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GuidesEmployee experienceCandidate relationship management (CRM): A quick guide

Candidate relationship management (CRM): A quick guide

Last updated

27 June 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

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Well-qualified applicants are a hot commodity for employers, but it can be hard to work through endless applications. A business must also stay on top of its pool of candidates to ensure a promising applicant doesn’t slip through the net. 

Recruiters looking to maintain a relationship with their applicants use business software to diversify their talent pool and save time and money on the process. 

Candidate relationship management (CRM) software makes that easier. Let’s learn more. 

Candidate relationship management (CRM) definition

Attracting a candidate, engaging them, and maintaining a relationship throughout the hiring process is the definition of candidate relationship management. 

CRM software helps companies source and nurture that process. It saves time and reduces the cost per hire. A comprehensive CRM software solution should source candidates, engage them through the process, and do recruitment marketing for the company.

Importance of candidate relationship management for recruiting

Whether you’re using an outside recruiting company or your company's in-house recruitment, a CRM system can be crucial to hiring suitable applicants for the job. Here’s why:

Head-start on high value

CRM allows you to have an applicant pool just waiting on being called to interview whenever you need to add high-value additions to the company. 

The right organization helps you see available candidates for interviewing and onboarding.

Building a brand

CRM can help your company build a brand with employee satisfaction and great communication as cornerstones.

Lost talent insight

CRMs can show you where you lost a potential employee's interest in the hiring process. This can help you restructure your talent acquisition to keep your applicants interested.

Company insight 

CRM software solutions can match applicants with the values and culture of your company, helping to make a better long-term addition.

Demographic analysis

Sorting your applications into separate demographics can ensure a range of skill sets. It also allows you to target specifics and change the applicant pool as needed.

Talent nurturing

Even when you don’t pick an applicant for a specific job, they may be able to go into a pool for a later job. Nurturing candidates and considering them for future postings creates a database of people who are right for your company, even if they aren't right for the job they applied for.

Better communication

Automated emails and notifications to your applicants ensure good communication. Acknowledging updated paperwork or new accounts will go a long way in keeping an applicant’s outlook positive throughout the process.

The CRM process

The CRM process has five stages. Each one is important and spills into the next step. 

These stages are: 

  • Discover

  • Attract

  • Engage

  • Nurture

  • Hire


At this stage, you discover applicants through social media posts and applications. This is where recruiting begins. CRM software holds applicant information and records interactions between the applicant and recruiter.


A brand promotion attracts applicants, turning passive talent into possible applicants.


The CRM filters and streamlines interested applicants. This can include telling applicants if you’ve selected them and updating them on the process. 

Candidate relationship management software may have email templates for each part of the process.


Unsuitable applicants are still potential candidates for other positions, so they should receive updates about future opportunities.


The company hires the applicant, with the CRM completing the workflow from beginning to end.

Candidate relationship management best practices

You need three main goals for your CRM to ensure your company and recruiters get the best candidates:

Real expectations

Never promise what you can't deliver. Gathering applicants with false expectations about the position may land employees in the short term, but they'll leave when they realize that you overpromised. 

Make sure your job description clearly explains what the job is and isn't. 

Keep your hiring process and timeline transparent so there’s no guesswork on either side.

Keep promises

If you make promises during the application process or the interview, keep them. 

Honest communication is a leading aspect of candidate relationship management. When a company or recruiter is trustworthy, the potential hire will have more faith in the process.

Informed stakeholders

CRM is not just about management and new employees; it extends to everyone with a stake in the process. Open communication and updates between all company levels keep everyone in the loop. Memos and briefings can be helpful for issuing updates. 

Stakeholders need to know when you’re hiring, what position it’s for, and what you expect to happen after you’ve hired someone for the job.

Features to look for in CRM software

Here are some features to look out for when choosing a candidate relationship management software system:

Resume parsing abilities

Your CRM should be able to review resumes and parse them quickly to help you find a suitable candidate.

Workflow automation

A CRM needs to automate some actions, like candidate emails and scheduled interview notifications.

Candidate ratings

Rating an applicant on their skillset and other assessments can help you see if an applicant is a good fit. 

Talent pool options

Making a talent pool for different department roles can streamline the process.


The CRM should have analytics that tell you how your sources are performing and whether they are sending the right employee referrals to you. You should be able to customize and download these reports at your convenience.

Cross-device capability

Cross-device functionality between computer, phone, and tablet ensures you can use the software wherever and whenever you need it.

Applicant profiles 

Creating a profile for each candidate and holding your interactions there can make organization easier. You can readily share these profiles with the people that need access.

ATS integration

Having the CRM and applicant tracking system (ATS) interact with each other can secure the right employee for the position through data sourcing.


What is the difference between CRM and ATS?

Both are business software that can help in the hiring of employees. 

A CRM creates a maintainable recruitment talent pool, while an ATS helps coordinate the application and hiring processes.

What are the three types of CRM?

The three types of candidate relationship management systems are:

  • Operational, which works with the hiring and application process

  • Analytical, which segments candidates by skill set

  • Collaborative, which blends the two and manages the process from start to finish 

What is the difference between CRM and ERP?

A CRM focuses on front-end processes, while enterprise resource planning (ERP) focuses on the process and operations of a business.

How do you maintain relationships with candidates?

Recruiters should be: 

  • Personable and attentive

  • Transparent in communications

  • Careful not to overpromise or underproduce

  • Willing to share feedback between the applicant and company

  • Focused on sending viable options to the company to not waste anyone’s time

What is the relationship management approach?

Providing positive hiring relationships between a company and a hiring applicant is the definition of relationship management. 

Data collection and analysis uncover trends or process problems while strengthening communication between the company and candidate.

Is CRM software hard to learn?

Most CRM software systems have tutorials and walkthroughs, allowing you to learn as you go.

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