Not just about cost and time to fill, the second generation of applicant tracking systems offers meaningful data and powerful integration.
If the war for talent is to be won, its combatants will need some heavy artillery. Fortunately for HR organizations, today’s recruitment tools have come a long ways since they were first introduced, helping companies to source candidates more quickly and hiring managers to fill vacancies more effectively.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) came into existence more than a decade ago, and today they are widely used by organizations everywhere. But more than just a technology for sourcing and tracking candidates, they’ve now become an essential component in the talent management suite with expanded capabilities and are integrated into broader suites of solutions. Furthermore, they now address a variety of issues once consider out of the scope of traditional recruitment technology, including robust reporting, analytics, employer branding, and more.
“The table stakes have been raised to the point that it must offer global reporting metrics. It’s getting more strategic. It used to be about time and cost….Now it’s around talent and performance,” said Zach Canaday, a director with RPO services and recruitment technology provider Kenexa. “What companies are asking through the technology is a better understanding of the linkage between the metrics reported and the business outcomes.”
Canaday explained that like all HR technology, development is being driven by users’ desire to leverage data that can help improve performance, especially as the competition for talent heats up. Employers no longer just want a report on how much a particular hire costs them; they need to know whether the candidate has particular experience or knowledge that can be leveraged later on, if they are willing to relocate should the need arises, competitive compensation for a person with a similar skills, and more. And they want all of this data to be incorporated in a comprehensive talent management suite so it can be easily accessed by managers across the enterprise.
It’s no surprise that recruitment technology is no longer considered just a standalone application, although there are still numerous packages in the marketplace focused specifically on recruitment. But a quick glance at some of the leading technologies in the marketplace reveals that big providers are aggressively packaging their offerings with services and complementary technology solutions. Taleo, Kenexa, Kronos, SuccessFactors, SilkRoad, and others all offer integrated packages aimed at not just talent acquisition but also performance management; not just on hiring but also on retention; and not just on external candidates but also on internal employees. This approach leads to better end results and a better workforce, industry observer say.
Innovations in recruitment technology is largely driven by user demand, which has been focused in several areas recently. For one, analytics and deep-dive reporting have emerged as must-haves in the recruitment function, as has the candidate experience. To be sure, well-regarded corporate brands are careful to project a sharply tailored image to their prospective employees. For instance, a Delta Air Lines official told HRO Today recently that its selection of an RPO provider was in part due to the vendor’s ability to cast just the exact branding it wanted through its recruitment portal. Similarly, other companies are using branding power to attract prospects.
Along with that, the technology is taking advantage of the advent of online social networking, plugging into the power of the Internet to help source candidates.
Furthermore, as employers look to standardize and centralize HR services, they are also looking to recruitment technology to consolidate hiring data for both cost-tracking and compliance purposes. In some cases, they are upgrading their existing platforms for a specific function.
According to Barry Mills, HRO/RPO alliance executive at technology specialist Taleo, which acquired competitor Vurv earlier this year, newer features being rolled out today signal a maturity in the recruitment technology market. “The paradigm changed four years ago because recruitment technology started to hit a significant market saturation point,” Mills said. “What we are seeing now is a lot of second-generation recruitment technology decisions. The client had a platform, they’ve become dissatisfied, and now they are switching to a different platform. Taleo and its competitors continue to improve with each service pack and release.”
Specifically, employers want “talent optimization” and not just process optimization. To achieve this, employers are asking for recruitment systems that are highly configurable and trackable to deliver meaningful metrics. And they want this to be seamlessly integrated into their workflow. “The theme of the day is analytics—being able to study the data and being able to provide answer,” Kenexa’s Canaday added.