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Raising Talent Acquisition to New Heights with Technology

How will software developers innovate to help organization better their hiring process? It’s all about process automation and selection science.

by Andy Teng

Talent management technology has evolved rapidly in recent years as growing functionality and integration have taken center stage in the effort to help organizations find, engage, and retain top talent. But as employers deploy the newest generation of software to better administer its human capital, they are also raising expectations for not only new functionality but also reporting capabilities and analytics. So how will the next generation of talent management technology evolve?

Some vendors point out that while there are many offerings in the market, the industry remains years away from standardized, comprehensive talent management solutions that can deliver the kind of functionality and integration buyers look for today. Take for example the ubiquitous applicant tracking system, which many employers have implemented within their organizations. Although this technology has made it easier for HR professionals to recruit and track job candidates, it has also sometimes been described as disconnected and undiscriminating.

“Applicant tracking systems don’t work when you think about the business problem that needs to be solved. What an ATS did was give them (HR professionals) more applicants and made them even busier,” said Steve Earl, director of marketing for talent management at Kronos, an enterprise software developer with 30 million users around the world.

Earl said ATS technology must offer up more than just the ability to manage candidates; it should also help with the decision-making aspect of hiring. In the industries that Kronos caters to—hospitality and retail, for instance—the workforce is highly distributed, and hiring managers often need selection support. To do this in an automated way, many vendors increasingly embed assessment functionality into the application process, and Kronos said it offers similar tools for most of its clients.

“It’s not just about automating the hiring process,” Earl emphasized. “What’s important to these organizations is the quality of hire.”

He pointed to three development areas that are critical in talent acquisition technology: selection science, automation, and analytics and reporting. He noted that as software developers look to improve the talent acquisition process, they will largely focus on these.

Within selection science, Earl said technology must do a better job of identifying traits that are ideal for certain positions. By asking candidates the right questions and measuring how long they stay at a position, developers can correlate underlying traits to longevity on the job. “We can do some intelligent data mining. As it evolves, it becomes more predictive,” he pointed out.

In many respects, automation of the recruitment process has already taken place. After all, most applicants today submit their information online through the Internet, but Earl said employers want to do more with web technology than just receive resumes. Many now look to providers to help them brand by creating interactive sites that are distinct, memorable, and engaging. “Our clients are treating candidates like they are their own customers,” he added.

He pointed out that even though 80 to 90 percent of his clients’ candidates apply online, he believes the use of the Internet will only increase in the future. In the retail space, which has a workforce comprised largely of employees in their teens and 20s, online competency is extremely high, and employers will need to better utilize the Web to attract talent.

Reflecting the desires of HR leaders across many service domains, the inclusion of more data and analytical tools is an important imperative for technology vendors. These tools help employers identify effective practices and troubleshoot hard-to-fill positions. Answers to questions such as who is applying for positions, where are they doing it, what attracts them to certain locations or positions, and other issues will enable companies to improve their processes. More importantly, metrics around tenure, sales, and even safety provide a window into quality of hire for not just HR but across the entire organization. “For HR, the challenge has always been to make a difference to the business. Measuring the quality of hires brings the HR leaders to the table,” Earl added.

He said the three areas of evolution will benefit not only HR executives and line managers but also workers as well. After all, organizations want to ensure new employees have the best on-boarding experience possible, which will further help improve retention and productivity. If employees can immediately focus on their work rather than housekeeping minutiae, they will become more engaged and feel like they are a part of the business.

Can technology ensure a positive employee experience and help with retention? Earl said that without question talent management suites already make a difference. Just as past incremental enhancements in technology have led to incremental improvements in workflows, future innovations will also help HR become more strategic within the business.

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