MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – April 1, 2007 – By Karen Cariss, CEO of people management systems company, PageUp.

Talent pools and candidate database systems are becoming more prevalent in Australian recruitment practice today. Organisations are feeling the pressure to reduce candidate cost per hire, reduce time to fill, and target leaders for the future all whilst improving quality.

To be more strategic, recruitment teams are looking to longer term solutions to achieve higher levels of retention and a better return on investment on their recruitment practices.

Candidate databases for recruitment are one method to achieve these returns, and when a fully functional dynamic candidate relationship database is implemented with a supporting recruitment process, sourcing costs can reduce between 25-50%.

Karen Cariss of PageUp explains how recruiters can make the most of their talent databases and use the principles of marketing to understand their candidates better.

1. Talent database vs candidate relationship management tool

Invest in a database that not only holds contacts but also acts as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which holds valuable information about the candidate. For example, include the prospective candidate’s interests, awards won, and last date contact had been made. Build a picture or story of the person. Also target the organisations ‘pain points’ by building a contact list of relevant people that could fill jobs that are difficult to fill.

2. Refer to the database before advertising

Most employers are still failing to effectively use their candidate databases as a dynamic, ‘live’ resource. A survey among top 100 Australian companies by PageUp found that most employers use their databases as a filing cabinet and 30% do not search their talent pools before they advertise. Ensure you have a process policy in place that incorporates the database as the first point of research. The more relevant and comprehensive the data is the easier it will be to encourage people to search the database first.

3. Assign an in-house headhunter

Roles that are business critical combined with difficult to fill require a different approach. Applying common headhunting tactics to these roles to build a database of passive candidates and referrers works best. Of course you can always outsource the headhunting, however for truly business critical roles there should be serious consideration to bringing the responsibility in house.

4. Conduct focus groups

Conduct focus groups with prospective candidates. Bring them together for a drink after work and ask their opinion on industry trends or job interests. Ask questions about what they read and what they do in their spare time and feed the information into the database. Perhaps do it in association with a support network, such as the RSCA, if for example you are building a talent pool of prospective recruiters. This information will help tailor and target your recruitment attraction strategies in the future while helping to maintain relationships with key candidates.

5. Team Structure

Structure your team internally so that at least one or two people full-time focus is on maintaining the database end-to-end. Their focus is to keep the contacts and content fresh and to devise communication strategies to keep in touch with candidates and to keep your organisation top of mind. You never know when someone will want to change jobs.

6. Database marketing

Hold information sessions, seminars and network drinks and launch your marketing strategy around your client relationship management process. Invite co-workers, clients, suppliers and candidates. This can create an optimum branding exercise while position the company as innovative.

7. Optimise the website

For most recruiters posting career information online is simply writing the content and passing it on to the people in charge of the company web site to handle. Recruiters can do more from their end to improve the probability that more people will read the career pages on the site. If done well, recruiters can even rely on Google, Yahoo and ninemsn to fill their positions and reduce the cost of advertising on job boards.

In the second part of a two-part series, Cariss outlines 13 tips on how to make the most of your careers pages to ensure your organisation is listed on the top 10 search engines.