Managing Your TA Tech Stack Through a (Possible) Downturn

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Nov 9, 2022
This article is part of a series called Techsploration.

You might’ve heard that the economy is a little weird right now. Inflation is on the rise, the stock market has thoroughly embraced the bear, and yet, the labor market continues to be tight with employers adding jobs once again. While tech layoffs have perhaps ticked up a bit and received headlines, the predicted recession has not looked like past ones. 

That’s probably good news for recruiters. While no one’s crystal ball is 100% accurate, there’s hope that whatever we face won’t be catastrophic

It might be tempting to not push your luck at a time when organizations are trying to stay lean or reduce expenses, but there are a few good reasons why you shouldn’t be stopping work on your recruiting technology stack. 

Capital Expenses vs. Operating Expenses

If your organization has already slowed down or frozen hiring, you’re probably already saving some money. Operating expenses, like the check you send Indeed and other job boards for advertising your roles, have gone down. If you’ve had seat licenses to sourcing tools, you’re probably looking for your next opportunity to right-size that. Reliance on third-party recruiters or other outsourced providers may be down. Other hiring costs, like assessments or background checks, follow your hiring trends, as well. 

In short, recruiting already has a number of variable costs that self-adjust to match the demand. It’s a good system. 

Recruiting technology, especially technology that is core to hiring, isn’t variable. That’s fine, but it also leads to the temptation to pause or outright cancel badly needed upgrades when the going gets tough. 

Don’t be that company. 

Upgrading core recruiting technology like an ATS is a multi-year project for many organizations. When you count everything from initial researching to transitioning and full implementation, almost every organization is taking multiple years to accomplish this major change. 

You don’t stop building a new office just because the economy takes a dip, and the same should be true of technology transformation. We should be treating these major projects as capital expenses. Organizations are creating infrastructure that make everything else in hiring work better. 

It’s Actually a Great Time to Implement a New System

As any seasoned talent acquisition leader can tell you: Technology change can be a painful process. You might have thousands of open jobs to transition, with each one in dozens of possible stages. For international organizations in some jurisdictions, it might be difficult to move data at all without proper affirmative disclosures from applicants. 

Slower-than-normal hiring can save you, in one talent acquisition leader’s words, literal weeks. While a seamless transition for the candidate-facing experience may be the promise, it’s often not the reality. Even if it is managed on the front end, the back end is where things aren’t going to go smoothly. In the worst case, your recruiting team will be working out of two concurrent systems for many, many weeks. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were limited to fewer jobs than you might typically be carrying? 

If recruiter ease and a faster timeline don’t appease the bean counters, being able to have a fully implemented system ready to go when the inevitable upswing hits is going to be incredibly important. Similar to the companies that laid off their recruiting teams when the pandemic hit and then struggled to rehire, having your technology change done and ready for the future is going to leave you better positioned to win talent at a critical time. 

The Right Long-Term Investment

I’m not here to cheerlead for recruiting technology companies. Instead, it worries me for talent acquisition leaders’ sake when recruiting tech marketers tell me that companies are moving deadlines and slowing down work on foundational hiring technology. It really concerns me when a company says they’ll wait until 2024 when they have a technology that hit its stride in 2004. 

At some point, you have to make the decision to make a change. Outside of business continuity or disaster, long-term investments are worth it because they help you in so many critical areas. Keep going with your investment in talent acquisition technology and you’ll be ready to act when the trends become clearer. 

This article is part of a series called Techsploration.
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