Talent Acquisition Technology Isn’t Going to Fix Hiring Problems

November 16, 2017

Talent Acquisition Technology Isn’t Going to Fix Hiring Problems

If someone unfamiliar with the talent acquisition industry took a close look at the current landscape, the most obvious conclusion would be that TA technology is the principle driver of positive hiring outcomes. After all, TA tech dominates the field by way of long term industry players, start-ups, conferences, consulting firms, blogs and research studies. Even RPO and staffing firms tout their technology as a competitive advantage. According to a CB Insights study, in 2016 nearly $2 billion was invested in HR technologies with most related to hiring and retention.


Yet, attracting and retaining skilled employees ranks among the top three concerns of senior business leaders according to recent studies by Deloitte, PwC and Korn Ferry. By all accounts, hiring isn’t working well within many companies. Incessant frustration with any of the following can be heard in most organizations: the speed that interested/qualified candidates are identified, recruiters’ ability to compel top talent to consider opportunities, the quality of candidates presented to hiring managers, the cost of talent acquisition efforts and more.


As the noise increases, more HR and TA leaders are turning to talent acquisition technology to handle tasks including applicant tracking, employee referral, job search, brand creation, job board distributors, interview scheduling, and candidate referral. Despite the growth of talent acquisition technologies, hiring isn’t getting better, faster or cheaper.


The most important talent acquisition activities happen outside of any technology. Some of those include identifying the right prospects to target, interviewing candidates and selling the company’s strengths. These activities require skilled recruiters with business acumen and the ability to create rapport quickly. Technology will certainly help such activities, but will never take the place of these essential skills.


Making the decision to acquire technology is just one step in a very long process. The time frame is often measured in years vs. months. HR leaders understand that such efforts are all consuming — and intuitively often suspect that something more is missing — not to mention it may take years until actual results can be captured and assessed. A cynical view of such efforts may lead one to believe that going for it is the perfect distraction i.e. waiting for technology to be implemented to see improvements.


If your technology isn’t configured to support a specific and detailed desired state process, it can’t be right. The most advanced, perfect technology won’t work. Once you get into the thick of implementation planning, you’ll find that it doesn’t integrate well (or at all) with other systems, or there aren’t enough workflows, the configuration options are limited, your managers push back because they don’t want to use it, etc.


Companies can’t avoid the hard work involved with attracting, selecting and retaining talent — no matter how many technologies it cobbles together. The war for scarce talent is getting harder and harder and the solution is not as sexy or slick or as easy as we would like. There are great talent acquisition technologies out there, and there is a time and place for them. The place is at an organization with a defined talent acquisition strategy and detailed process design — the road map that defines the work needed to win top talent. The role of technology is to support that vision and enable that work.

The Authors: 

Linda Brenner is the managing director/founder of Talent Growth Advisors, a national management consultant group. Before founding TGA, Brenner led talent management and talent acquisition teams at Gap, Pizza Hut and The Home Depot.