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The Zen of Talent Technology

By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech

Historically, most technologies have been viewed and used as tools. They were seen as handy job aids that helped we humans accomplish some task or function. That perspective was probably accurate, given the limited scope and power of those earlier inventions. Today, however, it’s an anachronism. Modern technologies have much greater capabilities and a much broader scope of application, yet many employers fail to capture those advantages. That’s true in every area of enterprise operations, including unfortunately, talent acquisition. Why does it happen? Because recruiting teams have not been introduced to the Zen of talent technology.

According to, Zen is “both something we are—our true nature expressing itself moment by moment—and something we do—a disciplined practice through which we can realize the joy of being.” It expresses our “ultimate reality,” which means it incorporates our present reality – what we have created for ourselves – and our potential reality – what we could create if we gave ourselves permission to test the full dimensions of our imagination.

Viewing talent technology as a tool – as simply the next evolution in machines like the telephone or the fax – is a comfortable way to bring them into our workplace. Humans have been using tools since we learned to walk erect, so they are nonthreatening and often welcome additions to our lives. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many recruiting organizations have made that outlook the present reality of their talent technology. They acquire, implement and use it as just another tool in recruiters’ toolbox.

The facts! In a talent market that is more competitive and less understood than at any other time in history, it’s the facts that matter most. And TAtech’s biweekly podcast Start Smart focuses on the facts. Join me and my cohost, Shelia Gray, VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Quadient, as we examine the findings from the latest talent acquisition research and explore their implications for recruiters and job seekers. This week, we take a look at a study from entitled “2022 Recruitment Marketing Benchmark Report” and discuss the implications of its findings for recruiters as they face the prospect of budget and staff cuts driven by a slowing economy.

The Zen of talent technology acknowledges the validity of that perspective, but moves recruiters into a second or potential reality. It encourages them to imagine this capability not just as a tool, but also as a transformation agent. Practicing this application of Zen is a creative but disciplined process that seeks to identify, understand and effectively implement the changes that are possible and often necessary in order to use the technology to its full advantage.

This transformation will entail changes to some or all of the following:
• Recruiter and hiring manager practices and roles,
• Recruiter and hiring manager skills and knowledge,
• Organizational policies and standard operating procedures,
• The micro cultures in the recruiting team and/or hiring managers’ units, and
• The macro culture of the larger HR organization.

We humans hate change, so why should a recruiting team subject itself to so much disruption?

Whether recruiters want it or not, recruiting now has a seat at the table next to HR. As Lighthouse Research and Advisory put it in their recent report, “hiring is a business-level challenge, not just a talent or HR discussion.” That means the recruiting team must now operate as both talent acquisition experts and as business people.

As business people, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their employer to achieve the key performance indicators and thus the return on investment that were used to justify the acquisition of a talent technology product in the first place. Those targets, however, are beyond reach – they cannot be met – unless the present reality of a product is extended into its potential reality. Or, to put it another way, recruiters now have an obligation to achieve the “ultimate reality” of the talent technology they acquire.

Zen is a way of meeting the responsibility of purchasing state-of-the-art talent technology. That technology is more capable than any previous recruitment technologies in history, but it is also more complex and impactful on the recruiting team and the larger organization. To ensure an employer receives the benefits it deserves from acquiring that technology, therefore, recruiters must implement it in a way that realizes both what it can do as a job aid and as a transformation agent.

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 download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.