By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
If you wander down the exhibit hallways of HR conferences, it’s pretty clear who the big dogs are. Whatever your metric – booth size, staffing or technology – it’s HR vendors that hold mighty sway at the shows. They help companies engage, develop, and pay their employees, so their products and price tags are large and getting larger. After all, what could be more important than tools that keep workers productively at work? Well, here’s thought - how about talent acquisition technology?
The simple truth is that you can’t manage the employees you don’t have. All the HR tech in which companies have invested will be under used or not used at all if they can’t get the workers they need in the door. That doesn’t mean HR tech has suddenly become less important, but rather that talent tech is now just as central to enterprise success. It is – or should be – a big dog too.
In the past, of course, that statement would have been nothing more than howling at the moon. But today’s talent market is unlike any we’ve seen in generations. Suzanne Clark, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was recently interviewed on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street and said that the top problem facing American businesses is their inability to hire enough workers. Employers are struggling to fill their openings, and even CEOs and CFOs are aware of the problem and worried about the impact it’s having on productivity and financial performance.
Moreover, it’s a situation that’s affecting every sector of the economy. Candidates aren’t applying for openings either in historically low paying jobs in hospitality or in high paying positions in healthcare. As a result, the number of unfilled jobs reached 10.073 million in June, a record. Even more troubling, a growing number of workforce experts say that the demand-supply mismatch is likely to continue well into the future. It isn’t a blip on the recovery radar, but a new reality in recruitment.
That new reality means that employers need to adopt a new and heretofore unimaginable technology strategy. It has two elements:
The first element of this new strategy is a much more aggressive approach to investing in technology-based TA products. Obviously, those products won’t solve the mismatch problem all by themselves. Depressed pay and skimpy benefits, worker worries about workplace safety in the face of Covid and their family obligations for child and elder care must also be addressed. But here’s the rub. Those issues can be appropriately resolved, and employers will still be unable to fill their openings. Success in the new reality of recruitment requires that a company upgrade both its employment policies and its TA technology. And for the latter, that means a comprehensive, across-the-board campaign to acquire state-of-the-art tools for recruitment marketing and advertising and other methods of sourcing, as well as candidate management, assessment, communications and onboarding – in short, every aspect of the recruiting funnel. The time has come to make acquiring talent as important as managing it and to give the recruiters the tools they need to make that reprioritization real.
The second element of the strategy involves an equally aggressive approach to implementing the products that are acquired. It’s all fine and good to make the investment, but the money is misspent if the organization fails to achieve its target improvement in recruiting effectiveness or efficiency (as measured by KPIs) and thus the return on investment the employer deserves. And, unfortunately, misspending appears to be an increasingly common outcome. According to recent research by Madeline Laurano, for example, only 3 percent of companies use all the capability available to them in their ATS and only 2 percent use all of the capability in their CRMs. In other words, they’re paying for 100 percent of what those products can do and wasting 97 and 98 percent, respectively, of that power. To turn that situation around, companies must now make technology implementation management a core competency of recruiters. They must be trained to know what needs to be done, who needs to do it, when it should be done and how it should be managed in order for a company to bring TA technology on board effectively.
Today’s new reality in recruitment requires that company’s launch a new technology strategy which assigns a much higher priority to the acquisition and implementation of TA tools. When combined with more robust employment policies, that approach is the single best way to achieve a genuine and durable competitive advantage in the market for top talent.
Food for Thought,
P.S. If you need some help finding top-notch TA tools, check out the TAtech Talent Technology Buyer’s Guide, and if you’d like to acquire the skills for effectively implementing new TA products, take the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management.
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.