Recruiting Software – Past, Present and Future

What are the recruiting tools of the future? Where is this recruiting industry going? I wish I had the clarity of vision to see and make perfect decisions to improve our product. We are a small company serving the very small industry of contingency and retained recruiters. Spending six months worth of resources in the wrong direction can be a disaster.

Deployment model

Should we go entirely web based and leave the private network behind? Is that where the entire computer industry is headed? How can the obvious vulnerability of such a model be protected? Logging in and getting ‘page not found’ can spell disaster for a three person recruiting company. I think I am going to stay with both models, the private network and two versions of the Web model. One web model is ASP based so that we can support the total computer needs of a recruiting firm, not just their recruiting software. The second model will be totally web based; we will support Gopher and let the recruiting firm take care of their other computer needs.

Web sites for recruiting firms

Does having a web site help a recruiting firm attract and find the people they need to fill positions for clients? I think so, but for the past 5 years this area has hardly been used by contingency recruiters. Retained search firms only use it as a marketing tool. We have provided a web interface for 5 years. What we thought was cool has morphed into something else! So because of the increased interest in productive web sites for recruiters, we are re-writing the interface for more recruiter control and more options to edit the material presented. The way I see it there are 3 models:

1) A place to direct a candidate to so that the recruiter can gather information from the candidate.
2) A marketing and research tool for candidates to go to so the recruiter can find them quicker.
3) A job board type model so the client and candidate can get together on their own without much work by the recruiting firm. The candidates and clients would also have the ability to edit their own materials.

We are working on producing all three. I think the model with the most potential to be profitable for the recruiting firm is the second one, where candidates find the recruiting firm. Recruiting is a niche-based business. If the firm can identify the keywords that candidates use to find recruiting firms or companies specializing in their expertise, than the web site has the opportunity of ranking high on searches for those keywords and will be found by more candidates. The biggest challenges are either teaching or providing the expertise in web design so that the site ranks high in search engines. Everyone knows search engines are the beasts driving the growth of the internet and Google is the 500-pound gorilla.

PDA’s

The main purpose of a personal digital assistant (PDA) is to act as an electronic organizer or day planner that is portable, easy to use and capable of sharing information with your PC. It’s supposed to be an extension of the PC, not a replacement. Do they help a recruiter become a better, more productive recruiter? I think in some cases they do but in other cases they are just gadgets for the recruiter to play with and impress friends or clients.

It is a good thing if the PDA impresses the clients. I think they are good for recruiters who spend a lot of time out of the office either traveling and visiting client sites or traveling between recruiting offices. In those cases though, I always ask myself, where is their laptop?

In any case we are building ‘Apps’ to interface of our recruiting software, BlackDog, to  PDA’s.

Email

Email is a big topic and big problem for BlackDog Recruiting Software.

We have two email systems in Gopher, one that is internal to Gopher and one that is interfaced to MS Outlook. Some venders build an interface from Outlook to their product, but there is a heavy price of having two applications and the bloat hit you have to protect against because of the tremendous amount of email that recruiters need. We are going the route of staying in one product, our Gopher. The emails to and from any candidates and clients have to be accessible quickly from any user and we can’t depend on an exchange server, as it is too complicated and too difficult to support. We have to build a completely seamless interface from our calendar to the Outlook calendar because the Outlook calendar is used to communicate to non-Gopher users. If they only have Gopher users in their calendar system than we want them to use only the calendar in Gopher and not Outlook. Our calendar for recruiting is better but we have to prove it. Yes, I know, what about all the features for mass emailing and auto email responses.

Resume importing

Without a doubt resume importing is the single most important feature of recruitment software.

I think we have the best on the market – Sovren.

Rank the candidate based on the quality of the resume. Ranking factors would be education (including the quality of the school), work history and the quality of the firms in the candidate’s work history. Personality profiling of the candidate to the personality profile of the company and the styling of the resume would be two other ranking factors. If the style of a web site can make or break a company, I think software can be used to style a resume for the best performance.

What about video resumes and interviews? I don’t know, what about them? The future, or not, or just too soon to say?

Should we focus on finding resumes on the internet or leave that to companies like TalentHook and dtSearch? I think we should focus on good nurturing of the quality candidates already discovered and add to this group on a low growth method, because discovery is too risky in putting a bad deal together. However, this method is good for the contract placement industry.

The GUI

What about the look and feel of the product itself, the Graphical User Interface (GUI). You get better curb appeal when your product has the look and feel of a Microsoft Office product like Outlook, Word and Excel but you take a hit in overall efficiency because of the ‘list’ nature of the design. If you go the Gopher route and break from the mold you create a problem that prospects think the product is outdated. You have an extra learning curve, but once learned the efficiency is forever leaving the list type systems in the dust. We are going to stick with the form based, people centric model and just get better at marketing the difference.

Security

Some of our customers want total control of what other people can have access to in the Gopher database within their own recruiting firm. Some want the recruiters to see only their own records. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I think it really hurts the company but we are going to provide it as an option.

Everything Else

Then, of course, we have an almost endless list of suggestions and wishes from our current customers. The last release of Gopher covered 90 of these topics and the next will cover 90 more. My biggest headache is that one customer who comes up with a problem that no else has ever had. These problems just eat our lunch as far as resources are concerned, and is probably the single biggest reason for me having a sleepless night. After 25 years we don’t have many of these problems. We know how to build bullet proof software but when a bullet does get through it can be a mortal blow to the customer. I wish I could develop a special hit squad that does nothing but resolve these most extreme cases.

Support

It is all about support, recruiters need a lot of help as it is a tough business. How can we provide it without making the product to pricy? How do you draw the line between recruiting support and recruiting software support?

Marketing

Gopher is marketed almost exclusively through web searches. Heck that is the main objective of this Blog, to provide valuable content to our market of recruiters so we can be ranked higher in the search engines! We are doing well in Google and MSN.

9 thoughts on “Recruiting Software – Past, Present and Future”

  1. I just read through your comments and one that stood out for me as an owner of a few of the licsenes is regarding the GUI. I have had a tough time getting my recruiters to tuilize the product to its fullest and would love to be notified when you have any new marketing material that I can get in front of my recruiters/your users.

  2. Ken,
    I like this blog for two reasons. First and foremost, GOPHER is our lifeblood.
    After 20 years working from a Rolodex and pendaflex folders GOPHER became our Command Center.

    So naturally like a sponge I want to absorb any and all thoughts coming out of the GOPHER leadership people.

    Second, reading your first blog I am impressed with the no puff, no BS just straightforward style of your writing.

  3. Just stopped in to say hello and to say how great Gopher is! I am so happy that I chose it as our recruiting solution. Working with you, Ken, and Stephanie and Courtnee has always been a pleasure.

    Take care,
    Bobbi Holter
    Focus Infomatics, Inc.

  4. This is a great blog. It clearly shows your forward thoughts on where the recruiting software industry might be going.

    I added up all the years of experience and I didn’t realize you were that old :>)

  5. Hi Ken, I just read your blog and found it very interesting and agree with the things you have done and proposed for the future. Especially leaving both the web based and customer owned products out there. We are not web based for the very reason you mentioned.

    As Richard Lewis said – Gopher is our lifeblood. We would be (and were) very lost without it.

    Stephanie and Courtnee are always there when needed.

    Earline Veltman
    Vice President/Operations Manager
    Hurd-Harter Mortgage Support, Inc.

  6. Not to parrot, but a lot of what I wanted to say is already here –

    Gopher is the backbone of our firm!

    Support has always been excellent from all of you. Replies to our support requests come so fast I don’t get a chance to move on to my next task hehe. I wish every support team was as efficient.

    The blog here is an excellent idea, and truly conveys the team focus on the product. It also struck me as being very “Town Hall”, which is a gigantic asset for a support environment. Communication is critical and clearly Ken covers all the bases.

    Like Earline, I was also happy to read the private network was not going away (we’re fixed-base with no travel), although there’s a clear advantage to having the reliable remote capability for those recruiters who do actually hit the street.

    I’d keep going but I think my post here is already too long for a blog.

    Keep up the good work!

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