pile_of_resumesVendors have been heavily focused in recent years on improving product offerings in social and mobile recruiting – as well as recruitment marketing, candidate relationship management, and data analytics tools. The rate of innovation has been impressive, to be sure, but there’s one thing I can’t quite understand: Why isn’t everyone using these tools?

If recruiting technology is improving, and new delivery models are making it more affordable (and they are), then why are so many recruiters still relying on the same methods they used 10 years ago?

To better understand what’s driving the gap between product innovation and user adoption, I connected with Daniel “Danny” Lee, Director of Product at SmartRecruiters.

Shifting Focus: Automation vs. Improvement

Whereas innovation in talent acquisition technology in the last couple of decades has been focused on automation, organization, and integration of various functions, today’s latest and greatest are focused on improving existing process. From social-powered employee referral programs to powerful candidate sourcing engines, the next generation of recruiting tools is designed to make every recruiter a rockstar.

Vendors are pouring resources into tools that support a new breed of marketing-savvy recruiters who are actively sourcing passive candidates, building talent pools, and building a healthy employer brand.

The problem, though, is that those recruiters are few and far between. The majority of recruiters and hiring managers take one look at all the bells and whistles, shrug their shoulders, and then go back to parsing resumes. Why? Because it’s what they’re accustomed to; it’s what they know and understand.

A better question would be: How can we change that? For starters, we need to look beyond product functionality, and consider the role that user experience plays in driving adoption.

Leverage User-Friendly Interface

When it comes to recruiting technology, the old adage rings true: You can lead a man to water, but you can’t make him drink – unless you build it into the user interface (UI). Consumer app developers do this all the time with in-app tutorials for first-time users. Until recently, however, UI has been sorely neglected by many legacy enterprise systems.

“Consumer technology is user-focused – you learn it because you like it,” explains Danny Lee explains. “Enterprise technology has traditionally been function-focused, something you learn because it’s a part of your job.”

Reconciling that difference is something many vendors are focused on, and building a user-friendly interface is a big piece of the puzzle – especially for next-gen recruiting tools. For recruiters accustomed to using only the most basic functionality an applicant tracking system offers, the easier a new sourcing app or employee referral program is to understand, the more likely they’ll become a standard part of the recruiting process.

Present In-App Use Cases

While an intuitive UI helps, breaking recruiters and hiring managers out of the old way of doing things isn’t easy. Some vendors are investing time in educating practitioners and training users in their product offerings. Others are relying on an older method – the old carrot and stick.

“When posting a job, there are key functions you expect,” Lee says. “The opportunity for solutions providers is to give previews of greater potential.” By presenting use cases for advanced features directly in the application (e.g. “You just posted your first job! Do you want to try using TalentBin to source qualified candidates?”), users are more likely to click through and explore what the product has to offer.

Giving recruiters a clear indication of where advanced features fit into their usual workflows – and illustrating exactly how these tools help them – reinforces the value of new tools, which goes a long way in driving deep adoption.

Closing the gap between innovation and user adoption is increasingly important, and looking ahead, I think we’ll see a heavier emphasis on how talent acquisition technology looks and feels. As solution providers continue to develop new recruiting tools, ease of use and intuitive design will be as important as product functionality.

Kyle Lagunas

As the Talent Acquisition Analyst at Brandon Hall Group, Kyle heads up research in key practices in sourcing, assessing, hiring, and onboarding - as well recruitment marketing, candidate experience, and social recruiting. Through primary research and deep analysis, he keeps today's business leaders in touch with important conversations and emerging trends in the rapidly changing world of talent. Kyle has spent the last several years offering a fresh take on the role of technology as part of an integrated talent strategy, and focuses on providing actionable insights to keep leading organizations a step ahead. Previously the HR Analyst at Software Advice, he is regular contributor on SHRM's We Know Next and TLNT, and his work has been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Business Insider, Information Weekly, and HRO Today.

Leave a comment