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Talent Technology User Disfunction

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

@MadelineLaurano’s recently published report on the talent technology industry revealed the soft underbelly of our business. According to her research, companies are using just 3 percent of the functionality embedded in their ATS and just 2 percent of their CRM’s capability. I’d wager the same is true of the job boards, chatbots and programmatic platforms they use. In other words, employers are spending a ton of money on our products and neither maximizing their ROI nor optimizing their recruiting performance. And, that’s a huge threat to the viability of our industry.

So, what’s behind this talent technology user disfunction?

There are undoubtedly a number of factors at work, but I think two bear much of the responsibility.

First, turnover is extremely high among recruiters. SHRM did a survey of its membership a couple of years ago and was astonished to discover that recruiters represented the largest single cohort of the population. In many cases, however, that wasn’t by choice. It seems that at least some employers use recruiting as their entry-level assignment for new staff, a job those HR grads then have to endure for a year or two before moving on to what they consider a real HR role. The strategy virtually guarantees the loss of all institutional knowledge regarding the effective use of talent technology products every couple of years.

Second, recruiter workload is off the charts. In many, maybe even most companies, each individual recruiter is responsible for 10 or more open jobs. They barely have time to pay attention to candidates, let alone to learn and retain the skills necessary to employ a new (or even an existing) technology-based talent acquisition product effectively. And, then there’s the frustration of trying to work with a product when they’re in a hurry and the skills they do have are degraded from a lack of experience. The net result is to use only enough of the product’s functionality to get by and then move on to the next req and the next req after that.

These are systemic problems, so on the one hand, it’s reasonable to ask if there’s anything solution providers can do to address them. On the other hand, however, if we don’t do something, the low level of user disfunction could lead to questions about the need for and/or the price of our products.

So, What’s To Be Done?

There’s obviously no silver bullet for user disfunction. No single change or action will have the scale or scope to solve it unilaterally. But, there are some initiatives that might help.

First, I think we should reimagine product implementation as an ongoing activity rather than as something that’s accomplished and concluded. Now, I know that it takes a good corporate partner for implementation to be effective, so we’ve introduced the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management for HR and TA professionals. It enables providers to transform their clients into good partners by making a very small investment in scholarships they then offer to their HR/TA contacts who see the value of the course and want to acquire the credential. Advancing their knowledge and career builds stronger partnerships and promotes better implementation.

Second, we should embed (and charge for) the creation of a Super User in our implementation support, regardless of whether it’s a traditional or reimagined version. This Super User would receive sufficient additional training and coaching to become an employer’s on-site subject matter expert whose job it would be to promote more effective use of a product among the recruiting team and to serve as a resource they could tap to acquire more skills in its application. For job boards, for example, the training might include the best way to write inclusive job postings to help employers meet their DE&I goals, while for an ATS, it might cover the capabilities and best uses of the system’s messaging functionality.

The benefits of either or both of those steps are several-fold. For employers, it means a better return on their investment in talent technology and greater satisfaction with the level of recruiter performance achieved with that technology. And for solution providers, it means more customers that are satisfied with the talent technology they purchase and a higher proclivity to invest in even more of those products in the future.

In bizspeak, that’s the proverbial “win-win outcome.” And of course, there are also other steps we could take. What we can’t do is ignore the problem. We can’t carry on as if user disfunction isn’t a threat to our industry. It is. And those companies that recognize that fact and deal with it effectively are going to be the big winners down the road.

Food for Thought,

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.