Expert: Analyze Talent Needs Before Buying Software

By Aliah D. Wright Jun 1, 2016
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To understand the future of talent acquisition software, you must first understand its past, according to Elaine Orler, CEO and founder of Talent Function, a San Francisco-based corporate staffing company. 

You must also understand your organization’s specific talent needs.

“We were in the height of recruiting frenzy in the late 1990s,” Orler told attendees at Recruit DC, a conference for recruiters held recently at the George Washington University. “During that time we were going crazy with recruiting. We were searching for technical talent everywhere.

“We were giving away cars in the Bay Area. We were promising houses on the coast. Interns were given lavish houses on top of buildings in San Francisco just to join the company—but at the same time, we actually had no IT support for technology in IT recruiting because everybody was buckling down for the Y2K catastrophe and the fact that we were never going to live past Jan. 1 [of 2000].”

In those years, “applicant tracking systems … helped support us with recruiting. “We moved from there quickly to software-as-a-service products” in the cloud.

During the 2008 recession, candidate volumes increased but the number of jobs that companies were recruiting for decreased, she said. “So we saw a shift where we … were seeing 200-300 applicants per job. Internally there was a pullback from any technology … when all of the talent acquisition budgets froze.”

Then, “we had a huge entrance of the talent management platform products, companies like Taleo [that] said they were learning management systems. We saw other companies like SuccessFactors say they could do recruiting.

“Today’s solutions are fully now cloud-based products,” Orler said. They are “device agnostic,” deployable from mobile devices as well as desktops. “You could be on a small screen, medium or large screen depending on your recruiting needs,” she said. “The agility of these solutions are now coming in … from the perspective of which problem are you solving for?”

Where Are You Going?

You know where you’ve been. Now, before making any software purchase, determine where your organization is going. “Ask: What are you building?

“Are you looking for talent acquisitions? Talent management? What’s motivating the business change? Is it disruption? A shake-up, a challenge, or are you trying to evolve? Do you plan to change all of your technology? What’s driving your motivation? Is it cost-containment? Or are [you] looking to disrupt change to stay competitive or be in front of everybody else?”

Determine what obstacles you may be facing within your organization, she said. What’s the economic, cultural, technological and social implication?

What are the technology barriers within your company that you will need to break through?

The recruiting role is being stretched, she said. So determine whether or not you are hiring a sourcer or a talent scout? Do you need this person to cultivate future talent? Or are you hiring a talent strategist? You have to ask yourself, what is your mix? Or what blend of recruiting professional are you trying to hire and why?

The answers to all of these questions have implications for your technology purchase, she said.

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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