Talent Rediscovery Tools Help Address Labor Shortages

By Dave Zielinski November 28, 2022
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​Recruiters struggling to fill open jobs from what continue to be thin candidate pools often overlook one of the more effective sourcing tools at their disposal: talent rediscovery software.

These tools help recruiters mine existing databases in applicant tracking systems (ATSs) for strong candidates who previously applied for jobs in the organization—many of them "silver medalists"—and who remain viable options for a variety of open roles. Talent rediscovery software enables recruiters to assess how engaged these candidates still are with the organization and uses automated skills matching to identify which of those prior applicants are the best fits for specific roles—and which may have added important new skills, experiences or credentials since last applying for a job with the company.

Rediscovery software also can automatically update other candidate information in ATS databases, such as work history, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and more.

"Talent rediscovery tools are of significant value in today's talent market, especially in industries facing higher turnover and a smaller number of interested applicants," said Evelyn McMullen, a research manager specializing in talent acquisition with Nucleus Research in Boston. "Sourcing remains a challenge for these organizations, making every tool necessary to maximize existing talent pools critical to business success."

But recruiting experts say these sourcing tools and silver medalists often are overlooked. "Rediscovery tools are quite useful if employers make a concerted effort to use them," said Chris Russell, managing director of RecTech Media, a recruiting consulting company in Trumbull, Conn. "Too often, companies fail to engage with these types of candidates."

Betsy Summers, principal analyst in the future of work practice at Forrester, said one reason for lagging adoption of rediscovery tools is a perception among recruiters that they don't target "perfect" candidates who match every requirement of a job description.

"These tools identify silver medalist-type candidates in ATS databases who may not have been perfect for a position a year or two ago but often remain a 70 percent or more match for requirements in a job description," Summers said. "These can be good candidates because the limited skill or competency gaps they have often can be closed through learning and development once they join the company."

Effective collaboration between recruiting and learning functions can help such hiring strategies succeed, Summers said. "Recruiting often is siloed off from the broader talent management process, dealing solely with candidates while the learning department deals solely with existing employees," she said. "But when recruiters can be part of a more holistic conversation that might focus by necessity on recruiting candidates who fit most but not all of a job's requirements, and then coordinate with learning to give them any additional skills or knowledge needed, it can benefit the organization."

Measuring Engagement of Passive Candidates

One of the chief benefits of some rediscovery tools is their ability to identify which passive candidates in an ATS database remain most engaged with a company. The vendor iCIMS, for example, has a marketing automation tool that assigns an "engagement score" to such candidates to help recruiters target those most likely to consider or respond to offers. The technology can assess candidate behaviors to categorize those individuals as cold, warm or hire-ready.

"You can identify dormant applicants who have gone further than simply opening an e-mail a recruiter sent to perhaps visiting a careers site, to rereading job descriptions or accessing new content about company culture," an iCIMS spokesperson said. "Someone like that is likely to be more engaged and open to offers to reapply with the company than others."

Based on those engagement scores, the iCIMS platform can then send personalized, automated messages to those candidates tailored to their preferred mode of communication and the type of content they've been accessing.

"For example, if an individual in an ATS database has responded to a recruiter via text on a data point like company culture, you can automatically respond back through text with additional information about culture," the iCIMS spokesperson said.

Summers said software with the ability to identify characteristics in passive candidates such as "likelihood to listen" can be of high value to recruiters. "Being able to reliably identify candidates most likely to respond to some type of communication from recruiters can save time and costs," Summers said. "The best recruitment marketing technologies can listen to those signals across channels and assess engagement with the company and the brand."

Among other providers offering talent rediscovery tools is outbound recruiting platform hireEZ in Mountain View, Calif. Krista Goral, group product manager for hireEZ, said the company's technology can search and rank candidate profiles in an ATS, making what was once a daunting database a more user-friendly sourcing tool for recruiters.

"When you layer search functionality on top of what can be tens of thousands of existing candidates, and include an AI-based skills-matching capability, it can save recruiters considerable time in finding the right candidates for a job," Goral said.

The company's rediscovery software also helps ensure information in existing ATS databases is current and correct, enriches it with open Web data and merges any duplicate profiles.

Other vendors have introduced new features to target such job candidates. Symphony Talent, for example, recently announced enhancements to its instant job alerts tool that automatically e-mails new job openings to best-fit candidates in a candidate relationship management system who reside in specific geographies. The automated system allows recruiters to customize such job alerts by using things like job-category templates, geography-based templates and more.

AI-Driven Skills Matching

Some rediscovery tools also use AI-based skills matching to help recruiters target the best dormant candidates in ATS databases. The most advanced skills detection software also can determine if prior applicants have added new skills, knowledge or credentials since last applying that can make them more attractive candidates for open jobs.

"For example, if a previous candidate applied for one position but has the skills that would set them up for success in another role at the same organization, automated matching capabilities would bring that to a recruiter's attention," McMullen said.

This feature can save busy recruiters time previously spent sifting through resumes and ensure that candidates aren't overlooked by being siloed to a specific role, McMullen said.

Summers cautions that while some of these automated skills-matching tools can be valuable, the quality of the technology can be uneven among vendors. 

"Many of these tools fall into the candidate relationship management category and dabble in skills intelligence with varying degrees of quality," she said. "Some of them are really good at detecting and categorizing candidate skills and determining if people have added new skills since being in an ATS database. Other tools are just OK in those areas."

Dave Zielinski is principal of Skiwood Communications, a business writing and editing company in Minneapolis.

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