If the applicant tracking system, the core piece of recruiting technology for many organizations, is so despised, then why is it also so prevalent? Brandon Hall Group Analyst Ben Eubanks answers these and other questions from the SmartRecruiters User Conference in San Francisco.

Talent acquisition is one of my favorite research areas, because the industry is growing by leaps and bounds. In addition, new technologies, platforms, and tools are changing the face of traditional recruiting practices. On April 26, I had the opportunity to visit with one of the companies leading the way in terms of recruiting innovation. SmartRecruiters held its first user event in San Francisco to help share best practices and expose its customers to their peers from across the user landscape. The event began with an analyst panel, and I had the pleasure of sharing some insights about the current and future trends affecting the function. shutterstock_221707885

The general commentary that began the discussion was this: if the applicant tracking system, the core piece of recruiting technology for many organizations, is so despised, then why is it also so prevalent?

There are a few answers to that question. The first is to acknowledge reality. In Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Talent Acquisition Technology Study, the ATS received a satisfaction score of 76 on a 100-point scale. While that equates to a grade of C, it was the highest score of all talent acquisition technology modules.

Another big reason companies fail to see much value in an ATS implementation is due to a lack of strategy. Companies with broken processes that try to implement technology on top quickly realize a common outcome: they become more efficient at doing the wrong things. It’s about getting the right process in place first.

Finally, we wrapped up the panel by examining the trends driving future innovation in this space. The most pressing areas that I’ve seen change in recent years include the growth of recruitment marketing, a higher demand for organizational results, and the steady increase of candidate experience as a business priority.

Recruitment marketing is a powerful tool. Brandon Hall Group recently published a case study examining the process used by Accenture to drive more than 54,000 resumes from a single branding campaign. With many companies in our 2015 Talent Shortage and Hiring Practices Study saying that finding talent is a challenge, being able to deliver those kinds of results is a game changer.

Speaking of game-changing tactics, companies are no longer content to settle for “time to fill” as a metric for recruiting effectiveness. It’s a measure of efficiency, maybe, but it says nothing about the results being driven by that new hire. Being able to talk in terms of organizational outcomes instead of simply reverting back to flat, lifeless metrics should be a core competency for any talent acquisition leader. For instance, in the Accenture case study mentioned above, the recruiting team was able to tie its results back to the specific spend on those branding dollars.

Another great example is found in the conversation I had this morning with a hiring leader at Atlassian, a global software company founded in Sydney in 2002. The company has a fanatical approach to culture fit, and its rapid growth in recent years could have superseded the importance of focusing on the right hire. However, the firm has “deputized” specific employees with the ability and responsibility to veto any candidates that are poor fits. Those “vetoes” are a measure of hiring success for the company, and the goal is to have zero applicants hired that are not a culture fit.

And last but not least, candidate experience is not going away. In the early days it was tough to determine if it was just another fad or if it was a true measure of recruiting performance. In a recent case study, I profiled De Facto Retail, a Turkish retail chain. The company wanted to improve transparency in its recruiting process, so it developed an online dashboard so applicants could see the status of an application at any point in time, improving the candidate experience. Many companies have workflows and process reporting for internal HR/recruiting stakeholders, but this company took it a step further and made that visibility open to candidates as well.

I say this is why we are seeing onboarding growing as a priority (it was number one in our 2016 Talent Acquisition Technology Study list of priorities). The onboarding process is the critical final step in sealing the deal for new employees and setting them up for success. It neatly caps off the candidate experience and opens the door for the employee experience, laying the foundation for lasting performance.

SmartRecruiters has brought together some great sessions and content to celebrate its inaugural user event. I’m honored to have been able to attend and look forward to seeing what else the company has up its sleeve.

Ben Eubanks, HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

@beneubanks

Ben Eubanks

Ben Eubanks, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is an HR professional and industry influencer. His experience working as a leader in the human resources field has provided him with a broad range of experience encompassing smaller organizations, government contracting firms, and the nonprofit sector. He has hands-on experience with various HR disciplines, including recruiting, benefits, employee relations, and compensation.

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