"Thank you very much for the help you have offered. When I first contacted you through email, I was really surprised at how quickly you got back to me. The position you found for me fits me perfectly well, and I like it very much. Throughout the process, you have been so helpful, liaising very professionally and efficiently. Thank again for all you have done."Underground Production Geologist, South Perth
Recruiters: Why your database matters
(May 2013)Simply put, your database and how you use it will have a direct impact on how much you bill.
A good database will allow you to do your job fast, seamlessly, and with maximum efficiency - eliminating all possible administrative work.
Conversely, an average (or bad) database will hold you back, and will cause your day to be filled up with chunks of admin that stop you from doing your real job - consulting.
A good database that is used badly (by you or your colleagues) will have a similar end effect to that of an average one.
An average database used well is, sadly, still going to hold you back.
Before you dismiss me as a dotcom child of technology, a recruiting newbie, who cannot grasp how 'real' recruiters did their job before fancy computers came about, let me tell you that I started recruiting in the days of Dos systems, and the first company I worked for used filing cards and drawers of paper CVs. "You're interested in my candidate? Great! I'll fax their CV right over!" Or "I posted you a CV the other day - have you received it?" Now I feel old.
Were things better in those days? No! We used to attach sheets of 'skill words' to each CV (and when I say 'attach', I am talking about by means of a stapler), and then highlight (with a pen) which words were relevant to each candidate.
Finding a qualified candidate was a slow process. Of course we made placements, and we were profitable, but how many more placements could we have made if we spent less time stapling and colouring in words, and more time talking to our clients and candidates?
Not all databases are equalMost commercial recruitment software is pretty awful. A lot of it seems to be based around sales or client relationship management systems, and not around recruitment at all. Great if you just want to keep track of everyone's name and address. Not so great if you want to be able to perform sophisticated searches, and link your different processes together.
Unless you are the boss, then chances are you have no say in what database your company uses. I have worked with great databases (all bespoke), and diabolical ones - some of which have made me contemplate leaving an otherwise promising company.
If you are not the decision maker, at least know what you should be getting. A good piece of recruitment software should be fast, straightforward to use, and should allow you to do your job with ease. As a minimum I would want it to be able to do the following:
- Perform searches. If I want a Mining Engineer, or a Designer who has used AutoCAD, then I should be able to use the database to bring up a list of these people. I want to be able to search on words used within the text of their CVs, and ALSO on words that I have marked as part of their skillset. If I want to be able to find someone with AutoCAD experience and a degree, who lives within 40km of Brisbane, then I should be able to do so. Then I want to be able to search on which companies use AutoCAD (for example) and are within a 40kmn radius of Brisbane. Now I want to know who the last 50 candidates were that I spoke to who work as Civil Engineers in Brisbane. And so forth.
- Tag people. I want to tag a number of client contacts, and send them all an email in one go (which will automatically be personalised to them). Same for candidates. Then it needs to automatically record a note of that email on each person. If I have to copy and paste then I'm wasting time.
- Switch between screens. I'm looking at my list of candidates and a client calls. I need to switch without losing my candidate info. Now I'm looking at my list of candidates that all have AutoCAD experience, and a different candidate calls. I need to access their record without losing my list of AutoCAD people.
- Attach stuff. I need to attach offer letters to my clients, qualifications to my candidates, signed offers to my candidate record, etc. And the database needs to tell me how to find it quickly too.
- Link or merge records. My client is also looking for work? My candidate has been attached 33 times by my idiotic colleagues? No problem. I will merge or link their records, and not lose anything.
Rubbish in = rubbish outSo, you've got a great system, but you're not making the most of it. Why? You're too busy and important. So, instead of using this fantastic resource to build (for yourself) an invaluable tool that your competitors may not have, you are only focusing on the next 5 minutes, during which you don't have time to use it properly. What are you doing wrong? Here are some of the main offences:
- Your notes suck. You spend a lot of time (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt) interviewing a great candidate. So why do your notes look as if you only spoke to them for 2 seconds? You tell your clients everything about this person, but all the information is in your head, or scrawled on a notepad somewhere.
Why is this bad? You're busy - you don't have time to write War and Peace every time you talk to someone! It's bad because it makes you look unprofessional. When you go to lunch, and your client phones and asks a colleague a 'quick question' about your candidate, you look stupid when the conversation goes something like this: "Ah, I should be able to find that for you. Let me just bring up the notes. Ah." (long pause) "Yes. I can't see that. I'll have to get Tim to call you back. Sorry about that."
It's also bad when you go on holiday, and your colleagues have to re-interview your candidate, as they don't know what you did or didn't ask. The same applies to your clients. If you don't put full notes on them then your colleagues won't know what was discussed, you won't remember a few years down the line, and you will have no recourse if there is a discrepancy between what you thought was said and what they think was said.
- You don't attach stuff. I'm not talking about CVs or qualifications, as I hope your company has a system in place for that. I'm talking about the extra stuff that gets sent to you when dealing with a candidate. The offer letter, the passport photo, the signed acceptance, the contract, etc. If you don't attach it then no one can find it. Attach it now and it's there for the future. And, since most of this goes with an offer, you don't want to lose this stuff.
- You don't follow your company's protocols. Most of them are there to make life easier (although I know it doesn't always seem that way). Whether it's ticking a box to say that a candidate was placed by your company, or noting whether they will relocate, whatever the process is - learn it and do it. Do it every time and it will become fast and automatic. It will save you from annoying colleagues and managers, and will usually save you from an embarrassing phone call where, for instance, a co-worker tries to tap up a candidate that you have just placed.
- You don't put skill words on a candidate or company. Most databases have a system where you can do this, so that you know a particular person has a skill, or likes candidates with that skill. The more info you put on each contact, the better your database is for searching. What's the point in a database boasting hundreds of thousands of candidates, if they're all blank and can't be found in a search? Sure, you might be able to search on their CVs, but that's not as accurate as when you've put info on them for yourself. They might have listed a reference who is, for example, a Project Manager - which would make your searching irritating and ineffective, if you were to continually bring up people who weren't Project Managers just because they had that phrase on their CV. (And, let me guess, you would then blame the database for having a useless search facility?)
- You don't update contact details. So you had someone great, but you can never contact them again, as you failed to put in all their contact details or update them when they changed? Great move.