tumblr_l9ltlpS9Ob1qc7mh1With the price of admission prohibitively expensive for many startups and SMBs, companies that do shell out the Benjamins on activating the annual HR Technology Conference boondoggle ostensibly do so more or less for the opportunity to be seen.

The strongest motivator keeping exhibitors coming back to #HRTechConf each and every year, seems decidedly driven more from FOMO than by ROI.

Many companies either can’t pay for play or opt to allocate their limited marketing resources into events with a bigger potential payoff than trade shows, which tend to be much more high risk and lower reward than most other brand marketing and lead generation activities.

Still others aren’t capable of ponying up the kind of cash needed to get marquis billing, primo speaking slots and the other accouterments designed to show that a fool and his money may soon parted, but he’ll start with his marketing budget.

Every year, I ask every one of the litany of “big data” and “predictive analytics” providers in attendance how, exactly, they’re measuring the ROI from attending this trade show. And, inevitably, every year, I get nothing more than a few blank stares or open sneers shot back my way when I ask. Hell if they know, either.

The point is that while the HR Technology Conference is designed to showcase the hottest technologies and coolest new tools in talent acquisition and management today, some of the companies that are actually innovating and disrupting the market the most are shut out of the spotlight.

The companies dominating the agenda and the conversation, inevitably, are the same legacy systems and shitty software which created most of the problems those emerging solutions that find themselves shut out of #HRTechConf were designed to fix in the first place.

Those that do pay to play find themselves consigned to the margins of an exhibit hall, on the outside looking in at the enterprise players who choose to invest in shit like branded swag or open bars instead of R&D, apparently.

The Top 10 HR Technologies and Recruiting Tools of 2015.

top10That’s why in addition to taking a look at the more established companies making it rain in Vegas and serving as the current rainmakers in our industry (click here to read the full list of our favorites), we wanted to take a look at some of the tools and technologies that might not have the same big budget or brand as the big boys, but are every bit as effective at helping companies and recruiters attract, recruit and retain the talent they need today while providing the capabilities they need to survive – and thrive – tomorrow.

Even if the list is arbitrary and subjective, at least we’re not pretending to serve any higher purpose here than recognizing some platforms with kick ass tech, cool people and compelling case uses rather than those who spend the most money on marketing or analyst relations.

10. Kaleo Software.

Kaleo, which integrates directly within your company e-mail, can turn even the most boring software, like Outlook, into a robust enterprise employee communication and collaboration platform by creating a shared repository of employee generated content, insights and information that can be accessed wherever and whenever that institutional knowledge is needed.

These “knowledge networks,” which are curated by internal subject matter experts, are built around questions and answers, positioning Kaleo as sort of a Quora meets Slack meets Sidekick – and the combination of these capabilities proves pretty powerful when they’re part of the same package.

9. HRMarketer.

The truth: we had second thoughts about putting HRMarketer on this list, given that its inclusion would be entirely self-serving, selfish and the sort of quid pro quo we normally try to avoid at Recruiting Daily (we’re not an analyst firm, which means we have policies against pay for play).

But any ulterior motives behind HRMarketer’s inclusion actually make a pretty compelling case that it’s not only worthy of inclusion as a top technology in our industry, but by any objective standard, actually belongs among the crème de la crème of the category.

As I wrote to CEO Mark Willaman in a request to get access to our account restored (we don’t have a ton of budget, so we try to get by with a little help from our friends):

“HR Marketer is the only tool I’ve ever lost access to that I actually miss being able to use. I didn’t know how reliant I had become on it for staying on top of the industry; I forgot how much damn noise (and crappy content) is really out there, and I’m sick of wasting my time on shit.

Would you be willing to trade access to HRMarketer in exchange for me writing a post on Recruiting Daily giving your product a shout out and including the fact that you’re the only HR Technology provider whose software I quite literally feel I can’t live without?”

He said yes. Which is flattering, since it means our content matters enough to make a trade actually make sense – but this is the rare marketing software that’s worth paying for (we actually thought about it, too). It’s worth it, which we can’t say about our $20 a month we spend on LinkedIn. 

8. Clinch.

The fact that the only thing new about the CRM capabilities the same staid, shitty software the same HCM and ATS vendors out there are already offering on their system is the way these capabilities are being sold (and most of that’s just new naming conventions, product marketing collateral and sales enablement training, anyway).

Clinch, on the other hand, isn’t HR software with some marketing bells and whistles; it’s marketing software that happens to have recruiting functionality, which is why it’s so far superior to the other solutions out there in this category.

I was a huge fan of Clinch’s concept of “building the Hubspot for recruiting” when I first saw Clinch pitched at the iTalent competition at HRO Today, and truly believed that their vision of building a “Hubspot for Recruiting” had the potential to be a game changer in this category, at least in theory.

As I wrote back in May:

“If they [Clinch] keep paying attention to the consumer marketing solutions and bring back the cutting edge to an industry still talking about stuff like “the Cloud” or “mobile,” they’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the hundreds of other players who show up at the HR Technology Conference and ignore the fact that this industry is the Flintstones while the rest of tech is the Jetsons.”

Well, all I can say is that it’s HR Technology Conference time, and for once, my prediction was right. This is the product recruiting has needed for a very long time, and once you see Clinch, you’ll see what you’ve been missing all these years, even if you didn’t know it.

Welcome to the 21st Century, talent pros.

7. RolePoint.

RolePoint started as more or less just another point solution provider, albeit one focused on optimizing and maximizing recruiting results specific to the two most common sources of hire: referrals and internal mobility.

Their solutions for these case uses kicked ass, as did their growth rate, install base and word of mouth momentum; doubling down on their investments in these areas would have been a smart investment by any measure, from revenue generation to value creation.

In fact, RolePoint was so successful in selling their point solutions that they hit a brick wall in scaling their business: having to simultaneously deal with a bunch of disparate ATS and HCM integrations, which kind of made implementation a giant pain in the ass.

As difficult as implementing software is, integrating with a legacy point solution can be an even bigger challenge. That’s why, although their referral and mobility offerings are easily best in class, it’s Rolepoint’s “Connect” layer that’s taken this little solution into the HR Tech Big Leagues.

A middleware product, Rolepoint Connect basically sits on top of a company’s core ATS/HCM system (it’s got deep partnerships in place with pretty much any vendor you’d be using), allowing it to not only feed bi-directional data into the system of record simply and seamlessly, but Rolepoint also has preexisting integrations with pretty much every point solution out there, meaning that turning on an integration between your core system and any current or future point solution a plug and play proposition.

Implementations are painful for every employer; being able to turn a product on out of the box, and having every integration already built in and configured within a single solution is far superior (and more cost effective) than the highly manual, highly complex and highly frustrating alternative.

RolePoint feels that pain; after all, it’s what inspired them to build what might just be the first true middleware play in an industry whose tech buying patterns are pretty much the case use for this category’s existence.

6. Lever.

Trust me, I think Applicant Tracking Systems are about as boring as benefits administration, and while there’s a litany of content dedicated to a category that’s pretty much a digital file cabinet with window dressing, none of it really matters that much. If you’re a recruiter, you don’t have a say in the system you have to use. You play the hand you’re dealt.

That said, we’re seeing an evolution from the second generation of applicant tracking systems to a third. A quick digression for a history lesson. The first generation of ATS systems, which consisted of such legacy Taleo/Oracle/Peoplesoft; SAP/SuccessFactors and Kenexa/Brassring (an IBM joint), are as much a relic of the early 90s as pogs, Blossom or Bubble Tape.

Yet, we’ve still use systems (see graphic) that were developed at about the same time as Pets.com, and it’s only been relatively recently the Second Generation, primarily Bullhorn, Jobvite and iCims, all of which are still great ATS systems due to their native cloud functionality, extreme flexibility and configuration as well as their increasingly robust product suites.

While they’ve done a decent job building and developing viable products that deliver as promised and have some native social and search functionality that, along with their code bases, represent a giant leap forward from the onsite ERPs of earlier years.

Only recently, though, has the Second Generation eked out anything more than an infinitesimally small share of the ATS market; Jobvite, the market leader among this next gen ATS category, has grown its share to 9.0% of all ATS implementations. The only other competitor with similar market share is iCims, estimated to be around 7.3%. These numbers are pretty damn impressive, until you consider Taleo commands 54% market share, conversely. No wonder ATS vendors are as universally despised as animal abuse, Bill Cosby, the art of mime or LinkedIn.

A new, third category is coming, though, and the window of opportunity for Jobvite or iCims to now rock the throne may rapidly be closing. Jobvite has watched its renewal rates plummet, a source confirmed to Recruiting Daily, and faces the very real possibility that it may lose most of its clients within the next 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, rumor has it iCims CEO Colin Day is ready to exit the business and is looking for buyers while silently preparing for an IPO as a contingency plan. Talk of LinkedIn acquiring iCims (a report had a deal sheet on the table as recently as this summer) has not materialized, although reportedly LinkedIn’s subsequent pursuit of Cornerstone OnDemand was a big reason talks stalled).

This sort of consolidation, of course, means just as the last contracts with the Oracles, IBMs and SAPs of the world are expiring, the most viable alternatives may also be some silo in the portfolio some other faceless conglomerate or shell corps, creating the same problems as the on premise OGs they’d be replacing.

The timing is terrible, but the good news is that the third (and next) generation of ATS is just hitting the market, and this one is a dramatic leap forward in applicant tracking systems (I know, I didn’t think that was possible, either). These are the first true SaaS ATS instances (if an implementation team onsite is needed to turn a system on, it’s not SaaS, by the way).

They are relatively inexpensive, have features and functions that actually help recruiters instead of simply selling enterprise software, and have the scalability and flexibility that makes them highly configurable for every size of business across industries, locations and regions.

Unlike earlier generations, who had to provide different versions of their system depending on company size, a bifurcation between enterprise employers and SMBs that’s been rendered irrelevant by an on demand delivery model. Of these many aspirants to the ATS crown on the horizon, only two stand out to us as viable category killers: Greenhouse and Lever.

Greenhouse has been the toast of the town of late, with a ton of buzz and a vocal customer base (and content marketing strategy), although much of that has been the product marketing equivalent of a smear ad against Jobvite, which has rubbed many buyers the wrong way. Our opinion: if your system is better than your competitors, there’s no other need to bash them. But regardless of those facts, if we had to bet on who’d come out on top, we think we’d put our money on Lever.

You’re probably wondering who the hell I’m talking about, which is fair. While Greenhouse (even with all the hype) has managed to eke out a paltry .8% of market share, Lever has .2%, which is also laughably low.

So low, in fact, that even ADP (the worst ATS in the history of the world – it makes Brassring look like the Holodome) has about 5x more share of the ATS market than Greenhouse, and even ADP doesn’t really ever think or care about the fact that somewhere in their portfolio, they happen to have some ATS they picked up in some random acquisition; similarly, the market share for Lever is less than that of Ceridian, who doesn’t really even have an ATS product to begin with (although it’s been rumored to be released for like 5 years now, Dayforce still isn’t a recruiting software). So this generation, but Lever in particular, have a long way to go.

How they’ll win is two fold: product and people. In an industry trying to figure out diversity hiring, particularly for women in tech, Lever’s growth is being guided by Sarah Nahm, who also helped Google turn Chrome into the world’s top browser, quickly bumping Internet Explorer (the Taleo of browsers) from its #1 spot.

Throw in a handful of other Google veterans (including the CTO), Stanford grads and an advisory board that has such luminaries as Box CEO Aaron Levie, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Myer (who Nahm, coincidentally, served as a ghostwriter at the start of her tech career) and Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp.

This startup’s pedigree sounds more McKinsey than Mercer, and stacks up against every comer when it comes to collective connections and brain power – assets that can’t be understated.

That Silicon Valley insider status has already cemented an impressive high growth tech client base with clients like Quora, Lyft and Shopify, and while being on the PayPal Mafia’s good side (and investment list) never hurt anyone, the product sells itself in that it’s actually a recruiter friendly ATS that has stuff that every vendor should offer but no one really has – an integrated mailbox that consolidates outbound communication, for example, or practical time savers like automatic scheduling integrations and real time market and candidate intelligence.

I saw the product briefly for the first time while visiting their headquarters in SF, and the look and feel of the product was stunning for a piece of HR Technology; it’s not there yet, by any means, but it’s as close as any company to melding consumer and recruiting technologies into a singularity that’s been too long in the coming.

Lever’s just getting started, but given the fact that they’ve brought in some of the best marketers in the tech industry and have the VC lined pockets required to scale and expand aggressively (and access to ostensibly unlimited funds), they’ll quickly get on people’s radars, which is all they need to do, since it’s so much more advanced than the Oracle or SAP systems they’ll be up against.

I cannot think of a single reasonable scenario in which anyone would see both technologies side by side and have the ability to make the case to go with, say, Kenexa over Lever. One looks like it could roll as adeptly at SXSW as at SHRM; the other looks like it started life as that mainframe in Willy Wonka that crashed calculating where a Golden Ticket could be found.

The Golden Ticket in this case is pretty obvious, and while no one ever got fired for buying IBM, if they choose that ATS over Lever (or any Oracle or SAP offering) they shouldn’t just be fired, they should be tested for neurological damage. Get a demo. Then get ready to consider what migrating your data out of your POS ATS might entail, because you know you wanna…and finally, all that bullshit is actually worth it.

About damn time, too.

People, check. Product. Check. Check mate, other emerging ATS plays. Lever just feels like the future, where everyone else is just building a better toaster. I rarely see a product that’s so unique it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

When that product is an ATS that every customer I’ve talked to can’t stop raving about, the future of ATS is a pretty easy call to make, even when the market share numbers don’t reflect the actual competitive landscape, because in seeing Lever and hearing about some of their successes, I’m pretty convinced that competition is over.

And man, I wish I had some equity in this one.

5. TalentDojo by Qwalify.

People generally ignore the booths outside the confines of an exhibit hall; giving demos when you’ve been given a card table and 5 minutes in between sessions to do them in is an impossible task. Cards are exchanged, swag is given out, badges are scanned, but very little other is every seen of the product other than maybe some generic brochures or a few demo screens.

Not only was there a line forming in the back of the SourceCon lobby for the chance to see TalentDojo in action (sessions be damned), but a handful of recruiting leaders, like Jim Schnyder at PepsiCo or Jim Stroud of Randstad were so excited about the product they walked me over to make sure I demoed it.

These people are not only world class sourcers and extremely advanced technologists, but are also really hard to impress with anything that doesn’t involve building white label search engines on the black web or using Boolean strings to find archived org charts or random geeky stuff like that. I thought, awesome, here comes another idiot savant ready to talk to me about how to workaround firewalls and scrape networks and whatever it is people in HR who think of themselves as hackers do to occupy those long and lonely nights at home.

Nope. I actually saw the product that offers a functionality I’ve been waiting for years for someone to actually roll out – a way to measure and visualize the strength of connections of internal employees, how communication filters across the enterprise and a sort of internal Klout to identify who, within an organization, is the most influential and connected with other employees. I always thought that would be a killer app.

For TalentDojo, that data visualization capability is comparative child’s play compared to their more sophisticated features that are so advanced I expected a cameo from Captain Io at some point during the demo. I’m not going to go too much into the product – it’s too robust – but my favorite part is that it uses existing employee networks to automate and match people your employees are already connected with and stack rank results not based on keyword relevance, but culture fit based on how they align with your existing top performers.

It’s like Quora for culture, and when candidates ask a question, they know a real employee will answer them instead of another recruiting shill selling a seat for them to stick their butt in.

Similarly, candidates are measured on brand engagement and affinity, based off of both behavioral based prescreening questions and predictive analytics, so you can figure out which candidates are the best fit culturally, which candidates engage most with your brand and around what messages, and other input points needed to go from blindly blasting email to treating every employee referral equally instead of considering which employee referred them and whether or not that employee is a top performer or rising star.

You obviously want to treat their introductions a little differently than that guy on a PIP who sends over some random clown every day in a futile attempt to make a couple hundred quick bucks (and every organization has one). Talent Dojo not only automates recruiting for culture and brand alignment & affinity, but it also backs up those soft skills with hard data that’s not only predictive, but prescriptive, too.


4. Relode.

There are a lot of companies out there competing to be the “Uber of Recruiting,” which is really kind of a dubious claim to fame to aspire to, considering the employment and labor relations struggles the rideshare company perpetually finds itself embroiled in.

One of the most common categories of products I’ve seen pitched over the last year are predicated on the idea of this “freelance economy,” the idea that employees are going to increasingly work for themselves instead of getting chained down to a company.

Forget that this statistically belies both survey data and common sense; humans are hard-wired to crave stability, and the only reason we’d ever have to fight against this Darwinian quality we’ve inherited would be because we had no other choice. The “freelance economy” doesn’t liberate workers; it exploits the fact that they’re systemically and societally trapped.

Besides, making margins off of being the intermediary of labor is the basic model for contingency staffing and strategy, so this “freelance economy” comes down not to the preference of worker or even consumer trends, but rather, the twin trends of cheap technology and underemployment.

The “Freelance Economy” makes employees more or less interchangeable, since it relies on technology as an intermediary for controlling employees, not as an intermediary for engaging them; this, of course, is the opposite of what we talk about when we talk about stuff like social recruiting or employer branding.

The only company culture the Freelance Economy knows is uncertainty, which infuses every part of your existence when you don’t know when or where your next paycheck is coming from.

This is the opposite of freedom; this is the same sort of oppression that’s the cyclical causes of systemic poverty, the birthright of the Western World and capitalism in the 21st century. In a Freelance Economy, we’re all slaves, and we’ve got apps more or less acting as overseers to make sure we stay in line when we’re working in the field.

I despise this justification for screwing workers, but Relode uses this model for social good instead of fiscal evil. It does so by using that same 1099 model not to place people in menial jobs, but to actually to create opportunities to lower the barriers of entry for recruiting by democratizing access to jobs submitted by employers to its recruitment marketplace.

This model sounds a lot like BountyJobs or RecruitiFi, built on a similar revenue model built around driving employers to post jobs to a network of third party recruiters or agencies with exclusive access to those openings, with the companies’ products serving as an intermediary between those two parties (and, of course, getting a cut of all the action).

What makes it different, however, is the profile of recruiter on Relode’s network; it’s not established agencies and seasoned staffers looking for an auxiliary income stream like BountyJobs nor is it reliant on highly segmented specialties, niche networks and stringent screening process for access and ongoing quality control like RecruitiFi.

This sounds great in theory, but it also relies on established recruiters with established networks and results, which is great for executive search and retainer positions – or for enterprise employers unlikely to want to trust unproven entities with representing their brand on the open market. Think of these as the original Uber, which was more or less taking the open inventory of commercial livery services, which already had professional drivers and a fleet of black cars, and referring them business for a cut of every ride.

Relode, however, is the UberX of the recruiter exchange model; anyone, more or less, can sign up to be an agent, and like Uber, those unwilling to put in the time or the effort to generate results will naturally cycle out of the marketplace. I’ve long held that I could take any random liberal arts grad or even high school student and teach them to recruit in about an hour – the underlying mechanics aren’t that hard to master, after all.

In my experience, what is hard is predicting whether someone will succeed or suck at recruiting – the only way to teach someone how to swim in this business is by throwing them in the water and hoping they don’t drown. This is more or less the model that RPOs and major staffing agencies are predicated upon; money is made on the margins in this marginal area of the talent world.

Relode offers a place where not only can new recruiters enter the profession and have immediate access to placements to work on, but also gives them some basic tools when they join the marketplace (unlike competitors in this space, which only offer inventory management and invoicing) that recruiters need to be successful.

Most notable amongst these is a proprietary ATS that looks and feels a lot like Pinterest with its ability to “pin” candidates to “boards” (reqs) – and with a UI/UX and functionality that’s as simple as any social site, it’s actually far superior for recruiters than even most enterprise solutions, since it strips out the stuff you don’t need to find candidates and make placements.

While their ATS product offering is still in its infancy, ultimately, this might end up being the major focus for Relode down the line; with a few additional features and functionalities, this solution could easily compete for the same customer base that’s currently monopolized by Bullhorn after its Sendouts and MaxHire acquisitions.

No matter whether their future is in staffing services or in developing systems, Relode will likely be where many future recruiters find and fall into this profession, given its member and customer growth projections. You never forget your first; for Relode, providing this stepping-stone into staffing should pay increasing dividends over the years to come.

For SMBs and high volume, the fact that Relode offers the opportunity to use third party agencies at a far lower cost (and with much quicker results) than any other alternative. The tradeoff is that while the recruiters on the marketplace might not have a ton of experience, they’re hungry and motivated, which is more than you can say about most third party recruiters, frankly.

3. Oculus.

I know, I know. Oculus isn’t an HR Technology…yet. In making a list of either my favorite technologies, most promising plays or the tools recruiters and employers need to watch, I’d be remiss for not including the technology that I’m confident is going to disrupt the business of talent as much as the introduction of the internet itself.

While I’m still suspicious that an algorithm can tell you whether or not a candidate is going to be a culture fit, or that personality testing can predict productivity, or that candidates can get an accurate feel of what working at a company is really like from the stock photos and crappy copy of a career site, I am convinced that this immersive virtual reality tool can do all of this – and more. It is, in fact, closer to reality than social, with its inherent artifices.

As James Smith, who took a test drive of the Oculus at the recent #TruLondon event wrote:

“Ever wonder how resourcing could utilize the Oculus Rift? Well, Stan Rolfe travelled all the way from Perth, Western Australia, to show how he’s used this virtual reality technology (pictured) to change the way Barminco, a multinational mining and minerals extraction concern, uses to inform and screen new hires while also presenting a realistic preview to the day-to-day realities of working in a mine shaft to interested prospects. After seeing it, all I can say is, I have seen something that looks, to me at least, a whole lot like the future of recruitment.”

I not only agree with James, but with a public release date set sometime in Q1 2016, the future is coming, and with applications from pre-employment screening to skills training to performance management and succession planning, I can’t wait to see what impact it has on HR, but given the fact that like the Apple or Android store, anyone can use Occulus’ free API to develop applications for it, I’m fairly certain that impact will be felt sooner rather than later.

If the manifold skills testing, screening, learning management or training vendors out there at HR Technology Conference aren’t already aggressively building strategies to utilize and leverage Occulus by Q3 of next year, then word of warning: there’s a pretty damn good chance you won’t be at HR Tech next year, or, at least, will be in big trouble from a P&L perspective.

Because you’re not going to beat Facebook (Occulus’ owner), the sooner you realize how to work with them to make Occulus a part of your roadmap, the better chance you are of surviving the asteroid that’s very clearly hurtling its way towards the world of work, and once it hits, the dinosaurs should die out pretty quickly across all categories of HR Technology.

This is the only “Facebook at Work” that’s really going to matter to HR and recruiting, and I can’t wait.

2. Piazza Careers.

Piazza Careers is a category killer for tech recruiting, and if you’re in tech recruiting, you should probably go ahead and set aside some spend for this game changer that’s only now making its move out of the classroom – where it’s already fundamentally changed the way STEM graduates learn, engage and even socialize – and into the real world of recruiting.

Piazza is currently used by 1.25 million students a day at over 2,000 of the world’s top college and universities, who spend a staggering 2-3 HOURS a day on site (compared to 7 minutes monthly on LinkedIn) using Piazza’s class discussion platform that’s kind of like a Blackboard for Nerds. It’s used almost exclusively for technology coursework, and most of the CS and engineering coursework, class discussions and group projects at schools like Stanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, etc. is already being conducted directly on the Piazza platform.

That it’s cornered this market speaks to the elegance, ease of use and utility of their underlying technology; within only five years, the company has become ubiquitous in CS classrooms, largely because professors and students love using it not only for academic coursework, but as a communications tool. Piazza has replaced Facebook for many as their go-to social network, since turns out that the nerds and the jocks don’t like hanging out online, either, and Piazza has become the social media equivalent of the AV or Chess club – a safe place for the tech talent of tomorrow.

Let’s assume if you don’t how Major Bren Derlin screwed up on Hoth, you’re probably not going to do an awesome job communicating with this cohort as a recruiter in the first place, even with some personal information collected from a Dice Open Web or Entelo. And it’s not like engineering or CS students at Ivy League schools really have a lack of opportunity when it comes to finding a job. So, they end up at the same big brands in Silicon Valley while the rest of the recruiting world wonders why they can’t find these candidates online.

That Piazza has just now opened up the same closed network that tech grads are already using for all their coding, coursework and class discussions to employers represents a huge opportunity to finally connect this cohort with careers. Not only will recruiters have access to the largest database of college tech talent in the world, they will also have the ability to see their course history, work samples and applicable experience that often doesn’t make it onto a resume. Employers can also see how their employer ranks against other employers and build that brand by building rich company profiles and career pages on the Piazza platform, too.

This rich information and unique feature set, as well as the ability to directly message targeted talent and communicate with candidates directly on the platform is pretty priceless for employers, which is why Piazza has already signed up a “who’s who” of the tech industry’s elite (from startups like Box and AirBNB to established players like Microsoft and Google) as part of their closed beta that’s just now opening up to the rest of the recruiting world.

If you’re a tech recruiter, meet your new best friend. If you’re selling tech sourcing products or anything related to targeted college hiring, meet your new worst enemy. Either way, this is the most disruptive tool to enter a preexisting talent technology category to have come along since Glassdoor, and one worth watching.

1. Textio.

I’ve talked a ton about Textio this year. The beauty of Textio is that it solves some of the most critical issues in talent acquisition today with a simple, elegant solution that’s so easy to understand all you have to do is see the product in action to both immediately get the case use and possibilities of this game changing product.

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail, since this is one product that recruiters need to see for themselves. The good news is, Textio offers a free two week trial to new users, so visit http://www.textio.com and take it for a test drive. You’ve got nothing to lose, after all, and no risk is one of the sexiest selling points there is to HR pros. But I think everything I need to say about my #1 HR Technology product or recruiting tool of 2015 is that it’s the first platform I’ve seen in this space that sells itself.

Of course, not having to deal with software sales guys makes me like this product even more, particularly as the HR Technology Conference and its inevitable biz dev blitzkrieg kick off for yet another year of the same shit. But as this list shows, at least a few of the tools are different – and there really is some innovation going on in product, not just product marketing.

Which, let’s face it, is really what #HRTechConf is all about, but when it’s over, these tools are going to be the ones most likely to make an impact on your organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent, whether or not they’re spending a shitload on an over the top booth in Las Vegas.

Part 2 of a 2 part series. To see our picks for #10-15, click here

By Matt Charney

Matt serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions and is a partner for RecruitingDaily the industry leading online publication for Recruiting and HR Tech. With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.”