Countdown to HRTech: Recruitment Marketing and CRM

The last trend I will share in this countdown to the HR Technology Conference focuses on CRM and recruitment marketing. CRM is one of the core systems of a TA tech stack. It is designed to improve the front-end of the recruiting process and tackles most of what the ATS just doesn’t do…engaging with individuals before they apply for a job. The majority of enterprise companies are buying, replacing, or using a CRM this year. And while 81% of companies stated that recruitment marketing looked different since COVID-19, 66% of companies are unhappy with their efforts today (Aptitude Research).

This market is crowded and confusing. A few years ago, we referred to these systems as recruitment marketing platforms, with CRM being the core. Today, companies often refer to CRM and career sites as two distinct investments with different add-ons. Providers and their capabilities are not apples to apples like the ATS market. Every provider seems to be moving in a different direction, creating an even bigger gap between what customers want and what they get. And a few providers seem to be moving far away from CRM and recruitment marketing altogether.

Full disclosure…I love the CRM market, and I love talking about recruitment marketing. We found that 67% of companies spend more on their CRM than on their ATS, which is the most critical investment for some companies. It includes core capabilities (“must-haves”) and advanced capabilities that may or may not be core to the platform (“nice-to-haves”). The most critical capabilities in these systems include career sites, CRM, analytics, apply, job distribution, talent networks, candidate communication, events management, internal mobility, automated scheduling, and employee referrals. These systems have matured over the past few years with intelligent workflows, personalized content driven by AI, omnichannel communication, and more automation.

We are publishing our next Index report this fall on the CRM market and including extensive profiles of the following leading providers: Avature, Beamery, Clinch, Eightfold, Employ, GR8 People, Phenom, Radancy, and Symphony Talent.

Below are some of the findings:

  • Adoption is Low: Adoption is low for many of these systems. A few years ago, we found that only 2% of companies use all the capabilities in their CRM. Not much has changed today. And the fault is not always on the provider. Many companies invest in these systems without considering the resources they need internally, including creative support, administrators, and dedicated recruitment marketing professionals. Companies should consider their target audiences, overall goals and objectives, and key performance indicators before investing in technology. A CRM is not a quick fix. It is a long-term commitment to shifting how companies can engage with talent.
  • Partnerships Matter: A CRM won’t solve every recruitment marketing challenge. And companies have to look at additional support in areas such as programmatic job advertising, employer branding, content management, and conversational AI. Most providers are partnering with an ecosystem of providers and will even white-label some of these partnerships. Companies should carefully consider what and who they are buying. But, customers can also work closely with providers to help influence future partnerships.
  • Career Sites are a Differentiator: Companies looking to invest or replace a CRM often start with the career site. Career sites are an immediate need, and many companies are losing talent at this stage. Career sites may seem like table stakes in recruitment marketing but not every provider offers personalized, dynamic career sites. Also, not every provider includes creative services and these expenses can add up quickly. Some companies are even going to RFP separately for their career site, and CRM needs. There is even a market for providing more engagement on career sites. Providers like Dalia have emerged to help capture talent leaving a career site and send job alerts to keep them engaged.
  • Marketing Automation is a Game Changer: Marketing automation helps companies better engage and nurture talent by automating marketing tasks and letting companies know which candidates are cold, warm, and “ready-now.” It sits at the top of the funnel and manages all interactions with talent, including when they visit a career site, open an email, open a job advertisement, etc. It solves what the ATS, LinkedIn, and CRM cannot do – informing recruiters when someone is ready to be hired and engaging that individual in a meaningful way. Integrating CRM and marketing automation software can increase a company’s recruitment marketing capabilities and improve the experience. Candidate.ID (an iCIMS company) leads the way in recruitment marketing, and they will also be profiled in this report.
  • Sourcing is an Area to Watch: Sourcing providers such as HireEZ , Aliro, and Findem are expanding into outbound recruitment, employee referrals, internal mobility, rediscovery, and candidate outreach in a major way this year. In addition, these providers offer sourcing and engagement solutions that may be an alternative to a traditional CRM.

Only one week left until HRTech. Looking forward to seeing everyone!


  • Madeline Laurano

    Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today. In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).