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Platform 1st Wins in Every Software Category – it will for Recruiting as well.

If companies are not careful, Talent Acquisition can become the most fragmented process within an organization. There are many steps to a holistic recruiting approach and many different vendors to work with across these steps. With so many separate tools and recruiting aids, how does a company keep everything together without losing consistency and data in the process?

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/behavioral assessments.
  • Leverage reference check vendors to skip the phone call bias.
  • Perform background checks.
  • Prepare an offer.

That is five separate vendors to work with in what we all see as a relatively straightforward hiring process. It gets worse. The vast majority of customers are on legacy ATSs (in which sourcing and CRM were afterthoughts), so we need to integrate these steps into our already complex process. A Talent Acquisition professional may also need to do some or all of these things:

  • Ensure the job is distributed to internal employees for referrals.
  • Tap into select agencies who might have good candidates.
  • Ensure the career page is up and mobile optimized.
  • Email all of the relevant targets in my talent pool using my CRM.
  • Leverage LinkedIn Recruiter to source folks.

Working too much

That’s 10 steps with 10 potentially different vendors or tools. This may sound exorbitant or insane (or both), but it’s the reality of today’s recruiters. Last week, I spoke with a Fortune 20 company who has 19 different systems “on top of” their ATS, with only four of them integrated. The talent leaders at this company were incredibly frustrated because their reality looks like this:

  • Their recruiters spend less time recruiting and more time doing “swivel chair integration”.
  • They are wasting money and resources to support vendor integrations if they bother at all.
  • They can’t get the “full picture” data they need because it’s stored in many different systems.
  • Worse, they are actually running their best candidates through a menial, disconnected experience.

How did we get here?

There are many reasons recruiters find themselves in this professional predicament, but one primary cause stands out. The relatively shoddy, closed state of the underlying technology (powering all of the vendors that comprise the TA stack) is at the core of this issue. Few ATS vendors have open APIs, nor have they taken the time to realize the mess they have created. The resulting customer frustration has led to a resurgence in customers blindly buying the recruiting modules of their large HRIS vendor. This is because they assume all of these modules are integrated automatically.

However, this doesn’t end well as many of these vendors also lack open APIs—sometimes even for their own Talent Management modules, meaning that Talent Acquisition leaders are jumping from the ATS frying pan into the HRIS fire. Regardless of which purchasing decision they make, they find themselves with a system that isn’t integrated with their other platforms, leading to disjointed processes, inefficient recruitment teams and poor candidate experience.

There is exciting news—not on the horizon, but here today. It’s no mistake there is a wealth of technological innovation in the Talent Acquisition space. Nothing is more important for a customer’s success and survival in this “world is flat” reality than getting better people than your competition. You can’t do that if your recruiters are ill-equipped, your sourcing team is doing duplicative work, and your candidates are giving up on applications. So today, we are seeing companies taking a broader, more impactful view. They realize to win in Talent Acquisition, one must adopt a platform-first approach. It is easy to identify such vendors and their products.

How to Identify Platform-First Vendors

  • Every endpoint of a vendor’s product feature is exposed to a restful API.
  • The vendor’s APIs have a robust API management and throttling process.
  • The vendor’s APIs are easily viewable and testable on a vendor’s development sites.
  • The vendors offer metadata reporting APIs for 3rd party reporting tools.
  • The vendors offer pre-built sophisticated bi-directional connectors with HRIS systems.

This is a huge step, but it is merely the beginning. While this pace of innovation is exciting to the Talent Acquisition buyer, it is truthfully what other application categories have been offering for over five years. Some vendors are going further—recognizing how little time and resources the Talent Acquisition buyer has to do the work themselves with these new open APIs. They are creating marketplaces where they work with the myriad of potential vendors a Talent Acquisition buyer might need, and have thus created a much larger “whole product” with an integrated ecosystem. Successful vendor marketplaces have these common components:

Components of a Successful Vendor Marketplace

  • Partner solutions integrated to a consistent set of APIs that are always maintained.
  • A consistent consumption experience within vendor’s UI, including easy invoking of partner services from a hiring process as well as view the partner results from within the vendor’s solution.
  • Ability to combine and view the partner and vendors data to provide a whole picture.
  • Flexible choice of business models, ranging from distribution for simpler “customer click” purchases (often to SMBs) to referrals for “more complex” sales to larger customers.

The benefits for companies looking to evolve their Talent Acquisition strategy and impact are obvious: no more swivel chair integration, no more burdensome integration, reduced IT costs, and more efficient processes. What is less obvious, but more powerful, is that customers can ensure a consistent candidate experience, while great candidates don’t get lost across multiple non-integration points. This is terrific news for Talent Acquisition technology vendors, especially those who specialize in one core area of the Talent Acquisition spectrum. If these ecosystems bear fruit and take off (which they will—platforms always win in the end), this will allow them to double down on their core strength while having multiple effective routes to market knowing that their solution is easily consumable with others.

Finally, real technology is coming to HR tech (no more flat-file integrations) in the area that has the most impact in HR: Talent Acquisition. Boston Consulting Group reports that organizations that win in recruiting deliver 2.5X the revenue growth over those who don’t. It just may be in a few years that Talent Acquisition and HR are where the coolest (and geekiest) kids in IT work. Would that be so bad? I think not.


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