Almost every day I am confronted with some new product or service that promises to greatly enhance, and often to revolutionize, the recruiting function. I don’t think it has ever been clearer that our profession is evolving and changing more quickly than any of us predicted. The Internet is the centerpiece of most organization’s recruiting tactics and we now have tools to help us at every stage of the recruiting process. Unfortunately, we have a plethora of tools ó but a paucity of wisdom and skill in applying them effectively. Recruiters are confused, as are the senior management teams of most organizations, as to which technologies are essential to winning the talent war and which are fads. I often meet recruiters who equate technology with job boards, or who feel as if Internet searching is the only way to find candidates, or who have no idea as to what is good or bad in technology or what works and what doesn’t work. Tools and services are frequently purchased because the salesperson did an effective job in selling the benefits of their product, or because the recruiter is afraid that they will lose their competitive edge if they don’t have the latest tools. Unfortunately, recruiters rarely have a clear strategy on how to deploy and integrate technology into their recruiting process. In order to steer technology choices, there has to be an understanding of what is happening in the world of recruiting technology and there has to be an appreciation for the evolutionary nature of all technology. The rules of successful technology adoption are as follows. 1. Understand that change is the watchword of technology. Whatever software or Internet application you are using today, it will significantly change or be obsolete within one year. It may be upgraded, it may evolve or merge with some other technology, or it may simply be superseded by a better concept. You always need to understand this when you invest in a technology. Spend money to acquire a solution to a business need ó not because it is recommended by a friend or used by a competitor. Build into your internal sales pitch an understanding of the transitory and rapidly changing nature of many of these tools and the organizations that create them. On the other hand, don’t abandon a solution because of one or two missing features or because of minor technology issues. Switching from solution to solution almost never solves anything and almost always causes more problems. You should plan on three-year minimum commitments to a technology unless something very radical occurs. 2. Develop an overall strategy for your recruiting process. I am always surprised to learn that many (maybe most) recruiting departments really do not have an overall vision for where they would like to go or any plan to get there. But to have a successful technology strategy, you also must have a vision of what you would like to achieve. You need to have goals for performance improvement, quality, speed, and other parameters that are important to your organization. A good strategy requires that you involve stakeholders (hiring managers, new hires, recruiters, management, human resources, and others) in a discussion of where the recruiting function can add value. It requires knowing your organization and your staff well enough to judge its capabilities ó its strengths as well as its weaknesses. Engaging in a strategic planning session reaffirms your value and moves you beyond the tactical. 3. Know why you investing in the technology. As I mentioned above, technology should fit into your strategy and solve a business problem. It should ease your workload, help you improve candidate quality, or allow you to provide better customer service. All your technology acquisitions should take place against a master plan. This plan should list all the areas where you think you can or should apply technology and also list the sequence you would like to acquire and implement them in. The recruiting process can be broken into large “chunks” of processes: workforce planning, branding and marketing, sourcing, screening and assessing, tracking and scheduling, on-boarding, and perhaps retention. No single technology solution can help in every one of these chunks. The applicant tracking system, for example, is frequently the first (and often only) technology solution that is bought, yet it is most effective at the tracking and scheduling parts, and perhaps at the screening phase. Most applicant tracking systems, however, do not help you brand, source, assess, orient, or plan. Equally important, but often neglected, is the recruiting website. It is at the front of your entire process and is often the candidate’s first view of your organization. It’s a powerful marketing tool for your recruiting efforts. There is growing awareness of the need for sophisticated screening and assessment tools and also for better workforce planning solutions. It is important to know what you need and in what order. 4. Evolve your solutions and work for integration. Revolution may have its place, but in our world it is far better to adopt technology at a pace equal to your own, your recruiters’, and your hiring managers’ ability to use it effectively. Start with a single technology solution. When you are comfortable with it, add another piece. Continuously add technology according to your plan, enforce its use, train people to use it, and evolve toward your vision. Some organizations can move quickly; others take more time. But it you move at a pace that is fairly comfortable, you will find that the technology gets used and that recruiters and hiring managers actually begin to reply on it rather then on backup manual solutions. Technology is a tool and needs to be integrated carefully into processes that are evolving and adapting to ever changing business needs and priorities. The 21st century is one that will find many technologies moving into recruiting. We all need to learn how to choose the right solutions for the right problems.
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