Don’t Overlook These Issues When Shopping for an ATS

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May 31, 2019

There’s no shortage of innovative ideas regarding the use of technology to improve HR outcomes, particularly those related to attracting, hiring and retaining top talent. The need to leverage self-service technology so that hiring more closely mirrors consumer experiences and the ways in which technology is likely to transform the role of the recruiter over the next decade are among the thought-provoking viewpoints regularly shared by industry leaders.

For organizations currently reviewing — or planning to review — HR tech solutions, it’s this kind of thinking that can push the dialogue forward and ensure that conversations between talent acquisition teams and vendors address how a solution’s features and functions facilitate daily tasks and process needs, plus long-term, strategic hiring objectives.

In my work as an enterprise solutions consultant, I see firsthand just how many variables are at play and the myriad of factors that talent acquisition works to address during the review process: workflows, configurability, integration, user experience, team structures, reporting, language translation, communications, price point, etc. However, in considering my conversations with prospective buyers against an understanding of broader talent challenges, I’ve identified three issues that are vital to the discussions but haven’t always been a priority.

1. Improved internal mobility support

We’re awash in a sea of data that continually reaffirm the need to ensure employees have access to career growth opportunities in order to improve retention — a 2018 Randstad survey finds that 57% of respondents “say they need to leave their current companies in order to take their careers to the next level.” And yet, during most of the conversations I engage in, particularly in relation to ATS and talent CRM software capabilities, prospective buyers rarely look at how these tools might further internal mobility within their respective organizations.

The oversight can be attributed to the influence that existing hiring processes have on HR tech usage, as recruiting processes have traditionally favored external talent. Often, this is a symptom of organizational silos, which relegate internal mobility to areas like performance management or training and development. Rather than thinking through how processes need to change to achieve better results, the default is to assess HR tech against existing processes.

The problem is that internal mobility doesn’t just benefit current employees. It also improves hiring outcomes. A recent analysis of internal mobility by Deloitte reveals that companies that promote from within “are 32 percent more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their new hires.” Structured internal mobility programs have also been linked to reduced time to fill, largely because internal candidates are already qualified, interested and available.

Ideally, the purchase of new HR technology presents an occasion to determine how processes can be adjusted, moving away from tech that merely supports transactions and towards a solution that accomplishes an organization’s hiring objectives with greater emphasis on existing talent.

2. Shifting data privacy perspectives and laws

As job seekers and employees in the United States grow increasingly aware of and concerned with the amount of data that companies collect about them, I believe that data compliance will become more than merely a box to check off as organizations review system capabilities. Instead, it will signal an opportunity to discuss how data privacy may influence future hiring practices, both in the United States and globally, and what can be done now to prepare.

Though the European Union far surpasses the United States in regulating data privacy, we should expect many of the same principles attached to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — such as the “right to be forgotten” or “right to erasure” — will influence American attitudes and expectations. California is already leading the way, having passed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which goes into effect in 2020 and protects both consumers and employees. It’s time to think beyond simply meeting current compliance requirements and examine how shifting data privacy perspectives, as well as new laws, will affect tomorrow’s talent acquisition strategies and related technologies.

3. Future applications of AI and automation

The HR tech industry has been flooded with new tools and applications that offer talent acquisition teams the ability to offload many low-value tasks, everything from algorithms that automate candidate sourcing and ranking to interview self-scheduling capabilities and chatbots that answer basic candidate questions, so that recruiters can concentrate on activities that require uniquely human abilities, particularly engaging and nurturing candidates throughout the hiring process.

While I’m commonly asked about current AI and automation features as they relate to streamlining tasks and making recruiters more productive, it’s equally important to have conversations around how HR tech vendors can design future applications with an organization’s long-term talent acquisition goals in mind. These conversations would aid HR tech companies in arriving at the next wave of technology in response to a deeper understanding of TA’s needs and challenges.

What HR tech vendors can do

One thing I do know from my ongoing dialogue with talent acquisition teams is that they want to have the time and capacity to implement initiatives that drive the organization forward. Unfortunately, many are saddled with existing HR technologies that prohibit them from achieving the levels of efficiency or effectiveness that they need to remain competitive. Faced with high workloads, time-consuming tasks and enormous pressure from leadership, it’s not surprising that, all too often, the team’s attention during HR tech purchase reviews leans more heavily on the immediate transactional nature of the offerings as opposed to how the right tech partner can help advance a talent strategy over time and within the context of shifting market dynamics.

HR tech vendors can be the partner talent acquisition deserves by encouraging discussions of emerging issues and taking time to understand where the organization is today and what it needs tomorrow to realize its vision for talent attraction and retention success.

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