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Recruiting Software – Ten worst ways of using

Recruiting Software – Ten worst ways of using

I talk to a lot of recruiters and recruiting firm owners Monday through Friday. I have been on this schedule for almost 20 years now. We talk a lot about recruiting software. As I sit here and reflect upon what I have heard over the years, I try to make sense of all those conversations. I am looking for a nugget of wisdom that I can write about that would be helpful to recruiters.

I am tired of all the sanctimoniousness sound bytes for selecting recruiting software:
• ‘I am the best because … and we have …’
• ‘We have on site support …’
• ‘We are user friendly …’
• ‘We are state of the art ...’
• ‘Our software is totally automatic just turn it on and watch the money roll…’
• ‘All our competitors are stupid and have inferior products …’
• ‘We are easy to use …’

Why not flip this analysis of recruitment software to the other side? How is the recruiting software firm planning to use and implement a recruiting software system once they have made the agonizing purchase? Out of the mouths of customers and potential customers I have heard incredulous strategies that still to this day make me chuckle. I have been told I have ‘dark humor’, along the lines of ‘The Far Side’ material. Perhaps that is just a polite way of saying I have no humor at all. So you won’t hurt my feelings if you think these strategies are more sad than funny.

Here we go with my pick of the 10 most stupid uses of recruiting software tools.

1. “We are going to buy the most expensive recruiter software package available because we believe if you pay top dollar you get the best product. But since we are paying so much we are going to buy only one license and let all 20 recruiters take turns using it.”
2. “We are going to buy some cheap contact management software and install it on each recruiter’s PC. Each recruiter will have their own private database.”
3. “We are going to make a fresh start because the last three recruiter systems we bought did not work out.”
4. “We are going to buy a recruiting system for the recruiters, but we are going to let the sales people either buy something else or continue with their present system.”
5. “We are going to buy recruiting software that we can customize to our own very special way of recruiting.”
6. “We just hired a ‘Super Star big biller’ recruiter who wants us to switch to the recruiting software that he/she is used to using.”
7. “We have purchased some good recruiting software but we only use it for searching resumes.” “We have purchased some good recruiting software but we only use for finding phone numbers.” “We have purchased some good recruiting software but we only use for writing notes.”
8. “We have purchased recruiting software and we are making a lot of the information private for each recruiter or for management eyes only.”
9. “We can’t find any recruiting software that suits our needs so we are going to write our own.”
10. “We want our recruiting software to be able to delete or purge out undesirables.”

Taking turns using the recruiting software.

This is by far the most ridiculous use of recruiting software and is therefore number one on my list. What do the other recruiters do while the one recruiter has the floor? I suppose they are working off of printouts from when they had the computer time. Trust me when I say that recruiting software used like this is more trouble than it is worth. Too much administration and none of the recruiters have up to date information when they are talking to clients and applicants. If I say any more I run the risk of being put in the same bucket as the owner by bothering to make a comment.

Each recruiter has their own recruiting software.

This is close to number one but at least the recruiter’s own desk has access to organized information to applicants and/or clients. It is still pretty bad however because of the overlap, redundancy and the inability of the firm to take advantage of collaboration. Collaboration makes two and two more than four because of the shared knowledge and experiences. The recruiting firm who thinks that recruiters should be treated as independent cells is dead wrong even if the firm is successful. Collaboration would make them more successful.

Making a fresh start because the last recruiting system did not work out.

This is like the tennis player blaming the tennis racquet for losing. Do you remember Billie Jean King playing Bobby Riggs? Maybe not, but Bobby Riggs used to beat guys with a broom. I wouldn’t be surprised if Federer could beat most amateurs with a ping pong paddle.

I am always very hesitant when a recruiting software prospect comes to us complaining that his current recruiting software is no good. I will listen harder if the maker of the software is out of business, quite common, or if they complain about a lack of support. But if they start complaining to the effect that they do not like the way it works and it doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that, then I am scared to death. It is not the software, my dear recruiting friend, it is you! Stop looking for someone to blame and try to gain some introspection.

Separate but equal systems for recruiters and sales.

There is no such thing as separate but equal. History has proved that over a million times. A corporation, partnership or privately held recruiting firm has more than one person for a reason. As a group of recruiters and sales recruiters they are more individually productive than they would be as individuals. It makes absolutely no sense to separate data between clients and applicants and keep recruiters in the dark. It is also terribly redundant and makes it necessary to do many things twice (redundancy, yes?).

Heavy customization of commercial recruiting software.


This locks you into a point in time and you will soon have outdated software with no easy way to take advantage of new technology.

We just hired a ‘Super Star Big Biller’ recruiter and we are going to follow his/her lead on recruiting software.

This is a classic case of “the tail wagging the dog”. If he or she was such a super star why aren’t they out on their own or building a company of their own? I really don’t believe you can employ hired guns in the recruiting business as they are too disruptive. It never works, they leave and you end up worse than you were before, but with a smaller savings account. Sounds like a divorce, doesn’t it?

We only use our recruiting software to search resumes.

All good recruiting software is designed to be a complete system for any recruiter. If a piece of it is doing something you don’t like, then learn to like it! To circumvent what it can do starts a chain of events that just begets more confusion and work. These people, I believe, give rise to the “we need a fresh start syndrome”.

In my opinion, using only a limited portion of recruiting software is like buying a grand piano and then only learning how to play “Mary had a little lamb”, because you are too dumb or lazy or both.

Private information in recruiting software.

If you read the above you already know how I feel about this. This concept can only hurt the recruitment effort. If your recruiting firm succeeds with this policy in place than it is succeeding in spite of privatization, not because of it.

We are writing our own recruiting software.

This way is the same as five, only worse. Now the recruiting firm not only has to pay attention to recruiting but recruiting software. Their biggest issue is how they can keep up with evolving technology. How can they ever hope to keep the same programmers working on the same code they created over the years? You cannot expect programmers/software engineers to be loyal to a small recruiting firm. It is very similar to a doctor trying to be his own physician.

Purge the database of undesirables.

How can a recruiting firm keep another recruiter at the same company from making the same mistake if the database does not have road signs for danger?

This is the end of my nuggets of wisdom.


About the Author: Kenneth Peck Graduated from the University of Toledo. Fifteen years in IT from programmer to VP of IT. Spent the next 15 years as a recruiter in Los Angeles and built the product ‘Gopher for Recruiters’. Last 10 years improving the product ‘Gopher for recruiters’ and building the Company ‘BlackDog’ located in Colorado.




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