bargain recruiting softwareServices for recruiters abound in today’s burgeoning tech market. While investors and consumers have been playing it safe since roughly 2008, the past 18 months have seen a proliferation of pretty sophisticated tools for talent acquisition and recruiters that come with the hefty price tag of… free?

Yep, companies like JobScore, BrightMove, SmartRecruiters, and Zoho are all offering free services, joining the likes of CATS, OpenApplicant and LinkedIn (a controversial placement on this list but that’s a story for another post) who all offered some form of free recruiting focused application “before it was cool”.

So what can you expect from free recruiting software? After all we live in an age where the consumerization of enterprise tech purchases has become the norm. But what happens when you use something free? Do you imply that you need no support, follow through? Do you place your company’s data in the hands of people who may not be in business tomorrow? Let’s take a look:

Support- You get what you pay for comes to mind here, at least that’s the old wisdom. The great thing about free software for the individual or small business is that it usually makes money elsewhere, whether it’s ad-supported, a freemium lead generating tool for the vendor or kick backs from the third party supporters for driving traffic, your software is being paid for somehow. Trusted vendors will provide support via email, phone or even live chat. A great example of this is the BrightMove Unite customer support that exists because of the company’s three other paid product suites it supports.

Security- Again remember that this software is most likely a version of something that has been tested or vetted. That being said, ensure that you’ve heard of the company or at least the investment firm behind it (if it’s a start up) before entrusting a free recruiting application or product suite with all your candidates, employees or both. A perfect example of this is SmartRecruiters emerging from Mr Ted and then spinning off into a company of its own.

Features- Here’s where things can get tough. While many practitioners using free software are doing it for budgetary reasons, the truth is, many recruiting pros operating within SMBs simply don’t need the vast array of features that the larger, ore expensive counterparts produce. Where you will for sure lose out though, is on the integration side. Look for software partners that will work to grow with you and direct your clients back to your career portal. Otherwise, take the time to decide if you really need a feature or if it’s just a nice to have. Or do what the provider/vendor really wants and upgrade! For example, JobScore offers very robust functionality, for one recruiter. Additional seats are a nominal fee.

Consistency- I’m not sure this has happened in HR Tech as much as more consumer based tech that I’ve used for B2B purposes, however, being able to rely on a vendor is pretty important, even if you’re not paying them money directly (remember, you ARE providing something, whether it be eyeballs, clicks, or affiliate revenue). From Facebook changing its tab function and affecting “free” job page tab providers to Gmail losing passwords, free technology can have its downfalls.

Hidden costs- The dirty little secrets that no one tells you about free business tech (HR or no) is that it costs time. While HR tech implementations are never as simple as they are “on the tin” it’s still nicer to know that someone there knows how to fix the issue. With DIY tech, many times, you have to figure it out, train yourself how to use it and in some instances train others. That all takes time. Fortunately, the vendors who are offering these products understand that and seem to get better all the time at making their products more intuitive, less cumbersome and providing self-directed training at the very least.

What’s your favorite bargain basement recruiting or job posting technology? Tell us in the comments.

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