An Open Letter to Microsoft

Congrats on acquiring LinkedIn. This is big news and an exciting opportunity for you. I know you probably haven’t figured out exactly what you are going to do with the social media giant and a lot of questions still remain unanswered. I don’t know if you are interested in getting seriously involved in the HR Technology space or not. I don’t know if you plan to keep the vision for LinkedIn or to shake it up a little. I don’t know if you just don’t know. But I want to ask you a favor or two before it gets too late.

Staffing and Recruitment is a $400+ billion industry and it’s growing. It is filled with a lot of opportunity, a lot of challenges and a lot of people invested in a market that directly impacts organizational growth. A lot of my friends and colleagues are sourcers and recruiters and feel very passionate about the work they do. Most of these people are active LinkedIn users and now your customers. I thought you might want to know a few things:

  • LinkedIn is a recruitment tool. Yea, it had a lot of issues with growth in 2015 but it is still used by over 70% of recruiters. It does some things well and some things not so well. Recruiters are not shy. They have voiced their concerns and many of them have gone unanswered. Many of them have built their connections using LinkedIn. Please pay attention. Listen to your users. Create a customer advisory board and make changes.
  • Think about partners more strategically. Most of the recruitment technology providers partner with LinkedIn some way or are trying to partner with LinkedIn. ATS providers allow candidates to upload LinkedIn profiles. Other solutions allow candidates to view connections and information about a company without having to leave their platform. LinkedIn has not made integration with existing providers easy. Please try to make it better. Make it easy for candidates and recruiters to find people, engage people and provide that insight to the systems they use.
  • Candidates need more tools. You have an opportunity to educate candidates. Provide them with relevant information about companies they are interested in and tools they need to be successful through the hiring process. Help them make compelling profiles that can be used outside of LinkedIn. Companies want to improve the candidate experience and you have an opportunity to help them do that.

I know you are excited. But we are still trying to make sense of the announcement and still have many questions. This could be great. I hope you think so too.

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The Power of Recruitment Marketing

When we asked organizations to identify their priorities for talent acquisition investment, recruitment marketing was top of the list. Companies want solutions that can handle the top of the funnel or the pre-applicant workflow. It is not a new request. Companies didn’t just decide they needed a solution to attract, engage or nurture leads. They just didn’t have any good options in the past. Today, recruitment marketing is a critical component of any talent acquisition technology strategy.

The challenge most companies face is understanding what recruitment marketing is and how it can help drive overall recruitment success.  Often referred to as the “pre-applicant platform”, recruitment marketing includes capabilities that maintain the employer brand, foster candidate relationships and enhance messaging and communication efforts. While recruitment marketing can transform a talent acquisition function, the real value is found in a solution that integrates and supports the overall talent acquisition strategy.

Next Tuesday, June 21, I will be presenting a webinar with Charlie Nelson at SmartRecruiters to discuss the power of recruitment marketing. Below are a few topics we plan to cover.

  • The current state of Recruitment Marketing and the key drivers for investing in a technology partner;
  • The role recruitment marketing plays in the current talent acquisition landscape;
  • The key strategies to integrate recruitment marketing efforts with overall talent acquisition efforts;
  • An action plan to help companies get the most value out of their recruitment marketing strategies and investments.

This topic has gained a lot of momentum over the past year and I hope you can join us and share your thoughts on this space.


Diversity of Casual People Communication Technology Concept

Greenhouse and the Era of Next Generation ATS Providers

Greenhouse is on a fast growth curve. It has made a name in an industry that is crowded, confusing and incredibly competitive. This next generation talent acquisition system is growing at 200% annually with $60 Million in funding and over 2000 customers (mid-market). It is interesting to me because it is not necessarily disrupting the ATS market but it is thinking about recruitment differently. I learned a lot about Greenhouse at its user conference last week where I had the opportunity to meet with the Executive team and some of its customers. Below are a few reasons why I believe it has been successful and a few things it might need to consider for the future.

Why So Much Growth in Such a Short Period of Time?

  • Productizing Best Practices: Greenhouse with its scorecard functionality and its focus on best-practices is a product that guides recruiters and hiring managers to make the right decisions. It doesn’t force them into the decisions but it shows them what the obvious answers are and then let’s them decide. The job of a talent acquisition professional has become so complex that this level of simplicity and guidance goes a long way. Box, one if its customers at the event, said it was able to provide a simple experience for recruiters, improve how recruiting teams work together and cut time to fill from 60 to 28 days.
  • The Demand for Best of Breed: According to research we’ve conducted this year, 50% of the companies that are unhappy with their ATS are using an ERP. Companies today are looking at best of breed providers and no longer have to sacrifice integration for deep functionality. Stitchfix stated that when considering an ERP and Greenhouse, the partnerships and integration  with third-party providers helped influence its decision to go with best of breed.
  • Happy Partners: In conversations with several companies in San Francisco, Greenhouse has a reputation for being a good partner. Why is this important? Well, the next generation talent acquisition platform is dependent on an ecosystem of providers to support everything from sourcing to screening to interviewing candidates. This ecosystem is the lifeline of an ATS and having strong partnerships in place can greatly improve the customer’s experience.

What It Needs to Consider Moving Forward?

  • Move Out of Tech: Right now, Greenhouse has nearly 60% of its customers in the technology industry (including eretail and fintech). When we ask companies what influences the recruitment tech decisions, “word of mouth” was number one. While it is great that tech companies are so impressed with Greenhouse, it will need to expand outside of tech to sustain its growth and rethink its messaging and even sales strategy.
  • Expand in Recruitment Marketing: Next Generation TA platforms are defined as having 3 critical systems: a Recruitment Marketing platform, ATS and onboarding system. Greenhouse has the ATS and onboarding but needs to build recruitment marketing especially as it comes head to head with providers such as iCIMSLever, and SmartRecruiters.
  • A Stronger Message: As competition continues to heat up in this market. Messaging around making recruitment better and easier gets overplayed. Greenhouse will need to be very clear on its differentiators as it moves up market and into other verticals.

Greenhouse is one of the providers we are including in our upcoming Index report. Stay tuned…


The Top Four Investments in Talent Acquisition Technology

The number one question I get asked by corporations and solution providers is “what is the hottest talent acquisition technology right now?” It’s not an easy question to answer.  It never has been. What may seem hot is not always what drives efficiency and success. And more often than not, hot fades away. Companies need to think about what brings value to their existing processes and what will improve how they operate and the overall experience of candidates, hiring managers and recruiters.

Talent acquisition buyers are making more strategic decisions around their technology. They are listening to their peers, questioning their existing providers and looking for partners. We asked companies in our 2016 Hire, Engage and Retain survey what investments they will be making this year and below is what they had to say (this data does not include the ATS market). Many of these solutions are not necessarily the “hottest” new technology but rather solutions that companies believe will help them recruit better and provide a positive experience.

  • Background Screening: Although it’s considered a tactical area of recruitment, background screening can have a dramatic impact on a company’s overall recruitment strategy. Organizations that make a strategic investment in these solutions are able to expand their global reach, improve the candidate experience, and strengthen the quality of hires.
  • Pre-Hire Assessments: Pre-hire assessments encompass the tools and technology that enable organizations to evaluate if a candidate has the right skills and behaviors to perform a job. Today, companies of every size are providing objectivity to the hiring process by leveraging a variety of pre-hire assessments consistently throughout their organizations, from executive-level positions to front-line workers.
  • Recruitment Marketing Platform: Often referred to as the “pre-applicant platform”, this solution includes capabilities that maintain the employer brand, foster candidate relationships and enhance messaging and communication efforts. Companies are investing in stand-alone solutions as well as some of the more innovative talent acquisition systems.
  • Employee Referral Tools: Companies are looking at solutions that can automate the employee referral process. Often these tools can make sure that referrals get in the hands of hiring managers and recruiters and provide employees with the confidence and information they need to make referrals.

The talent acquisition technology landscape is changing rapidly and there is no shortage of innovation. Companies in the process of evaluating what technology they need should consider solutions that will align with their processes and drive business outcomes.

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Ericsson: A Lesson in Employer Branding

Despite its’ recent popularity, employer branding is still fairly immature. In fact, less than half of companies we surveyed are investing in employer branding this year. Companies understand it is important but often do not know where to start or what role technology can play in attracting talent. And for those companies investing in employer branding tools, only 55% are satisfied with their providers.

How can companies improve their employer branding efforts? How can they find more value in their strategies and technology options? Last week, I attended HCI’s Talent Acquisition conference and learned a thing or two about employer branding from the Head of Talent Acquisition at Ericsson.

Several years ago, Ericsson transformed from a telecommunications company to an ICT and software services provider. Not only, did it need to think about how it would represent the new business in the marketplace but also, how it would attract talent. At the time, employer branding was not aligned with any corporate communications and lacked an element of story-telling. Ericsson needed to find a way to make the company more exciting to candidates and communicate why someone would want to work there.

Below is what they decided to change:

  1. Encourage Employee Advocacy: With 120,000 employees and 100 nationalities, Ericsson recognized that not every individual would be brand ambassadors, but everyone should have the right messages and tools to be able to talk about the brand in the same way. Ericsson developed an App that gives employees an opportunity to fully understand what their employer brand is and talk about the exciting things that the company is doing.
  2. Invest in Social: By moving to Social Chorus (an employee engagement app), employees have the ability to build their personal brands within the company and share those messages externally. With this tool, Ericsson’s employees were sharing the brand 4 to 5 times more. LinkedIn Elevate also provides a powerful platform for Ericsson. Since running the pilot, the company had 24,000 job shares that they had not seen before.
  3. Target Candidates: Ericsson is able to leverage technology to create a personal and human experience for candidates and employees. It targets talent by skills, jobs, and diversity. It leverages various strategies for each of these groups. For example, it created a “Women in Tech” Quiz that captures information and engages with women about their careers. It also provided a great deal of support for the UN’s “HE for SHE” campaign and had its male employees participate. For Black History Month, Ericsson highlighted a number of its employees as well as African Americans outside of the company that have achieved success in STEM careers.
  4. Disrupt the Conversation: In an effort to stay relevant and reach candidates on a different level, Ericsson would disrupt Twitter conversations about popular TV shows and get involved with the conversation. Ericsson also invited girls to be guest bloggers on its career blog to promote Girls in ICT and Girls in STEM.

We hear so many presentations about why employer branding is important but few about how companies are strengthening their efforts. Overall, Ericsson achieved success by being innovative, empowering employees to participate, and leveraging technology in a more human way.

Employee Communication: Executive Summary

Aptitude Research Partner’s is excited to launch our Employee Communications research focused on strategies for building stronger relationships between employees and employers and driving business success. Please click on the link below to download the Executive Summary of the report.

ARP Employee Communications Exec Sum

Employee communication is the most critical job of the modern HR professional and too often, the most overlooked. Any workforce challenge can be linked to poor communication including engagement, retention, productivity and performance. When employees do not receive the information they need to do their jobs, they are more likely to underperform and to leave. Although 96% of companies recognize that stronger communication drives business results, most employee communication is ineffective and inconsistent. In fact, only 47% of employees read their communication messages.

This report based on data collected in February 2016 will explore the need for strategic communication, the changes in today’s workforce and the role of technology in driving business outcomes

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SmartRecruiters: Three Things I Learned at Hire Success

I met Jerome Ternynck for the first time in 2008. At the time, he was the Founder of Mr. Ted (a popular recruitment solution in Europe) and he was about to launch a free ATS called SmartRecruiters. He made the announcement at ERE Fall and if you were at the conference, you probably remember that this was a very BIG deal. Jerome was offering an ATS with all of the basic functionality to anyone – even small companies with just a few employees. His vision was simple. He wanted to make recruitment simple for both employers and job seekers. Anyone could sign up and start using SmartRecruiters. To be honest, the solution was just ok. Remember, it was free. But, the beauty of SmartRecruiters was its integration and its vision to be something more than a traditional ATS. It was designed as a platform that could truly integrate with many third-party solutions such as background checking, assessments and onboarding. Today, integration is still one of its key differentiator but a LOT has changed.

I was fortunate enough to attend SmartRecruiters’ first user conference this week and below are a few things I learned.

  1. Integration is still a Differentiator: SmartRecruiters’ marketplace allows companies to discover and connect with pre-integrated solutions such as job distribution, assessments, and video interviewing. Solutions are added regularly. SmartRecruiters recently announced integration with LinkedIn, DocuSign, and Tableau. It is a solution that appeals to both recruitment and IT.
  2. Going Global: The company has made significant product enhancements and it is looking to compete at the global enterprise level. This is not the same solution from 2008. It can support multiple brands, handle high-volume and manage the complex needs of global companies. Oh, and it just landed Visa as a client.
  3. Customers Come First: SmartRecruiters is looking at its customers rather than its competitors when making product announcements. Customers helped develop this product and product enhancements and releases happen often. This year 573 ideas were submitted by 3,000 users. I had the opportunity to chat with the Head of Talent Acquisition for Atlassian who said that SmartRecruiters listened to what they wanted and helped to make changes to the product based on their feedback.

The ATS market has changed significantly over the past few years and companies are looking at next generation talent acquisition platforms such as SmartRecruiters that can support a more holistic approach to identifying, attracting and hiring talent.

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China: Six Reasons HR Technology is a Big Deal

My Dad visited China for the first time in 2009. He went for business but had the opportunity to see the Great Wall and many of the popular tourist sites you might expect. He took pictures and shared them- a first for my Dad. And six years later, he still finds a way to bring up China in just about every conversation. I am not exaggerating. It clearly made an impression.

Last week, I had my own experience in China. I was fortunate enough to visit Zhuhai for the inaugural HR Technology China conference hosted by LRP and China Star. With over 6000 registrants and 3500 attendees, I think it is safe to say that the event was a huge success. Every session was standing room only and the conference had captured the attention of Chinese officials, media and universities.

This trip also made an impression on me. Not only because I spent time with some of my favorite people in our industry (Trish McFarlane, Steve Boese, Jason Averbook, Kevin Wheeler, and the amazing LRP team) but also because of the energy and transformation that is happening in a country so rich with history and culture. Now six days later, I am the one who can’t stop talking about China. And… I am going to share a few things I learned last week.

  1. HR is a Big Deal. China accounts for up to one-third of the global growth in recent years and the business of talent is taken very seriously. Unlike in the US, where HR professionals are looking for ways to gain the support of business, HR is valued in China. Companies invest resources and technology to making sure they are recruiting, developing and retaining talent.
  2. Talent Acquisition is the Priority. As companies expand and look to compete for quality hires, talent acquisition is a priority. Identifying and attracting talent was a topic discussed throughout every session of the conference as companies look to hire the best talent and compete with large MNCs or foreign-based firms. Currently, only 20% of Chinese graduates are staying overseas. The majority of students are returning to China to seek employment.
  3. Services Are Where It’s At. HR professionals are eager to invest in new technology but first need to understand their processes. The demand for HR services in China seems to be greater than in the US. Conference attendees wanted to simplify some of the trends so they could make the best decisions around their technology.
  4. Branding is a City Thing: Employer Branding is a major component of any recruitment strategy for companies in China but the focus is on the city even more than the company. At the conference, both delegates and companies in attendance were creating a strong connection between talent and the city of Zhuhai through videos, marketing and messaging. A large technology firm I met with a few years ago was focused on branding efforts that would highlight the different cities in China instead of the overall company.
  5. The Student Population is Impressive: Many students from the local university in Zhuhai attended the conference. These individuals were eager to learn and connect with other attendees and presenters. They were passionate about the topics and ambitious about their future careers in the workforce.
  6. Social Media is Powerful: Although many of the popular social media sites we use on a daily basis are blocked in China including Facebook and Twitter, social media is a big part of HR. These companies leverage many social media sites including WeChat and LinkedIn. Over 50% of companies are using social media in their talent acquisition efforts.

This event was an amazing experience and I am grateful to LRP and China Star for the opportunity to attend. I will be posting a summary of my presentation on Employer Branding in China next week.


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Marketplace or Market Hype? Three Ways to Tell the Difference

Who doesn’t love the concept of a Marketplace? As consumers, marketplaces allow us to make a dinner reservation, order food or even get a ride to the airport. They connect us with providers, reduce the friction of buying and selling, and help us navigate through a very complex ecosystem of providers.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of marketplaces in HCM technology. Providers such as ADPSmartRecruitersiCIMS and Newton Software now offer valuable marketplaces to help their customers make better decisions. Even emerging providers recognize the value of linking customers with the right providers. In fact, nearly half of the 169 recruiting startups on the AngelList from August-September of last year were marketplaces (analysis from Ray Tenenbaum, CEO of Great Hires).

While the concept of a marketplace in HCM makes sense, the reality is that not all marketplaces are created the same. Many providers that have announced a “marketplace” are offering nothing more than a list of partners and an open API. How can companies decipher between a true marketplace and market hype?

Below are three ways companies can tell the difference:

  1. Customer Experience is The Priority: In order to be a true marketplace, you can’t just categorize or aggregate the market, you need to enhance it. Providers have to create value for their customers and improve their experience. An HCM marketplace should allow customers to easily search for providers, view ratings or feedback and easily make purchases. Users should not have to leave the marketplace to do any research on providers.
  2. Certification Is a Critical Part of the Process: The marketplace should be selective about who is and who is not included. Some marketplace providers are so eager to include as many companies as possible (remember- most get money from the providers they include) that they lose their value. A certification process allows a marketplace provider to set the criteria for who can be included and let the customer know that “This is who we trust. So, you can trust them too.”
  3. Insights Instead of Information: A marketplace should provide insights about the providers included so customers can make better decisions. Some marketplaces simply list providers under categories and include a brief description that can be found on their website. The HCM ecosystem is complex and the marketplace should help companies determine what providers can help meet their needs.

The concept of a marketplace can provide tremendous value to both providers and customers when it focuses on the experience. If we think about how marketplaces help us as consumers to make quick and educated decisions, the same should be true in the world of HCM.


The Human Capital Experience Economy: What Does It Look Like?

Would you pay more for a good experience? Would you be more likely to come back again? You probably already do. We live in a world where experience trumps everything – including cost and quality. According to a study by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 80% of US consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience. It is the experience that gives companies a competitive edge even when their products fall short. It creates loyalty and a powerful commitment to a certain company or brand.

Companies recognize the impact of experience on their growth and profitability and are making changes to how they communicate with, engage, and support their customers. In fact, according to Aptitude Research Partners’ 2016 Hire, Engage, and Retain research, 60% of companies have an executive level customer experience role in place. But, creating an engaging experience does not and should not end with the customer. It must extend into our workforce. Surprisingly, only 37% of companies have an executive level role focused on the internal culture and experience of the workforce. Just as companies are prioritizing customers, they must also focus on the experience for the individual candidate, employee, manager, contingent worker, and leader in order to ensure continued economic success.

The elements of this important balance are at the core of Aptitude’s new Human Capital Experience Economy model- take a look here: