. At the boutique firm, we weren’t aware of any COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) products, so we designed one ourselves. Although it was a heck of a lot better than the paper-based system we were using, it wasn’t until I acquired a system at Lockheed Martin that I realized how limited home-grown products are. Commercial software systems have been in development for decades, and it’s hard to replicate that refinement.
Strategic relationship-based recruiting requires data management that is beyond the reach of applicant tracking systems (ATSs) and customer relationship management systems (CRMs). In-house executive recruiting departments can make excellent use COTS products that combines the best of both systems to optimize relationship management, research, workflow, data capture, compliance, and reporting.
Through the implementation and use of different systems, I’ve learned that executive recruiting systems must:
Track candidate flow. Many of the systems facilitate search workflow that enables recruiters to funnel candidates through the various search phases beginning with research where they are identified as prospects, through the networking calls and the interview phases, to the referencing and background screening, and finally, through the offer and on boarding processes. The system should date stamp and offer notes capture throughout the process. Tracking candidate flow is important especially for facilitating EEOC and (for government contractors) OFCCP applicant tracking requirements.
Link people and projects. A good executive recruiting system enables the users to track an individual to multiple assignments according to their role in each. A individual might be a network in one search, a candidate in another, a reference in a third, and eventually, a client. The best systems enable the identification of that individual’s role in each project and facilitates record keeping collectively for the individual, but also to each of the projects separately.
Facilitate communication tracking on a person and project basis. Executive search systems should interface with email and telephone infrastructure so that communication is automatically tracked to the relevant people. The system should also enable the recruiter to easily track the same activity to the relevant search projects. This capability decreases data entry requirements while increasing data capture.
Enable easy information entry and recall. Loading data should be simple, especially through resume parsing and mass-loading (from an Excel worksheet for example); and information recall should be quick and easy. Whether searching for documents, projects, specific people, people with certain experience, or people connected to certain projects, data recall should be simple requiring limited steps within the systems. How many times have you had a caller on hold while you try to remember which project you want to discuss with them? That information should be accessible within seconds.
Produce Metrics. Look for a system that can track search consultant activity whether individually or on a project bases. The system should easily produce user activity reports, search cycle times, cost savings, and have the ability to produce search progress reports in a client-ready format. Any executive search system worth acquiring will offer a number of canned reports presenting the most sought-after recruiting data.
Identify relationships. The system should enable network identification. That is, enable users to identify who may know whm based on their concurrent employment at a company. Another important feature is reverse-reference tracking. This means that if I’m identified as a reference in your record, you automatically show up as a referee in mine. Additionally, it's important to be able to delineate relationships that the recruiters have within the market. This prevents one from user randomly contacting an individual with whom a colleague has a strong relationship and prevents potential embarassment to both recruiters and the firm overall.
Possess an elegant user interface. This should go without saying, but unfortunately does not. Any system needs to be simple and intuitive or no one will want to use it.
The ROI of an executive search data management system is improved efficiency and increased effectiveness achieved primarily by eliminating duplicate data entry and facilitating data recall. Another important benefit of an executive search system is data sharing among multiple people regardless of their office locations or time zones.
Identifying and choosing the right software can be overwhelming. As recruiters we are so focused on our projects and clients that it’s tough to break away and think strategically about infrastructure. ScoutRock is hosting a symposium designed to remove much of the time-consuming legwork of identifying and assessing systems by providing an in-depth look at the best options for executive-search software acquisition or upgrade. Obtaining this information in an environment where executive recruiters can also network and benchmark with each other adds additional benefits by sharing lessons-learned, collecting multiple perspectives, and expanding professional networks.