Trends and Insights on Talent Acquisition Technology

Brian Delle Donne explains to Alan Hosking the forces shaping Talent Acquisition Software and why, behind every trend, there are uniquely human motivations.

How do you define Talent Acquisition Technology?

Talent acquisition focuses on sourcing, engaging and hiring talent. While retention, onboarding, training and core HR are very important, we’re focused on shining a spotlight on the acquisition of top talent and the technologies that are making it happen. While those of us inside the recruiting and staffing world understand the term “sourcing”, very few outside our space are familiar with what it all entails or even means.

Sourcing is the act of finding and vetting information around potential candidates. Most of the time, these candidates are already working somewhere, creating additional challenges in collecting information. While social media has made this easier in the past decade or so, there are still advancements to be made in the sourcing technology space. Sourcing touches so many parts of the overall HR Technology space, and the smaller TA technology space. For example, many people understand job boards and aggregators are great places to find candidates, but they are not the only avenues.

One can track referral sourcing tools, social search and job distribution platforms as well. Engaging is the next piece of the puzzle. We’re all familiar with employee engagement but candidate engagement is just as important. Candidate experience has become a touchstone for employer branding consultancies and corporate talent acquisition departments alike. It is the soft, gooey middle of recruiting … again something that we rarely separate out from the actual hiring piece. Part of candidate engagement is interviewing and communicating with both passive and active candidates.

The technologies that support this stage are matching systems, skills assessments and resumé parsing and sorting systems. If companies are not careful, talent acquisition can become an organisation’s most fragmented process. A holistic recruiting approach has many steps, providing the opportunity to work with various vendors across these steps. To make a senior hire within a technology company, for example, a recruiting team might need to:

  • post the job to multiple job boards and aggregators;
  • do distributed video interviews;
  • offer meaningful skills/behavioural assessments;
  • leverage reference check vendors to skip the phone call bias;
  • perform background checks; and
  • prepare an offer.

Hiring is, of course, something we’re all familiar with but even that definition is changing. This is where we see applicant tracking systems as the most familiar tool. However, in our definitions of talent acquisition, we stop short of looping onboarding into the space. Once the hire is made, we see a marked shift from talent acquisition to talent management.

What trends do you see shaping these key pieces of Talent Acquisition in the next year?

We’re all aware of the shifts taking place in the workforce. Working today does not look the same as it did even five years ago. This means sourcing, engaging and hiring candidates will look different too.

In sourcing, we’re seeing the emergence of data-driven matching and segmenting really impact the space. Sourcing strings are being built and constantly scrutinised for quality while referral programmes now have matching embedded and built-in filters. Referral programmes hold the highest likely future in sourcing as recruiters pick up on the underlying data, resulting in longer tenure and higher job performance. Referral programmes, while on the rise, are still competing to outperform alternate sourcing programmes like social professional networks (43%) and Internet job boards (42%). While these referral systems and their data are increasing, a simple implementation is not going to complete the job, Steve Klingensmith (@stkling), Recruiting Leader with, has remarked that, “Employee referrals are the single most important thing we do in recruiting. It is the number one source of good, quality hires. Unfortunately, most companies treat their referral programme like an HR programme. If you really want to succeed with referrals, you need to treat it like a marketing programme.

Also, candidates are more likely to listen to their own network and their friends. Our employees are the ones who can most accurately vouch for what it’s like to work here. Employee referrals get us a lot further in the conversation than we otherwise would have.”

The traditional low-end outsourcing is being replaced with this new, focused approach on sourcing by both large and small staffing firms. In engagement, we’re seeing an emergence of moving past technology to a more personalised outreach to candidates. These candidates are open to new positions, but only if contacted by the employer. CareerBuilder reports nearly 75% of current workers are open to new opportunities, but only 18% are actively looking for job postings.

Additionally, 44% of candidates respond to job opportunities when someone contacts them. This demonstrates just how pivotal the engagement aspect of recruiting is to today’s workforce. It takes a human touch and can be done through the use of technology, not by the technology. Simon Fenwick, Executive Vice President, Managing Director – Global Talent Acquisition at IPG Mediabrands, had the following to say: “… candidates are more than just job seekers; they are savvy consumers, engaging with our brands on multiple levels.

Through smart and insightful technology, we can humanise the recruiting process with candidate relationship management (CRM) tools that are geared towards engaging job-seekers rather than intimidating them. Initiating contact is a crucial first step, so long as it has the human touch.” As for the third and final – hiring – we’re seeing the largest change in the location of hires. Remote work is consuming roughly 20% of the workforce while traditional, full-time and in-office employees are on a steady decline at 54%. Projected predictions by Fieldglass say by 2017 contingent work will consume 25%, traditional at 41% and the remaining grey area at 34%.

Technology and effective connection and inspection with new candidates and hires is especially vital for this workforce shift. This is where that interactive communication Fenwick previously alluded to is coming to action. Bringing traditional effective communication with the deep interaction and implementation of new sourcing, engagement and hiring technologies will better help recruiting professionals adapt to these changing trends. Lars Schmidt, Founder of Amplify Talent, says, “I think the very role of a recruiter is evolving. It’s not enough to be a great sourcer. It’s not enough to be a great closer. We need to bring more to our clients.”

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