Are organizations maximizing technology innovations and new channels to talent?  If not, why not? Read our latest article to find out why so many organizations are missing out on the digital transformation of the recruitment function.

The Technology Malaise that is Talent Acquisition

The talent industry is drowning in technology. The paucity of talent isn’t the issue, but working out how to turn new innovations – such as Artificial Intelligence – into value has so-far proved illusive. At the last count, none of the managed Service Provisioning (MSP) programs I am aware of are using artificial intelligence on a daily basis to solve a recruitment challenge. It’s a disappointing picture when the opportunities for digitalization of the recruiting and workforce management discipline are so great. It begs the question–what’s going wrong when it comes to embracing technology in our industry? In this article we dig into the challenges that we’ve seen, working with our clients in the United States, APAC and Europe.

Technology Looking for a Problem

When new technologies – like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and software robots – hit the market, a swarm of start-ups and venture capitalists will crowd around them hunting down ways to turn any new tech into profitable business opportunities. It’s not uncommon, when this happens, for solutions to surface that ‘sound’ clever, but don’t work. What I mean by this is not that they don’t functionally work; it’s just they don’t fulfil a business need in a way that’s able to offer measurable improvements. Whatever the net gain is, any new solution has to at least justify the effort and expense needed to change systems, processes, and operating behaviors. Additionally, new tech solutions must produce rewards that are better than outsourcing providers able to get the same job done by farming it out to somewhere in the world that offers the lowest labor rates; providers that can throw many low-cost resources at a problem to manually hand-crank out the solutions. Unless solutions gain a critical-mass, they result in a spark, splutter and a phut!

Glueing Technology Together

It’s not uncommon for point-specific features to look really impressive in isolation, but try and bind them with systems and process and it becomes obvious they don’t glue into the world of talent. For early-adopters, this can be extremely frustrating. There are few technologies that work in isolation in our industry. All organizations these days need transparency across their systems and processes. Achieving that high-level of transparency requires systems to give up their data and make it easy to share and re-use. Many of the new technologies we’re seeing just aren’t up to the job.

Blending Industry Expertise with Tech Know-How

One of the obstacles I see tech companies having in the recruiting industry lies in the very specialist talent needed to make talent sourcing work. Ours is a ‘people-centric’ industry and the science of talent acquisition can often be compromised by the vagaries and impurities of human behaviors. Just because you want candidates to flock to your website and fill in applications forms doesn’t mean they will. Attracting talent goes way further than pay packages and rewards schemes. With all the different ways to source talent, the subject has become a specialized field. Tech companies can regularly grasp the business potential of crafting solutions but their solutions are let down by details that any talent professional, program manager or recruiter would instantly recognize as alien behavior. Unless people have good reasons to change how they operate, it’s difficult to encourage a change in behavior no-matter how swishy your interface is!

Bringing Talent Sourcing Online

The one area where technology innovation seems to make a toe-hold on the talent industry is in the move towards online recruiting – and all of the ‘sub-processes’ that moving recruiting to an online and remote function entails. Here are some examples:

  • There are a plethora of “Job Boards” and industry-specific job sites like and so on that are gaining traction in the market to bring ‘seekers’ of talent and ‘solvers’ of problems together. The advantage these platforms get is that they’re focused on a specific community with similar needs, so it’s easier to make the technology work.
  • Platform providers that already have a committed online community (LinkedIn being the perfect example) can leverage technology almost immediately and make it valuable to their audience because they know what their audience is interested in and they are offering more than one reason for people to visit their network. This ‘parasite strategy’ works well because new features can be added one feature at a time. Another good example of a community site growing into talent acquisition is Glassdoor. As an employer review site, Glassdoor can transition site visitors from ‘curious researchers’ to potential ‘job candidates’ by blending their original employment review service with a job portal.
  • Companies on the look-out for talent are also using their brand reach to extend their capacity to attract candidates for jobs and projects. Businesses are using their social presence to promote their values. In an age when everyone leaves a footprint on the web, employers can advertise openings via their own job boards and construct automated workflows to channel interested individuals into application processes. Sometimes, these technologies are called Direct Sourcingbecause it means organizations can go directly to their own talent pool (built up over years of advertising job vacancies and running social platforms online) rather than depend on staffing agencies and have to pay their fees. Direct Sourcing is growing in popularity because it offers easy access both ways: firms are able to identify top talent better and the talent, in turn, knows about the business organizations that can meet their expectations.

Final Thoughts

No doubt we are going to see more examples of digital technologies moving successfully into the talent acquisition space over the next year. There are genuine and compelling opportunities to automate areas like CV vetting, interviewing, background checks, culture fit, etc. but for the mass market.