Building Your Own CRM

If you’re lucky enough to have a fully effective Candidate Relationship Manager (CRM), you’re ahead of the game. Many sourcers have been bogged down when it comes to a clunky CRM that hasn’t been updated in the past five years, and some of them look for ways to un-clunk their life. With tight or nonexistent budgets to purchase an entirely new solution, sourcers are looking for alternatives that would give them the ability to build their own and bridge the gaps. While that sounds daunting, there are simple, practical solutions to developing a CRM that works for you.

Unlike prefab tools, you can customize your CRM to have more or no fewer tools than what you need. To create a useful and scalable customized CRM, you need to first follow these steps:

Step One: Identify Needs and Scalability.

Identify what sort of scale you’re going to need to make this work and understand what kind of functionality needed for your process to work efficiently. Note: If you’re flying solo in your sourcing efforts — you might be able to jump right in and edit the system as you go. But, if you’re working with a team it may take a little longer to develop a new process that works for everyone. It might be beneficial for you to sit down with your team members and get a sense of what is important to everyone and stack rank them based on what’s needed to not re-clunk this process.

Step Two: Choose your platform.

Now that you’ve understood what your needs are and the level of scalability that you’re looking for, it’s time to choose your platform. There are many free and open source CRM platforms out there that allow you build from the ground up, but if you’re not as technologically savvy, it might be easy to start from the basics. The most basic way to do this type of work would be through a Google Spreadsheet.

Step Three: Building your CRM

When you’re building your CRM, you want to take account for what information should be included. When building in something as simple as a Google Spreadsheet you can use information like the following:


  • Demographics: Contact name, email, phone number,
  • Source: It’s important to collect source so you can go back and study data on where your best source of hire is down the line.
  • Next Action: You can build your system that determines the next action that needs to be taken, but building this with your team allows everyone to be on the same page and everything is streamlined. I think you should think of a coded system that allows you to determine that 1 = this action and two = that action, and so forth.
  • Next action date: You’ll want to always set a due date when the next action is supposed to be taken. That way candidates don’t fall into a black hole.


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While these are four basic things that every CRM should have — each company should have a set of predetermined categories that they want to collect on each candidate, but when building a CRM from scratch, it’s important that they all do the same thing regarding building a true holistic CRM solution.

Add-ons to push your simple CRM further

The beautiful part of having your CRM cloud-based is how easily it integrates with social media, making marketing to your candidate base a breeze. Once a social media recruitment strategy is in full swing, there are multiple capture tools that make it too easy to pull profile information into your CRM. In the future, we can look forward to a multitude of artificial intelligence products which will help us work smarter. In the meantime here are a couple of extensions to make life easier:

  • TweetDeck Similar to Hootsuite, TweetDeck is a free Twitter management tool and dashboard you can use to post, schedule and share content on all the Twitter accounts you own.
  • This is one of the capture tools mentioned that can clip and drop data from job boards, career sites and social profiles into most ATS and CRM systems.
  • Streak A personal favorite which literally transforms your inbox into a customizable CRM for recruitment. This seamlessly tracks candidate interactions, and has great collaborative tools for teams to record and share candidate information.
  • Evernote This is an awesome plug-in you can use to pull LinkedIn profiles into use throughout the recruitment process. Completely shareable and searchable, it’s another way to make data capture a breeze.
  • Rapportive This extension is the shortcut to see everything you’d need to know about your contacts right inside your inbox


Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but there’s no reason you have to sit and suffer with bad tools. Comment below with any questions or tricks you have found to supplement a lousy CRM.


Phil Hendrickson, former Chief Talent Strategist at Qwalify, is an industry recognized expert in the field of talent acquisition. He brings decades of experience helping companies solve a broad range of challenges, ranging from millennial recruiting, talent pipelining, recruiter training, diversity strategies, employer brand, talent engagement, veterans initiatives, mobile recruiting, social media, talent retention and systems integrations.

Having worked inside companies across a broad range of industries, from professional services, financial services and retail Phil understands how to navigate across teams and lead projects successfully. Several examples include: at Apple, doubling the Americas recruiting team to accommodate record store openings, consolidating a global CRM and beginning a veterans’ initiative. At Starbucks, he helped to: launch their veterans’ initiative, mobile recruiting, begin Starbucks jobs on Twitter and rolling out the first hourly ATS across 9,000 stores.

Phil has a passion for the retail industry and for helping recruiting teams overcome seasonal talent shortages, reduce turnover and other retail specific recruiting challenges. At both Starbucks and Apple Phil has perfected strategies for recruiting for culture fit.

Phil has been interviewed in Forbes, WSJ, CIO Insights and the Canadian Retailer Magazine. He supports local and national recruiting organizations and sits on the board of Northwest Recruiters Association, The LinkedIn 100, US Avature Advisory Council, a founding Advisory Council member for GettingHired a portal for people with disabilities and he was on LinkedIn’s Talent Brand Hall of Fame.

Phil began his recruiting career at a small boutique search firm in Lexington MA, and soon joined larger executive search firms before deciding to go into corporate recruiting. He has spent his corporate career at Sapient, Fannie Mae, Starbucks, Apple Retail, Qwalify and now Proactive Talent Strategies.

Prior to his career in talent acquisition he was an artist in Los Angeles, a painter, sculptor and a glass blower who traveled to Italy many times. Putting himself through school at UCLA Phil was a furniture mover living in Santa Monica while also working as an apartment manager, handyman and gardener for an apartment building near the ocean. In LA he also worked in Hollywood doing production work as a grip on TV commercials and music videos.