The Recruiter’s Guide to Candidate Database Management

Recent spikes in job growth have led to an increasingly competitive hiring landscape. Consequently, the dynamic between hiring organizations and candidates has become more and more candidate-driven.

Although a candidate-driven job market is great for job seekers, it can often make a recruiter’s job much more difficult. Think about it, as a recruiter, if you’re not proactively searching for candidates, your ideal employees are getting scooped up by other, fast-acting recruiters.

The solution to this problem? We say, take it back to the basics, and look within your candidate database.

Not convinced? Hear us out while we discuss the significance of candidate contact information, data hygiene, and why both of these things are vital in the face of the current recruiting environment. Let’s jump into it.

Candidate Database Decay

Although contact data is most commonly discussed in sales and marketing circles, data hygiene has a huge impact on recruiting and hiring.

Candidate contact information is collected in various ways—usually during the application or hiring process. Once submitted, this information enters your candidate database where data decay inevitably renders it unusable in as little as a few months. Take a look at these numbers: (source)

  • 40 percent of email users change their email address at least once every two years
  • 15 percent of email users change their email address one or more times a year
  • 20 percent of all postal addresses change every year
  • 18 percent of all telephone numbers change every year
  • 21 percent of all CEOs change every year
  • 25-33 percent of email addresses become outdated every year
  • 60 percent of people change job titles within their organizations each year

Now, you might be asking yourself—if a candidate has already applied to a job opening, why does it matter? They’ve already done what I’ve wanted, so does it really matter if their contact information isn’t accurate?

The short answer? Yes. It does matter. Here’s why:

Building job candidate personas

For those who aren’t familiar, candidate personas are detailed profiles of your ideal job candidates. These profiles help recruiters and hiring managers build targeted recruiting strategies, like a dedicated talent pipeline. Without access to accurate candidate data, it’s nearly impossible to create accurate candidate persona profiles.

Scheduling interviews

Once a qualified candidate submits a job application, you may not follow up to schedule an interview right away. So, what happens if this person gets a new phone or email address before you have a chance to reach out? Although this doesn’t happen too frequently, it’s not a risk you should take if you’re committed to hiring top talent. When you prioritize contact data hygiene, you’ll never have to worry about missing out on a high-quality candidate just because you can’t reach them.

Recruiting past candidates or employees

No matter how talented a candidate may be, sometimes they’re just not a perfect fit for a given role. But that doesn’t mean they won’t ever make a great addition to your company. So, hang on to each candidate’s resume and contact information in case a different, more fitting position opens up. Again, as time goes on, this information will decay and quickly become unusable. But, database hygiene makes it possible to stay in touch with past employees and candidates, long after their information enters your system.

If your candidate database isn’t maintained, day-to-day recruiting activities like these suddenly become much more difficult. But dirty data isn’t something you need to struggle with. Emerging technology makes it easy to prioritize the health of your candidate database. Keep reading and we’ll tell you how!

A Beginner’s Guide To Candidate Data Hygiene

Data hygiene is exactly what it sounds like—the process of cleaning, appending, and normalizing data—all of which lead to more accurate, actionable contact information. Let’s dig into some important data hygiene lingo:


This term refers to the act of taking existing contact data and matching it against another data set—usually, a data set provided by a vendor—to fill in missing information.


Data normalization is a process that standardizes certain values within your data set. This brings context and relativity to the average recruiter database by lumping certain values into one, shared value.

Take the common title “Mr.” One person submits an application using “mister,” another submits “mr,” and a third submits “Nr”—a typo. Using the process of data normalization, you can indicate that all of these form submissions should fall under a normalized version of the title—Mr.


Data cleansing is slightly more ambiguous than the first two terms. This phrase can cover both data appends and normalization—plus additional data maintenance functions like detecting duplicates, providing additional information, net new candidates, and corrections.

If you’re feeling confused by all of this, fear not. In the next section, we tell you exactly how to conduct your own candidate data maintenance using simple, easy-to-understand instructions.

Conduct Your Own Database Maintenance

As a recruiter, we know database maintenance won’t always be your top priority. After all, you have interviews to schedule, passive candidates to source, and employer brands to manage. But, candidate database health is more important than you may realize.

Don’t neglect your candidate database just because you have other responsibilities to tend to. Here are some quick steps you can take to improve data quality today:

Inspect and improve your data collection processes.

The best way to fill your data gaps is to figure out where the leaks are. What we mean is this: Consider how you collect job candidate information. Do you use a variety of online job boards? In-person applications? A web form on your website’s career page?

If you’re like most recruiters or hiring managers, you use some combination of the data collection methods listed above. This means that you’re likely collecting different data points, using different types of forms, and even manually entering candidate data—all of which leads to a cluttered, unorganized candidate database. 

To fix this, choose technologies and platforms that integrate with one another. Make an effort to streamline form fields, relabel anything that might cause confusion, and if possible, use form validation to require critical information. It’s also important to minimize manual data entry as much as possible, eliminating human error.

We also recommend that you validate candidate data as soon as you get in touch with them. This will help you verify the data you do have and fill in missing information. Most importantly, providing a more comprehensive and accurate candidate database.

Perform an audit of your existing data.

If you have the resources available, work with a data provider to assess the state of your current candidate database and correct any inaccuracies.

Even though there are ways to perform manual data audits, working with a professional takes a lot of the heavy lifting off your plate.

Invest in the right technology.

As we previously stated, contact data decays rapidly. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do to prevent this. Your candidates will always move, change jobs, and get more experience. Because of this, it’s important to invest in technology that will support a more hygienic database.

Fortunately, most leading platforms and data providers can automate the data maintenance process with minimal effort.

Key Takeaways About Candidate Database Hygiene

If you’re like most recruiters or hiring managers, database maintenance isn’t something that crosses your mind regularly. Yet, prioritizing candidate data cleanliness can give you a competitive edge. Think about it, if you can reach more qualified candidates than your competitors, you have a better chance of hiring better employees. For this reason, you really can’t afford to ignore the state of your candidate database.

Contact ZoomInfo, the leading people information database,  today to learn about our recruiting platform.