Dave talks to… Richard Harris


Dave talks to Richard Harris about CRMs as the backbone of all recruitment tech stacks, identifying your requirements, ensuring the tech is scaleable, the huge benefit of integrated solutions and the future of AI in recruitment.

The One Where They Talk About…

In episode 214 of the Talent Matters podcast series, Wave CEO Dave Jenkins chats to Richard Harris, Wave’s new Operations Director. Having worked in recruitment and recruitment technology for nearly two decades, Richard knows a thing or two about recruitment technology and streamlining processes. Prior to working at Wave, Richard was an IT recruiter before working at Broadbean and then Cube19 so he is well placed to advise on recruitment technology stacks and the future of tech in recruitment.

It’s a hugely insightful chat that will help any recruitment agency owner struggling to build the perfect rec tech stack and will hopefully help you to avoid making costly mistakes. If you haven’t had a listen, we highly recommend you do. In the meantime, take a look at the key takeaways below.

Start with a CRM

The pace at which recruitment technology has advanced is phenomenal. Ten to fifteen years ago a recruitment agency might have just had a CRM and perhaps a posting tool. There’s now a piece of tech to do everything in the recruitment world which can be hugely overwhelming. Where do you even start? The CRM/ATS is still the backbone of a rec tech stack. The first thing a recruiter will do in the morning is open that up so that’s what you’ve got to get right first.

Identify the requirements of your business to pinpoint the best providers for you

There are a lot of CRM providers out there so how do you whittle them down? Firstly, you need to work out the needs of your business. You might need custom workflows because of the market you recruit in, you may be looking to find a CRM that has the ability to add and track leads, or one that allows website integrations or client portals. Whatever they are, do due diligence on your requirements because a CRM is a long-term investment. Changing your CRM is one of the hardest things a recruitment agency has to do as it contains the lifeblood of your business – your candidates, clients and jobs. Migrating that information is not always straightforward and you want to limit any downtime you may have so ensure that you plan for the future – you definitely don’t want to be changing CRM providers every couple of years.

Look at what needs you have now and in the future to build your tech stack

Identify what needs and challenges your business has now and what those might evolve into as you scale. Look at what challenges you need to solve and find the tech that can help with that. For example, if you’re a new company starting out, you might be focusing on brand awareness. You’ll want people to know who you are, what you can offer, what makes you unique. An engaging website that’s visually appealing, with good UX might therefore be next on your tech list. You may want to improve you candidate engagement by investing in video interviewing tech. You may need help with automating marketing. Think about what you need, identify the tech providers that offer solutions to help you with those challenges and go from there. Think of your recruitment funnel and where challenges lie at those different stages to identify what technologies will help you with those parts of the business.

View your tech stack as a gym membership

Richard looks at building the right tech stack like a gym membership – when you go to the gym, you use the right machines to achieve your body goal. Rec tech stacks are the same – you need to use the right technologies at the right time to progress your business to where you want it to be, whether that’s attracting top talent, getting jobs out, or building brand awareness. It’s easy to get dazzled by a new piece of shiny tech but you need to focus on what you really need and what will get you there or else you’ll end up with loads of pieces of tech that don’t solve any of your problems.

Building your own CRM can be detrimental long term

There are pros and cons to custom building a CRM. The key is to work out if the system is scaleable. The bonus of established providers is that the infrastructure is already there so when you scale your business, it is easy to do and you have the support to do it. The same applies to websites – you may decide to build your own website with a cheap template but websites need maintenance and continuous updates as you grow – something a mainstream provider will do for you. Pieces of tech such as these are long-term investments to cover five to eight years. You also want to ensure that the CRM or website maintenance doesn’t detract you from your main job of recruitment and that’s really what you pay for – it’s an investment of time and expertise.

Integrated solutions offer a ‘single source of truth’

A question that often arises amongst SME recruitment business owners is whether an integrated solution is really the best option or if having several pieces of tech that work alongside each other without the hassle of an integration is preferable. For Richard, integrations are the obvious choice. When you work with an integrated solution, you don’t have to worry about having multiple tabs open, or have to log into multiple places. You go to one place and everything you need is there, simplifying and streamlining all processes. When you think about what you and your consultants need – to attract candidates, bring them onboard, get them into jobs, and move on to the next one –  it’s key for your tech to do all of these things from the same place. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a ‘single source of truth’. What you don’t want is a load of siloed information with no way of easily knowing how they all tie in. If the data sets don’t tie together, it becomes very difficult to analyse them properly, making understanding ROIs, especially for job boards, difficult.

Digital transformation journeys may require specialist tech roles

In larger recruitment businesses there are already operations and business system manger roles that exist to solely handle the tech and help determine what is and isn’t needed. In bigger agencies that use up to ten pieces of tech, you need someone to manage the process, looking at how all the tech ties together, monitoring the funnel and ensuring you’re getting the desired outcomes. This is part of the digital transformation journey that many recruitment agencies are on now and such roles might become commonplace in the future when every agency has multiple pieces of tech.

The future of AI in recruitment has already begun

People have been talking about AI in recruitment for quite a few years but they didn’t realise the potential power of it to help in a myriad different areas of recruitment. Ultimately, if used correctly, AI and automation can make things quicker and easier in recruitment. Recruiters can use it to stay in touch with candidates, for lead generation, to look at CVs, companies and skills. Not everyone’s on board yet, there will always will be resistance to change. However, used in the best way, it won’t replace that essential human touch, it will enhance it. Recruitment will always have human interaction or the heart of it will be taken away. Some people think AI will make recruiters lazy but what it should do is make them work smarter. It can give recruiters the focus to do what they’re good at – that’s where WaveTrackR’s AI Job Advert Assistant came from. Recruiters are natural communicators but not all are natural writers. The AI Assistant simply gives people a helping hand.

And the all-important foodie question…

“I don’t really like to cook so I’d take guests out. I’m quite happy to go to Nando’s but do like a steak and I now know that steak should not be well done!”

Talent Matters Podcast