Deciding Between Good, Fast, or Cheap Recruiting Tech

Sure, you want all three in your software. But the reality is that hard choices must often be made. Here's how to make them.

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Aug 8, 2023

You’ve all heard the age-old adage, “Good, fast, cheap: Pick two.” It’s one of those rules that we apply in different aspects of our lives, from buying a computer to deciding what to do for dinner. It’s the idea that you have to make a hard decision at some point. You can’t get a great steakhouse dinner for the price and speed of a McDonald’s dinner.

But what about when it comes to recruiting tech? Does this rule still apply? A while back, I wrote that you should be expecting all three from your recruiting software. However, sometimes hard choices have to be made. And when that happens, companies should be focusing on just one of these, possibly to the exclusion of the others.

Hey, I know what you’re thinking. “Just one? Choosing two was bad enough.” Look, I get it. We’re all looking for a magical unicorn that waltzes into our virtual offices and offers everything we need (and hopefully more).

But unicorns don’t exist in real life or in talent acquisition technology. It’s actually better to hone in on one aspect: What is the most important thing that this recruiting technology is going to do for me? Let’s go through the options.

When to Pick “Good” Talent Acquisition Tech

Let’s start with the easy one. All of us want good things, right? What does “good” really mean in the context of talent acquisition technology? In this case, “good” refers to the quality of the technology. That means you’re probably looking at a track record of success, a product roadmap that’s sensible, critical features already built, and a seamless user experience.

Having high-quality technology can make or break the hiring process in an organization. But does that mean every piece of technology in your talent acquisition tech stack has to have this level of completeness? I don’t think so.

“Good” talent technology is the right investment for core, long-term solutions. When you look ahead five years, will you still need these core solutions? Will you have the amount of hiring that will support this ongoing investment?

If you’re focusing on “good” or quality solutions in certain cases, it will help sharpen the business case you’re making for your technology. This isn’t about saving pennies. This is about making a smart, long-term investment in a solution that your team will be using (and often building the rest of your tech stack around).

When to Pick “Fast” Talent Acquisition Tech

Recruiters love to hate the infamous metric of time to fill. Yet the reality is that speed and agility can matter. Nobody necessarily wants incredible light speed all the time, but being able to go fast when you need to does matter.

“Fast” talent acquisition tech is about software that speeds up the recruitment process, makes it more agile, and gives your organization a competitive edge. This could be through the automation of repetitive tasks, AI-assisted candidate sourcing, or real-time communication.

Contrasting it to the “good” category, you might find more newcomers promising agility and limitless scale. When you have urgent hiring needs, sometimes you just need something that works at speed rather than something that’s slow (but certain). And, hold your gasps, sometimes quality of hire comes second to getting the hire.

“Fast” can be fun and innovative, too. While many vendors will try to sell organizations that they can get just as good of quality at a faster speed, you should first evaluate whether speed is actually the issue. If it is, great. And if you eventually get comparable quality, even better. Seeing that as a bonus (rather than a necessity) is critical to deciding on and bringing in a technology that will help your organization today.

When to Pick “Cheap” Talent Acquisition Tech

Nobody wants to talk about “cheap,” but hear me out. Sometimes, the budget is the budget. You’d love to get a solution with all the features you need or with the speed you need, but you also need to hit a budget number. If your budget doesn’t budge, then you need to start here.

While no recruiting leader wants to live with a “cheap” solution forever, something is often better than nothing. If it can make hiring easier on you and the candidate, there’s no shame in dealing with “cheap.” If it’s a critical recruiting process for which you’re buying technology, plug your nose and pick the best of the rest or chain yourself to your CFO’s car until they agree to reconsider your budget.

Sometimes, a certain aspect of the hiring process isn’t as critical as others. Going for a cheap solution in this category can position you for a future win when looking at technology in the “good” or “fast” categories.

In the end, “cheap” can sometimes work out to have the right speed and quality you need, as well. But focusing first on price will help you look at one of those two outcomes as a pleasant surprise rather than the expected outcome.

Don’t Cheat: Focusing on What’s Important

The “’good,” the “fast,” and the “cheap” each have their own merits and drawbacks. But instead of bifurcating the decision across two (or three if you’re an optimist), it’s smarter to build a business case around one primarily.

Building the foundation of your recruitment process? You need something “good.” Creating something new or something that will speed up or scale hiring? Go for “fast.” Just getting started or need functionality that isn’t central to hiring? “Cheap” is probably the place to start.

Don’t cheat yourself or throw yourself into decision paralysis because you’re looking for another kind of purple squirrel. Hone in on what matters for this use case and make the rest of your considerations a nice-to-have.

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