Updating the Recruiter’s Toolbox

‘Disappearing’ the HR software yields functionality at the speed of market.
 
 
 By John Sumser
 
 
In the world of HR Software, substantive change always flows from recruiting tools to the rest of the suite. As the only market-facing component of the HR application set, recruiting is driven by competitive forces rather than technology creep. Talent acquisition and employment branding move at competitive speeds, while HR automation moves at the rate of a productivity investment. It’s the difference between “must-have” and “nice-to-have.”
 
 
Recently, I’ve had a chance to review several recruiting tools: PCRecruiter, Job Science, and Jibe. Each addresses slightly different aspects of the recruiting process. Each uses a different platform and a different style of integration.
 
 
Among the three is a common, emerging approach to agile enterprise design. We are entering the era of tools that meet employees where they are and minimize learning curves by piggy-backing on existing infrastructure. By capitalizing on proven user interfaces (UI), development teams are able to focus on domain expertise. The trend toward niche specialization and away from wheel-reinventing UI design mirrors the overall trend toward outsourcing.
 
 
PCRecruiter is a toolset designed for high-end professionals. With more than 2,900 organizations and tens of thousands of users, it’s one of the quiet gems of the industry. Users come from all aspects of the recruiting world: in-house, staffing firms, executive search, and third-party search firms. The tool delivers the full spectrum of recruiting functionality from applicant tracking and e-mail management to automated resume parsing, document storage, and diversity tracking. Built in Microsoft’s development environment, PCRecruiter was a part of the first generation to adopt a standard platform to gain enterprise traction.
 
 
In its latest release, PCRecruiter attempts to do away with anything resembling a unique interface. Tools and processes are merged into Microsoft Office. There is no other interface. Work flows seamlessly between Outlook, Word, and Excel. A PCRecruiter menu unleashes the full functionality. In this release, PCRecruiter evolves from a standalone app on the Microsoft Platform to a tightly integrated part of Microsoft Office. All of PCRecruiter becomes a single drop-down menu.
 
 
JobScience is built in the Salesforce.com ecosystem. Using the Salesforce.com Customer Relationship Management system (CRM), the company delivers a workflow based on communications with the candidate. This approach, as opposed to the older “Applicant Tracking,” emphasizes long-term relationships with a pool of candidates. The use of Salesforce.com’s application environment minimizes learning curves while maximizing functionality for customers.
 
 
Like the PCRecruiter example, JobScience delivers a seamless experience. Salesforce.com customers are able to use the same tool to manage sales, marketing, and talent acquisition. They realize the commonalities among the functions while reducing training and maintenance overheads. The result is an overall lower lifecycle cost with increased organizational effectiveness.
 
 
Jibe is a brand new social-network driven job board built in the Facebook application environment. Focused on a kind of network mining that you might think of as “turbo-charged referrals,” the system matches your network and available jobs. Search results include links to the subset of your connections that might be useful in a particular target. It works for both sides of the transaction. Recruiters discover which of their “friends”might offer an introduction to a candidate (and, somewhat obviously, similar candidates). The potential employee is given a view of connections in or near the enterprise who might be useful for resume review, insight into the employer, or a referral. As is the case with the first two examples, the Facebook integration meets users where they are, rather than requiring a separate learning curve. It’s Facebook, turbocharged with LinkedIn and other social media, focused on both sides of Talent Acquisition.
 
 
Large-scale enterprise applications have always lagged the consumer markets by five or so years. In HR, the time difference is greater. This new approach, “disappearing the HR software,” allows entrepreneurial firms to harness the platform’s roadmap to deliver functionality at the speed of the market. It’s a profound alternative to the enterprise model, which can resemble the three-foot-wide, 140-tool Swiss army knife currently being advertised in catalogs.
 
 
The next generation of enterprise platforms are cloud based “coral reefs” of interrelated tools and services. The core provider offers quality control, APIs, and a roadmap. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, they focus on doing a few things really well, including managing the overall market for services. It’s a new world, in which the core players are companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google. Minimizing redundant learning curves increases agility while meeting users in environments they are familiar with. Harnessing familiar applications gives users a familiar landscape with hypercompetitive functionality.
 
John Sumser is a technology consultant, trade show producer, and webmaster of HRExaminer.com. He can be reached at john@johnsumser.com.
 

Posted April 15, 2010 in Talent Acquisition

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