10 Reasons Why Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Dead

Back in 2006, I joined a startup called Hotgigs. It had an experimental product called Jobs2Web. Hotgigs had two clients using the Jobs2Web product. I was tasked with developing its channel sales strategy. Over the next few years, it created a new product segment in recruiting called a Recruitment Marketing Platform. With hundreds of clients and millions in revenue, in December 2011 it was acquired by SuccessFactors/SAP. I left in 2013 and since have been at MyAlerts, a consumer individualization marketing platform for large retailers. Over the last year, I’ve been looking at the recruitment industry … and YAWN.

It feels to me like nothing has changed. What I’m hearing and seeing is exactly what was spouted in 2012. Only now, it’s everyone who is saying the same thing versus a smaller segment of the industry. You may agree or disagree with me. In my opinion, Recruitment Marketing Platforms are dead, and here are my 10 reasons why.

No innovation since 2012: Yup that’s right. You may think there have been advancements, but there has not. In the past five years, RMPs have maybe improved by 1x. Real innovation happens when technology improves by 10x. Let’s take a look at what these platforms had back in 2012 …

  • Dashboard/analytics
  • Talent community/network/job alerts
  • SEO
  • Landing pages for various categories of jobs
  • Job distribution
  • OFCCP compliance
  • Mobile optimization
  • Text messaging
  • Employee referral marketing
  • Social network marketing

Sitting here in 2017, and this is pretty much what you are buying today (circa 2012 developed technology).

Candidates don’t want to search and apply for jobs: If you look at a typical RMP, the main call to action is to search and apply for a job. The best talent won’t do this. Today’s RMP is focused on Job First Recruiting. This is built on the premise of “put a job out there and the candidates will come.” How’s that working out for you? The best candidates don’t want to come in through the front door of your career site. The best candidates completely skip this process. And since you have an RMP, you are not getting access to them. To capture the best candidates, you must build a back door (more on this later).

Also, what does “Join Our Talent Community” mean to your candidates? This language has been highly debated, but think about this from the candidate perspective. It’s not really a community. It doesn’t help me network into your company or connect me to you. Apart from throwing my business card into a database of people that nobody searches anyhow, what’s the value to the talent side of the equation?

Your career site looks the same as your competitors: If you have an RMP, look at the career sites of your peers using the same RMP. You will notice your career site looks the same as your peers. To be efficient and cost effective, the RMP vendors need to build a set of templates. These templates become your standard web page design. Sure, you can move things around in the design, but the elements of the pages are pretty much the same. Just add in your graphics and content, and voila your site is deployed. Exactly like everyone else out there. Did anyone say #cookiecutter?!

RMPs will not solve for the future: We have entered the next phase of recruiting. Some of you may have noticed it. In a recent report by CEB, 90 percent of the S&P 100 are recruiting for the same 21 roles. I had an RMP customer say to me: “we are happy just to get two candidates to apply (whether they are qualified or not).”

Job demand is outpacing talent. And it’s only getting worse. Welcome to the hyper-competition for talent. Your best candidates are not coming to your career site. In fact, they are skipping it altogether. They are going through the back door to your organization. And you don’t even know about it. If everyone is going to LinkedIn first, why not make this an integrated part of your career site experience?

RMPs are built to engage the candidate behavior of five years ago: Expanding on what I talked about above … The best candidates typically skip going to your career site. They are going through the back door to your organization. They do this by going to LinkedIn to see which of their friends works there. They may even connect to a hiring manager directly. They will research your organization via third-party websites. When they make it to your career site, they don’t want to search & apply for a job. Or join a talent community/network, which means nothing to them. This pretty much eliminates your chance to connect with them. We have to create a LinkedIn type of experience on our career site.

Most RMPs were built by non-tech vendors: It will help to understand the evolution of what happened in the industry. The year was 2007 and companies were spending a lot of money on job boards and, yes, some still spent in print ads. Next, the Great Recession of 2008-9 happened and the money dried up. Many ad agencies and job boards suffered. Some even went out of business. Employers sought a way to meet their hiring goals while cutting their costs.

In comes the RMP vendors who were developing cutting-edge technology, built for the candidate habits of the day and had incredible ROI. These early leaders were technology companies. When employers saw the ROI of an RMP, massive amounts of money was funneled away from the ad agencies and job boards. They had to jump into the game. It was a matter of survival. Unfortunately, their focus was still to make money on what they were doing in 2007. Not on deploying great technology. I had a colleague who interviewed the former CTO of one of the ad agencies. He basically said their technology was held together by coat hangers and Band-Aids.

They are not built for mobile recruiting: Yes, I’ve heard you all say your career site is mobile optimized. But after your 35-step application process on my mobile device, I have to disagree. Maybe the front of your career site is mobile optimized, but not certainly the application. And even if you did have a one-page apply process, do you think a quality candidate would fill out a resume form on their mobile device? Candidates can’t differentiate between your career site and ATS.

Having worked in retail, specifically e-commerce for the past three years, I’ve seen the effect mobile has on a company. Some retailers have as high as 90 percent of site browsers via mobile. But in some cases, only 10 percent of purchases happen on mobile. Amazon has done it the best with its one-click purchase. Until we get more streamlined for mobile apply, your site is not mobile optimized.

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Having an RMP adds unnecessary complexity to your “recruiting stack”: Software vendors often speak about a “software stack.” This is defined as a group of programs that work in tandem to produce a result or achieve a common goal. To define this in terms of your recruiting technology, look at the systems that may touch recruiting. Career site. CRM. ATS. Job distribution platform. Analytics platform. A good RMP works to combine some of these systems.

The problem comes in a couple areas. Either it repurposes third-party software as part of its platform, which means it has no control over the innovation or enhancements, and marks it up to you in order to make money. Or it tries to develop it all in-house, which means there’s too much technology to be great at. So it’s good at it, but not great, which means the quality of your solution suffers.

The RMP market is in the Laggard phase of adoption: If you look at the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle, it starts out with Innovators (2.5 percent) who are the first to adopt a new technology. Next are the Early Adopters (13.5 percent), followed by the Early Majority (34 percent). Next comes Late Majority (34 percent) and lastly the Laggards (16 percent). We are in the Laggards stage of adoption. I’ve looked at thousands of career sites over the past year, and over 90 percent use an RMP.

Your RMP’s ROI is waning: The technology hasn’t improved in the past five years. Your career site looks like all of your competitors. Candidates are skipping your career site and are not applying to your jobs. I’m sure the bill from you RMP vendor is rising each year. It’s time for a new solution. It’s time to innovate.

I should probably mention the CRM aspects of the RMPs. While they capture business cards (sometimes millions of them), they do nothing to help maintain any sort of conversation with the talent. Is the talent currently looking for new opportunities? Have they changed jobs? What skills or interests have they added since joining our “talent community”? Can people even log in and offer to update this in your “talent community” (like they can on LinkedIn)? If your RMP is like most, you’ve just captured a bunch of stale business cards. Therefore, your busy recruiters would have to recontact everyone to find out what’s new with them or if they’re possibly interested in any positions. Doesn’t sound like innovation to me.

Where do we go from here? I remember when we went from print ads to job boards. After a few years, the job boards got stagnant and in came in the Recruitment Marketing Platforms. Both were exciting times, and a big game-changer for recruiting. Now we are stagnant again.


image from Bigstock

Tom Steele has more than 20 years of helping companies deploy cutting-edge technologies that radically transform their strategies. Over half that time has been spent in talent acquisition, where he helped create a new industry segment called the "recruitment marketing platform." 

Most recently, he has been at MyAlerts, helping build both its e-Retail solution and most recently its Talent solution. Prior to that, he was at Jobs2Web from 2006-2013, where he worked with hundreds of companies to deploy their recruitment marketing platforms.  



4 Comments on “10 Reasons Why Recruitment Marketing Platforms Are Dead

  1. I’ll start! Great article. Very intriguing and necessary to advance the discussion of what is and isn’t available in the RMP space. The point I would make is that broad market marketing automation platforms haven’t innovated in the ways you are expecting from RMPs and have thrived and grown. Because they have matured gotten better at what they do, which I would argue RMP’s have done as well. MUCH better than what you could get in 2012. I think you may be believing your own hype about what was available back then in terms truly automated and useful RMP. And I would also ask you to back your assertion that RMP is in the laggards bucket of adoption. Do a lot of companies have some sort of non-ATS career site? For sure. 90 percent? I can’t sign off on that. In any case, a non-ATS hosted career site doesn’t equal an RMP. From where I sit at the leading enterprise RMP vendor, Talemetry, I can tell you that few “RMP vendors” we compete with, replace, etc. have a truly integrated platform that covers the all bases WELL (to your point). But that just means that what you perceive as lack of innovation is really a race to perfect the functionality that you remember as being solidly in place in 2012. It wasn’t. Not even close. Talemetry (the only example I can/will speak to) has truly mobile-optimized applications that can be as simple or as complex as the client wants. Along with CRM that updates candidate profiles from 3rd party data, candidate interaction, etc (no stale business cards). Fully native job distribution with integrated analytics across all channels to candidates and a lot more that not only innovates through the realization of automated “hands free” recruiting, but refines and extends what was being passed off as a full RMP in 2012. The key is refining that capability to be seamless to recruiters, candidates and recruiting leaders which is no small feat. As for adoption, I would guess that true, full platform RMPs are just beginning to enter your Early Majority phase of adoption and there are green fields for vendors that do it right. Few companies are utilizing more than pieces of RMPs to fill needs within their recruiting stack. Full platform usage to support integrated, modern strategies are out there, but I would say it’s just a few percent of companies.

  2. This is what happens when I’m on LinkedIn after midnight – a good article title gets me every time!

    Seeing as though Ian, Tom, and I are the only likely readers, I might as well be thorough 🙂

    We’re coming full circle back to selection. Companies like Koru out of Seattle and Hiredscore out of Tel Aviv are on a mission to fix the absolute-without-question-most-broken part of recruiting – selection.

    Let’s call most hiring processes what they are: Inconsistent, haphazard, undocumented, and sometimes even unfair – and far too many recruiters have 25+ reqs. On top of that, less than 25% of corporate recruiters recruit for jobs that they’ve performed themselves in the past.

    And yes, to the author’s point – half of the people are coming in the back door, side door, and through the windows (Lou Adler calls this the 50% hidden job market – “networking”). The process sucks too bad to follow it if you’re any good.

    While being behaviorally interviewed by a 27-year-old recruiter that has never worked a day in marketing, an SVP of marketing at a competitor is telling you how the company plans to re-invent itself and how you uniquely fit into the larger puzzle. Which process are you going to be more likely to move forward with? That’s an easy one. It’s THAT moment right there that is worth repeating; having your best talent recruit the best talent. Your best talent does not work in recruiting.

    There is a reason why the hiring manager makes the decision and not the recruiter. You just can’t be the one to make the call on hiring a software developer if all you’ve ever done in your career is background checks, PIP plans, EEOC audits, and payroll system implementation. It’s not even fair to ask someone with that background to make that call. And let’s not start with all that “but managers are not responsible enough to xyz”. Then stop making them managers.

    I do think brand work has a place. But I think of it more like “really, really, really good PR work” than brand work. Remember, brands are built on the back of great COMPANY brands, not the other way around. Show me a company hiring A-players that has a shitty product and overall not-so-great company because a great employer brand is somehow convincing A-players to join anyway – it just doesn’t work that way. You have to invent the iPhone before everyone beats the door down. But telling the story well and in many places DOES have value.

    Doing so on your career site can actually work against you (READ: Millennials DEEPLY distrust marketing). Your career site is thought of as an extension of corporate marketing + corporate communications – we all know who the final approvers are. Nobody is fooled into thinking you live the core values listed on your site – unless you’re in the peer group of the folks that wrote them.

    The much more interesting solutions are the data plays, which some might argue are still maturing – the SwoopTalent, NetworkMonkey, EngageTalent, Entelo, and whatever-happened-with-connectifier,
    and wherever Jeremy Roberts went that I can’t remember the name of (EVER), etc.

    I remember selling (Findly) against Avature 3-4 years ago – we would simply ask 3 questions:
    1) Have you used Avature in the past? Half would say yes. [How did all those features work out?]
    2) How many amazing candidates come in an Avature instance when you buy it? ZERO.
    3) How much free time do your recruiters have to direct source? ZERO

    We didn’t always win, but that line of thinking to the customer was pretty effective. People got it. They were already there. “we don’t need more candidates, we don’t even talk to all the ones we already have. We need BETTER candidates.”

    Avature was just another place to store people that you were already meeting. It didn’t come loaded with every single nurse in North America. For heavy duty direct sourcing shops, including RPOs, agencies, and tech companies without a brand – Avature was the only place to measure and manage a large scale sourcing team – keep from tripping over each other, share a few candidates, but that’s about it.

    However, with Jobs2Web capturing so many inbound people, you had to have a place to talk to them. Avature was that place. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t even log into Jobs2Web for at least what, 5-7 years? I’m not even sure you can login today. It’s like TalentBrew – most don’t login. They use it for website, distribution, content management, and automated emails. Why login?

    You already had an ATS, Jobs2Web, email, a spreadsheet, and a LinkedIn recruiter account – Avature couldn’t replace LinkedIn, a spreadsheet was easier to manage, and candidates and managers were still going to email you. All jobs2web was doing was blasting the same category of jobs at the same audience over and over and over and over until the click rate dropped below 1%. If you were in retail, hospitality, gaming, and a few others – that was plenty good enough – any lifeguard will do (they’re all certified), and any blackjack dealer = revenue (the game is rigged and the sky is watching).

    Nowadays, it isn’t about job distribution, career sites, talent communities, or text alerts. It’s simply about figuring out who the best 25 nurses are within driving distance from your hospital and recruiting them in perpetuity until you finally get them interested. Or if your brand gets a ton of inbound applications, filtering out those that are highly unqualified.

    Most companies not only don’t know the answer to that question, they even disagree internally. Core values + behavioral questions vs. Subject matter expertise and technical know how. Hard to get those sides on the same page. And even if you do, it’s still subjective.

    Machines, Data, and technology are catching up with SOME human’s ability to select. The less experience you have with the job you are recruiting for, the faster technology is going to replace you.

    Take an enterprise sales role. A seasoned sales leader will still be able to “out select” machine learning / AI for complicated roles that require empathy, critical thinking, and other “non-linear” types of skills/thinking.

    However, all of the “is this a job hopper”, “Do they have marketing experience”, “Are they willing to locate to Chicago (for free)”, “Tell me about a time you were the rock and it was a hard place :)” types of questions the machines will manage better.

    A process coming very soon might look like this:
    1) Manager opens Req on phone (smartrecruiters, greenhouse)
    2) Req is distributed automatically based on budget and candidate flow (Jobs2Careers and the other one I always forget the name of – Chris’s shop).
    3) Candidates 1-click apply with LinkedIn and it takes them to a career site where GlassDoor and LinkedIN are both embedded – otherwise candidates immediately leave the career site and go to both.
    4) HiredScore picks up the apply and stack ranks the candidates for the manager
    5) Manager reviews and swipes left for dismiss, right for setup interview, and up/down for custom options
    6) Calendly link goes to a candidate on right swipe, and the candidate self schedules on manager’s calendar
    7) Process repeats. But active population is not good enough
    8) So, HiredScore then searches Swoop’s data and finds several more candidates like the ones that were interviewed and liked (in real time). Jobs2Careers uses the money/time algorithm to tell Swoop how many to send emails to. HiredScore tells Jobs2Careers which ones.
    9) Ai writes a custom cold email that looks very in line with the candidates communication norms (we are already using this today in my own firm.)
    10) Now we’re ready to make an offer
    11) Collect all the ATS stuff that we used to ask for in all the wrong steps (like home address)
    12) SmartRecruiters easy api out to Background check vendor and back to HCM.

    The question is – which parts above will be consolidated? The pieces are already here, folks. Nothing above is fictitious are slideware – it’s all live and working. Where was the recruiter above?

    When you really peel back SmartRecruiters, the integration/marketplace story a-la salesforce is kinda sexy/cool, but it’s really just another take on giving the power back to the hiring manager where its always been anyway.

    As long as the recruiting department is understaffed – technology can’t fix it. It starts with enough resources to do the quality of work we all thought, hoped, and expected to be done all along.

    If your average age at your company is 48 and your average age of your recruiting team is 28 – start there. RMP can’t help you.

  3. Meanwhile, in Europe, we’ve added some machine learning flavour to a data-lake of billions of candidate interactions with employment-related content and can now instantly create multi-channel recruitment campaign, while predicting the number of applicants they’ll generate. Pretty sure that wasn’t possible in 2012. Our ATS integrations are now allowing us to also measure the quality of the applicants, so slowly but surely we are moving to a ‘predictive hiring’ model. Stay tuned: https://www.vonq.com/

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