Recruiters Challenged to Manage New Technologies

By Dave Zielinski Feb 25, 2013

No function of human resources is more affected by disruptive technologies than recruiting, a trend that promises to hold true in 2013. From mobile to social to video interviewing platforms, rapid evolution has recruiting leaders rethinking their technology options.

Look no further than the diminished popularity of job boards for an example of how quickly things change in recruiting technology. Not long ago, job boards were considered a go-to resource for recruiters, but a September 2012 study from Boston-based research firm Aberdeen Group found only 36 percent of best-in-class organizations planned to increase their investment in general job boards in 2013.

Recruiting vendors also are whipsawed by change.

“It was only a few years ago we were talking about recruiting vendors being acquired by or merging with big talent management providers,” said Madeline Laurano, director of talent acquisition solutions and author of the Aberdeen study. “Now you’re seeing the pendulum swing back, with movement toward more standalone best-of-breed recruiting technology solutions.”

Here are some of the top recruiting technology trends for HR leaders to monitor in 2013.

Mobile recruiting. Mobile technology has evolved far beyond text-messaging to new capabilities that enable candidates to complete full job applications using their smart phones or tablets. That’s little surprise, since some organizations’ career sites are now seeing more than 20 percent of their traffic come from mobile devices.

While vendors will flood the market with new mobile recruiting apps, Elaine Orler, president of The Talent Function, a talent acquisition consultancy in San Diego, Calif., said HR may be best served by focusing on native products.

“You want to make sure when candidates are using a web browser on a mobile device, that the browser can render all the capabilities of the mobile tool being used,” Orler said. “How well does swipe work? Does touch key work? Does JavaScript run? The top priority should be getting all of those pieces right.”

But mobile optimization is about more than just about fitting content to smaller screens or usability issues like replacing hard-to-click links with thumb-activated buttons. One problem with moving the full job application process to mobile, said Ed Newman, vice president of strategy for iMomentus, a mobile technology provider in Horsham, Pa., is that too many companies simply replicate their desktop application process in doing so.

That requires candidates to fill out too many data fields, Newman said, when the process should be streamlined for mobile use. He visited one mobile career site with a 27-page application process, requesting data such as address, complete work history, contact information for references and even a full Work Opportunity Tax Credit application.

While all of that information ultimately is needed, Newman said it makes little sense to request it upon a candidate’s first contact with a job application via mobile device.

“Using mobile is still more like snacking than eating a full entree,” Newman said. “If you are a candidate browsing jobs via mobile away from the office or home, do you have time to complete a lengthy job application? If you wanted to do that, you’d likely want to do it on a desktop.”

Newman said there are ways to simplify mobile data entry like allowing candidates to pull in their LinkedIn profiles, asking more yes/no questions, using pick lists and more. “If you’re just taking all of the data you require in a desktop job application and moving it to mobile, you’re not really optimizing,” Newman said.

Social media. Although the Aberdeen Group’s 2012 study found 76 percent of surveyed organizations were using or planned to use social networking for recruiting, strategic use of social tools remains rare, Laurano said. More than half of those surveyed use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter only to blast jobs to potential candidates, for example. “Without a way to engage candidates in regular, meaningful interaction, the use of social media is futile,” wrote the study’s authors. Best-in-class organizations use results-driven social media strategies, said Laurano, such as social referral programs that enable employees to selectively post job openings to their LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends. These organizations also use metrics like embedded source codes on recruiting channels to track URLs, which enables them to gauge the number of applicants and hires coming from specific social media networks.

Video interviewing tools. Organizations continue to deploy video in recruitment processes at an increasing rate, both for one-way recorded interviews that are designed to replace initial phone screens and for live, two-way interviewing. In one way interviews, candidates use software provided by the recruiter and they are recorded on video answering a series of pre-determined questions. Experts said respondents cited one-way recorded interviews as having advantages including time savings, the ability for hiring managers to view interviews multiple times, add notes and share video files with colleagues.

A 2012 video interviewing usage study by Sarah White and Associates, a human capital strategy firm in Milwaukee, Wis., found 38 percent of companies now use video in some stage of the hiring process. The survey included responses from recruiters in 158 organizations with 250 or more employees, with 56 percent being global companies.

“Recruiters in 35 percent of responding companies said they took more than 30 minutes per candidate just to schedule a phone screen,” said Sarah White, principal and CEO of Sarah White and Associates. With an average of four to nine candidates screened per open position, respondents reported that use of recorded video created considerable time savings.

Video vendors also have gone mobile. “Originally their mobile apps only allowed interactivity from the hiring manager or recruiter side to review interviews, but now there are more apps that allow candidates to respond to interview questions through their smart phones or tablets,” White said.

Not surprisingly, this growing use has attracted more service providers to the market. “As recently as three years ago there were only two or three vendors in the video market,” White said. “This past year we tracked 15 vendors in the space. The category has matured faster than any other I’ve seen in the recruiting market.”

Managing multiple technology platforms. Given how saturated the recruiting technology market has become with niche platforms, most experts believe 2013 won’t see the introduction of new technologies. The challenge today is making disparate technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, applicant tracking systems (ATS) or talent community platforms talk to one another.

“I think the opportunity now is in making recruiting information more seamless,” Orler said. “Companies are using more recruiting products than ever before, but there are fewer connections between them.”

Orler said her research shows companies of 10,000 or more employees now have, “conservatively speaking,” at least five to seven different technology products on average for recruiting, and in most cases less than three of those are integrated.

The lack of connectivity creates inefficiencies and diminishes the candidate experience. The challenge goes beyond simply getting an ATS and HRIS to talk to one another, Orler said. Consider what happens when candidates are added to a talent community or CRM system.

“You want to keep in contact with these people, but you don’t want them in your ATS just yet,” Orler said. “But when you do want them in the ATS, you usually have to send a message through the CRM to a talent community portal to get them to fill out their key information all over again in the ATS. That is far from a brilliant candidate experience.”

White conducted one study in a large global organization that had 76 different recruiting-related technologies in-house, with only six of those being candidate facing.

“Recruiters there were overwhelmed by how many systems they had to learn and take training to understand,” White said.

“Companies are still very quick to invest in new technologies without first understanding the capabilities of recruiting systems they already have, and how a new technology might overlap or fit into the whole.”

Dave Zielinski is a freelance business journalist in Minneapolis, Minn.


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