Talent Acquisition Technology – Without talent design they are just toys

tatTalent Acquisition Technology (TAT) is now officially trending in 2016. Do you know your Workable from your Smartrecruiters ? Your Greenhouse from your TalentRover ? Funded to ridiculous amounts by Investors stateside, a great big tidal wave of TAT is on its way. And if you are planning on installing without any major talent design in place, then you might as well literally burn the cash.

So says this battle hardened survivor of recruitment technology 1.0. The cautionary tales are there as a warning and here’s a typical story from the postbag :

5 years ago it arrived with a fanfare. The spreadsheets were burnt and a new era of recruitment technology arrived having convinced your CFO to release £60,000 to fund an ATS. It would create ‘efficiencies’ and banish the agency from the door said your ambitious proposal. For your HRD, it would symbolize true eHR (remember when we put an ‘e’ on the front of everything to make us look cool and digital – ePayslips, e-learning and the lesser known eStillRefusestohireWomen).

Over the intervening period the world fell out of love with growth and the recruitment team was downsized. Nobody to administer the record keeping benefit it brought (and nobody read the reports) and as for the culture of managers owning the process, well that went as soon as sales began to dip and the HRD didn’t want anyone doing a ‘real job’ impacted by ‘HR matters’.

You see, back then, without a supporting talent design, it was too often about acquiring some TAT within a limited vendor landscape who treated the product like a weekend hobby for techies, bereft of changing market expectations. Inside the world of Ulrich HR, all technology investments were dished out across the specialist silos with little joined up thinking.

Now the contract is running down and you want an upgrade. The workplace is changing and you need technology to satisfy your social media channels, brand reach, candidate experience, talent pools, analytics and the short-termism of the business to just hire people NOW !! Got all that lined up ?

If you are coming into this cycle the first time or back round again, here are some of the lessons to supplement the excitement (or otherwise) of the technology tendering exercise.

  1. There is a huge difference between installing and changing – Don’t let the tail wag the dog. We are overwhelmed by shiny new toys but there has to be an ecosystem and a change path that has technology within it. Have you got this narrative and does the technology align to this? This is the chance to look inwardly at the value chain that now drives the talent strategy for any organisation. Use it.
  1. Your stakeholders will have different drivers. Manage them accordingly – Talent Acquisition needs to influence, lead and push the agenda. Nobody else will. That sounds obvious but the reality is that in our siloed sub-function, we often give too much away. Procurement will want efficiencies and cost savings, IT will want security guarantees, traditional HRD wants ‘direct sourcing’ (as agency avoidance pays the bill) and the CEO/CFO wants instant return on the kit. Your culture, if highly resistant, will kill the investment over time. Redefining how your extended talent landscape (agency, PSL, RPO, assessment) is impacted should also be key.
  1. Context will be key. Do you have the ability to understand where you are jumping off from (start-up, growth, maturity, redefining the brand, etc) and what the journey ahead looks like, especially when measuring investment success ? When people talk about being entrepreneurial that means defining an opportunity to breakthrough some inertia by utilizing technology, as well as people (capability), culture (high or low trust environment) and process (minimum viable standard). Make the change sustainable.

Finally, given the multitude of issues, you could do a lot worse than to invest in some interim expertise to help you navigate this complex change agenda. As a Head of Talent or HRD I have done this previously with all my technology change programmes and I can tell you it has more than paid for itself. If you want to speak to me about this further then contact me by clicking on this about me page to set up an informal chat. I’m passionate about ensuring we maximize every Talent transformation journey in 2016.

Nobody else will lead this change but us folks. Don’t accept any old piece of TAT.

Until next time.


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