The changing nature of recruitment technology

The recruitment technology sector has changed, with smaller, more agile firms entering the rectech space with innovative technology to provide solutions for specific recruitment needs. But what does this mean for organisations trying to select the most suitable platforms?

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Even prior to the pandemic, the make-up of the recruitment technology – or ‘rectech’ – sector had changed.

Up until only a few years ago, the market consisted of vendor management systems (VMS) and applicant tracking systems (ATS) all of which could manage one task well.

Many in the industry expected the rectech sector to mature into an all-encompassing VMS and ATS platform. Where this has happened, cost has been prohibitive for many organisations, meaning smaller, more agile firms entered the rectech space with innovative technology to provide solutions for specific recruitment needs. While this has boosted the level of technology in the sector, it also makes it harder for organisations to select the most suitable platforms.

For example, do you buy the new modular, low cost, out-of-the-box VMS which can be deployed quickly and easily for short-term projects? Or the talent pooling platform which links to a VMS and tracks candidate interaction with engagement campaigns and client websites by using cookie tracking.

Managing rectech fragmentation

Greater fragmentation means that organisations are increasingly looking to build a recruitment tech stack, rather than a one-size-fits-all platform which does certain things less well.

Despite being spoiled for choice, it is important for companies to keep a tech stack simple. This will achieve the desired cost efficiencies and create a seamless experience for candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters.

Key to selecting and deploying the correct rectech is having a clear understanding of what your needs are and what the platform can do. The technology sector is fertile ground for overhyped products and buzzwords, so being able to cut through the noise. and identify the best platforms for your organisation, is critical to delivering the benefits of tech deployment.

The market has evolved to suit those using multiple best-in-class platforms, with application programming interfaces (APIs) allowing easy integration. However, you can have too much of a good thing.

An overloaded tech stack can create confusion, increase costs, pose data privacy issues, and lead to management information (MI) which is more challenging to track and doesn’t demonstrate value. Using cost-benefit analyses to highlight whether the efficiencies, increased performance, or improvements to the candidate experience offered by rectech offsets the cost of purchase and integration is vital.

Having a supportive talent partner is also key, as their market and technical knowledge helps organisations to tailor their strategies to continue to attract the best talent in a cost-efficient manner.

Additionally, having a human link is still critical both for businesses and candidates. Recruitment is still a very personal process. The same goes for candidates choosing an employer.

While technology has evolved to the point where the recruitment process could be automated in its entirety, this is something very few organisations or prospective employees would engage with. Automation can improve the hiring experience for candidates and businesses, as well as creating more efficient processes and delivering cost savings for companies, yet there must be some flexibility over which aspects of the process can be automated and which areas are best served by the human touch.

This means that having a partner who knows when and how to provide that human touch is still hugely important.

Covid-19 and the rebalancing of the labour market will impact the nature of recruitment technology

The pandemic has sped-up rectech adoption. Platforms which would have had niche or limited use cases, such as online compliance submission or video interviewing software, have now demonstrated their value in a variety of scenarios. Organisations have reached the stage where they simply ask themselves “Why wouldn’t we use this more?”

From a technical standpoint, systems development will focus on automation, machine learning, and total candidate management. Any technology which aids talent pooling and improving the candidate experience will be valued, particularly those which reduce time to hire and dropout rates.

However, what I’m more curious to watch is how Covid-19 changes the labour market – and what impact that has on available rectech.

Two things have happened since the start of the pandemic. Firstly, and almost overnight, the job market across sectors without systemic skills shortages changed from being candidate short to candidate rich. Now there is a premium on jobs, hiring managers need to use technology to rapidly filter out surging application numbers, rather than to search for talent.

This has also emphasised the need to continue to deliver good experiences to candidates, despite the rise in demand for jobs. Combined with increased expectation of convenience in wider society, organisations have had to ensure they adopt the technology to service these needs and provide instant gratification. This includes the use of chatbots to rapidly communicate with candidates, the adoption of apps which allows candidates to set availability, and technology with functionality to help prospective employees efficiently upload and required evidence for compliance purposes.

Secondly, before the coronavirus outbreak, the labour market was steadily progressing in favour of the ‘gig economy’. Candidates were happy to have increased flexibility and not necessarily be tied down to one employer. These shifting attitudes meant that development of technology and systems was geared towards providing solutions to manage this shift.

Freelance and contract income has been hit hard over the past year. Add this to government policy, such as support schemes predominantly aimed at payrolled employees, and the changes to IR35 legislation, and those who desired flexibility may now want increased security. With more employers offering flexibility in how employees work, would contingent workers be willing to trade total flexibility for increased security and greater access to support schemes if the pandemic persists?

If there is a resurgence in permanent employment, what does this mean for the multitude of platforms geared towards the contract and freelance sector? Do they need to evolve their functionality to offer some assignments on a payrolled basis? How do providers produce technology geared towards blended employment statuses?

It will be fascinating to observe where the market goes from here, and how the technology follows it. Given this uncertain landscape, those organisations who work with talent partners will have an edge on constructing a tech stack which accounts for these shifting sands.

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Jo Lindsay
Jo Lindsay
Client Engagement Director

Jo is responsible for leading business development strategy, and ensuring our solutions exceed customers' expectations and deliver value and innovation to our clients.

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