Mind Map Team - Illustration

Just In: New Data on Talent Acquisition Technology

Our first Aptitude survey is off to a great start with close to 300 responses. The goal of this research is to explore how companies are leveraging technology to improve the way they hire, engage and retain talent. We are looking at the challenges and strategies through every stage of the customer’s journey from readiness to selection, implementation and adoption. The good news is that with so many new products and services, it is an exciting time to be an HR technology buyer. The bad news is that most companies still struggle when making decisions on what technology will best meet their unique needs.

We are committed to helping companies navigate through the customer journey and understand how to identify their own priorities. Below is a sneak peek at some of the data that aligns with the customer journey.

  • Readiness: Readiness involves understanding your organization’s true business needs, requirements and limitations, as well as the underlying talent strategy. Companies must think about what technology they currently have in place and what changes will help them achieve their business objectives. Currently, only 3% of companies are using the full functionality of their ATS and one third of companies are still using their ERP.
  • Selection: Selecting the right provider involves more than product capabilities. It is the process for identifying the best partner. Companies have to look at differentiators and how they help to meet their own business needs. Eighty percent of companies rely on word of mouth to help make decisions. Key criteria for selecting an ATS includes:
    • Product Capabilities- 65%
    • Price – 63%
    • Demonstrated ROI- 60%
    • Approach to integration- 56%
    • Demonstrated expertise in a related industry- 56%
    • Financial Viability – 54%
    • Relationship management Resources- 52%
  • Implementation: Implementation is often when the relationship with a vendor goes wrong. The process of getting the solution operational in your unique business context. Thirty-four (34%) of companies implement their system in 90 days or less.
  • Adoption: Organizational change management is critical to success, and planning for how to support user adoption is a key to unlocking technology ROI. Adoption is the true sign of how successful the customer journey has been. Only 20%of companies have a change management strategy in place and only 43% of companies view their providers as a partner.

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing highlights from this research and recommendations for companies looking to better understand the technology landscape and their own customer journey.



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I Can’t Even: HR Trends We Are Over

At the start of each year, HR Trends are hard to ignore. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a message. Everyone has an idea of what happened in the past year and what should happen in the New Year. And yes… I am guilty. Trends are important because they help companies understand their priorities and benchmark their progress against industry standards. They give us a guide for what matters and what will drive success. But, the reality is that sometimes trends can go wrong. Especially when trends go unchanged year after year (mobile and social, I’m talking about you). Even when they are important, we are sick of hearing about them. But what if the problem is not about the trend itself and instead about the way we are talking about that trend. The way we talk about its value and its relevance and its impact on our organization.

Below are a few trends we believe need a new conversation and a few we want to stop talking about altogether.

  • Quality of Hire: Quality of hire is not a new trend. In fact, it is a very old trend that has been misused and misinterpreted for years. Yes, everyone wants to hire great people. But the challenge is that there is no standard for defining what quality of hire is how it can be measured. Some companies define it simply as someone that completed an application. Others ignore other important recruitment metrics like time to fill, conversion rates and source of hire. The good news is that several of the ATS providers (Lumesse and Cornerstone OnDemand to name a few) are helping organizations create this standard by defining what quality of hire is and pulling in performance and succession data to help measure it.
  • Integration: Integration is important. Very important. It’s important because HR professionals do not want to open 10 different solutions to do a simple task and it is important because the HCM landscape has become so complex it is hard to make sense of how these providers and strategies work together. There is not a simple solution to integration and so many providers try to pretend that there is. Open API’s are great but how can we help companies understand the full ecosystem. How an technology providers offer a better experience. Some providers like ADP, SmartRecruiters, and iCIMS are tackling integration through a Marketplace- providing both a network of partners and the guidance on what might be right for your company. Additionally, Andy Rice and my friends at Black-Box Consulting have the best approach I have seen to consulting on integrated talent management and helping companies overcome integration challenges.
  • Innovation: We differentiate providers by their functionality. And each year, new functionality and innovation becomes a trend. Sophistication and product enhancements are something we pay attention to and while the product capabilities are important, so many of these solutions have become too complex. HR and talent acquisition buyers want solutions that will save them time and provide a good experience for their candidates and employees. Our upcoming index report looks at differentiators beyond capabilities (the ATS report will publish early next month). Yet, too many areas of HCM technology focus on depth in functionality over simplicity. Fortunately, there are new solutions that make our jobs really easy and even fun such as GreatHires for interviewing, BrandAmper for employer branding, SkillSurvey for online reference calls, Engage2Excel for recognition and The Marcus Buckingham Company for team performance.
  • Engagement: Writing about how engagement is no longer a trend is becoming a trend. When we are talking about engagement, we seem to be stuck on the same challenges and strategies year after year. Mollie said it best in her blog last month. Let’s talk about something that will change the way we treat our employees, our managers, candidates, leaders and stakeholders. We need to talk about the experience (more to come on this next week). Let’s talk about better communication. I love the work GuideSpark is doing with providing better communication between employers and employees.

So, join us for a new conversation as we tackle some of these issues in our latest survey and don’t miss next week’s post on trends I wish we would start talking about again.



Human resources, personal audit, CRM, and assessment center concept - recruiter select employee (or team leader) represented by icon on futuristic tablet. Wide composition, office in background.

Recruitment Marketing: It’s Time to Start Paying Attention

If you thought recruitment marketing was just a passing trend, you might want to think again. Companies are restructuring their talent acquisition functions and investing in technology to improve the way they attract, nurture and engage talent. A recruitment marketing platform handles everything on the front end of recruitment or to put it bluntly, everything your ATS does not do. It involves all the activities that connect a brand to the right person at the right time and with the right communication and messaging. It has become a recognized category in talent acquisition technology- one that is responsible for improving the candidate experience, quality of hires, and overall recruitment efficiency.

If you don’t believe me, you might want to take a look at SmashFly, a leading recruitment marketing platform that raised $22 million in Series B funding today led by Bessemer Venture Partners (an investor in Cornerstone OnDemand and LinkedIn). This company is the real deal. Not only have they gained recognition as a leading talent acquisition provider but they have also had tremendous success by tripling the number of net new customers (mid-market and enterprise) in 2015.

Recruitment marketing matters and below are a few reasons why:

  • The 2016 Candidate: Today’s candidates are smarter about what they want and what to look for in a future employer. And they need to be engaged early. Candidates are diving deeper into career sites, social media and sites like Glassdoor to get a clear picture of an organization before making a connection. In fact, according to the 2015 CandE Research Report, 76% of candidates surveyed conduct their own research and due diligence in their job search.
  • The Talent Acquisition Trifecta: At a basic level, the recruitment technology market is powered by three major systems: A Recruitment Marketing Platform, An Applicant Tracking System and an Onboarding System. Companies need solutions to help attract and engage talent, move candidates through the recruitment process and onboard new hires. Recruitment marketing is a critical part of this journey.
  • The Modern Recruiter: Marketing departments spend energy and resources trying to understand their buyer. They identify, nurture and engage buyers in a way that builds a long-term relationship. Why wouldn’t recruiting do the same for candidates? Furthermore, most organizations invest in technology to understand and engage the behaviors, motivators, challenges and preferences of buyers. Why wouldn’t recruiters want this same technology to support how they interact with candidates? A recruitment marketing platform takes talent acquisition to the next level by allowing companies to better understand and target talent while strengthening their brand.

Congratulations to SmashFly on this exciting announcement! As we launch our latest survey, we would love to hear what you think about talent acquisition and the recruitment marketing space.


Where,who,when,how,why,what,questions and researching concept.

A New Year, A New Survey, A New Conversation

If you follow the HCM space, you may have noticed that everyone seems to say and write about the same stuff. We all talk about analytics being important, the rise of a more flexible workforce and the need for solutions that focus on the individual. We talk about mobile, social, and video and how they are being used. We talk about the evolution of talent acquisition and HR departments and examine trends. And while all of these topics are important, we believe it’s time for a new conversation. One that focuses on what works, what doesn‘t and what needs to change in the future. A conversation with new ideas and new actions all powered by data and insight.

We want to start that conversation today and we want you to be a part of it. We are so excited to launch our Hire, Engage and Retain survey that will look at what drives success when finding and keeping talent. We want to hear about the processes and technology you are using and what will change in 2016. By taking this 20 minute survey, we want you to have an opportunity to share your story and help us start this conversation.

Below are a few ways this survey is different and few things to expect from our research.

Why Is This Survey Different?

  1. Focus on Communication: Communication is a critical part of HCM that often goes ignored. We have included questions to help determine how companies are communicating with talent and what they plan to do in 2016.
  2. Start-Stop-Continue: As we enter the new year, most companies have big plans for how they are hiring and engaging talent. We want to know what processes and technology you plan to start, what you plan to stop and what you will continue to do.
  3. Differentiators: The relationship you have with your technology is an important one. We want to look at what differentiates providers beyond product capabilities and how providers are partnering with companies to help drive business results.
  4. A Consistent Approach to Talent: Many parallels can be drawn between how companies communicate and interact with candidates and how they communicate and interact with employees. Yet, they are not always consistent. We are looking at where companies can improve the ways they both hire, engage and retain top talent.

What Can You Expect from our Research?

  1. Customer Satisfaction: We will be exploring customer satisfaction across all areas of the customer journey from needs assessment and readiness to selection to implementation and beyond.
  2. Holistic Talent Acquisition: Talent acquisition is complex and important enough to deserve its own suite of technology solutions. We will look at how companies are building out a comprehensive talent acquisition model, investing in leading platforms and thinking about an ecosystem of solutions.
  3. Engagement Experience: We will be looking at how companies are thinking differently about engagement solutions and investing in recognition, wellness, communication platforms, and performance tools to better engage their workforce.
  4. Aptitude Index Reports: This research will help to power or aptitude index reports that profile the leading providers and examines their differentiators across the customer journey.

We hope you will join us in this new research adventure and share your experiences with us. We looking forward to hearing your story. Happy New Year!


Mind Map Team - Illustration

Applicant Tracking Systems: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

I started studying the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) market twelve years ago. At that time, there were only ten providers worth talking about and very few up-and-comers. Multilingual configuration, high-volume and onboarding were key differentiators and the user experience was pretty ugly (And…I’m being nice). Selecting a system, at that time, focused on the right workflow and basic administrative functionality. And, although most companies spent time complaining about their ATS, it was still something they could not live without. It managed the requisition process, job posting, the career website, offer letter generation and everything in between. All activities that were too overwhelming to do manually.

Today, the ATS is still the foundation of any recruitment function but a lot has changed. Buyers have more capabilities, services and differentiators to consider. Today’s modern ATS supports both the tactical and the strategic aspects of recruiting including branding, quality of hires, and candidate experience.

Over the past month, I have taken a closer look at many of the leading providers that will be included in our upcoming Aptitude Index report and I have learned a few things. First, the ATS market is not boring. Second, it is not being replaced. Third, selecting the right provider is about much more than product capabilities.

Here are a few observations and differentiators I have observed:

  • The Platform. Recruiters, candidates, hiring managers – whoever is using this system- should not have to leave the platform. It sounds basic but in years past, this was not the case. If you wanted to schedule an interview, conduct a background check or look at a LinkedIn profile, recruiters would need to leave the system. If candidates wanted to send the job to a friend, check out the company’s Glassdoor rating, or connect with friends at the company, they would also need to leave the system. Today, leading providers are making sure that everything can be done on the platform – making sure that partnerships and third-party providers can also be accessed from their platform.
  • Candidate Experience. It is hard to talk about talent acquisition without focusing on the candidate experience. It has become a tagline for most ATS providers and a priority for selection. It is amazing how far the technology has come to support the candidate experience and yet, how far it still needs to go. It was interesting to see which providers started with the candidate career page compared to those that focused mostly on the recruiter and hiring manager experiences.
  • Communication: We are calling this year…the year of communication. Communication with candidates, employees, managers, stakeholders, and peers. Companies need a better strategy and better technology to enable communication and the ATS is no exception. Organizations are looking to their providers to offer different options for communicating with candidates – through a library of email templates, automatic messages that inform the candidate of their status in the application process or content to engage candidates throughout their journey.
  • Recruitment Marketing: ATS providers have recognized that recruitment marketing has become a staple in any talent acquisition function and an opportunity for investment. So far, every provider we have met with is making a play at this market- offering a more complete end-to-end picture of talent acquisition.
  • Services: Services have become ingrained in HCM technology. Companies want a partner not a vendor and they need support, training, and insight to make the most out of their technology investment. Leading providers are offering services throughout every stage of the customer journey from needs assessment to implementation and beyond.

We will continue to share the findings from our Aptitude Index research over the next month and keep an eye out for our strategic talent acquisition survey launching next week!

Image suitable for illustration of a recruitment agency or talent acquisition. Abstract compass

The Aptitude Index: Your Guide to Selecting the Right Talent Acquisition Provider

In August 2015, unemployment in the United States fell to 5.1% – the lowest rate in over seven years. Over 173,000 new jobs were added and many Americans who were left jobless a few years ago now have an opportunity to find work. While a strong job market is positive for the U.S. economy, it also creates a sense of fear for any talent acquisition department. With more jobs to fill, recruiters have to attract the best people in a very short amount of time- a challenge for even the best recruiters. According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, 40% of companies that plan to hire next year said they have had unfilled openings for six months or longer because they cannot find qualified applicants.

Technology can play a major role in helping organizations improve efficiency and manage an increase in hiring needs. But determining what providers to select is not as simple as it used to be. In January 2016, we will publish our first Aptitude Index talent acquisition report that will profile the leading talent acquisition platforms and how they are helping companies improve efficiencies, the candidate experience and the quality of hires.

Looking through the lens of the customer journey, from organizational readiness to ongoing improvement, the aptitude index looks beyond product capabilities and gets after differentiators that you wouldn’t find on a demo or a solution provider’s website.

Below are some of the differentiators we are exploring:

  • Product Capabilities: features and functionality
  • Customer Support: resources dedicated to the customer
  • Services: training, implementation, change management, and post-implementation
  • Research and Development: investment in the product
  • Leadership: leadership of the company, including background and staying power
  • Employee Retention: continuity of client relationships
  • Delivery Models: on-premise or SaaS
  • Financial Viability: growth potential and exit strategy
  • Domain Expertise: heritage and expertise in talent acquisition
  • Partnership Philosophy: approach to integration and partnerships
  • Customer Satisfaction: sentiment and mood

We will be posting updates are we go through this process and collect data and information.


Diversity of Casual People Communication Technology Concept

The HR Technology Conference 2015: Trailblazers Don’t Make the Best Settlers

I first heard this quote at last month’s GlassDoor Employer Branding Summit when Spencer Rascoff called Zillow (the real estate tech giant) a startup. Some companies, regardless of their size or growth potential, still operate best when they are pushing the envelope, running at warp speed or getting messy with all hands on deck. Is this a good thing? I think so especially in a time when “startup” has become the flavor du jour. This sentiment is one that certainly rang true at The HR Technology Conference this week. Both emerging providers and traditional players were coming to market with new products and exciting announcements. Everyone from ADP (who announced significant enhancements) to Engage2Excel (who developed a novel approach to old-school recognition) to The Marcus Buckingham Company (who stole the show with its approach to building high-performing teams) had something interesting to share. The energy this year is hard to describe.

In the startup spirit, a few themes resonated with me this week including the need for a communication platform, a marketplace and recruitment optimization. Below are a few providers to watch in each category:


It sounds basic but communicating with employees, candidates and managers is a critical part of any HR process or strategy. Yet, it is so often overlooked. Companies tend to rely on email as their primary method with little impact on engagement or retention. The good news is that several of the technology providers are offering a more effective communication platform.

  • GuideSpark: As a communication platform, GuideSpark bridges the connection between employers and employees through content generation tools, collaboration tools, user engagement, surveys, analytics and wellness.
  • PeopleFluent: Through its Talent Management solution, PeopleFluent supports communication with its Anytime, Anywhere Feedback feature, optimized for both desktop and mobile use.
  • The Marcus Buckingham Company: This tech solution is informed by Marcus Buckingham’s 20+ years of leadership research on the front end and supported by a deep coaching solution on the back end. Focused on building high performing teams, it is research based and action-focused – providing an effective solution for communicating and coaching teams and individuals.
  • Engage2Excel: This recognition provider has been around since the 1800’s but recently went through a rebrand, a strong partnership with Vestrics, and brought in a new team focused on measuring, managing and informing engagement and recognition.

Recruitment Optimization:

Without the right strategies or technology, talent acquisition is an incredibly complex undertaking. And, it has become more difficult over the past ten years. Today, talent acquisition deserves its own, integrated framework and its own suite of solutions. Organizations are looking at new tools and strategies to optimize their recruitment functions. Below are some providers that are committed to helping organizations improve their talent acquisition functions.

  • Yello: Yello was one of the companies I was most excited to meet with this week. They offer a suite of talent acquisition solutions for the enterprise, campus recruiting and the SMB market. Its smart team is focused on customer satisfaction.
  • Lumesse: Through a new interview management system, Lumesse is enabling companies to improve their time to fill while improving both the candidate experience and the quality of hire.
  • Findly: Much more than just a talent community, Findly offers a suite of solutions that helps organizations attract and recruit talent including ATS, assessment and sourcing solutions.
  • iCIMS: With significant growth over the past few years, iCIMS has demonstrated its leadership in the talent acquisition market. Its talent acquisition platform offers solutions that attract, recruit and onboard talent.
  • SmashFly: The defacto Recruitment Marketing provider, Smashfly is helping organizations through a complete recruitment marketing platform of inbound recruitment marketing, outbound sourcing and employer branding.
  • Entelo: Entelo, the leading sourcing provider, announced a new product, Stack, that helps companies manage resumes and applications and improve productivity.
  • SilkRoad and SmartRecruiters: This partnership between two leading talent acquisition players, SilkRoad and SmartRecruiters, will allow them enter into new markets and expand their product capabilities.
  • Greenhouse: This end-to-end talent acquisition platform recently raised $35 million to help companies optimize their talent acquisition efforts. And they have a very impressive team and product.
  • GreatHires: This solution focused on interview management and scheduling was one of the more innovative solutions I have seen in a long time. It gives candidates the information they need to feel comfortable in an interview and makes scheduling easy and flexible.
  • Randstad Sourceright: When you think of technology, Randstad Sourceright might not come to mind. But, this MSP and RPO might be the best kept secret in HR Technology. With its TalentRadar product, it extracts data and loads it into a themed database. The data it provides companies, is the data they need like when a requisition opens and when a job will fill.

Cool Companies:

Below are a few of the providers that I was most impressed with last week:

Appcast: I love Appcast not only because it was founded by Chris Forman (former president of AIRS) but also, because it is a simple concept. This solution changes the pricing model of job advertisement from click per candidate to pay per applicant and offers a powerful engine to help organizations make this shift. This change in the model helps companies reduce costs and improve the overall experience for recruiting functions as well as candidates.

Equifax: The people, the products and the vision are all impressive at Equifax. They do this by tackling very complex issues such as compliance, ACA regulations, and unemployment. While other providers are expanding their suite of products into different areas of HCM, Equifax has stayed focused on the bigger issues in our community- issues that impact the success and staying power of the overall business. A few of their solutions include compliance, ACA compliance, and unemployment. Check out what they have done with i-9 compliance and “the Work Number”.

Mercer: It is hard to find a provider that excels on both the technology and services side but Mercer is the exception. With a strong heritage in consulting and new products including Mercer Match (recruitment matching solution for sales teams) and a strong career development solution, Mercer is a force to be reckoned with in the HR Tech space.

The Daily Muse: Meeting with Muse founder, Kathryn was one of the highlights of the conference. If you missed her ignite session, The Daily Muse helps employers create a profile to strengthen their brand, use content marketing to promote the brand and support them as they weed out the “craplicants” and improve branding.


During most of our conversations at HRTech, the topic of a marketplace came up. Marketplaces are a staple in the consumer world and are quickly becoming part of HCM. Below are a few providers to watch.

ADP: ADP’s robust marketplace allows customers to access 90 certified partners (with 400 partners in the pipeline. Other providers use a marketplace as a marketing tagline, while ADP has built one with real substance and credibility- one that will provide real value to customers and partners.

WorkMarket: This provider offers companies an end-to-end market for companies looking for independent contractors. It allows direct relationships between employers and workers and can be customized for any skill.

We will follow these providers and more this year and next and will be profiling them in our upcoming Aptitude Index reports. Also, we would love to hear from you about what providers were most interesting to  you at HRTech.

Change Management

It’s Time to Get Real: Change Management and the HR Technology Conference

The HR Technology Conference is just a few short days away and we are very excited to meet with so many familiar faces and to connect with many of the start-ups attending this year. I am also thrilled to be presenting a session on change management with my friends at BlackBox Consulting on Tuesday, October 20 at 11am. If you are skeptical about change management or unsure why it needs to be part of your HR Technology plans, I am hoping we can help you reconsider.

Why You Should Care About Change Management

It is an exciting time in HR Technology. Recent innovation has enabled organizations to improve efficiencies, provide a more engaging experience and align more closely with business strategies. But, despite these benefits, companies still struggle when adopting new systems. Change management is a critical step to ensure adoption but it is often ignored. Companies tend to focus their resources on a fast implementation and overlook any long-term strategies for success. Change management can be challenging for a variety of reasons including negative experiences with prior implementations, fear of new technology, and resistance from employees. Companies have to be open to feedback and address any concerns with change even when the idea of a new technology is so promising. When organizations are willing to invest the right amount of time and resources into managing change, they are able to improve adoption and reap the benefits of technology much quicker.

Change management requires organizations to take a step back, examine what isn’t working and what needs to happen to achieve success. Change management is when the love affair with your new vendor ends and when a real relationship begins. And the real relationship is the best part, right? So, why not get it right from the start?

What You Can Expect to Learn on Tuesday

  • Common Mistakes: We will look at what typically goes wrong during implementation and the mistakes companies should avoid.
  • Change Champion: We will talk about how to identify change champions at your organization and how to empower them to lead this initiative. Here is a hint: Your champion might not be who you think it is.
  • Communication Plan: We will provide examples and tools on how to communicate effectively through change management and build the confidence of your managers and employees.
  • Implementation Organizational Chart: If you aren’t sure what happens and how it happens during implementation- we can help.

This session is going to be honest, fun and engaging. I hope you can join us and we look forward to seeing you next week!

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A Closer Look at Aptitude Research Partners

We are very excited to launch Aptitude Research Partners and share with you some of our research ideas for the next year. Mollie and I have covered this industry for almost two decades and this year has left an impression. With the innovation, transparency, focus on experience, and demand for data, HCM is not what it used to be. As Mollie mentioned in her blog, there is a conversation that needs to happen. A conversation about what hasn’t worked and what success looks like in the future. We are committed to having these conversations and providing you with the research, experience and connection to make the best decisions about your HCM strategies and technology.

If you are curious about what we have planned, here’s a sneak peak:

Scouting Reports: These 1-2 pages reports will highlight startups and emerging providers that have demonstrated growth potential and product leadership.

Aptitude Index: These reports will include insights to help buyers determine their needs, key trends, customer references, and in-depth analysis of each of the leading providers in areas such as talent acquisition and workforce management. We will analyze differentiators companies should consider through every stage of the customer journey. Oh, and did I mention, they will be updated quarterly- do you won’t have to worry about looking at a review of an old release.

Talent Acquisition Model: A new model for talent acquisition that looks at a complete platform, a modern ecosystem and the candidate experience. New research coming next week!

Comprehensive Research: Our research will look at the broad landscape of HCM both the processes and technology.

Case Studies: Research becomes more powerful when complemented with the experiences of companies and the journey they have been on and decisions they have made. We will include customer case studies from a variety of industries and company sizes.

Fast Facts: Keep an eye out for a monthly fast facts- quick data and insight from our latest research findings that will help companies build a business case, initiate change or continue to pursue their initiatives.

So, as you can see, we have been busy! We look forward to sharing this research with you and would love to hear from you. What topics are you interested in?