A new generation of recruiting, hiring, applicant tracking and candidate management software solutions are incorporating new features, inspired by CRM and marketing automation, to help conquer recruiters' and hiring managers' biggest challenges.\n\n"We're solving the most common problems companies have with sourcing and hiring: aggregating information about all potential candidates; maintaining updated information about candidates; and communicating with that candidate pool on an ongoing basis," says Evan Lesser, general manager at getTalent.\n\nWhere is everybody?\n\nWhen a recruiter or hiring manager receives a new job requirement to fill, there's usually no way of knowing if any qualified candidates already exist within the company's applicant tracking system (ATS). In other cases, there might be candidate leads stored in LinkedIn mailboxes, paper resumes in filing cabinets, candidates who've made contact via e-mail -- in other words, there's no centralized repository of interested, potentially qualified job-seekers, says Lesser.\n\n"As an HR manager, a hiring manager or a recruiter, there's often no way to look at the totality of candidate information to know what you have, what you need, and whether or not there are existing candidates who'd be a good fit. Sometimes you can search within your ATS, but that's not good enough," he says.\n\nOther times, hiring managers reach out to recruiters to see what types of potential candidates they might be able to put forward, but that's also problematic, says Lessar. Smaller companies might have ten or twelve go-to recruiters; larger enterprises can have hundreds -- it quickly becomes unsustainable and chaotic, he says.\n\n"What ends up happening, nine times out of ten is HR, hiring managers and recruiters just start from scratch. They end up 'firefighting' -- scrambling to find a candidate or two in the most exhausting, inefficient way possible," he says.\n\nEven if you manage to hit on a few potential candidate leads, there's a good chance information is old, outdated and you're going to be cold-calling people -- the chances of a positive response are very slim, Lessar says. Especially with millennial candidates, who communicate in very different ways than baby boomers and generation X, getting a response can be almost impossible. \n\n"You need to adopt many of the forward-thinking practices to build and maintain a candidate pipeline and effectively communicate with potential hires throughout the entire process. It's very, very similar to a CRM solution like Salesforce.com, except in this case, your candidates are your customers. Keeping those leads all in one place, keeping them 'warm' and primed with information about your company is going to help you when it's time to fill a position," he says.\n\nBehind the curve\n\nATS and recruiting software has traditionally lagged in leveraging technology, says Leela Srinivasan, CMO at recruiting and ATS software company Lever. Savvy organizations are finding that good recruiting, sourcing and hiring has much more in common with marketing and sales than you might think, and there are plenty of lessons to be learned from those fields, she says.\n\n"Recruiting, finding talent is the most human of endeavors, and so it has to be more about appealing to your customers -- the candidates -- as human beings who want to engage in a conversation with you about your company and job opportunities over time -- not just when a role is available," Srinivasan says. That means taking into account things like appropriate timing and nurturing candidate leads in the long term.\n\n"Timing is everything for the candidate, and the better systems\u2026 are looking at facilitating a conversation with a candidate over time. If I'm already employed and 'passive,' maybe I'm quite happy -- what's the motivation for me to make a job change? In the past it's been very difficult for companies to keep track of things like motivation -- maybe I have a bonus coming up and my 'vesting cliff' for my retirement plan or long-term incentive bonus is coming up. I wouldn't want to leave until those things occurred. So, you have to make sure you're taking things like this into account -- we call it 'snoozing' a candidate," she says.\n\nAnother area where solutions like Lever and getTalent focus is on creating a highly searchable, open access repository for past candidates and applicants. Companies spend an inordinate amount of time on luring people into the recruitment funnel to get them into a pipeline, but with traditional systems, candidates are shelved and forgotten about once a role is filled.\n\n"In a traditional system, once the role is filled, candidates are just shelved; these systems are very hard to search. Say you fill an Android developer role -- great. But then eight months later, another Android developer leaves. How are you going to go back that pool of candidates you had? It's almost impossible, even though you probably had at least a few people you were considering if your 'first choice' didn't accept," says Srinivasan.\n\nEven if you've managed to aggregate candidate data, it's challenging to keep that information up-to-date. Engaging with candidates based on outdated data -- perhaps they've changed jobs, or have moved to an entirely new industry -- can be at best embarrassing and at worst, can be disastrous to the relationship, says Lesser.\n\nThese new software solutions can pull in data automatically from different sources making it easier to stay current with potential candidates. "It's automatically pulled in and added to a candidate's profile so the information's the freshest possible," Lesser says.\n\nTalk to me\n\nFinally, the most modern talent relationship management solutions offer a myriad of ways to communicate with candidates in the pipeline, whether it's about a company's philanthropic efforts, available jobs or news in the community; today's candidates, especially millennials, are not just looking for a paycheck, they want meaningful work and an employer whose mission and values aligns with their own personal value system, and they want that information communicated to them in different ways, Lesser says. "Most companies rely on email, which is not very engaging," he says.\n\nWithin this new breed of recruiting software, the engagement methods are all aggregated within the platform, and then candidate response rates can be scored much the same way sales leads are in platforms like Salesforce.com, according to Lesser. "We now have the capability to score, rank, qualify, nurture and then -- hopefully -- convert those leads into applications and interviews and hires," he says.