Candidate database is the most imperative asset for every recruitment agency; we all know this. However, the hard fact is that this asset is seldom maintained.

A small percentage of recruitment businesses make the best of their candidate database.

What stops recruitment agencies from looking after the most valuable asset? Let’s try and understand some of the reasons, excuses, etc.

  1. Recruiters are billers, not housekeepers
  2. The database is enormous, and it doesn’t make sense of investing time and money cleansing
  3. There is a lot of admin
  4. It’s not worth our time; i.e. Lack of time and resources
  5. Billing is the only priority
  6. Candidate database is too old, and there is no point working on database regeneration. We’d rather spend time sourcing new candidates using job boards
  7. We will cleanse the database when we migrate to a new ATS

Some reasons mentioned above may be completely legit depending on time and priorities of the respective recruitment business.

However, when managed effectively, internal candidate databases are a gold mine waiting to be unearthed.


In my experience of working with leading UK recruitment agencies, the ratio of candidates that are contacted in the duration of the last six months is less than 20%; i.e. on the lines of Pareto principle. Meaning, out of every 100 candidates, only 20 candidates are contacted in 6 months.

Do you believe that the 80:20 ratios apply to your candidate database as well? Let’s do a reality check. Access your ATS and review how many candidates from the entire database have been contacted (had email correspondence/exchange, conversation, etc.) in the last six months.

Can you imagine the potential, if you only cleanse, regenerate and increase the active pool of your candidate database by 10% every three months? The impact it will have on your bottom line? I’ll leave you to that to calculate the figures.

Let’s see how recruitment agencies can manage and monetise the candidate database.


As Bullhorn suggests in their blog, it all starts with an ATS. Most agencies have some database management system in place. Many solo recruiters or small businesses also maintain candidate details on excel sheets. However, to flawlessly manage a candidate database, an applicant tracking system is a must.


A supply-demand gap is one way to work with. In a candidate-driven market, e.g. healthcare recruitment, candidates register with multiple recruitment agencies and only work with a handful.

While the recruitment agency might have their details, but they don’t necessarily work for them. Hence, the following factors help in identifying the target audience.

  • Duration: Identify candidates who have been on your candidate database for past 12, 18, 24, 48 months, etc.
  • Experience level
  • Skills
  • Salary/Pay Rates
  • Location

Upon narrowing down the search, it’s time to execute the cleansing and database regeneration process.

Remember, the whole reason for conducting this exercise is to equip the recruiters with a very high-quality internal candidate database.

Many ATS providers have an automated cleansing process; i.e. they’re capable of weeding out the duplicate details, details without relevant information such as phone, email, etc., contact the ATS provider. An automated process like this one saves a massive amount of time and effort.

Once the automated process of duplicate checking and weeding out irrelevant information is over, further cleansing and regeneration of the candidate database can be executed in two phases.

Phase I: Primary – Non-Voice Based Cleansing 

Candidates are contacted by sending out emails and text message for a specific duration. E.g. sending out an email/text message, once every three days using different email templates.

If the candidate responds to one of the emails, the next step as per the process should be undertaken. If they don’t respond, those candidates can be pushed into phase two activity of candidate database regeneration.

A process like this also helps in evaluating the quality of the candidate details on the candidate database. Details where bounced emails, undelivered text messages, etc. also indicate incorrect contact information.

Such data can be further provided to the Resourcing team to find correct information from job boards, social media, and phone-based research, etc.

Now, let us move on to the next phase.

Phase II: Telephone Based Database Regeneration 

A highly critical part of the candidate database cleansing and regeneration process can benefit the recruiters by generating details of candidates who are actively looking for jobs.

Phone-based regeneration also helps with market intelligence. Here are a few questions that you can include in the script when you contact candidates.

  1. What is your current employment status?
  2. Are you exploring new opportunities?
  3. Location preference
  4. Type of job preference (Temp/Perm/Contract)
  5. Salary/Pay rate discussion
  6. The best mode of communication
  7. Best time to connect
  8. Request for their updated CV
  9. Demand for their permission to save their details on your internal candidate database
  10. Request for referrals
  11. Ask if their company are recruiting or if they know of any companies who are currently recruiting

What are the benefits of internal candidate database regeneration?

  1. Improved search and candidate match on the ATS
  2. The advantage over the competition: When the search results are qualitative on an internal database, recruiters can reach out to the candidates in a short time and gain a first-mover advantage to discuss the respective role
  3. Cost reduction: Recruitment agencies subscribe to several job boards to source CVs/resumes that potentially exist on an internal database.

An effective candidate database regeneration process eliminates a significant chunk of the cost of subscribing to multiple job board licenses and adverts.

A portion of this budget can be utilised elsewhere

  1. Improved Margins: More number of relevant active candidates on the internal database also has an impact on fill ratio and better margins
  2. Referrals: Making calls to candidates for the regeneration process also presents an opportunity to generate new candidates. When viewed minutely, a referral earned thru’ this process has negligible cost compared to the amount of time and money spend on advertising and job boards
  3. Market intelligence: Information is power. One thing I learned early on in my recruiter career was “if you want to learn the market, understand the industry and know the movements in the market, talk to the candidates.” Candidates have a wealth of information about happenings not only in their organisation but also their friends and other contacts. Depending on how well one builds a rapport, this information can be unveiled and constructively utilised.

candidate database

A process like this is the utmost time consuming; however, the benefits are manifold. If the agencies are not equipped with enough task force, database cleansing and regeneration can always be outsourced. Many outsourcing companies deploy dedicated resources to work upon various tasks, including the candidate database regeneration activity.

Candidate database regeneration helps both in improving the quality of internal database along with reducing operating costs. At the same time, the agencies benefit from an increased number of candidates that can be placed positively impacting the bottom line.

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