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The Heyday & Hazard of Talent Technology

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

This is the heyday of talent technology. More and more employers are turning to these solutions to help their recruiters fill openings despite the Great Dropout among job seekers and the Great Resignation among employees. At the same time, venture and private equity funds and angel investors are pouring money into both startups and established companies as they develop new and potentially more capable products. It’s a good time to be a talent technology provider, and yet, there’s a hazard lurking in the background which could bring it all to an end.

This explosion of interest in talent technology shouldn’t come as any surprise. Employers are facing a double whammy in the one business resource they have historically taken for granted – their workforce. If you have any doubt about that consider the budget they provide to most recruiting teams and the req load they assign to their recruiters. For them it’s been like fishing in a barrel – there’s always been a ready supply of talent willing to take a better offer. But now, it seems, workers have had enough and employers are facing both a shortage and a hemorrhage of talent.

So, what’s happened?

First, employers are upping their advertising with job boards. They are spending more on those boards they have traditionally used and experimenting with sites they have not previously tried. In a sense, it is the final nail in the coffin of the ludicrous claim that job boards are no longer relevant. They are, in fact, what they have always been – the preferred go-to-market strategy for both enterprise employers and SMBs. So, it’s not job boards that are dead, but the notion that they are.

And second, employers are plowing money into other talent technologies. As Madeline Laurano details in a recent post, companies are acquiring a wide and diverse range of products, from solutions that use AI to improve person-job matching and assessment products that are both science-based and candidate-friendly to programmatic platforms that optimize an employer’s recruitment advertising spend and solutions that are specifically designed for the unique requirements of high volume recruiting.

Taken together, these developments have produced the greatest heyday in the talent tech industry since the job board revolution of the late 1990s. As with all economic phases, however, it isn’t a universal phenomenon, but for many, maybe even most solution providers, it’s a time of record revenue and profits. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s also a time of great hazard for those very same companies.

The Threat to Continued Success

Solution providers are expert at installing their products in a customer’s organization. Installation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean effective integration with the organization’s tech stack, and it certainly doesn’t mean implementation. And, implementation is the soft underbelly of our industry. Why? Because when things go wrong and a product doesn’t perform as expected, the customer will never blame themselves. They’ll point a finger at “the vendor,” whether that vendor is a job board (where recruiters have posted lousy job ads) or a CRM platform (where recruiters are using only 2 percent of its capability).

Recruiting Daily put it this way: “The fact is, aligning the technology promise to real-world processes and applications can be beyond painful.”

That pain is the product of recruiting teams lack of knowledge and expertise in the practices, budget, staffing requirements and priority for the effective introduction of a new talent technology product. What’s the measure of an “effective implementation?” It’s not the delivery of a product on time and within budget. It’s not even the conduct of a solid upfront training program for users.

No, for the customer, effective implementation is measured in just two ways. They are:
• The achievement of the anticipated improvement in recruiting performance as measured by key performance indications; and
• The internal acknowledgement (based on those KPIs) that the company achieved its target return on investment.

If the customer’s assessment of those two measures falls short – if the end state is in fact “painful” – there are two negative outcomes. First, of course, the solution provider that is involved will get a brand black eye, and that’s more harmful that just one dissatisfied customer. Talent acquisition execs who have spoken at TAtech conferences say that their Number 1 source of product knowledge isn’t sales calls (which they routinely ignore) or information collected at conference exhibit booth, but their own peers. And, research shows that dissatisfied customers don’t keep their unhappiness to themselves; they tell 8 other potential customers all about it.

Second, that same research also found that 96 percent of customers don’t tell their solution provider about their dissatisfaction. In other words, technology implementation is a hugely difficult undertaking for most employers, and when things go wrong, they don’t ask for help from the solution provider, they let the problem fester. And, that lack of communication has a single, inevitable result: the customer’s faith in talent technology and their willingness to invest further in technology-based products is diminished or even destroyed. It puts all the good buzz about the current priority and investments in talent technology at risk. It is a hazard that we would do well to recognize and resolve.

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 book on