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Micah Fairchild 4 Ways to Leverage the New Recruitment Software

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 By Micah Fairchild

Understanding and Leveraging the Evolution of Recruitment Software

Job boards are quickly seeing their demise; social tools like LinkedIn and Facebook are rapidly gaining ground; and recruiters are increasingly looking to consumer technologies to speed up the talent acquisition process. These factors (among countless others cited by Bersin & Associates in their research brief, "Talent Acquisition Factbook") are driving a revolution in the recruitment software industry.

At first, the immediate goals were efficiency and cost reductions when organizations sought out automation for their talent acquisition functions, but now advancements have proven that talent acquisition effectiveness can be gained as well—a fact (as Technavio Insights found) that has caused the market for recruitment software to explode; driving a year-over-year growth rate of close to 15% (as well as a host of recently announced software acquisitions from vendors trying to get their hands on the latest and greatest tools). Certainly shining examples of this are SAP's play for SuccessFactors and Oracle's bid for Taleo (both predicated on at least some level on gaining newer recruitment technology); but countless others like the latest Vista Equity purchase of Bullhorn and SuccessFactors' last-second grab of Jobs2Web are proving that even solidly-stationed middle market providers are understanding that the recruitment market has shifted.

Although recruitment automation has been around for decades (starting off as simply Applicant Tracking) the delivery of these new innovations couldn't be more urgent—especially given the state of the current talent wars. In fact, with statistics coming out from research companies like Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) stating in their Global CEO Survey that nearly half of all organizations are reporting hiring challenges; it's clear that the era of simply placing an ad and hoping for a suitable applicant pool is over. Today's recruitment efforts require relationships to be developed, an employment brand to be conveyed, and a process that is not only fast, but intuitive as well.

As Aberdeen reports (in their research, "Talent Acquisition Lifecycle: From Sourcing to Onboarding") creating this dynamic means going far beyond simply looking for "a candidate possessing the right technical skills". Among other things, that means now an organization's recruitment software needs to be able to deliver an ever-increasing amount of functionality; including social network (and broader HRMS) integration, scalability, and mobility—feature sets that up until now have been widely viewed as fringe elements; only necessary or leveraged by those organizations on the cutting edge.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that far too many companies have been left behind in terms of what they should be getting out of their automated recruitment software—a problem driven in large part by a simple lack of knowledge. What about your organization? Are you falling behind the curve with recruitment due to outdated software? To be sure, here's our list of what your recruitment application should be providing at a minimum. If it's not, then it may be time to start shopping for a new solution.

Recruitment Software Must-Have #1: Skill & Competency Parsing

Most of the recruitment software solutions on the market today have the ability to parse (i.e. extract data) from the candidate record created through a company's recruiting web portal. Some may even have the capability to perform this same action on resumes. Regardless of the level of sophistication that a given system has though, this function is critical in large part because effective parsing can have significant implications for both time and money—especially in the case of positions that net a high volume of job applications. The larger question with parsing though is whether the extracted data is of any true use. Namely, can the application effectively extract competency and skill information? Or is functionality relegated to simply supplying the basics such as name, address and qualifications. If your system lacks these more advanced parsing capabilities, then you should consider switching to vendor software that does have it.

Recruitment Software Must-Have #2: Expanded Workflow Capabilities

Countless systems on the market can provide powerful automation along with work-flow configuration capabilities that could save your business, time and money. The question though is do the customization functionalities for those workflows match your business's needs? Yes, automation is a positive thing, but only inasmuch as the extent to which your workflows can be designed to suit your workforce processes. As such, look for whether your solution (and subsequent processes) is working in the most effective way possible; customizing where need be to maximize your investment. If customization isn't an option with your current vendor (and you're forced into an out-of-the-box solution), this could be an indication to look elsewhere for your recruitment application—especially given the fact that the ability to customize has become a rather common feature within talent acquisition solutions.

As well (adding on to the capabilities of parsing listed above), your system should be able to take that extracted data and generate automated shortlists to assign directly to hiring managers and consultants. If for any reason, these tasks have to be performed manually then you should seriously consider your options for migrating to a different recruitment software vendor.

Recruitment Software Must-Have #3: Enhanced Reporting Tools

From the recent spate of industry coverage on HCM analytics (due in large part to businesses like Oracle, SAP, and Workday), you can certainly gather that by all accounts business intelligence on the recruitment side of HR is a necessity. Almost all recruitment applications come pre-packaged with the capability to run a range of standard reports; which, while good, still fails to provide much (if any) actionable data for system and/or process improvement. Yes, those reports are often necessary from a compliance standpoint, but can any of those measures help you easily identify key performance or organizational health issues? The crux of the reporting issue (according to SourceCon), is that "with organizations sourcing talent through a variety of means (headhunters, social networks, job boards, etc.) it is critical to gain visibility into where organizations are spending and where they are getting the best results"—elements that simply can't be managed without enhanced reporting tools.

Recruitment Software Must-Have #4: Multiple Accessibility Avenues

Regardless of whether an organization has multiple offices scattered around the world, or simply a large single-location population, the fact is that recruitment systems now need to be easily accessible for both prospective employees and company managers alike. The best way to achieve this is obviously via a web portal, but for the most part almost all recruitment software vendors offer this capability. What's less often considered (but just as critical) is the extent to which candidates have control over their own information. Don't be mired down in whether the solution is "true" SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) or on-premise at this point though. Instead, focus in on whether prospective candidates can access and maintain their given profile(s), remain engaged, and apply to multiple positions. Further, from the perspective of your recruiting staff, the recruitment software should provide the functionality to access and match those profiles to specific positions—another key reason why the parsing mentioned above is considered mission-critical. As SourceCon puts it, "While a candidate-maintained community, social promotion, and participation at campus recruiting events can help organizations increase exposure and generate more applicants, they can also create a significant burden for recruiters who must search through hundreds or thousands of resumes to find the right match".

Concluding Thoughts on the Recruitment Software Revolution

With all the changes that the recruitment software industry has experienced (and in many ways is still experiencing), the fact of the matter is in all likelihood a recruitment software solution exists that can satisfy your organization's requirements. Indeed, with new systems and feature sets coming to the market each year, the ability to identify a system that can provide the above-listed capabilities shouldn't be difficult. First though, you should assess your current recruitment software solution (and continue assessing at sensible intervals) to ensure you have the most optimal solution for your needs. Whether your optimal recruitment software effectively leverages mobile recruiting, social networks, or something else entirely, knowing what your organization needs is tantamount to success—that way you know what direction to proceed in and what to look for. End

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An organization's recruitment software needs to be able to deliver an ever-increasing amount of functionality; including social network (and broader HRMS) integration, scalability, and mobility—feature sets that up until now have been widely viewed as fringe elements; only necessary or leveraged by those organizations on the cutting edge.


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