chapter one

Danger Ahead - Stop Recruiting Like You Did 5 Years Ago

According to a recent study by Manpower Group, employers worldwide are facing the severest talent shortage since 2007. And, it’s not because the talent doesn’t exist – it absolutely does. The difficulty lies in how organizations find, attract, and retain that talent. Unemployment is at record lows while entrepreneurship has reached all-time highs, which means job seekers have a lot of options. Even more interesting, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a December 2017 report measuring the number of “voluntarily quits,” defined as an employee’s willingness or ability to leave their job, with that number exceeding the number of layoffs and discharges today. Evidently, now more than ever, talent has far more available opportunity for employment, shifting the balance of power from the employer to the prospective applicant — welcome to the Job Seekers’ Market.

Now Entering The Job Seekers' Market

Consequently, experts are forecasting a global shortfall of approximately 85 million qualified workers in just two years, spurred by technological advancement coupled with pressures from globalization. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the tech industry feeling the pressure from this shift. With digital disruption breaking down barriers of entry everywhere, virtually all industries are feeling the squeeze. For example, according to Indeed, jobs that went unfilled for more than 30 days include positions across a variety of industries like Automotive, Electronics, Logistics, Pharmaceuticals, and Education, among others. While, arguably, lots of variables lend themselves to creating workforce shortages, an undeniable factor in the ability to recruit and successfully attract and retain top talent is directly tied to an organization’s recruiting technology. In fact, according to a study by CareerBuilder, “the more in-demand a skill set is, the less likely a job seeker with that skill set will jump through hoops” created by technological barriers in the hiring process.

To compound employers’ challenges, talent also has far greater expectations of the organizations they choose to work for including how they are treated and “sold-to” as part of the recruiting process. So companies that continue with legacy, non-candidate centric recruiting solutions that still expect candidates to “go through the motions” and fill out lengthy and complex online job applications are just shooting themselves in the foot – 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of such folly. Rather, employers must behave differently today by targeting, engaging, and acquiring job seekers just like they would their customers. It’s a new world.

Candidate Experience Matters. A Lot.

In-demand talent will never apply extra effort to work through a complex recruiting process. But how do you define what a complex recruiting process is? Let’s examine the average ERP recruiting module / legacy ATS initial candidate experience. This is how awful it feels for a job seeker:

  • Force candidate to create usernames and remember passwords just to express interest
  • Make it difficult to accurately share education and experience with outdated drop-down menus
  • Do not integrate well to Linkedin or other social networks that enable easy sharing of work history
  • Do not allow candidates to search and apply from their mobile devices or lack responsive design
  • Do not allow for multiple attachments or offer poor parsing capabilities
  • Force candidate to complete redundant fields across many pages of forms

If this is the first impression a candidate receives of their future employer, it should come as no surprise that the most highly-qualified candidates will completely skip this silliness and coveted, passive candidates won’t even bother. But here’s the real kicker – for those lucky few candidates who do complete the arduous application process, their experience actually gets worse. They rarely hear back from companies as their application or interest disappears into a black box, forcing them into the weird position of reaching out persistently to companies to check on the status of their application. Worse, this outdated process often continues to compound itself when candidates actually meet with organizations for interviews, where it is exceptionally rare their needs are met, meaning:

  • They had the right number of interactions with the hiring team
  • The role was clearly explained and the interviews were thoughtful with the right questions asked
  • The prospective hiring manager explained the potential impact the candidate could have
  • Feedback was prompt and thorough regardless of the hiring decision

Today, job seekers expect to be treated with basic common decency and professionalism. Unfortunately for organizations leveraging outdated recruiting systems, this is rarely the case. Instead, the candidate experience is one that fosters nor encourages prompt candidate follow-up, lacks structured and speedy candidate discussions, and provides little clarity of ownership between recruiters and hiring managers on disposition. If your application process shares any of these traits or obstacles – it’s costing you in a big way. “If you give people a bad experience through the application, interview and screening process, they’re less inclined to apply with you again for the rest of their lives.” Even worse, as one study reveals, a poor candidate experience can even cost you in customers, provoking job applicants to completely stop purchasing and or interacting with a brand further.

The research is clear — complex and outdated recruiting technology prevents hiring success as it often creates a horrible candidate experience, increased applicant drop-offs, insufficient talent pools, and low close rates on top finalists. Not to belabor the obvious, but missing hiring goals = missing business goals. In a survey conducted by Indeed, 83% of respondents said unfilled jobs produced negative consequences like “lost revenue, slower product development, delayed market expansion, and/or increased team tension and employee burnout.” Unless your current system can identify, target, and engage job seekers through their preferred platforms in a simple and easy way, you’re still operating in the dark ages of recruiting. The good news is options exist to help right your recruiting wrongs, but first you must understand what those options are.

Recruiting Tech - What Are My Options?

If you’re just venturing into the recruiting technology space or it’s been awhile since you’ve visited, you may be surprised to find it’s a very crowded and confusing space. Understanding the vernacular that vendors and analysts use is key for identifying and selecting a solution that aligns your recruiting function with the demands of a changing talentscape. Generally, recruiting systems fall into three distinct classifications: ERP Recruiting Modules, Recruiting Point Solutions, and Talent Acquisition Suites.

1. ERP Recruiting Modules

ERP recruiting modules are extensions or add-on components to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, also synonymously interchangeable with terms like Human Resources Information System (HRIS), HR Suites, and Human Capital Management (HCM) systems. Some of the most common ERP recruiting modules include SAP’s SuccessFactors, Oracle’s Taleo, Ultimate Software’s UltiPro, and Workday’s Workday Recruiter, to name a few. Between 2010 and 2014 many of the big ERP players expanded their system capabilities, either through internal product development or through product acquisition, as a way to accommodate their customers’ ask of consolidating and streamlining back office HR tasks like tracking employees, approving new positions, and measuring cost center data, among others. During this time recruiting modules were introduced as add-on capability to these systems for rounding out HR functions and, in essence, providing a convenient “One-System-One Vendor” model, and thereby theoretically simplifying the buying experience. Unfortunately, most of the recruiting acquisitions these vendors made were of solutions more than a decade old (and therefore built to suit a very different set of market conditions and candidate expectations), and the components that were organically built were of limited scope and reflected a very HR process centric (as opposed to candidate centric) user experience.

As a result, there is a great deal of discontent from forward-looking recruiting organizations for these types of solutions. Aside from clunky UI’s that candidates and hiring managers reject, these systems lack many functional capabilities required for success in modern recruiting – i.e. intelligent sourcing tools, intelligent assessment, candidate experience management, and candidate relationship management, as well as creating analytics-related tools that help recruiters source, select, and manage their employment brand and candidate pipeline” While the back office HR team is happy having their functions consolidated in one system, the front office – meaning recruiters, hiring managers, and those on the front lines of talent acquisition – are frustrated and constrained by half-baked recruiting modules. While ERP vendors are rushing to deliver features that compete with dedicated recruiting solutions, most have their hands full developing payroll, learning, and other core systems,” leaving them hard-pressed to deliver deep recruiting capability. While not discounting the need for these systems nor the benefits they lend to transactional back office functions like payroll, benefits, and performance management, the lackluster fanfare around ERP recruiting modules is well-recognized across the industry.

2. Recruiting Point Solutions

Different, point solutions, commonly referred in the industry as “best-of-breed” point solutions, are designed around and focused on a single, key hiring process area or a specialized recruiting capability like intelligent matching, candidate relationship management (CRM), or recruitment marketing. In fact, many applicant tracking systems (ATS) call themselves “best-of-breed” solutions because they help automate recruiting workflows or condense talent management tasks while still lacking the core recruiting needs for both top of funnel outreach and downstream new hire onboarding. Familiar examples of point solutions include systems like eQuest for job posting, Beamery for CRM, Smashfly for recruitment marketing, Talemetry for job distribution, and Greenhouse for applicant tracking. Compared to ERP recruiting modules, point solutions provide deeper functionality in one set of specific recruiting needs and generally are more user-friendly.

Most commonly, point solutions are used to supplement organizations’ ERP systems as a means to plug functional holes around specific capabilities. Unfortunately the downside of this approach is two fold:

1) if being used to supplement a legacy ATS or ERP Module, organizations may just be putting “lipstick on a pig” and not addressing the core gaps of the underlying ERP system

2) this approach invariably requires stitching together different solutions, which beyond creating an integration and reporting headache, often leads to a clunky and unproductive hiring team and candidate experience given the handoff from system to system.

Finally, as is usually the case, going the point solution route invariably becomes too expensive for the budget constrained buyer.

3. Talent Acquisition Suites

Talent acquisition platforms, commonly referred to in the industry as “talent acquisition suites”, marry the best attributes of both ERP recruiting modules (integration) and recruiting point solutions (fully functional), while simultaneously remedying their shortfalls. These standalone recruiting solutions tend to be newer and more modern with greater configurability and easier integration into parallel and downstreams systems. As one complete solution, talent acquisition suites not only house deep recruiting functionality, but also offer an integrated marketplace of recruiting services (think sourcing tools, job boards, assessment vendors, etc.) enabling organizations to truly streamline and simplify their tech stack. As a result, Talent Acquisition Platforms are quickly becoming the preferred solution. Referenced in the IDC study, the number of organizations opting to implement talent suites ahead of impending workforce challenges is steadily increasing given the need for “broader product portfolios and deeper functionality” beyond what is offered by ERP systems. Considering their competitive advantage as a best-in-class talent magnet, opting for a talent acquisition platform is increasingly becoming not only the wiser choice but safer choice, as well, with fewer integration endpoints to manage. Delivering comprehensive recruiting functionality across the entire hiring process, coupled with the ability to seamlessly integrate to most ERP systems via innovative application programming interfaces (APIs), it’s easy to understand the demand for talent acquisition suites.

It’s worth noting in any selection process the pricing differences between offerings in addition to the logistical differences in implementation, integrations, migrations and maintenance timelines and costs. That said, organizations all too often deemphasize the long-term hiring, retention, and growth benefits of a given system during their analysis when compared to these considerations. Given the positive impact of recruiting on business outcomes, to ignore these benefits is an incredibly risky move during the selection process. As previously noted, organizations will either be able to successfully attract, select, and hire the right talent on time with their chosen solution or they will perish for the long term, unable to compete for talent.

Choose Wisely to Recruit Strategically

In the job seekers’ market where talent is scarce, it’s pretty clear that employers are now forced to rethink their entire recruiting function and approach out of competitive necessity. Given the stated limitations of ERP recruiting solutions, it is indeed no surprise that so many organizations are ditching their ERP systems as an effective recruiting tool. Successful organizations realize ERP systems don’t cut it in a market where candidate experience matters because these systems treat recruiting like a transactional process, devoid of a humanized experience and remarkably unfriendly to users. Instead, organizations winning the competition for talent do so by advantageously leveraging recruiting as a strategic function, relying on modern and innovative systems that enable hiring teams to operate like sales teams, driving applicant demand and conversion through marketing and outreach. When recruiting is strategic, hiring teams and managers are empowered to actively market to, engage, and connect with job seekers, as well as each other, fostering deeper and more meaningful connections that contribute to better experiences and faster hires. Obviously, this approach requires a system with the user experience, comprehensive functionality, and platform design to meet the needs of today’s companies trying to hire today’s talent. The IDC Marketscape report is clear – “as labor markets continue to tighten, recruiting gets more and more difficult – and the business case for upgraded capabilities is stronger than ever.” Today, organizations can successfully withstand market disruption with the right people in place — but only by having the right technology in place, first.

So, welcome to the Job Seekers’ Market, where recruiting systems matter, a terrific candidate experience goes a long way, and recruiting is a strategic function powered by dedicated recruiting software that inspires candidates rather than demeans. Consequently, if you’re still recruiting like you did five years ago, you’re in for a bumpy ride.