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CRM in Recruitment: The Ultimate Guide for your Recruitment Agency

Blog CRM In Recruitment The Ultimate Guide For Your Recruitment Agency (1)

Getting the right CRM in recruitment can pay off in spades. A CRM platform is the central hub that organizes and tracks data about relationships with your clients. Recruitment agencies can leverage CRMs to retain clients, improve productivity, and be a cut above the rest.

A CRM’s organized data makes it easier to know your clients, which leads to agency employees providing them with better service. And happy customers become repeat customers. With those chances for referrals and upsells, plus the benefits of internal transparency and good reporting, there’s great potential to grow your business with a CRM.

But choosing a CRM platform is where things get complex. There are 800+ platforms out there, and not all of them are the right fit for a recruitment business.

To cut through the fog, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to choosing a recruitment CRM. This article will walk you through the basics of CRMs, from the benefits they bring to which features you might need.

From there, we'll go over some costs you can expect. And for a practical process walkthrough, we've written up a step-by-step mini-manual on choosing your own CRM.

Finding the best CRM software for recruitment doesn’t have to be hard. Get equipped with the right information to start your journey in our guide.

Table of Contents


1. What are CRM systems and why are they important?

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform tracks business relationships and interactions. It’s a database with unique customer profiles to keep tabs on related activities, notes, reminders, and more. Putting all that data in its proper place simplifies everything from departmental collaboration to customer retention.

Clients can have hundreds or even thousands of interactions with an agency. One client might start by seeing a targeted marketing campaign. From there they can go through several rounds of meetings with consultants before signing. And once the account’s open, notes about open roles and different invoices can pile up.

All these touchpoints are part of your CRM’s record, keeping a client’s history tidy for the right agency employees to see. It patches up gaps in communication and record-keeping, saving teams from searching for or missing business-critical info. And with that comes more responsiveness towards your clients, helping churn to go down while referrals go up.

2. Why is CRM software important for your agency?

2.1 Transparent tracking and analytics

CRM analytics can dig deep to reveal a business’ shortcomings and opportunities. This applies to:

  • Looking into pipelines
  • Forecasting revenue
  • Reviewing performance

A CRM can automate sales and KPI reports, revealing trends and roadblocks for business development. It organizes pipeline data and lets consultants time their interactions to land deals.

Revenue forecasts are another key use of CRMs, as looking ahead at bumps in the road can help your business adapt in real-time.

Knowing these trends is critical because consultants’ top-line numbers don’t always tell the whole story. One consultant might hit target on making calls but fail to convert them to won deals. Another consultant might dazzle by going above revenue targets but fall short on outreach KPIs.

Both need coaching to improve their efforts, just in different ways. Without a CRM’s granular reporting, it’s harder for recruitment leaders to find their team’s full potential.

With a CRM, all this data is on the record and not open to debate. A deep dive into metrics, KPIs, and revenue tells leaders what’s really going on – and gives hints to more growth.

2.2 Improved collaboration

Many recruitment agencies struggle with a lack of communication. Informal comms channels can silo information, slowing down operations.

Organizational silos kill productivity. One Forrester Consulting study found that 82% of companies’ data sharing issues stopped them from meeting goals. When customer data is stored inside a single department or only in someone's mind, workflow suffers.

A CRM can overcome fractured lines of communication by turning into the one-stop shop for client data. It doesn’t matter who or where that data came from – everything’s organized so nothing gets lost. Any team member with access can pull CRM records they need to get their work done faster.

Improved efficiency can help any business, but it can be make or break for small teams or agile agencies. When employees play multiple roles, it’s that much harder to keep track of everything. A CRM platform works like an external brain for the team, but with better power and memory.

Clients will choose your agency based on how much value you can add. Even tiny productivity boosts can help win new business.

2.3 Better customer experience

It should come as no surprise that Customer Relationship Management software ends up helping customers. For a recruitment agency, customer experience is the cornerstone of long-term success.

A customer’s CRM profile is like an open book. Their history and needs are plain to see. That’s what makes it easier for an agency’s employees to treat clients well, whether they’re still in initial talks with a consultant or need follow-up from the Finance team.

Over time, many happy clients turn into a loyal base for your agency. Referrals from this group can multiply your BD with the power of their networks. Want to enter a new market or niche? Impressing the right clients is a way in.

Even without referrals, just by reducing churn the value of your client relationships will increase. And happy customers might hear you out on upsell opportunities.

Growing current accounts costs less in time and money than chasing down new clients. Maximizing the value of your current client relationships is a prime opportunity for your agency.

3. How much does recruitment CRM software cost?

We've gone over CRM’s benefits for recruitment agencies. But how much does CRM software cost?

The honest answer is “it depends.” But it's possible to estimate price ranges based on what your business needs.

Like going to a restaurant, what you pay depends on where you order from and what you want. Some cost-determining criteria are:

  • Number of CRM licenses
  • Extra added features
  • Implementation
  • Training

Let’s start with the basics. A CRM platform will charge a monthly fee for user licenses. An average CRM will charge $10 to $210 per user, per month.

Added features play a role in your platform's cost. Extras like business intelligence, mobile apps, or advanced reporting can add to monthly charges. These add-ons can cost anywhere from $50-$200 per month.

The cost of implementing a new CRM depends on your company's size, the systems you use, and the number of records to move.

You can expect implementation costs in the following ranges:

  • < 100 employees = $3,000
  • > 1,000 employees = $174,000
  • > 10,000 employees = $450,000

Another cost to think about: training. Many recruitment CRM vendors offer free webinars and other resources to cover the basics. Getting user adoption rates up faster, or training up super users, might take some extra investment.

In-person sessions with a trainer can be around $620-2470 per day. Less expensive online training courses can be a happy medium for your budget.

So to sum up:

  • CRM licenses = $10-210 per month
  • Extra features = $50-200 per month
  • Implementation = ~$3,000-450,000
  • Training = Free options to $620-2,470 for onsite

There are ways to get the right system without breaking the bank. To help you navigate that choice, read on for our step-by-step recruitment CRM selection guide.

4. How to choose the best CRM software for your recruitment agency

4.1 Set your requirements

Before jumping in and choosing a CRM, it’s important to get your priorities in order.

Decide your Why, When, and What for a new CRM:

  • Why | Map out your business goals, operations to improve, and the outcomes you want.
  • When | Check your current contract end date and mark how far back from that day to start CRM shopping.
  • What | List the features and functionalities that will help you meet your goals.

With clear goals and a shopping list, you can get to work putting the right people on this CRM project.

4.2 Choose your Dream Team

Put champions in charge of a CRM implementation to lead the way. This step should be early in the process. Way before thinking about data migration, get clear on who’s in charge.

The best people to lead a CRM implementation aren’t always the ones you’d expect. Senior leadership might be too bogged down in other high-level work to give this project its due.

The solution: select for passion as much as for experience. Find the people who are going to step up and go that extra mile to make CRM implementation a success.

Refer to this list to find your main CRM project players.

CRM Project Leader

The head honcho of a CRM implementation. This person knows what the business needs and can make strategic plans.

The CRM Project leader should be empowered to have the final say on big questions. Choose someone with the authority to make decisions about finances, conflicts, and business processes.

Look for someone who:

  • Is in a strategic role
  • Knows the business inside and out
  • Can balance the needs of different departments

Data Migration Project Manager

The PIC of data migration. Choose someone who knows databases and how recruitment data is used in workflows.

This is the person who will manage the scope of the migration, keeping on top of milestones and mediating between internal teams and the CRM vendor.

Look for someone who:

  • Has project management expertise
  • Can both lead teams and do hands-on work
  • Is trusted to handle sensitive data

CRM Champion

Every CRM needs a hero. This is the individual who documents, trains, and pushes user adoption.

You might have to put multiple Champions on the case. Try to get 1 Champion to train up every 10 consultants.

Look for people who:

  • Ask questions and push back
  • Play well with others
  • Can problem-solve and keep teams accountable

Pilot Group

Then there’s beta testing. The Champions will train up the Pilot Group, who will test the platform using the agency’s data.

Choose team leaders from across the front, middle and back office. They can speak to the CRM workflows that their department needs. Later, they can also encourage their teams’ system use.

Look for people who:

  • Lead a front, middle, or back office team
  • Are strong on interpersonal relationship and team building skills
  • Can create buzz for a new system

4.3 Check product and business fit

A CRM should work for your agency; you shouldn’t have to change workflows or add a ton of integrations.

A CRM specifically designed for recruitment is the best choice. If you can find a platform that’s proven to work well with other agencies in your specialism, even better.

There are a few criteria to help evaluate if a CRM is good for you:

  • Industry Endorsements | Research badges and performance on sites like Capterra or G2.
  • Featured Customers | Find endorsement from agencies with the same specialism or geography as yours – this could mean it’s a good fit.
  • Online Reviews | Check if there’s a base of positive reviews for this platform.
  • Testimonials | Look for a variety of happy customers shown on the vendor’s website and social media.

If you start talks with a CRM vendor, here are some follow-up questions:

  • Was this CRM designed for recruitment? Look for platforms with recruitment-specific features.
  • Does it have the right tools? Ask for scheduling, CV parsing, or whatever will help with your agency’s specialisms.
  • Will there be local support available? Double-check that there are CS options if you expand into a new market.
  • Can it cover legal compliance? See if it can meet GDPR or your local compliance standards.

4.4 Ask what's included

Some CRM vendors have a lot to say about their platform’s functionality. But the reality is it comes with feature gaps that force you to use integrations.

To prevent any CRM surprises, watch out for these feature dealbreakers and must-haves.

Feature Gaps

As a business, you don’t want key features outsourced to integrations. Installing them is an extra expense and hassle you shouldn’t have to deal with.

This is the ultimate “buyer beware” for CRMs. Ask if the features you need for all your workflows are a core part of the platform.

One-Way vs. Two-Way Sync

Your CRM might have modules or apps. There will be tons of data stored in each part, and the flow of information between them can have a major impact on operations.

Here’s an example: A consultant updates a candidate’s contact info on her mobile app. If the CRM has one-way sync, that new info sits in mobile without getting updated in the main database. This is bad for admin and horrible for data compliance.

Two-way sync means that data updated anywhere gets “pushed” back and forth. Any new changes are automatically updated everywhere in the platform. Two-way sync is the best bet to keep up with constant changes and protect sensitive data.


An API (Application Programming Interface) lets different programs talk to each other. You might want an API for your CRM to connect new apps or integrations.

If this is your plan, try checking a few things first:

  • Is the API documentation publicly available?
  • How comprehensive and robust is the API documentation?
  • What’s the API support like?
  • Is there a sandbox?
  • What’s the cost?
  • How does the API roadmap look?

An API can be like a key to open new possibilities for your CRM system. But it needs to work for you.

Customization vs. Configuration

Be careful of the distinction between “customization” and “configuration.”

Customization for CRMs sounds great – endless freedom to make any upgrades you want. But there can be high time and cost investments to make these technical changes.

Configuration is when a CRM comes with toggle-like settings to switch on features as you need them. This lets you make changes quickly, without massive spend or the risk from messing with the system.

We’d highly recommend using a CRM with configuration options. It’s the simplest way to let your platform grow with your agency – no dev needed.

4.5 Check the analytics and reporting

Data-driven decisions are key to business success. With programs like Excel, a few simple spreadsheets and sums can help at the start. But they won’t take your agency to the next level.

And consider the downside of manual data entry for reporting. An agency could lose around $77,000 and 900 hours per year on this low-value admin work. That’s a lot to lose, but there’s more to gain if you automate your analytics.

These report dashboards help rev up your business:

KPI Tracking

Check for platforms that let you drill down on performance by individuals and teams. Dashboards like these are the quickest way to get the full story. It’s also a help for managing remote teams (performance data don’t lie).

Mobile Dashboards

A CRM’s mobile app tracks business ops while you’re on the go. Look for a native mobile app, not an add-on, to ensure the best performance.

Data Integrity

“Data integrity” is the quality of the information in your database. Empty data fields or duplicate records are examples of poor database quality.

A reliable database will get consultants to source candidates internally instead of spending on job ads. And more importantly, it’s necessary to fix these data errors to keep compliant with data protection rules.

A CRM’s data integrity report points out any weak spots. Clean up your business’ database and trust that data compliance and accuracy are sorted.

TV Dashboards

Visualizing and gamifying teams’ stats can push consultants to even better performance. Try shopping around for a CRM that can display all kinds of metrics: Placements, Activities, and more.

Fees & Forecasting

Understanding cash flow is a high-value use of analytics. Look to see if you can measure booked, deferred, and recognized fees to check the full scope of business health.

Temp/Contractor Reports

Temp agencies will get more value out of redeployment – hence the power of a good report on data about contract workers. A CRM that helps track placement dates and redeployment rates for temporary workers is a gold mine.

4.6 Interview for implementation

Getting onto a new CRM is one of the biggest commitments an agency can make. It takes an enormous investment of time, money, and cooperation. And because of the mass transfer of sensitive data, it must be done right.

Finding the CRM that will work for your agency requires some difficult questions around data migration and implementation.

Go over these points with the CRM vendor:

  • Data migration | Establish the project timeline, how much data will be transferred, and how old data fields will be mapped onto the new system.
  • Training | Find what training courses are available and whether they have ongoing, tailored learning options.
  • Support | Learn what resources they have for customer support, including hours and types of services.

4.7 Research compliance and security

It goes without saying that your CRM must be secure. The consequences for running afoul of data privacy regulations like GDPR are severe. Fines from these violations could easily sink a business.

With security, there are two parts of the equation: data protection and data access. One is about preventing a breach, the other is about your control as a business over sensitive information.

Here’s how you can meet the right standards for both:

  • Find a system with servers close to you for better security and performance
  • Check that the vendor has a process for audits, including audit logs
  • See what compliance standards the CRM meets (especially GDPR)
  • Read up on the vendor’s security plans (data breach, disaster recovery, etc.)
  • Research the CRM’s permissions system

4.8 Read the reviews

When you’re getting closer to choosing a recruitment CRM, you might want to compare notes. Since you won’t really know how the system works for your agency until you use it, learning from others’ experiences can be a lifesaver.

There are a few tried-and-tested ways to find solid reviews:

  • Software review sites
  • Recruitment groups on LinkedIn
  • Reaching out to business contacts

4.9 Study the contract

You’ve found a solid CRM platform. Time to sign? Maybe not quite. There are several common contract traps that might turn you away at the last minute.

Watch out for these tricks:

Contract Duration

A flexible short-term contract means the vendor’s reserving the right to jack up prices. If you’re making short-term plans, it could work. But in general, it’s better to invest in a long-term partnership.


Like short-term contracts, discounts can pull you in with the promise of lower prices now. However, they’re sure to shoot up later. Only sign on for a discount if you can agree to the forecasted full price.


CRMs set their charges per user license. Double-check if these licenses are for named users or concurrent users.

“Named” means the person who has a license can log in at any time, but only that individual can use that license. “Concurrent” means if you pay for 20 licenses, up to 20 people can log in at once – but at that point, person 21 will be locked out.

Both models have their pros and cons, but you’ll have to make a fair assessment of who needs to use the CRM and when.

Data Security

Read between the contract lines and ensure that your business retains control over its data. Also, look out for the right to unrestricted access to data so you don’t get cut off at certain points.

Data Hosting

Look to see if you can get local data hosting. This is better for service speeds and for some compliance-heavy recruitment niches, like government jobs.

Though it looks complicated, the process from this section should be a solid guide for your CRM shopping. If you’re interested in more CRM purchase guidelines, check out our full CRM Buyer's Guide.

5. Final thoughts

That was a lot to cover – let’s summarize.

A CRM helps recruitment agencies improve customer experience, help internal comms and collaboration, and track business performance.

The cost of a recruitment CRM varies depending on features. Most platforms cost $10-210 per user every month. Additional features might add $50-200 per month, and there might be more charges for data migration, training, or other extras.

Whatever your requirements and budget are, there's a step-by-step process to choose the right CRM:

  1. Decide what outcomes and features you want
  2. Pick the right people to handle the project
  3. Check if the CRM works for recruitment agencies
  4. Ask the vendor which features are included vs add-ons
  5. Ensure the platform has the right reporting capabilities
  6. Investigate data migration, training and support options
  7. Double-check compliance and security options
  8. Investigate reviews for real-life user experiences
  9. Review the contract for last-minute traps

Whether you’re looking for your first CRM or prepping for an enterprise-level migration, CRM choice counts. Feel free to refer to this guide and leverage it to make the best choice for your business.

If this overview was useful, consider sharing it with your networks to spread the word. And if you’re keen for more helpful recruitment content, check us out on LinkedIn.