The Disease of More (Tech)

When legendary basketball coach Pat Riley wrote the 1988 book Showtime, he introduced the idea of “the disease of more.” Riley argued that “success is often the first step toward disaster” and that your mind shifts to a different perspective once you win that critical victory. 

It’s an easy trap to fall into as a recruiting technology columnist, at least when it comes to thinking about the role of technology in talent acquisition departments. 

The “disease of more technology” assumes that all of the successful technology ideas and implementations I see will inevitably be improved upon. Any pain point a person can have should be fixed, and there’s an app for that. 

I expect to be more impressed with every passing demo. I start a feature scorecard of the different solutions. I debate, “Well, that ATS has better hiring team collaboration.” Or, “Oh, but I think they acquired a company that does that. Should be fine in a couple of years.”

It’s not healthy to think about technology as the neverending arms war of features and new additions to the recruiting tech stack. Regardless of where on an analyst’s quadrant a technology company lands, if it’s not fit for purpose or if it is incredibly difficult to use, it’s not for the organization. 

But the allure of marketing-driven awards and pay-for-play placements makes wanting to be the best also a question of third-party validation. If they say it’s good, it must be good, the thinking goes. What’s one more piece of technology if it helps my team win a few key hires? 

How do you stay out of this trap behavior? Three behaviors I’ve seen from really successful talent acquisition leaders can lend a clue.

Think First About the People

The obvious issue of candidate experience is front and center and it’s like that for good reason. A candidate having to navigate seven different systems to get hired makes the recruiter’s job incredibly difficult. A candidate witnessing someone on your team struggle with technology or complain about the tools you’re using is a less-than-ideal first impression. 

I was thinking more about the people on your team, though. The hiring managers who have to wade into a system that they may not be familiar with. A recruiter who has to spend extra time managing the technology rather than their req load. How much extra work are they doing to cope with the technology baggage you are having them deal with?

If you want to have the best talent acquisition results, you have to have a really good team. But that also means technologies that keep your organization focused on getting the right results.

The Consequences of Positive (and Negative) Scale

As talent acquisition leaders, you’re used to thinking about growth. For TA technology solutions that serve fast-growth industries, their customers will ask them many more questions about adding seats, capacity, and capability to their solutions. 

What their customers don’t often ask is what happens if they need less. How locked in is locked in when it comes to reducing headcount in recruiting? After a pandemic in which we saw companies cruelly drop recruiting pros at the first sign of trouble, you’d think you would hear about it more. 

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Recruiting is one of the most dynamic functions in an organization. Change should be the expected direction, but great recruiting leaders are asking about what happens when things go up and down now. Anticipating uncertainty can help manage your tech stack as your needs change from moment to moment.

Optimize the Stack

Talent acquisition leaders who are focused on their people and considering how shifts in scale might affect their talent stack are better prepared to optimize their technology to fit their needs.

The approach and changes needed are different for every company, of course. One TA leader told me she had to work for nine months to find all of the orphaned recruiting technology they were still paying for. Sometimes, technologies licensed to dozens of seats were only utilized by a handful. 

It’s not reducing costs, though. In fact, sometimes budget auditing your tech solutions is the first step toward making a more significant, centralized solution that covers much of the functionality scattered around the organization. 

Avoiding the “More” Part

Most importantly, don’t assume feature-for-feature parity needs to exist as you are looking to transform your technology solutions. Some may be more technically limited in functionality. Helping you reach goals in other ways, like simplifying the candidate or recruiter experience, is a way to shrink the amount of technical load you make recruiters manage without necessarily reducing the sheer number of technologies you use. 

When in doubt, involve your recruiters in the decision-making process. As we talked about at my ERE Digital session on optimizing the use of RFP and other purchasing processes, recruiting team feedback is critical to understanding what they really need vs. what they aren’t using that might be slowing them down. Most recruiting leaders just want to make the time their team spends on technology to be productive for hiring top talent. 

It may not be as sexy as bringing on the next hyped-up solution, but your team and organization will thank you — eventually. 

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
 
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.

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