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Oct 18, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The landscape of sourcing and recruiting tools is crowded, and growing every day. It’s tough to keep up with new changes, and even tougher to decide what tool will actually work best for you. Everyone works differently, too, so there’s rarely a true one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why it’s important to develop your own strategy for selecting the best tools for yourself and your team.

Your strategy for selecting tools shouldn’t be that different from any other strategy you employ. You should know what you need, find what’s out there, and measure how well everything works together.

Know yourself: before you evaluate anything, you should know what you already do and how well you do it. Take some time to think about your recruiting workflow, and write it down if you can. Break up what you do into stages, and then break those stages down into individual steps. How much time do you spend writing your Boolean search strings or scheduling candidates? It’s important to know those pain points before you can dig into the tools that are out there.

In addition to knowing your recruiting process, you should know exactly what you’re looking for: are you building up an entire toolbox from the ground up? Are you replacing an existing tool that isn’t actually helping you out? Are you supplementing your existing workflow? Are you looking for one tool that will solve one problem very well, or are you evaluating an enterprise solution that will address many issues? Figure out what you’re looking for and evaluate the tools against that standard.

Find and evaluate the tools. Once you’ve determined your pain points, start thinking about the best way to evaluate each tool. Before you even research the tools that are out there, you should give a list of questions you’re going to ask. These questions will vary from solution to solution, but some things are going to be important throughout:

  • Does this tool make your life easier?
  • Can you replicate what this tool does for free?
  • Will you spend more time managing this tool or using it?

Remember that all tools should save you time or money (and hopefully both). If something isn’t saving either, it might be time to re-evaluate it.

Come up with questions that are specific to the part of the recruiting process you’re evaluating. You’ll ask different questions about your prospective appointment-setting tool than you will about a tool that will help organize search strings, for example, and it’s important to know those questions in advance. For example, if you’re evaluating a tool that is candidate, or client-facing, think about the user experience. is an Artificial Intelligence solution that will actually write and send emails back and forth to people with whom you’re scheduling meetings, so in addition to knowing how effective it is at finding open meeting times, you’ll want to find out what the experience is like to get an email written by an AI algorithm.

However, when you’re evaluating tools that will help you write your search string, you’ll want to consider the user experience, instead of the candidate experience: how easy is it to put the string together? Can you copy it to use it across different websites and within your own ATS? Will it suggest or supplement your ideas with its own suggestions? You can get more advanced, too. Some big data technologies have names that are also common English words, like Spark and Hive. How does your stringbuilder work with them? For example, if you add “spark” to your search, will it find a bunch of car mechanics experienced with “spark plugs?” Bring questions like this to your demo call.

Once you’ve got your questions ready, you can start looking for the tools that are out there. There are a ton of places to look, start with news sites (like SourceCon!), but also check out the work of some people who are experts in the field – Dean Da Costa’s Search Authority blog and Carmen Hudson’s Recruiter Hunt – are excellent resources. You can also look for folks who are sponsoring conferences like HR Technology. Figure out the top five tools, and then evaluate them against those standards.

Measure how well they work. Recruiting is a data-driven industry, so it’s important to gather the information you need to properly evaluate your tools, especially if you have any trial options available. Before you even try something, you should set the metrics for success: what does it look like? Do you have a target number of hires per tool? Can you send pulse surveys to your team to figure out how much they enjoy using it? Can you evaluate the tool against its competitors?

Are you leading a team or evaluating tools for your team? Make sure you set them up for success. We organize all of our tools into a literal toolbox: we use the recruiting stages I mentioned earlier to organize a spreadsheet of all of the tools we have access to, what part of the process we use them for, how to access them, how much they cost, and how many hires we’ve made from them, and we share this spreadsheet with our whole team. Organizing his from the outset is a huge time saver once we hit budget and renewals season!

Tools are an important part of the recruiting and sourcing process, and it’s easy to get bogged down in evaluating them. Save yourself time, money, and energy by knowing what you’re looking for, what you’re asking, and what your success looks like before you start seeing what’s out there.


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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