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I am a true veteran of the recruitment industry. This is demonstrated by the fact that the only database I used for my first three years as a recruiter was a manual filing card system.

At Hays (or Accountancy Personnel as it was then called in the UK), there wasn’t even a card system. There were so many jobs pouring through the phone and candidates coming through the door, that you just filled a job and moved onto the next one. There was no value in recording anything other than a placement!

These days things are very different. There are a number of different recruitment databases to choose from and all of them provide numerous functions to greatly improve consultant productivity.

In my experience, very few recruiters use a recruitment database anywhere near to its full potential. To use a metaphor from this past weekend’s activities at Bathurst – it’s like buying a V8 Falcon and then primarily using it to go to the shops and drive to work and home again each day.

I am no technology whizz kid (that’s for sure) but I was always an avid user of the database that each of my respective employers provided.

Most recruiters know they should use their database more effectively, but very little seems to change through the years, as I visit different recruitment agencies and talk to a wide variety of recruiters across the country.

Here are the biggest recruitment database crimes that I have witnessed:

Crime #1 – not all consultants use the database all of the time:  This makes a mockery of any reports you generate to monitor activity and even worse, significantly reduces customer service by increasing the risk that clients and candidates get called two, three or four times by consultants within a short period of time.

Crime #2 – source of candidate referral is not entered: Given the skills shortage, the most critical piece of information your database can store is the source of each candidate. This allows you to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of each dollar you invest in candidate marketing and advertising. Without this information you are simply guessing – a very expensive guess, I would suggest.

Crime #3 – candidate availability status is not updated: Makes it hard to generate a relevant list of available candidates for each job doesn’t it?

Crime #4 – “profit-killing” clients (or candidates) aren’t flagged: These clients/candidates have wasted the time of at least one consultant, once in your company. Any further dealings, if contemplated, need to come with a BIG warning about their previous behavior.

Crime #5 – candidates aren’t skill or experience coded or rated: Is this candidate worth calling? I don’t know.

Crime #6 – platinum candidates aren’t flagged: Which candidates should I prioritise to stay in contact with over the next few months (or years)? I’m not sure.

Crime #7 – client contact details are incomplete: I wrote that telephone number on a Post-it note and put it somewhere …up here…or in here….or maybe it was over there? Hmm, it must be around here somewhere!

Crime #8 – consultants keep parallel spreadsheets: Rather than bother to learn how to use the database properly, I’ll just set up a spreadsheet (only known to me).

Crime #9 – consultants don’t search for candidates prior to posting a job ad: I don’t think our database has any decent candidates. The best candidates must be hungrily scanning all the job boards.

Crime #10 – references, academic transcripts, skills testing results and other relevant documents are not scanned and attached to the candidate file: I need an excuse to keep manual candidate files around so this reason is as good as any.

Crime # 11 – every contact with a client or candidate is not entered: I am not capable of talking on the phone and entering information onto my database at the same time.

Crime # 12 – variations to standard terms of business are not recorded: I’m sure I will remember the specific agreements I made with clients about any discounted fees or extended guarantees I negotiated (and only I will know about).

Crime # 13 – consultants don’t enter any (or any useful) interview comments: Good skills, presented well, seems keen, looks a bit like Lisa McCune, worth referring.

Crime #14 – arse-kicking of consultants doesn’t occur if any of the above 13 (or any other) database crimes are committed: If it was really important to use the database properly, then my butt would have copped a flogging, but it hasn’t. And I can’t remember a time when any consultant around here got taken to task for not using the database properly, so I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’ve always been doing.

Consider your database as representing the intellectual capital of your firm. If you had an opportunity to sell this intellectual capital and consequently, prospective buyers conducted due diligence on your database, would you be excited or would you already be dreading the results of that due diligence report?


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Posted by Scott Burton

Great points Ross. The ‘ass kicking’ one is particularly relevant for business Owners and Managers charged with building the continuity of company knowledge and value of the business. Good one.

Scott Burton
Abbertons Human Resources

Piers Rowan

Worst interview notes I have seen:

"Nice shoes, Prada handbag"

Sure it was a reminder of who the person was to the consultant but to anyone else it was useless: You don't write interview notes for yourself, you right them for people you may never meet!

RE: Using the database:

Repeat after me: "…..if its not in the database – it didn't happen…."

Databases are no longer slow, clogged choke points of work flow – they are bottomless pits of information. You need to take care of the micro / day-to-day / min-to-min tasks and let the database do its job. People not updating the database is a source of information entropy that destroys the value of information and the quality of knowledge processes in a business.

Tip: Have company wide access

No one can say "…a dog ate my homework!!!!…" when everyone can see the activity of each employee across the country / region / world, see their KPI's and rate their own level of accountability with that of everyone else.

Great post Ross – Thank you!

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