“When I talk about money all you see is the struggle/ When I tell you I’m livin’ large, you tell me it’s trouble.”
– Tupac Shakur, I Ain’t Mad At Ya.
We talk a lot about “big data” in recruiting, but the truth is, while myriad solutions and systems exist to help employers discover which sources of hire are the most effective, the fact is that predictive analytics are incumbent on historical data, which means that any extrapolation is entirely predicated on what’s currently on the market.
That’s because there is no tool out there that can accurately predict when the next category killer or seismic shift in the talent attraction landscape (say, the rise of social media or mobile technologies); if such a thing existed, of course, VC firms wouldn’t make so many bad bets on market plays that never pay off.
You can figure out how well what’s worked in the past is going to work in the future, but like opportunity costs, you can’t calculate what doesn’t yet exist.
Recruiting Technology: So Many Tears.
This makes buying for the future, perhaps the most critical filter through which any employer should make technology purchasing decisions, inherently subjective; software sales is predicated largely on filling pressing needs today, not anticipating the more systemic, bigger picture problems that might arise tomorrow.
When applicant tracking systems first popped up, they delivered on exactly what they were designed to do, but there was no way of anticipating that that the more critical need than solving that existing problem would be figuring out a scalable, sustainable way of systematically engaging them.
This is why, although it’s easy to blame our systems, the real culpability lies just as much with the employers who signed long term contracts for short term solutions.
The fact that so much spend today is going to closing that gaping capability gap between, say, systems of record and systems of engagement evidences what’s become a vicious cycle of myopic decision making; 3-5 years is a veritable lifetime in the lifecycle of technological evolution.
By the end of your standard contract, many existing tools and technologies have diminishing returns and increasing capability gaps (often requiring expensive point solutions to address the most immediate needs).
Conversely, by that point, that technology has become so entrenched in recruiting processes and talent procedures that migrating systems can actually become a bigger headache than simply sticking around with the same sucky system. Plus, even the worst systems are known entities; for as risk averse an industry as talent acquisition, this gives the incumbents a decided edge, even with the legacy problems so pervasive throughout legacy systems.
But hey, you never get fired for buying IBM. You just might not make any hires, either.
Recruiting Technology: How Do You Want It?
But there are a few key considerations every employer or talent acquisition organization can use during the software selection process to minimize the associated risks of recruiting technology selection and maximize their chances of success today – and tomorrow.
Here are some things every employer should consider before signing on the dotted line.
Starin’ Through My Rearview Mirror: Buying For the Future.
This one should be pretty obvious, but if you’re considering buying recruiting software, then your primary consideration should be on the actual product itself.
Many recruitment software buyers make the mistake of going to market without really understanding where their needs really lie and what process problems, capability gaps or actual business needs exist.
Before testing the HR technology waters, it’s important to understand not only what your process looks like right now, but what needs might exist in the future – and since, clearly, those are mostly undefined, buying for the future means finding the most flexible, scalable and sustainable solution. Just because a product can check a box on an RFP today doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily going to meet your needs of tomorrow.
Start by conducting a comprehensive audit to better understand which features and functions are at the most important; understanding and refining your list of requirements will not only help you streamline the selection process, but also easily eliminate any vendors whose core capabilities or case uses fall outside of the scope of your most critical needs.
Often, this deep dive into the current state of your talent acquisition organization reveals that it’s processes and people, not product, that are the real problem – and no recruiting technology in the world can fix a broken process.
Remember: recruiting software should support and augment, not displace or disrupt, the best practices you’ve already got in place.
Who Do You Believe In? Investing In A True Partner.
As anyone who’s been forced to use a provider with a roadmap to nowhere, nonresponsive account reps or terrible customer service can tell you, this fit is almost as important a consideration as the actual product itself, particularly given the long term nature of most contracts and the high degree of customization and configuration most enterprise solutions need to succeed at individual employers.
“If your vision and values are aligned, then it’s a good fit – versus buying talent technology off a paper checklist.”
Once you’ve defined your requirements and identified a list of potential providers whose products meet the minimum qualifications defined during the discovery process, you’ll be able to concentrate on the bigger partnership picture than features and functions.
Remember: how you’re treated during the sales process is a much better indicator of the viability of any strategic, long term partnership than any product demo, website or one sheet. In short, it’s a pretty good preview of what a potential partnership is going to look like down the line.
Until The End of Time: Looking At the Long Term.
If you’re an active prospect in the process of making a purchasing decision, this is as good as your relationship with any software provider will ever be; you’ll also never have the same sort of leverage with those vendors again – at least not until they’re trying to upsell you or renew your contract.
If you don’t like how you’re being treated during the honeymoon phase, remember: it’s only going to get worse once you actually sign on the dotted line.
Any lack of responsiveness, lack of professionalism or delay in meeting deadlines and deliverables during the sales process should be a pretty obvious recruiting red flag.
Another major red flag, conversely, is vendors who are a little too aggressive during the sales cycle. If you feel like you’re being oversold, chances are that provider is likely going to under deliver on those promises made during the selection process. You know that scent of desperation from people trying a little too hard to win your business?
Anyone who’s focused too much on the close and not enough on what happens after will likely not survive for as long as the contract they’re chasing. The best partners out there want your business, but they don’t need it – a true partnership is truly mutually beneficial.
A true partner will be proactive, not reactive, in supporting your business and strategy, anticipating future issues or identifying current needs, and provide a range of resources and technical support for helping you get the most bang for your recruiting buck along the way.
Remember: you’re already paying a premium for those platforms – you shouldn’t have to pay more to buy a bunch of point solutions or implementation services to make sure that system is actually working as promised.
Because you spend enough time chasing down candidates and hiring managers where you shouldn’t have to worry about getting through to your talent technology partner, too. After all, you’ve got recruiting to do.
Does your current technology solution improve recruiter efficiency, provide data-driven talent strategy and give candidates a great experience?
If it doesn’t, it might be time to purchase a new solution that will help you evolve with the rapidly changing recruitment landscape.
Disclaimer: Recruiting Daily was compensated by CareerBuilder for this post. But their data and action items are actually pretty priceless, so in this case, the facts and opinions contained herein do, in fact, represent those of the publisher. Because we’re all about better recruiting through better technology, too.