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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Executive Recruiting Software

Christian Spletzer - October 23, 2018

In the recruiting software world, there’s a platform for just about everything. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make mistakes if you don't take certain things into account when selecting your executive recruiting software.

In the retained search world, you need to clearly demonstrate your consultative value to your clients on every project, at every stage of each project. They need to feel like they hired the right firm from the beginning to the end of the project. Finding a software product to help you do that can be a challenge. You also need a way to still keep track of all the phone calls, meetings, interviews, and documents you accumulate on each and every project you run.

The trick, of course, is finding the right recruiting software for your business. Just like no two businesses are exactly alike, neither are two recruitment platforms, and it’s crucial that you find the right fit for your business.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid when looking for recruiting software, which will help ensure you’re finding the software that best fits your needs.

Mistake 1: Buying software for the wrong type of search.

Basically, there are two different types of recruitment models: contingency and retained search.

The contingency model is usually what most people think of when they think of headhunters. These are the people who have candidates that are actively looking for work. Contingency firms usually work on a non-exclusive basis which means that there can be more than one (sometimes, many more than one) firm trying to fill that role by presenting actively looking candidates.

The retained model, on the other hand, is very different. This type of search is usually the exclusive model for executive search projects that place senior-level executives. This means that the company and the search firm are working exclusively with only one another to fill the role. That’s because, in this case, there's more at stake—both for the company and for the executive search firm.

In order to decide the software that’s best for your firm, you have to establish what business you’re in. Are you contingency? Are you retained? Do you do both? Do you do a hybrid model of the two? Or are you an internal recruiter within a company (with a whole other list of things you need to cover like HR and onboarding coordination)?

You can't be all of them, so you have to recognize which is appropriate for you. Then and only then can find the software designed to fit your model. A recruiter shouldn’t say, “Oh yeah, I do everything,” and therefore get software that does a million things they don’t actually need. You have to make sure you’re getting software as a tool that will actually aid your day-to-day tasks and keep your company running efficiently.

Mistake 2: Getting software that doesn’t know your business workflow.

Most software has a strong rationale behind it; it is built to solve a workflow problem. Make sure your software was built by people who know your specific workflow (and can help you improve upon it).

One size does not fit all. Different types of search models require different workflows, and different workflows require different software. If you spend your time getting ready week over week for your client status call then your software should be built to help you do just that. Make sure your software fits your workflow.

Mistake 3: Falling prey to shiny object syndrome.

Just because something is new and exciting doesn’t mean it’s inherently valuable—especially if it’s tech.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in all the new bells and whistles that some technology offers. But, the promise of new technology doesn’t always equate to better. Sometimes it means more work. For example, AI is getting a lot of press these days. It can be a great way to weed through a mountain of inbound resumes that an ATS at a large corporation might receive. It might be less relevant, though, for a retained search firm that focused on Board member searches where the research is more complex and nuanced than machine learning / AI can handle at this point.

So, when it comes to recruitment software, people need to focus less on, “Oh wow, that’s cool!” and think more about, “How am I going to use this to demonstrate our value so clients are happy and come back to me for more work?”

Mistake 4: Letting the wrong person make the decision.

It’s also important to make sure the right person is making the decision when it comes to what software you choose.

One of the problems retained search firms run into is that the partners are busy. They’re working with clients and candidates, and then when it comes time to make a software decision, they may say, “I’m too busy to deal with this.”

Too often, what the boss is saying when they say it's time to find new software, is, "I've been hearing from you guys that you hate our software, and it's clunky. I never log into it because I'm busy out there winning business and talking to clients, but to keep you guys feeling good, go bring me the two best."

But not having the decision-maker or business owner involved in this decision—understanding that this is a business decision—can be detrimental.

Partners who run the firm know each and every step of what their business requires. Retained search is not a back-end business. It is front-of-the-house; you work with clients and candidates every day. Your software needs to support that.

Most recruiting software providers know that the partners don’t use their software with their clients, so the companies build software for the back-of-the-house team. Minimizing clicks is great, but in the retained search world, you should have software that maximizes client satisfaction first and foremost. That’s what partners care about, and when thinking about which software their firms need they should be laser-focused on finding the software that will make sure their clients see value and are happy with the firm’s work.

And, usually, that’s not something a junior researcher can assess.

Mistake 5: Thinking technology will solve all of your problems.

Sad news: Technology does not solve the “work” problem.

All too often, people make the mistake of believing that new tech will take away the need to actually do work, which isn’t to say that technology can’t help.

Technology should be structured in a way that supports what's important to your business or what's important to your workflow—not in a way that replaces it. Because at the end of the day, software doesn’t solve problems. People do.

At Clockwork, we’ve chosen to focus on retained search. To succeed in this market, we’ve had to resist the urge to be everything to everyone, and instead, we focus on working with the best retained search firms to help them succeed in each project they run and grow their business.

But, this means we have to help clients understand that tech is a tool—not a solution. We designed our product to help retained search firms show their clients why they hired them in the first place so that those clients keep coming back (and tell their friends).

Christian Spletzer

Christian Spletzer

After years of working as an executive recruiter, Christian Spletzer founded Clockwork to improve how search firms and clients work together on retained search projects. He designed Clockwork to help recruiters demonstrate their consultative value to their clients at every stage of each project.

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