Talent Technology Encyclopedia

Use this essential encyclopedia to understand terms that are most commonly used in talent acquisition and management technology.

  • Analytics
    Analytic platforms provide real-time data to recruiters on metrics impacting the recruiting process.
  • API Connectors
    API Connectors integrate software platforms and data management systems to make data and content exchange easy.
  • ATS
    Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the backbone for most recruitment technologies. It is through these systems that corporations track and manage their multiple job requisitions and candidates.
  • Background Check
    These technologies search through various available databases and public website based on the information requested by employers to ensure the new hire is compliant with company requirements and culture.
  • Behavioral Assessment
    Behavioral Assessment companies deliver tools that test an individual's cognitive capability, behavioral tendencies, cultural fit and/or personality traits.
  • Behavioural Wellbeing
    Behavioural Wellbeing refers to technology that focuses on improving employee mental health and resilience. Most of the larger players in this space are working towards mental health becoming a medical benefit, so we foresee this category eventually combining with Benefit Portals. The primary method of engagement for these tools is through an app that employees download and access on demand, Slack bot or website portal. With the rise in mental health issues stemming from extended pandemic-related lockdowns, many new players have come on to the scene, and companies have received accelerated funding and adoption.
  • Benefits Portals
    This sub-vertical includes all the incoming technology utilized to improve employee access and understanding of employee benefits, often involving a directory of preferred medical and other benefits providers, ease in billing and mobile reimbursements. Innovations in this space primarily lie around ease of access for employees, providing a “Netflix”-like experience including recommendations for benefits employees may be missing out on.
  • Candidate Communication
    A subset of candidate relationship management (CRM), these focus on one aspect of automated candidate engagement such as texting, but do not support drip campaigns or sophisticated talent pooling.
  • Candidate Relationship Management
    Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) tools are focused on improving and managing a candidate's experience with hiring organizations.
  • Career Advice & Coaching
    These companies provide solutions for individuals looking for new job opportunities.
  • Career Development and Succession Planning
    Career Development and Succession Planning tools help employees establish and work towards a specific career path and help HR leaders and managers fill key roles in an organization internally. On the Career Path side, some tools include psychometric assessments that recommend certain careers and modules to connect with peers internally in those roles for mentoring. We are seeing some vendors leverage AI to the vast quantities of HRiS data at organizations to dynamically understand career paths, and help proactively recommend (possibly non-traditional) paths to roles that employees may be interested in.
  • Change Management Tools
    Change management tools are specialized applications designed to help organizations manage change to processes, systems and technology. They help employees and organizations alike to adjust to changes such as new software systems or changes to protocol. They typically exist as a "user overlay" on existing or new software applications, guiding users through a new system through prompts, or as nudging tools providing periodic reminders, or knowledge / content repositories. These tools tend to be "no-code", making it easy for non-technical teams to create and launch content. Other features include in-app content search and auto content translation.
  • Coaching and Mentoring
    Coaching and Mentoring platforms facilitate the connection of mentorship within the workplace. Some platforms operate as internal marketplaces connecting employees with each other, others introduce external coaches or mentors as options to connect and build relationships with. These tools often facilitate the connection itself by providing a platform to record notes, provide prompts, connect data from other sources on common interests or alma mater.
  • Conversational Bots
    Conversational Bots are an automated communication medium (text, voice or video) that use either branching logic to go from one question to the next, or deeper machine learning or neural networks to respond to the input in what seems like a thoughtful manner. They are used to automate communication with candidates.
  • Course Authoring Tools
    A Course Authoring tool is a tool that allows users to create online courses and publish it in the formats and programs of your choice. These tools are often "no-code", allowing non-technical users to quickly drag and drop and build course content. These tools include multiple forms of media, and can be exported as SCORM or xAPI or any other format. Learning administrators can use these tools to create videos, develop quizzes, or build interactive games.
  • Crowdsourcing
    These platforms are used to crowdsource talent for project-based work where employers may post a problem or project and receive one-time contract bids for the project.
  • Demand and Workforce Planning
    These platforms are the marriage of operations, finance tools, and AI to provide insights on talent gaps and proactive decision making. Demand and Workforce Planning tools exist as a platform, and are usually priced at per seat or company size. Often, these tools will also provide data on labour market trends as well.
  • Deployment Systems
    A category of software developed by third-party vendors that mimic the features and functionalities of Online Staffing firms, often offering the software as a white-labelled "app."
  • Develop
    The Develop stage has long been a mainstay where learning has been the cornerstone. The new twist in this stage, with far reaching consequences, is the recognition of the importance of defining skills as the nucleus for future development. The innovation occurring here is focusing on building individualized plans for employees to improve their personal success at work as well as mapping a long-term career path in line with their skills and career preferences. Where before the easiest way to grow was defined by organizational hierarchy, or simply making an external move upwards, many of the tools in this stage focus on maximizing the utility of your employees in lateral, short-term projects, as well as reskilling and succession planning - keeping the talent you've invested in to remain in-house.
  • Direct Sourcing Platforms
    Direct Sourcing Platform supports the creation of a company's own internal candidate talent pool to place workers within the company on a temporary or contract basis to supplant staffing suppliers directly. Talent can be alumni, retirees, contingent workers, and independent freelancers. A Direct Sourcing Platform typically includes all the technology and additional services required to activate and deploy these talent pools.
  • E-Staffing
    E-Staffing technologies create a platform for employers and candidates to connect, and provide a balance of human and machine inputs to automate hiring recommendations.
  • Employee Engagement & Experience
    This vertical includes all tools utilized to track and establish employee engagement within teams and the overall company, along with tools to improve employees’ work experience. Many of these tools are focused upon ensuring communication between employees and teams, and building easy access to institutional knowledge. Advances in this vertical include applying advanced analytics and AI to understand how different engagement measures impact specific KPIs. Another emerging trend is using AI to automate collection and analysis of non-pulse survey data to infer employee engagement from conversations that happen across systems.
  • Employee Listening
    Employee Listening platforms utilize surveys, data integrations, and other tools to provide team managers and employees with a transparent view of their work and progress, along a channel for feedback. The core of such offerings is typically a “pulse survey” administered at some pre-determined frequency which asks employees a variety of questions about their work experience, and an analytics module that eagles HR leaders and managers to gauge the current state of their employee engagement across the organization with the goal of leading to actionable insights and decisions that can improve it (and thus also improve employee retention)., Trends in this area include providing executive/leadership coaching, and non-survey methods of data collection (analyzing calendars, emails, Slack, etc.).
  • Employee Performance Measurement
    These tools are designed to track and measure employee performance. Managers can configure goals, assign scores, and leave employee feedback in the form of notes or numerical scores. This software is typically used in promotion-related decisions. We are starting to see more dynamic performance measures be accounted for in such tools, such as projects completed (when integrated with an Internal Talent Marketplace) or new skills attained via self-directed training (when integrated with an LMS), providing managers with a more holistic view of employee performance and enabling better decisions overall.
  • Employee Productivity
    These tools take an employee centric approach to performance management, and are designed to enable employees to take ownership of their job and career development. They typically gamify the process and highlight ways in which employees can more effectively complete tasks and do their work. Similar to fitness apps that encourage additional exercise and users to exceed their goals, these tools encourage increased performance and productivity.
  • Employee Wellness and Health Tech
    Includes all types of employee wellness benefit platforms, and healthtech built for companies to promote usage of benefits and a healthier lifestyle. Usually strong partnerships with an insurance firm. Sold per company size or per employee, existing as an app/platform/email subscription. The majority of players in this space are specialized apps that offer on demand access to a specific type of health-related benefit or gamified experience to help incent employees improve their personal lives.
  • Employer Brand Management
    A segment within the Employer Branding Vertical and includes companies that focus on either managing a company's online reputation separately from the corporate careers site or enabling the company to engage with talent in a branded 3rd party environment.
  • Employer Reviews
    Employer Reviews companies offer a Yelp-like value proposition for prospective and current employees to evaluate and track what people are saying about their current/future/dream employer.
  • Engage
    The Engage stage encompasses technologies designed to keep employees productive, healthy, happy, informed, and engaged during all stages of their employment. Forward thinking companies are looking for innovative ways to keep employees happy, maximize productivity and workforce effectiveness, improve their culture, and leverage social technology to foster internal collaboration and innovation. From employee benefits to incentivizing and rewarding various behaviors and results, Engage tech is a must for organizations looking to build a strong culture.
  • Evaluate
    The Evaluate stage refers to all the technology associated with managing resources, performance and compensation, from a micro to macro level. This stage is heavily strategic and typically leverages lots of analytics, and the purchaser and user of such solutions are both mainly HR departments and team managers. The tech building in this stage tends towards pulling data from a variety of sources, analyzing it, and reporting it in a manner that allows users to make actionable decisions to improve the quality of the workforce. Advances in this vertical include data normalization across multiple disparate systems to make more informed strategic decisions, and the use of AI to automate and proactively recommend courses of action (or predict future outcomes) based on available data.
  • Financial Wellbeing
    Financial Wellbeing technology consists of applications that assist employees with all aspects of their financial health, from budgeting tools to finance calculators to full on financial planning. Some innovation in this space includes the ability to provide on-demand payments for hourly or gig workers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck.
  • Freelance Management Systems
    Freelance Management Systems are web- or cloud-based talent exchanges and online work platforms which enable companies to search, sign, and engage directly with non-employee talent.
  • HCM Suites
    HCM suites are an all-in-one platform that encompass a plethora of talent management functionality from payroll to performance to planning to help organizations manage and retain their employees. These platforms act as a system of record for organizational and employee HR data, transactional employee and manager self-service, benefits, and payroll administration. Modern HCM suites have also expanded to include other modules such as performance, learning, and internal mobility functionalities. In recent years, the employee user experience has been in focus.
  • Internal Mobility
    The Internal Mobility vertical includes all solutions designed to help employees navigate their careers and career path over the course of their employment. Some tools are designed to help employees plot out specific career paths, some are designed to help firms find internal talent for (typically) project-based work and bolster their skill set in the process, while some are designed to enable HR teams to do long-term strategic planning and fill key roles with internal talent.
  • Internal Social Networks
    This subvertical includes technology that provides centralized access to all institutional knowledge across the organization, as well as a bird's eye view of all organizational ongoings. Up and coming technology includes mobile-friendly intranets modelled after common social media sites that enable real time communication and collaboration across business units and also enable virtual town halls. Indicative of this trend, the world’s largest social network, Facebook, launched its own workplace focused social network for organizations, called Workplace by Facebook. These tools have grown in popularity and use over the course of the pandemic, as companies and their employees leveraged them to replace the in person “water cooler” experience in a virtual, remote environment.
  • Internal Talent Marketplaces
    Internal Talent Marketplaces are technology platforms that enable internal employees to find and complete short-term opportunities internally (and sometimes externally). The technology enables companies to find and leverage internal talent to complete project-based work, decreasing external costs and potentially increasing employee retention and engagement. On the hiring manager side, these tools help managers post opportunities for open positions, temporary assignments, and short- to long-term assignments. On the employee side, employees can search for and apply to work on any such assignment posted organization-wide. Similar to other two-sided marketplaces, some firms leverage AI to help facilitate the match between both sides, using candidate skills and job requirements as the determining criteria.
  • Interview Management Tools
    Interview Management tools enable key operational efficiencies within the interview processes for companies. Marketed as calendar scheduling tools, the value proposition for recruiters is that they can more easily coordinate interviews and shorten time to fill at volume with these streamlined productivity tools as compared to teams without automation.
  • Job Board Aggregator
    Job aggregators pull job postings from multiple sites including company career sites and job boards and allow job seekers to search for all open jobs in one place.
  • Job Boards
    Job boards are companies which have a consumer-facing digital property through which job seekers can search for jobs, and companies in need of talent can identify potential candidates.
  • Job Distribution
    Job distribution companies enable jobs that are published from a career site to be delivered to specific job boards and/or aggregators of the employer's choosing.
  • Job Post Optimization
    A segment within the Employer Branding Vertical. These companies provide solutions to improve either a company's career page or their job descriptions, both of which are focused on creating a branded experience for talent.
  • Job Search Organizer
    Job Search Organizers help individuals track, manage, and take action on their various job search activities.
  • Labor Market Intelligence
    Firms in this sub-vertical provide benchmarking data on the workforce, including (but not limited to) employment levels and trends, pay rates and compensation data, geographic trends, and skills demand. Some companies also go beyond mere data and offer predictive analytics around these areas (e.g., what a specific person should be paid based on their experience and location). 
  • Learning Aggregators
    Learning Aggregators are essentially a "marketplace" or database of learning content for organizations to purchase, aggregated from various sources and centralized in one place for convenience. Typically aggregators offer a database of hundreds to thousands of courses for organizations to quickly purchase and upload to their LMS or LXP. These tools differ from Self-directed Learning platforms in that the aggregator has no relationship with the creator of content (i.e. it is a distribution channel for e.g. MOOCs), and these tools sell primarily to enterprises versus individuals.
  • Learning and Development
    The Learning and Development vertical includes solutions designed to help employees learn new skills and train for new roles. The learning and development space is crowded, with many almost identical solutions. At the same time, there is significant innovation happening in this space as the need to solve for massive current and future skills gaps is at the top of mind for many large employers.
  • Learning Experience Platform (LXP)
    An arguably more evolved form of Learning Management System, the LXP is distinguished by the fact that these platforms typically take a “bottom’s up” approach to learning, putting learning roadmaps in the hands of individual employees. These tools integrate with a wide variety of external learning content providers and can be thought of as learning content aggregators, and often map specific trainings to skills and related jobs or roles. Some tools leverage AI to proactively recommend courses and content to users based on their learning history, current role, or desired roles, similar to how consumer marketplaces recommend additional products based on purchase history.
  • Learning Management System (LMS)
    The LMS sub-vertical includes platforms designed primarily to host, disseminate, and in some cases create prepared Corporate content for employees and track its consumption. Historically, LMS tools have been driven by compliance for things like sexual harassment or diversity training, which are often mandatory in many jurisdictions. These tools can integrate with Internal Talent Marketplaces or the HRIS or in some cases Performance Management software to help provide a more holistic (and verifiable) view of the skills and capabilities employees’ possess.
  • Matching Systems
    Matching Systems companies provide matching services based on a variety of inputs, including semantic-based matching, assessment outputs, and preference "signals" (e.g., observable data about what types of talent companies are interested in and what jobs candidates are interested in).
  • Onboarding
    Historically, onboarding technology was built from the HR practitioner’s perspective and to meet their needs, and was designed primarily to help automate common onboarding tasks and associated document management and workflows. A new breed of onboarding tools is coming to market designed primarily to improve the employee’s experience before joining the company, enabling firms to share information about company culture, insights into the role in which a candidate will be working, or to emulate the “first few days” in the office and ensure the new employee is prepared for success. Inclusive of background checks, emergency contact directories, Onboarding Tools are typically website or platform-based, with integrations into payroll, HRIS, and LMS.
  • Pay Equity and Incentive Pay Management
    Vendors in this category focus on minimizing the red tape between finance, HR and respective teams as they manage pay equity, commissions, and options for employees. Many platforms are highly catered to sales teams for commission management, with integrations into payroll and HRIS, and CRMs. A few are specialized around pay equity, which is the ability to identify systemic pay gaps in different workforce segments and is potentially disruptive to existing consulting contracts in place at large organizations. Some firms are using AI to predict a “safe” pay band for new employees to proactively ensure compliance. Other new platforms have specialized around managing stock compensation for fast growing technology companies, offering an intuitive and easy interface for managers and employees related to stock and options management (a large component of total compensation for many such firms).
  • People Analytics
    The People Analytics vertical refers to all the tools utilized in understanding a company’s workforce and how to best leverage their human capital. Many of the tools in this space now function as aggregators of data, making synergistic inferences useful for demand planning or structuring, or using AI to make predictions about certain aspects of the workforce (e.g. identifying pay gaps, predicting skills demand, or predicting flight risk).
  • Performance Management
    The Performance Management vertical includes all technology vendors related to measuring and improving employee performance. Historically, these tools have provided a digital paper trail for the traditional “one on one”, as well as tracking annual goals and attainment of them over time. Some vendors offer tools to help employees become more productive, enabling employees to take ownership of their performance and development.
  • Perks Marketplaces
    Perks Marketplaces are marketplace platforms provided to employees as a "perk" or added benefit. These marketplaces are typically providing employee discounts at partner organizations or retail organizations. These tools aggregate all the discount contracts negotiated by firms on behalf of their employees, including discounts and freebies offered by retail partners. These solutions usually exist as a branded website or app. Increasingly, companies are insisting that all vendors they do business with offer perks to employees as part of the negotiation.
  • Physical Wellbeing
    Physical Wellbeing technology is dominated by health-focused applications that assist with things like sleep, eating and drinking habits, and exercise patterns. There tends to be an aspect of gamification or competition involved for employees, associated with rewards or perks. These tools are typically apps.
  • Programmatic Advertising
    Programmatic Advertising technologies allow companies to advertise open roles at their company to specific audiences and demographics. They provide real-time bidding capabilities to advertise job opportunities in a manner similar to how broader media buying companies target buyers.
  • Recommendation & References
    Recommendation and Reference solutions are digitally-enabled reference aggregators, background check tools, and onboarding solutions.
  • Recruiter Marketplaces
    Recruitment Marketplaces are narrowly focused on recruiter discovery, featuring thousands of independent recruiters and agencies that can be used for specific hiring projects.
  • Recruitment Marketing Platform
    Recruitment marketing platforms take a holistic view of talent acquisition and provide tools and technology across every step of the process — from sourcing via programmatic solutions to employer branding and retargeting to behavioral analytics. Many of these solutions have agency services embedded in addition to their technology. 
  • Reference Check
    Covers any form of verification that involves collecting feedback from another individual, whether it be a previous employer or peer. These tools collect feedback through surveys, forms, or phone calls, and can aggregate the results to reveal trends about the candidate pool.
  • Referral Tools
    Referral technologies help companies and individuals harness the power of their extended networks by providing tools through which they can source candidate ideas from current employees, and track/reward the success of those referrals.
  • Resume Parsing
    Resume Parsing Software companies provide multilingual tools to dissect resume content and apply semantic-based searches to extract relevant information. The core value proposition for companies lies in the speed and accuracy of parsing tools which result in a reduction of data entry and verification costs, activities which were historically people-driven.
  • Rewards and Recognition
    Platforms that managers and team members can utilize to reward or recognize subordinates or colleagues on an ongoing or ad-hoc basis. These rewards can come in many forms: vacation days, gift cards, cash, or discounts. These platforms usually have integrations into payroll or HRIS systems, and in some cases have a tax compliance component to the offering. Vendors are increasingly gamifying the rewards experience, seeking optimal methods to dole out rewards in a way that maximizes impact and encourages productivity.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
    An emerging category of companies that specialize in updating systems’ information and connecting different systems of record that corporations leverage in the recruiting process. The vendors in this sub-vertical support high-volume, repeatable tasks previously performed by humans. The approach is ‘outside-in’ where the software is easily installed and integrated while existing IT systems remain unchanged.
  • Self-Directed Learning
    Self-directed learning solutions include a wide plethora of bespoke learning content creators, from websites that crowdsource learning content from a community of creators to Massively Open Online Courses (otherwise known as “MOOCs”, courses offered by universities to a wide audience at a significantly discounted price) and everything in between. There’s been massive upheaval in how learning is created and distributed, which is still underway and has big implications for how employers curate and offer access to such solutions to their employees.
  • Shared Talent Networks
    Shared Talent Networks allow a company to input silver-medal candidates and access other corporation's silver-medal candidates in an efficient and scalable manner.
  • Simulation-based Assessment
    Simulation-Based Assessment companies offer technical and non-technical assessment solutions by simulating job-specific scenarios to help companies make better-informed hiring decisions.
  • Skill Assessment
    Skills Assessment companies offer technical skill assessment solutions to help companies make better-informed hiring decisions. Marketed as skill equalizers, companies are able to hire for demonstrated knowledge and skills vs. claims made in a resume.
  • Skills Management & Analytics
    Skills Management and Analytics are manager-focused tools that helps organizations identify, assess, track, and develop employee skills. These tools use AI to create dynamic skills taxonomies and report on trends, and tend to be integrated with internal data sources such as performance tools, ATS and HRIS. These systems allow organizations to standardize skills and identify skill gaps within the organization, design jobs more effectively, understand their workforce's skills coverage, plan talent strategies, and in some cases act as a "translation layer" for different systems that each utilize their own methodology for skills analysis.
  • Social CV and Resume Builder
    These companies aid job seekers in perfecting their CV.
  • Social Networks
    Social networks provide a platform through which individuals can connect to build their professional networks.
  • Social Search
    Social Search companies are advanced web search tools which take into account the social graph of the person initiating the search query and/or the person being searched. These technologies leverage innovative algorithms and machine-learning techniques to produce candidate ideas that are a fit for open job opportunities.
  • Temporary Labor Marketplace
    Temporary Labor Marketplace companies provide a platform to match freelance or temporary workers with employers looking to hire someone with a particular skill set for a finite piece of work.
  • Time & Attendance Tools
    Time & Attendance tools are applications that digitize and automate the process of tracking employee hours and attendance. These also facilitate shift scheduling, vacation scheduling, reporting and absences, and help organizations stay compliant with wage and hour laws in the jurisdictions in which they operate.
  • Total Rewards
    This vertical includes all technology used to reward and incentivize employees outside of their standard salary.
  • Vendor Management System
    Vendor Management Systems (VMS)offer software solutions to corporations to enable the comprehensive management of their contingent workforces. This may include any or all of the extended labor spend categories, including temporary staff, professional contractors, service workers, consultants, project-based workers, independent contractors (freelancers), and alumni.
  • Video Interviewing
    Video interviewing tools enable more effective and efficient interview processes for companies. The Video Interview technologies that are more mature have developed strong predictive capabilities as well as broader interview process management tools for employers.
  • Virtual Recruitment and Events
    The sub-vertical Virtual Recruitment and Events has grown in popularity as a remote hiring tactic. Companies actively hiring are leveraging virtual recruitment events or virtual career fairs to attract the best talent. Event platform sophistication varies from basic video conferences to virtual reality, all with the goal of facilitating communication in an organized and inclusive manner at a reduced cost.
  • Workforce Benchmarking and Analytics
    Tools in this subvertical focus on analyzing large amounts of data to provide actionable insights for metrics such as diversity and retention. Most vendors in this space deal with big data as they aggregate both external market trends and internal data from various HR systems.
  • Workforce Management Platforms
    Workforce Management Platforms help organizations manage and deploy their (typically frontline / hourly) workforce efficiently. These tools may include workplace health and safety management, shift management, and labor forecasting. WFM tools are predominantly used for frontline, hourly wage, and retail workforces. Recent innovations include providing onboarding and engagement tools for this population.