The Misalignment Between Recruiters and Technology

TA technology should be made for moments like this — when speed and efficiency are desperately needed to attract enough candidates for an immense number of open reqs. Yet despite tech’s ability to improve efficiency, today’s hiring problems persist. Why?

Kimberly Jones is feeling a certain way about this, and she’ll be sharing her views at ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24, when she joins a panel discussion called “Will Tech Rise to Today’s Challenges?: New Expectations for Recruiting Technology Amidst Competitive Talent Pools.” Kim will be part of an important discussion aimed to help TA pros: 

  • Adjust expectations of vendors and determine challenges that tech can (and cannot) realistically address
  • Use existing solutions better to meet hiring goals
  • Create better processes regardless of tech to enable solutions to work more effectively

ERE recently spoke with Kim about her upcoming session and her views on the state of TA tech today.

ERE: In one word, how would you define recruiters’ expectations of technology?

Kim: Misaligned. 

OK, of course you’ve got more than one word to say about this. Can you please elaborate?

Well, let me start with the continued talk and use of AI. Over the years, a lot of voices talking about AI have focused on how employers need AI to weed out job-seekers to hire the best talent. It’s as if people working in talent acquisition feel like a volume of candidates is more of a burden or a curse than it is a blessing. I don’t think this is the right attitude for recruiters to have — yet it’s this attitude that has largely driven many tech vendors to focus on AI as a tool to weed out people.

I would instead prefer that AI would be better developed to direct job-seekers to the right jobs for them to apply to more easily. The closest I’ve seen to this happening is IBM’s use of Watson.

Then again, that’s how I feel. But there are many recruiters who might see 74 candidates, and think “Omigod! I have to do all of this work to just fine the one right person for the job!” They’re so focused on that that they don’t see the benefit in spending time to make connections with the other 73 people to get them to the right other opportunities, or to tap into them because those people may know other people who’d be great candidates for other roles. 

I see your point, but as you point out, there are many recruiters who focus on managing volume, so are expectations really misaligned if vendors are also focusing on AI or whatever tech to help them with that? 

And I see your point to an extent. Still, though, I think vendors do have a responsibility to help push the field forward, and that doesn’t always happen when the loudest voices in the room are calling for the wrong things, or things that aren’t really helping to address real problems.

The problem is that the market of tech buyers is filled with req administrators, not TA pros. And req admins tend to focus on the transactional nature of their job. They just want to click the least amount of buttons in the shortest amount of time. Their voice drowns out real substantive conversation — but it creates enough noise that their requests are seen as valid. 

Well then so who is responsible for misaligned expectations — recruiters or tech vendors?

I don’t think it’s entirely one or the other party. Rather, we need better collaboration between TA and tech vendors. We all see each other at conferences and stop at booths, but do we take time for discussion with vendors’ product development leaders about what’s possible with tech? Also, if tech vendors want to be smart enough about what recruiters know and need, they should at least start by talking to their own TA teams! I feel like there hasn’t been a meeting of the minds in a thoughtful way that helps inform product roadmaps.

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I have no doubt that tech providers will disagree. They will say that they regularly engage with clients to make product improvements.

They are improving, yes. But are they making any huge leaps? No. You know, when I work with a vendor, I always ask how the provider will gather and use feedback from clients. I want to know exactly what happens with information submitted via a ticket, for example. Like, take the average large ATS vendor. Is it tapping the information submitted in tickets to come up with ideas and themes to influence their roadmap? I don’t think that the TA community has visibility into that process on the vendor side. What does this look like collectively and strategically? How is a provider gathering and synthesizing feedback within the community to advance certain features? 

What types of features would you like to see?

Here’s a big one: Suppose someone applies for multiple positions and gets hired for one of those jobs. Now what about the other 17 reqs that candidate remains active in? I’d like to see a system that’s smart enough to remove someone from those other reqs once that person is hired. 

I wonder, though, perhaps the real problem sometimes is that features exist but recruiters are simply unaware or for whatever reason not using existing tech’s full capabilities. 

That definitely happens, but what also happens is that some employers will acquire a system and just do what it does. What I mean by that is they define their open process by the system’s existing capabilities — when it should be other way around.

We need more TA pros having discussions with ATS providers to figure out together if a system can have certain features incorporated into it, maybe not immediately but at least in the product roadmap. Because what’s happening otherwise is that employers are forced to manage a whole lot of tangible and intangible costs to manage their recruitment process. For instance, lots of recruiters have to spend time creating all sorts of workarounds when they use recruiting tech — which is often the recruiting arm of the HCM software the company uses — that isn’t truly addressing their needs. That can yield enormous intangible costs.

It takes a very astute leader to stand up and say that a full-suite HCM’s recruiting features will not deliver timely quality and that the company must invest in a best-in-class system. But most TA leaders don’t want that kind of smoke. No one dies because of misaligned technology, so some leaders choose the path of less resistance.  


Want to hear more from Kim? Experience her panel discussion, Will Tech Rise to Today’s Challenges?: New Expectations for Recruiting Technology Amidst Competitive Talent Pools.” live at ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24. Use code EREEMAIL50 to receive 50% off registration at www.ererecruitingconference.com. 

Vadim Liberman is editor of ERE.net and TLNT (the devil wears TJ Maxx) — a workplace renegade advancing how we think, work, and live. He has previously worked as a strategy consultant to HR and recruiting tech companies at The Starr Conspiracy, as a talent management professional at Prudential, and as senior editor of The Conference Board Review, a magazine for business leaders. Vadim loves to talk about all things HR, talent acquisition, and Bravo TV shows. Bring it!

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