Taking Advantage of Staffing Assessment Trends in 2004

We recently took some time to reflect on some of the online staffing assessment trends that we saw unfolding during 2003, and to begin thinking what these trends mean nearly midway through 2004 and will continue to mean throughout the year. In order to help provide a better understanding of each of the seven trends we have identified, we have highlighted the opportunities that we feel each trend will present to those interested in using technology-based hiring tools. Trend 1: Moving at glacial speed. The overall recruiting industry continues to move in a positive direction when it comes to the adoption of new hiring technology. Most organizations understand the general role of the web in their talent sourcing process, have by now adopted an applicant tracking system, and are beginning to understand the value provided by technology. However, relatively few organizations have implemented automated staffing systems that provide additional value beyond simple gains in efficiency. Opportunity: Companies that move swiftly to embrace the use of web-based techniques to improve the quality of hiring decisions will have a distinct competitive advantage over those companies that continue to evaluate recruiting primarily in terms of efficiency metrics like time to hire and cost of hire. Trend 2: Staffing will begin to borrow from supply chain management. An increasing number of organizations are realizing the value of using metrics to increase their understanding of what is occurring within their staffing processes. These metrics are a critical part of how the recruiting function can add value to the hiring process and are an important part of a focus on quality. Technology is helping staffing to adopt a supply chain management philosophy, and organizations will use metrics and data to better understand the costs and benefits of staffing processes, as well as the decisions made via these processes. Opportunity: Having data is one thing, effectively analyzing it is another. Companies that invest the resources required to effectively interpret staffing data in order to identify trends affecting talent management will be able to “outthink” the competition when it comes to finding the best people. Trend 3: Sourcing and sorting companies (i.e., job boards and ATSs) will begin to expand their product offerings. In an effort to create more value for their customers, while also increasing their own ability to generate revenue, job boards and ATS vendors will begin to expand their product offerings and provide the in-house tools needed to integrate additional functionality. Assessment tools will be an excellent example of this trend. The integration of assessment tools into the sourcing and candidate management process is an important part of the continued evolution of the online hiring process. Sourcing and ATS companies will slowly investigate the use of assessment tools to help their core offerings provide more value. The future will see these types of companies making a play for the in-house addition of assessment to their core service offerings rather than doing so via partnerships or alliances. This will provide sourcing and ATS companies with the tools they need to reinforce a quality-focused strategy that will allow them to provide their clients with more value. Within five years, many ATSs and job boards will offer their own proprietary assessment tools as part of their core product offerings. Opportunity: We see several opportunities in this trend. First of all, the adoption of screening and assessment tools by vendors of applicant tracking systems will help increase the visibility of assessment tools and, provided they are properly installed and configured, will help more organizations begin to realize the value of these tools. The integration of assessment tools into enterprise level staffing products will also help organizations to be more efficient in their use of assessment tools because many of the headaches associated with the integration of tools running on separate platforms will be removed. Trend 4: Companies will continue to get fleeced by bogus products. Because assessment tools are complex, the overall understanding of how these tools work is still relatively low. It is very difficult for many consumers to differentiate between good products that work and shoddy ones that do not. Unfortunately, the marketplace is full of questionable staffing tools, and it is not uncommon for us to come across organizations using assessment tools that have little value if any. These experiences contribute to the false assumption that assessment tools do not work. This is unfortunate, because many people have proven time and again that these tools do work as long as they are used properly. Opportunity: At first glance this may not seem like an opportunity, but we feel that this trend will be helpful in several ways. First of all, it will help organizations to understand the need for due diligence when investigating assessment vendors. Anyone considering using a screening or assessment vendor should ask them to clearly demonstrate examples of the validity of any tools under consideration, as well as the ability of this tool to provide ROI. If your organization does not have anyone who is qualified to evaluate assessment tools, you should seek outside help. They money you spend on an outside opinion will pale in comparison to the money you will waste using a sub-par tool. Secondly, we hope that increased competition and consumer awareness will help to create some form of natural selection, whereby vendors who cannot clearly prove their worth will not be able to sustain their business. Trend 5: The number of assessment vendors will continue to grow. More and more people are realizing that there is money to be made providing organizations with tools to add value to their hiring process. This means that the continued influx of new vendors offering solutions will not slow down anytime soon. When doing the research for the first edition of our “Rocket-Hire Buyer’s Guide to Web-based Screening and Assessment Systems,” we identified about 60 vendors of products somehow related to online screening and assessment. For the next edition of our Buyer’s Guide we have already identified over 100 vendors and are adding more to the list each week. Unfortunately, the increasing number of vendors will make choosing a reputable vendor with a legitimate solution for your needs an even more difficult task. Opportunity: The increasing number of assessment vendors on the market provides organizations with a wider variety of choices when it comes to using assessment tools. Assessment prices are also coming down substantially as this becomes more of a commodity market. When choosing assessment tools, organizations now have the luxury of being able to consider multiple vendors and challenge them to offer more competitive prices. Trend 6: The overall technology level of the hiring process will increase. The level of technology within organizations’ hiring processes will continue to increase over the next year. Within a year or so, most organizations will have the basics down and will continue to see the value in using technology to help make their hiring processes more efficient and effective. This continued adaptation is an important part of the overall evolution of the hiring process. We all need to face the fact that technology and the web aren’t going away anytime soon ó and with good reason, as most people have clearly realized that technology provides a valuable advantage to everyone involved in the hiring process. Opportunity: Companies are now becoming more fully invested in the need to embrace technology as both a necessary and advantageous part of the hiring process. High-performing companies will not simply use technology to automate staffing, but will find ways to revolutionize their staffing process using technology-enabled methods (see Trend 2 above for an example of this). Trend 7: Technology will not replace humans. We continually get push back from people who think we are advocating that technology replace humans in the hiring process. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When it comes to hiring decisions, humans should always play a central role, and humans should retain ultimate decision-making power. The role of technology is simply to provide humans with the tools they need to reduce information overload while simultaneously making better, more informed decisions. Opportunity: Use staffing automation not as a tool to reduce recruiter headcount, but instead as a tool that frees up recruiter time to do those things they do most effectively. For example, by using assessments to screen and evaluate candidates, something recruiters are notoriously poor and inefficient at doing, it is possible to free up recruiters to spend more time identifying and selling high potential candidates on the value of the company. We sincerely hope that the information in this article is useful to those interested in helping to use technology to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their hiring processes. In the coming year, we hope to see organizations of all shapes and sizes benefiting from the opportunities we have discussed in this article.

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Dr. Charles Handler and Dr. Steve Hunt (shunt@unicru.com) are both specialists in the development and deployment of online/electronic staffing systems. Charles and Steve have conducted extensive reviews of online staffing tools and systems and use their knowledge of this space to assist clients with deploying online staffing solutions. In 2002, Charles and Steve combined forces as Rocket-Hire and together they have written extensively on the topic of online screening and assessment.

A major part of this collaboration has been the creation of The Rocket-Hire Buyer's Guide to Web-Based Screening and Staffing Assessment Systems. This publication is the first of its kind, representing the only one stop source for information regarding the online screening and assessments systems that are currently available. The Buyer's Guide provides a classification system that includes information on over 50 online staffing assessment vendors as well as background information to help readers to understand the complex topic of online screening and assessment.