Technology is pushing the market forward to offer recruiters the much sought after competitive advantage.
By Kyle Lagunas
Technology is driving a massive wave of change in the recruiting industry. Companies looking for a competitive edge in talent acquisition are rethinking their strategies. As a result, the
role of recruiters is evolving rapidly. More than mere process administrators, the most successful recruiters have become savvy marketers and proactive salespeople.

This paradigm shift is driving demand for more robust toolsets that can support the changing needs of recruiters. “We are no longer just pushing resumes and just sourcing candidates via job boards,” explains Karen Samford, lead talent acquisition partner for digital marketing technology provider Silverpop.

And from powerful sourcing engines to branded career portals, social analytics, and reporting tools—applicant tracking systems (ATS) are doing far more than automating administrative workflows. As Samford sees it, “Technology providers are finally offering the tools we need.” 
So what’s driving all these changes, and what are possible implications on your business?

Social and mobile technology. The majority of recruiters are using social media—social networks, talent communities, blogs—to engage and attract talent. And though mobile recruiting is still
in its infancy, hiring companies are increasingly offering mobile- friendly career portals and candidate experiences.

While extent of use in both social and mobile recruiting varies,
a greater trend is evolving as these strategies continue to gain traction. The most effective mobile and social recruiting strategies are drawing heavily from marketing best practices Susan Vitale, CMO of iCIMS, explains.

“Companies are becoming less transactional in their methods of attracting and recruiting talent,” she says. “Rather than looking on resume database sites or social media sites every time a position is open, organizations are becoming savvier about building talent pools in advance so they can engage with that talent prior to having an open requisition.”

This change in focus allows recruiters to serve as marketers, building leads and nurturing contacts. But for recruiters, this proactive approach to sourcing and recruiting, though effective, can be rather time-consuming. Demand for tools that automate workflows and streamline efforts is largely reflected in the new recruiting technologies emerging beyond applicant tracking.

Process management. Managing the needs of candidates, hiring managers, and company leadership throughout the recruiting process is a growing challenge for recruiters today.

“Candidates want the recruiter to be their advocate throughout their interview process with the company, and to get them the best offer possible,” says Samford. “Likewise, managers expect a partner that understands the business, their group, their team dynamics and to bring all that information together to deliver the best candidates only for them to interview.”

Automation of the administrative side of things is top of mind, as well as workflow improvement. For candidates, features like one- click apply on career pages and e-sign capabilities minimize time spent filling out endless paperwork. Self-service portals also give them the ability to manage key documents, and view the status of their application.

For recruiters, as well as HR and hiring managers, the automation of onboarding workflows can be a godsend. Checklists keep all parties on top of to-dos, and many solutions also offer vendor management capabilities for screening and background checks.

The inherent value of these features is obvious, which is why they are increasingly standard in the more robust recruiting suites.

Creating talent pools. While recruiting process automation is still
a major time-saver, the most effective hiring organizations are looking beyond the ATS for a competitive edge in talent acquisition.

In a recent blog post, Josh Bersin, CEO of Bersin by Deloitte, posed the question, “Are applicant tracking systems now a commodity?” Their forthcoming report High-impact Talent Acquisition shows while an ATS is still needed to effectively manage recruitment, “high-impact recruitment organizations are not differentiated by their applicant tracking systems.” According to their research, the most successful recruiting organizations are relying on “employment branding, campaign management, candidate relationship management, assessment, referral marketing, and interview automation.”

In order to deliver, recruiters need tools that can keep them ahead of the game. As Vitale puts it, “Hiring organizations need software that allows them to more effectively build a pool of candidates, better match those candidates to good-fitting roles, and build strong bridges into onboarding and post-hire.”

Emerging Categories in Recruiting Tech

Answering the call, a new breed of recruiting tools is emerging outside of the ATS. Hiring companies continue to approach talent acquisition more strategically, and they have come to rely on recruiting technology for far more than applicant tracking. Needs vary based on organization, but there are a few primary categories where new tools are emerging in recruiting technology. For example:

• Sourcing engines like Entelo and Talemetry use complex search algorithms to find qualified candidates. Whether sourcing specific roles or building out their talent pool, recruiters can run keyword- based searches and find top-performers and passive candidates across various social networks.

• Video interviewing platforms like Hirevue and Wowzer offer a more interactive (and less time-consuming) alternative to traditional candidate screening. Recruiters and hiring managers can send pre-recorded interview questions to potential candidates and review candidates’ video responses online or on their mobile device.

• Assessment and screening tools like Hireology and PeopleAnswers leverage social technology to ensure more effective hiring. Hireology analyzes social profiles and activity to identify both technical ability and cultural fit, and PeopleAnswers creates objective pre-employment assessments by identifying key behaviors of your top performing employees.

• Employee referral tools like those offered by Jobvite and iCIMS automate job sharing across employees’ social networks, and track the origin of any referral. Other platforms like GooodJob add a layer of gamification, and reward employees for referring candidates.

The Growing Need for Recruitment Marketing

An organization’s ability to attract talent relies heavily on the strength of its employment brand. And many recruiters are learning that, from the look and feel of a career portal to a candidate’s experience throughout the recruiting process, there are many factors that affect a company’s employment brand.

“Employers are looking for unique ways of bringing candidates into their fold without breaking the bank,” says Vitale. But there’s a problem: Branding, campaigns, and relationship management— these are new concepts for recruiters. Tools that can support more marketing-heavy strategies are key, and this is where many ATS providers are offering their customers a competitive edge.

One area where hiring organizations need the most help is on their career page. Tom Boyle, director of product marketing at SilkRoad, explains, “Your career site is the first chance you have to engage
a candidate. In a market where there aren’t a lot of qualified candidates, you’re selling people on your company as much as they’re selling themselves to you.”

Changing jobs is a big decision, and candidates need to know why they should choose your organization over another. “Rather than just a site with job listings, employers are beginning to see the value of creating a robust career site where company culture is front and center, where candidates are encouraged to apply for jobs, connect the company, and share open positions,” says Boyle.

Career portals can be developed using today’s technology, from SilkRoad and others, that offers templates and easy-to-use content management capabilities within the ATS. Additionally, some providers offer analytics tools that report on site traffic and user experience.

Candidate relationship management has also become a key focus for recruiters. Social platforms like Bullhorn Reach have content sharing and network tracking tools for maintaining a dynamic talent pool. And campaign management and marketing analytics tools like Smashfly track and measure the success of recruitment marketing efforts.

Candidate experience assessment tools like MysteryApplicant
offer advanced reporting tools for keeping ahead of pain points in recruiting efforts. By actively polling applicants on their experience, these tools provide insights into strengths and weaknesses in an employer’s interview and hiring process.

While analysts and vendors sing praises of the next generation of recruiting technologies, the kinds of technology emerging can be intimidating for business and HR leaders. Concerns around compliance, security, and measurable ROI abound.

On the other hand, those organizations slow to embrace new technology may have a hard time attracting top talent in the days to come. In order to manage the needs of candidates and managers alike, Samford says hiring organizations must first “alleviate the need for recruiters to sift through mounds of electronic resumes and spending unnecessary time.”

Will today’s early adopters be tomorrow’s most successful hiring organizations? All signs point to yes. Research and case studies continue to pile up in favor of tools that support more progressive recruiting strategies. By adopting key principles in effective marketing and leveraging new technologies, recruiters will continue to build strong talent pools and an effective recruiting brand for lasting success.

Kyle Lagunas is a senior analyst at Independent Insights, a boutique research firm specializing in human resources and recruiting technology. He can be reached via email at

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