People-facing roles, like recruiting, are dependent on having access to accurate and timely contact data. From basic contact information to past communication histories, each data point contributes to our likelihood of success.
That is why most of us spend a portion of our days working in and out of an ATS and/or CRM to create new contacts, update existing records, and track communications. We know that this nominal, daily time investment should pay off when it comes time to make a placement or close a new deal.
However, as diligent and well-intentioned as we may be, databases inevitably get plagued with inaccurate, incomplete, and duplicate data, which makes us question the effectiveness of our efforts going forward.
If this sounds familiar, you can find comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Every company struggles with poor data quality, and it is believed that poor data quality costs over $3.1 trillion in the U.S. each year (IBM, 2016). That number is only getting bigger!
While there are no simple solutions to this complex problem, you can be proactive by taking steps to better manage your candidate database and prevent your data quality from spiraling out of control.
Develop a process for adding contacts to your system
How many people at your company use the same ATS / CRM? Two? Ten? Fifty? The reality is the chances for data inconsistencies significantly increase with each additional user.
Unless you have a process in place for how contacts are added to your system (which contact attributes are necessary, how properties should be formatted, etc.), each individual is likely to interpret requirements differently and generate inconsistencies across all of your data.
To avoid or even correct this issue, develop a detailed process for how to add contacts to your database. Most importantly, be sure involve your team during the creation process and incorporate this training into your onboarding process for new hires.
Add skills or create custom attributes to your candidate profiles
The truth is even the best ATS / CRM has its shortcomings when it comes to search. If you’re relying primarily on keywords to search for contacts in your database, you are probably seeing dozens of unqualified contacts in your results. It can be frustrating when a simple search returns poor results because of a simple, matched keyword.
Instead, add skills or custom attribute fields to your candidate records. Over time, you’ll be able to limit your search to these fields and consistently generate quality results.
Determine how you will manage duplicates
One of the biggest challenges I always hear from recruiters is about the struggle with duplicate records. If this sounds familiar, the first step is to evaluate your current system.
Any decent ATS or CRM will automatically detect duplicates and alert you when possible duplicate records are found. If your current tool doesn’t offer this feature, it’s time to consider whether this is the right tool for you. Duplicates are always going to be an issue, and it’s better to address the topic now before your data issues get out of control.
If your ATS or CRM provides duplicate detection, ask your vendor how their duplicate technology works. Does it detect based on shared email addresses or another attribute? Once you know the answer, be conscious of your efforts going forward.
Review your efforts periodically
Are you always encountering the same issues? Does it feel like your fixing the same mistakes daily? If you answered yes, then make it a habit to review your data collection efforts periodically to find gaps in your current process and correct issues. If you make a commitment to periodically reviewing your data, you will minimize issues and can be significantly more confident in your efforts.
Hire someone to clean your database
If the thought of working in your ATS or CRM makes you cringe because your data is just that bad, then it’s time to hire someone to clean your database. Someone with specialized knowledge can merge and delete duplicate records, create consistent naming standards for contact attributes, and identify inaccuracies.
However, please keep in mind that this is no simple task and not just anyone can perform this type of work. If you choose to hire someone, be sure to ask for references and make sure you budgeted for the cost.
If you’re hesitant about going down this path, don’t be. This is a great short-term investment and can have long-term positive effects when paired with long-term processes for data management.
Make a commitment to tackling your data quality
Your data will not get better on its own, unless you make data quality a priority in your recruiting business. As one of my mentors once told me, “Data is the lifeblood of any organization.” It propels every function from sales to marketing to operations, and recruiting is no exception.
Being an efficient, effective recruiter, requires that you rely on tools to support and streamline your process — tools that rely heavily on data. You can’t ignore your data, and expect long-term success. Instead, make a commitment to your recruitment agency’s long-term success by tackling your data quality today.