HireVue Acquires Modern Hire

Today, HireVue announced plans to acquire Modern Hire. This acquisition creates a clear leader in the interview and assessment space with 1150 combined customers (mostly at the Enterprise level- 60% of the Fortune 100) and a strong vision for the future. Both providers have taken similar paths over the past two decades:

– Starting with video interviewing and enhancing communication capabilities 

– Moving into assessments (HireVue’s acquisition of MindX and Modern Hire as the merger of Shaker assessments and Montage Talent)

– Strengthening analytics and insights

– Committing to responsible and ethical AI use cases

Hiring is a priority, and companies are increasing their investment in everything that happens, from the first interview to the offer. In February 2020, we found that less than 60% of companies were using or planning to use video interview providers. Three years later, over 80% of companies used or planned to use a broader set of intelligent interview platforms. Video was the tool of choice at the beginning of the pandemic for asynchronous hiring. The problem was that many of these solutions merely replaced face-to-face interactions with a less human way of interviewing. They also needed more insights, analytics, and assessments. Today, companies are looking for one provider to tackle everything from the first interview to onboarding. HireVue checks every box. Its solutions include video interviewing, AI-driven assessments, traditional assessments, virtual job tryouts, scheduling automation, conversational AI, and text-based engagement.

Here are a few thoughts on what this means for the market:

The Value of Hiring Experience Platforms: Hiring is one of the most critical and misunderstood talent acquisition areas. Companies invest significantly in recruitment marketing, sourcing, and ATS solutions but often need to pay more attention to the experience and decision-making that begins during the interview and assessment process. This acquisition strengthens HireVue’s dedication to creating a new hiring solution category. It combines years of behavioral science with innovative solutions across interviewing, assessments, communication, and impact/post-hire measurement. Its suite of solutions enables companies to make data-driven decisions and improve the candidate experience through simple and engaging solutions.

The Focus on Quality of Hire: Although efficiency remains critical to TA, the pendulum is swinging back to quality of hire as the number one driver in TA investments in 2023. One reason is the increased focus on retention. With more business leaders aware of TA tech decisions this year, recruitment is the first line of defense for turnover. Identifying quality hires early helps organizations prepare for future needs. Quality of hire and efficiency can sometimes conflict, but companies looking at technology should be able to maintain one over the other. 

The Need to Reduce the Number of Hiring Solutions: Over 60% of companies are using more solutions today than before COVID, yet only 11% are satisfied with this technology. The buying behavior over the past three years has shifted, and companies must be careful when evaluating providers and considering true partnerships. Many of these companies want to reduce the number of providers, especially in hiring.

The Impact of AI: AI fundamentally changes every aspect of HR, and there is growing curiosity and appetite to understand it. According to Aptitude Research, 63% of companies are investing or planning to invest in AI solutions this year, compared to 42% in 2020. In addition, both HireVue and MOdernHire have demonstrated a commitment to ethical and responsible AI.

This announcement is exciting and presents new opportunities for clients, partners, and the ecosystem.


Generative AI in TA Tech: Providers and Use Cases

Generative AI is changing the face of HR Technology. ChatGPT has the fastest-growing user base with over 100 million users, so no surprise many providers are trying to keep up with the latest in generative AI.

The potential impact on the future of work is tremendous. Generative AI improves efficiency (automating many administrative tasks), quality (enhancing the quality of content generated), and experience (providing faster results and more immediate answers). But it also has risks, including questions about how the data is captured, security and data privacy, and overall decision-making. Over the past two months, several vendors have made announcements about how generative AI and GPT-4 are enhancing their products. Some are making announcements that will provide immediate benefits to recruiting teams, candidates, and employees. Others are launching press releases for the sake of… launching a press release. My friends Tim Sackett and Kyle Lagunas and I did a roundup of these announcements a few weeks ago, and the list is growing. So, here are a few of the vendors to watch, use cases we have seen so far, and questions to ask providers.

Who are the Vendors Making Announcements?

Beamery: Beamery launched TalentGPT to offer a single assistant that leverages both Beamery’s proprietary AI and OpenAI’s GPT-4 and other leading Large Language Models (LLMs). It will be used across all products to help redefine and personalize the user experiences for recruiters, candidates, and employees. In addition, it will be used to summarize data and generate content that can be contextualized to the right audience.

Eightfold: Eightfold announced that it integrates recent advances in generative AI large language models (LLMs) to create two role-specific Talent Intelligence Copilots (employee and recruiter). Also, its Talent Insights will reflect the changing skills and roles brought about by generative AI in the labor market. These enhancements will improve the experience of recruiters and employees by providing assistance and improving productivity.

SeekOut: SeekOut launched its SeekOut Assist product which allows companies to copy and paste your job description and automatically generates a targeted search, then lists the most qualified candidates for a role. It then personalizes communication with candidates. This announcement will improve the recruiter experience and productivity.

SkyHive: SkyHive announced a job description generator powered by generative AI and received a patent for this product.

Phenom: At its user conference, IAMPHENOM, Phenom announced Experience+ (X+), a new platform-wide generative AI capability that improves efficiencies by automating content creation, surfacing actionable intelligence, and eliminating time-consuming tasks for candidates, employees, recruiters, managers, HR and HRIS teams. 

Microsoft Viva: Microsoft Viva announced Copilot, which takes advantage of next-generation AI and is built on the Microsoft 365 Copilot System, which combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Viva apps to give leaders an entirely new way to understand and engage their workforce.

Other vendors making announcements include EY, Cliquify, LinkedIn, HireEZ, and iShield. The list will go on over the next few months.

What are the Use Cases?

Job Descriptions: Generating job descriptions and using copilots to assist in creating job descriptions and templates.

Summarizing Data: Summarizing data and extracting data in existing ATS and HRIS systems to provide insights and answers to companies.

Sourcing: Searching for candidates using job descriptions and job titles and providing a list of candidates.

Communication: Generating email templates and personalizing them for targeted audiences, providing immediate answers to employees’ questions.

Onboarding: Providing personalized new hire experiences and generating content for new hires.

These use cases do not include how candidates and employees may use ChatGPT and generative AI to respond to screening questions, take an interview or an assessment, or participate in a performance review.

What are the Concerns?

We are at the very early stages of generative AI, and companies evaluating providers should stay informed and ask the right questions of their providers. Companies should be concerned about employees entering confidential data in open LLMs and the risk to security and data privacy. And at this stage, generative AI still needs to pass decision-making off to existing systems or humans.

–    What are the use cases for generative AI, and how is the data being used once captured?

–    Are vendors using private LLMs or open LLMs?

–    What do vendors need to change internally to support generative AI (design thinking approach, new sales process, AI skills, and talent)?


Paradox Disrupts High-Volume Hiring: The Benefits of a Conversational ATS

Today Paradox announced plans to offer a conversational ATS for high-volume companies. This news should be no surprise if you have followed the Paradox story over the past few years. Companies like McDonald’s, Lowe’s, and Great Wolf Lodge have replaced their ATS with Paradox and a conversational experience. And the results include reduced time to fill (weeks to days), improved conversion rates, and better candidate engagement.

We found that 65% of companies with high-volume recruitment needs are not satisfied with their current ATS. Most traditional ATS systems are designed for corporate hiring and lack capabilities to support high-volume recruitment, such as programmatic advertising, scheduling, or communication. Conversational AI is a perfect product-market fit for managers and candidates.

What Does a Conversational ATS Include?

  • Hiring managers can quickly open and post jobs with a few taps in a mobile app.
  • Candidates can apply to jobs in minutes, all via text or Chat
  • Screening for minimum job requirements can be completely automated
  • Interviews can be scheduled (or rescheduled) instantly with qualified candidates
  • Automated reminders can be sent to drive significantly higher show rates
  • Reminders can automatically be sent when a candidate needs to complete other steps in the process

What are the Benefits of a Conversational ATS?

  • Mobile First: Mobile must be the foundation of a candidate communication strategy, especially for hourly workers. By adopting a mobile-first strategy, companies will be better positioned to engage with candidates and meet candidates expectations.
  • Personalization: Ultimately, communication should cater to the needs of the individual – not a collective group- and recognize that all individuals are not the same. According to an Aptitude Research study, ninety-four percent (94%) of companies believe that personalizing communications will help employees do their job better.
  • Consumer-like: Hourly candidates are customers; their experience should mirror a consumer-like experience. Solutions should provide engagement, communication, and simplicity.

What Does This Mean for the ATS Market?

  • Companies Have Better Options: The ATS market is an apples-to-apples market. These systems need more differentiation (except for Greenhouse and Lever). Paradox is the first real disruptor to the ATS market, offering an everyday experience.
  • Text and Chat will Be a Focus: A few years ago, many conversational AI providers were acquired (Stepstone with Mya, Pandologic with Wade and Wendy, and Hirevue with AllyO). As a result, some of the ATS providers will look at the text and Chat landscape and start to make some acquisitions.
  • Professional Hiring is Next: Conversational AI has completely transformed high-volume hiring, and professional hiring is next. Again, candidates, recruiters, and managers should benefit from a simple, personalized experience.

Aaron Matos, CEO and founder of Paradox, has built an incredible team and delivered a vision to reimagine the recruitment experience. I am excited to see what the next year has in store for Paradox.


Pay Equity Starts with Talent Acquisition

Pay equity is a topic impacting every talent acquisition leader today. Candidates are demanding salary disclosures around equity early in the process. And recently enacted laws in several states require companies to provide more transparency to job seekers. But as the conversations around pay equity pick up, most companies need more strategies or technology to support change. And the labor market has put some companies at risk when they need to run pay analysis, provide transparency, or invest in the right solutions.

What are the challenges with pay equity?

If you were to survey CEOs, over 90% would say that pay equity is important. So, what goes wrong, and why isn’t this being discussed during the recruitment process? Pay equity is complicated, and talent acquisition professionals face a number of challenges when trying to address it. Several challenges include:

  • Getting Leadership Support: Although most leaders support fairness and equality in the workforce, not every leader supports an equal pay philosophy. Lack of leadership support can negatively impact talent acquisition’s commitment to improving pay equity in the hiring process.
  • Lack of Pay Information in the Job Description: Companies invest in improving the language of job descriptions to ensure fairness but often need to include information on pay. Candidates must be made aware and guided during the screening, interview, and assessment process. Even in states that now require transparency, employers include wide ranges that provide little information. The need for more transparency in the job description impacts the ability of companies to recruit top talent.
  • Lack of Equal Pay Analysis: Companies can only address pay equity in talent acquisition once they understand their shortcomings. An equal pay analysis can help companies better understand what they need to improve.
  • Labor Market: Today’s labor market has made it challenging for companies to attract and recruit talent. The current market conditions influence the speed and the need to improve efficiency. Companies looking to move quickly to attract talent often ignore critical aspects of pay equity, including running pay gap analysis.

What are key strategies to consider?

  • Eliminate Salary Negotiations: Salary negotiations and the strategies to successfully negotiate are often only available to certain job roles. Not only do salary negotiations place undue stress on recent hires to navigate these contentious conversations (and potentially lose income), but they also often result in internal pay inequities among their employees.
  • Invest in the Right Technology Partner: In the new era of pay transparency, talent acquisition is on the front line of this important initiative. Solutions should provide TA leaders with the tools to define pay transparency, convert quality applicants to hires, and improve the new hire experience. As talent acquisition evolves, recruiters need flexible solutions to support candidates and employers. Solutions should integrate with an ATS, understand offers history, analyze compensation data, and create compelling offers built on transparency and trust. It combines data with authenticity.
  • Conduct Pay Equity Assessments: Companies must regularly conduct pay equity assessments to help to close the pay gap. Pay gap analysis can provide visibility into what needs to be improved in a company’s efforts to address pay equity.
  • Include Pay in Job Descriptions: Companies that provide pay transparency in job descriptions attract more talent and improve the trust between candidates and employers. In addition, by including pay information, candidates clearly know what to expect during the job process and if they will be compensated fairly.
  • Remember High-Volume Hiring: As companies rethink their talent acquisition strategies for the next year, high-volume recruitment must be a priority. Pay equity is not a new topic in high-volume recruitment, but it plays a major role in decision-making today. According to Aptitude Research, 70% of companies believe they are losing high-volume talent because of pay transparency and inequities. Companies with low hourly rates or not offering competitive rates will lose candidates in the process. Aptitude Research found that 44% of candidates who drop off in the process do so when they find out the pay for a position, and 30% of candidates learn about pay during the apply stage. Not disclosing pay until later in the recruitment process is not the solution. Companies must consider their approach to compensation and the direct impact on talent acquisition and recruiting efforts. 

2023 HR Technology Trends and Predictions

Predictions are tricky. It is hard to look at the next 12 months and make assumptions about trends when the future seems uncertain. But, through our research and interviews, we see some obvious priorities and shifts in the market just three weeks into the new year. Earlier this week, someone asked me if the investment in HR Tech will continue at the same pace as in 2021 and 2022. My answer is yes. The pandemic and the past three years have changed how companies view automation and technology. And, as companies prepare for any talent transformation, technology is a critical part of that journey. We found that 70%  of companies will continue to invest the same or increase their investment even with an economic slowdown.

But, even if investment remains high, it will look different. The band-aid approach to technology which characterized the past few years, will be replaced by more strategic investments in providers (partners) that can deliver value and provide the capabilities and services to support transformation.

Here are a few of my thoughts on trends that will dominate 2023:

Skills will continue to be the most significant trend: Skills have the greatest impact on the future of work and employee experience. Skills are THE trend to watch in HR Technology this year, and companies are looking closely at providers in this space. We just published a study with HCI and found that 82% of companies identified skills as a priority, and 54% of companies are increasing their investment in skills this year. The number one driver is to provide more career development opportunities for talent. A skills-based approach to talent enables companies to offer a fairer hiring process, support strategic workforce planning, and make smarter decisions to enrich reskilling and upskilling talent. Skills impact and transform every single aspect of talent acquisition and management and allow employees to be understood in a more meaningful way. The challenge most companies face is that they take a piecemeal approach to skills- separating the strategy, change management, and technology. This approach delays the impact of a skills-based approach and creates frustration. Over the next year, providers must work with companies to provide a more holistic approach to skills.

Talent Intelligence needs a reckoning: Talent intelligence is the new buzzword in HR Tech, but it is also one of the most misunderstood areas. Talent intelligence platforms are AI-driven platforms that help companies understand the potential and learnability of the workforce. They use large data sets and a skills-based approach to look at talent in a complete way. The challenge is that too many providers are using talent intelligence. Sourcing providers, online reference checking providers, and people analytics providers are all rebranding themselves as talent intelligence. The misuse of this category creates confusion with buyers and minimizes the impact of what these platforms can actually do for companies.

Strategic workforce planning will be a priority: It is not a new category, but it has gained momentum over the past year. As companies enter a period of transformation, understanding the supply and demand for talent is critical. But, only 1 in 2 companies use their workforce planning strategy company-wide. Workforce planning only works when companies have the resources and technology to support it. Even when investing in a core system, workforce planning is still manual, and companies rely on excel. The first generation of workforce planning providers (Aruspex, Vemo, Inforhm) provided advanced capabilities that, unfortunately, did not go mainstream. The good news is that we see existing skills-based platforms and new providers focusing on this area. Our following Aptitude Research report will focus on strategic workforce planning- coming soon…

Contingent workforce management needs to be a priority (but will take time): Some research firms estimate that by 2030, 50% of an average organization’s workforce will be comprised of contingent workers. Unfortunately, most HR leaders and TA leaders are hesitant to take ownership of contingent workforce management. A contingent workforce helps companies fill critical talent gaps, reduce costs and increase overall productivity. In a year when agility and resilience are becoming table stakes for businesses, alternative work arrangements are critical to the future of the workplace. Yet, despite the increased investment in contingent labor, companies still need to overcome many of the same challenges. Most companies need more visibility into this critical workforce segment’s use, spending, and performance. Additionally, cost control and fee models are a concern as companies question their staffing agencies and technology partners’ need more expertise in-house. Contingent workforce management is ripe for transformation. Any strategy around DEI, skills, or workforce planning needs to include contingent workers. Companies must examine what is broken to develop deeper insights and a more effective framework. They must reconsider the ownership, fee models, and partnerships that they have in place.

Alumni programs will be invigorated: We are already seeing a renewed focus on alum programs, which will likely continue this year. Alumni programs support recruitment and employee experience. For example, one organization we interviewed fills 10% of its roles with alums. We will likely see more focus on alums from existing ATS providers, CRM providers, and talent intelligence/skills-based platforms.

Pay transparency will be a focus: 1 in 5 workers will now work in a jurisdiction with pay transparency requirements. But, there is a growing tension between job seekers that want pay transparency and employers that do not. It is impacting remote recruiting and how job descriptions are being created and the ridiculous pay ranges included. Vendors are starting to think about balancing the needs of the candidate and employer. My friend and labor economist, Andrew Flowers, often publishes on the topic, and I recommend following his work at Appcast.

Conversational AI will replace ATS in the high-volume: High-volume industries do not need a traditional ATS. It doesn’t support hourly candidates or busy managers. Companies in these industries are looking at the opportunity of conversational AI to replace the ATS and seeing significant outcomes. McDonald’s is one example of a company that reduced time to fill to 2 days using conversational AI through Paradox. I expect more companies to look at this option over the next year.

2023 will no doubt be full of surprises, but I look forward to the innovation, transformation, and partnerships from the providers in this space. One trend worth following is ChatGPT and its use in talent acquisition. I attended a panel on Recruiting Brainfood today, and some use cases include communication, job descriptions, introductions, and recruiter productivity. I don’t see this replacing assessment, as some have suggested, but it presents exciting options for recruiters and candidates looking for more immediate research.


Tech Hiring Trends and Insights

We posted this guest blog with our friends at Relode this week.

The next year will be critical for tech employers looking to attract and hire the skills and talent they need to navigate their changing business needs. With the pandemic, labor shortage, and recent layoffs and hiring freezes, it needs to be clarified to understand where tech hiring stands today and what companies should consider for the future. Many news stories around layoffs and hiring freezes impact some of the largest tech giants. For example, in October, Twitter announced 50% of their workforce was cut at the very end of the month, and Meta and Apply announced layoffs in November. But, the reality of tech hiring is more complicated than what news outlets are highlighting.

According to Appcast’s Recruitonomics, “Information (the BLS category) added a modest 4,000 new jobs in October, despite all the news of layoffs. On the other hand, professional and Business Services (which can also contain tech jobs) added 39,000 new jobs. So overall, the tech sector is a mixed bag.” 

While several large tech giants remain cautious for the next year, many companies continue expanding their workforce in both traditional and non-traditional ways. We found that high-growth tech companies are still increasing their headcount.

A Closer Look at High-Growth Tech Companies

Aptitude Research found that one in two tech companies identify as a high-growth company and most of these companies are tech companies. High-growth companies include any organization performing better or expected to perform better than its industry or the market as a whole. These high-growth companies face unique challenges and opportunities when attracting, engaging, and retaining talent. We found that companies have several business priorities influencing high growth today, including an increase in headcount, global expansion, new market opportunities, and mergers and acquisitions.

According to this study, these companies are two times more likely to increase the number of hires this year. Talent is the most important factor in success. It impacts all other priorities, including their ability to expand globally, enter new markets, and achieve a successful exit. Unfortunately, for many of these companies, the pressure to move quickly makes recruiting and retaining talent challenging, especially in a labor shortage.

As the tech market becomes increasingly more complex and confusing, we identified a few trends influencing tech hiring today:

Invest in More Automation: Companies that want to hire the best tech talent cannot afford to rely on legacy systems and technology. World-class technology is the differentiator and helps tech companies compete for talent. Yet, not all tech companies are making the right investments. 62% of tech companies state that their recruitment activities are too administrative, and only 1 in 2 of these companies are looking outside of their ATS for better options. Tech talent expects solutions that offer a simple and dynamic experience.

Focus on Internal Mobility:  Companies must carefully consider the culture around career development, ensure employees have fair and equitable opportunities and communicate feedback consistently. For tech companies, careful planning and preparation around internal mobility are critical to a talent acquisition strategy. It requires companies to shift how they think about talent and prioritize the individual. Currently, 73% of tech companies are developing a strategy to support internal mobility.

Focus on Speed: It is a common characteristic among all high-growth companies, regardless of their priorities. Companies want to see results, and business success is measured by its ability to adjust to change. As a result, HR and talent acquisition leaders face pressure to adopt new strategies and technology overnight. While this focus on speed has created opportunities, it has also presented challenges with attracting, engaging, and retaining talent. As a result, high-growth companies must carefully balance their focus on speed with their focus on talent.

Embrace the Contingent Workforce: According to Aptitude Research, 82% of tech companies are using contingent or freelance workers, and 1 in 2 companies plan to increase their use of a more flexible workforce next year. Companies must consider talent that will fill critical talent gaps and help companies stay ahead, and talent acquisition strategies must include a complete view of total talent.

Tech hiring remains one of the most misunderstood areas of talent acquisition today. As companies look to another year of unknowns, staying prepared and investing in the right support is critical to effectively attract and retain quality talent and meet changing business goals.


New Research: Key Recruitment Challenges in Healthcare

The labor shortage and global pandemic have increased the pressure on recruitment in healthcare with no signs of slowing down. While other industries are preparing for an economic downturn and facing possible layoffs, healthcare remains hyper-focused on growth and competing for talent. We looked at how recruitment is impacting healthcare and published these findings with our friends at Relode.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “overall employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations; this increase is expected to result in about 2 million new jobs over the decade. In addition to new jobs from growth, opportunities arise from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations permanently. About 1.9 million openings each year, on average, are projected to come from growth and replacement needs.”

Attracting, recruiting, and hiring talent is a critical challenge for healthcare organizations across all job roles, from front-line workers to doctors and nurses to medical technicians. Historically, while other industries have quickly adopted new technology, many healthcare companies have responded slower. But the past two years have forced a new reality for healthcare and increased the interest in TA tech, with 85% of healthcare companies increasing their investment or continuing to invest the same.

Here are some key trends impacting talent acquisition in healthcare based on data collected from Aptitude Research.

  • Managing with a Lack of Resources: Many healthcare organizations need more resources or expertise to execute strategic talent acquisition. According to Aptitude Research, 38% of healthcare companies do not have dedicated recruiting and sourcing teams, and 58% of these companies stated that their greatest challenge is a lack of recruiting expertise. The lack of resources is the biggest challenge facing companies today, as 94% of healthcare companies are increasing their hires this year.
  • Improving Candidate Experience through Communication: Candidate communication and experience still need improvement for many healthcare organizations. According to Aptitude Research, 1 in 3 candidates have not heard back from an interview for two or more weeks. Additionally, only 22% of candidates are satisfied with the communication they receive before applying, and only 21% are satisfied with the interview process. Companies must address communication to improve the candidate experience and drop-off rates (40% of candidates are dropping off at the apply phase).
  • Balancing Efficiency and Quality: Healthcare organizations often struggle to balance efficiency and quality. Patient-centered care is critical for these companies, and finding the right talent and efficiency and speed are important when change is constant.  
  • Leveraging Automation: Less than half of healthcare companies are using automation throughout the talent acquisition lifecycle. The top areas where companies are investing in automation are recruitment marketing (37%), screening (44%), interviewing (40%), and onboarding (30%). Surprisingly, only 18% of companies use automation for sourcing when attracting talent is a top priority. Automation can help healthcare organizations lift the administrative burden placed on recruiters and improve candidate communication and engagement.
  • Using Contingent Workers: Over 50% of healthcare organizations have increased the number of contingent or contract workers this year. A flexible and extended workforce helps companies fill critical talent gaps, reduce costs, and improve productivity. It also helps companies adapt and adjust to changing business needs – especially during times of uncertainty. Yet, the challenges remain the same even as the demand for and acceptance of contingent workers increased this past year. Most contingent workforce strategies need more visibility, rely on antiquated technology, and erode business leaders’ confidence. Healthcare organizations understand the value, but they only sometimes see the results. This needs to change as companies continue to adopt a more flexible workforce and companies need to invest in the right partners to support them.

Given the competition for talent and labor shortage still impacting healthcare organizations, incremental improvements to existing processes and systems are not enough. Healthcare companies need to think and act differently – breaking old paradigms and embracing tech in a new way.


iCIMS Acquires SkillSurvey: The Evolution of Digital Reference Checking

This week iCIMS announced the acquisition of SkillSurvey, a digital reference checking provider with over 2000 customers (many in healthcare).

I met SkillSurvey and CEO Ray Bixler in 2009, and I was immediately impressed with both the product and its potential. At the time, SkillSurvey was one of the only providers automating the reference check process. Instead of recruiters calling and waiting for references, SkillSurvey offered a simpler option. First, candidates get an email with a link to complete the references. Then, the candidate forwards the email to three references. And the references answer a few questions online. The entire process takes a few minutes. And not to mention that the references become potential leads in a talent pipeline.

Digital reference checking made recruiters’ lives easier, empowered candidates to control and expedite a frustrating part of the hiring process, and improved efficiency. But, what online reference checking did well was provide some standards around quality of hire.

Companies that improve quality of hire have three common characteristics: invest in technology, use data to make hiring decisions, and gather ongoing feedback. Online reference checking can help inform decisions and give a more precise picture of the quality of a candidate and avoid the syndrome of “getting only positive references.” Companies that invested in online reference check solutions over the past few years saw significant improvements in quality of hire, first-year retention, and first-year performance.

Ten years ago, the only other provider offering these solutions was Checkster (acquired by Harver -formerly Outmatch). With Checkster, Harver now includes a feedback loop on hiring decisions to include post-hire data and AI-driven insights to help companies make better decisions for the future. In addition, we are seeing new providers competing in this space, including Crosschq and Searchlight. As a result, the category has changed, and the products have evolved beyond simple online reference checking, including sourcing and analytics. 

Here are a few thoughts on this category and iCIMS acquisition:

  • Talent Intelligence: Many of these providers are positioning themselves as talent intelligence platforms when they are not. They provide insights into one area of talent acquisition and focus on hiring decisions. Talent intelligence is a broader, more complicated category best suited for the Eightfolds of the world. Quality of hire or talent analytics is a more appropriate description of these providers’ offerings.
  • Plans for iCIMS: iCIMS has made some very smart acquisitions over the past year, including Candidate.ID. This acquisition only furthers its leadership across end-to-end TA, but questions remain around how SkillSurvey will be integrated and the strategy for iCIMS long-term. For example, will they fully integrate these solutions into one platform or continue to sell them as stand-alone and disparate solutions?
  • Future Acquisitions: With Checkster and SkillSurvey acquired, other ATS providers or hiring experience platforms will look at some of their competitors. We should see a few more acquisitions over the next 12 months.

It has been a busy few weeks of acquisitions in HRTech. I look forward to seeing what happens with this latest announcement from iCIMS.


New Research: Evolution of TA Tech

The talent acquisition technology landscape has shifted significantly with new providers and categories entering the market and AI seems to be the common denominator. Companies are using, on average, 10 or more providers to support everything from recruitment marketing to onboarding. The interest and investment in AI show no signs of stopping, and today’s companies have more options and opportunities than ever before. But navigating this landscape and truly understanding AI’s impact has become increasingly complex even for the most sophisticated buyers. Companies are not always clear what solutions to consider and what drives results.

Aptitude Research has identified three trends that are influencing the TA tech market today:

  1. TA tech investment is increasing. As companies increased their investment in talent acquisition technology in 2022, 70% stated they will continue to invest the same or increase this investment during a recession.
  2. Business leaders are more focused on TA tech. Over 50% of companies state that business leaders are more focused on TA tech this year than last. With multiple stakeholders involved in decision making, companies must think more strategically about investments.
  3. AI is here to stay. We have moved past the early fears of AI and employers, recruiters, and candidates are embracing AI-driven solutions. One in two companies believe that AI will improve the candidate experience. Companies must carefully consider the role that AI plays in transforming the TA tech stack and which providers take an ethical approach to AI.

Ten years ago, the talent acquisition technology market was comprised of multiple providers offering clear products in defined categories, including background screening, job boards, applicant tracking systems, assessments, and onboarding. Today, the market has exploded with hundreds more providers and new vendors entering each month. Additionally, the lines have blurred – many offer several solutions in talent acquisition or have created new categories of technology, making the buyer’s decision more complicated.

Our latest research on the evolutions of TA tech highlighted the following key findings:

Quality is a priority. For the first time in two years, quality of hire is the number one driver in technology investments over efficiency for 70% of companies. While efficiency is still critical for companies looking to improve time to fill and recruiter productivity, quality will see a renewed focus over the next year.

Companies are increasing investment even during an economic downturn. Seventy percent (70%) of companies plan to continue to invest the same amount or increase their investment in TA tech even in the event of an economic downturn. With remote work and recruiter experience challenges over the past two years, the demand for technology has never been greater. Companies see the value during both strong and weak economies.

Companies have more solutions but are less happy with them. Over 60% of companies are using more solutions today than before COVID, yet only 11% of companies are satisfied with this technology. The buying behavior over the past two years and companies must be careful when evaluating providers and consider true partnerships. Many of these companies are finding it challenging to implement and adopt these systems.

DEI needs to be more of a priority. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was a key driver in technology decisions two years ago. Today, companies identified efficiency, quality, and experience over reducing bias. Companies should not sacrifice reducing bias. The right technology can solve for multiple outcomes in talent acquisition.

Not all AI is the same. Every provider in talent acquisition seems to be tackling AI, but companies must carefully consider the quality of data and ethical AI. Companies must provide due diligence when evaluating providers.

Candidates are embracing AI. One in two companies believe that AI is improving the candidate experience. And, nearly half of companies in this study do not know when they should use AI to support talent acquisition. For many companies, humans are still doing tasks that can be supported through AI, including communication and screening.

The next year will create more challenges and opportunities in TA tech and companies must carefully consider evaluating providers. We are excited about upcoming research reports that include hourly hiring, conversational AI, and the CRM Index.

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HRTech Recap: Key Trends and Leading Providers

This year’s HR Technology Conference did not disappoint.

Last week’s event brought new energy and meaning to an industry that had been disconnected for far too long. In many ways, the conference was a reset and an opportunity for anyone building, buying, or investing in tech to reconnect with people, rethink priorities, and reevaluate solutions.

With startups at center stage in the Pitchfest, and traditional providers reinventing their brands and products, the landscape has completely changed in two years. After reflecting on the past week, a few themes stood out to me – most notably the focus on Women in Tech. The pre-event was standing room only, the Pitchfest had equal representation, and women CEOs and product leaders led many AI innovations. This industry has come a long way.

Below are my thoughts on some major themes and key providers influencing this year’s event.


The discussion around skills dominated this year’s event. We found that companies that invest in skills development are twice as likely to improve retention and 28% more likely to improve DEI initiatives. Skills are the future of HRTech.

But, not all skills-based providers are created the same. The skills conversation is not a marketing message or an overnight decision. Instead, it is a commitment and an investment by a provider to transform how companies recruit, engage, and retain talent. Unfortunately, some providers misusing terms like talent marketplace and talent intelligence has created confusion around a topic that desperately needs more focus and attention.

Below are a few providers I met with that are leading the way in skills:

  • Beamery: Beamery has unveiled its Universal Skills Platform as a foundational layer to its solutions. Its acquisition of Flux helped to strengthen its skills approach around internal mobility and the ability to connect the right talent to the right opportunities.
  • Eightfold: All eyes were on Eightfold again this year. Its skills-based approach and deep learning AI allow companies to understand talent’s full potential better. Eightfold has over 1B profiles and 1M skills, making it one of the largest skills-based providers in HR tech.
  • Reejig: Reejig is a skills-based platform designed for every type of talent. It has a complete skills ontology that aligns with a company’s job architecture and includes a consumer-grade nudge engine.
  • Workday: Workday made a major announcement last week by allowing companies to bring skills data in and out of Workday. With technology designed in collaboration with customers and partnerships, including Aon, Degreed, and SkyHive, the Workday skills ecosystem helps organizations import relevant skills data from third-party systems.

Hiring Platforms (Interview and Assessments)

Over the past year, one trend that has emerged is the increased investment in hiring experience platforms (interviewing and assessment). This category has exploded over the past few years- partly because of the push for remote work and the need to reduce bias and improve decision-making. Companies spend millions of dollars on recruitment marketing and EVP strategies and often neglect interviews. Our latest interview study found that 1 in 2 companies lost quality talent due to poor interview processes.

Below are a few providers that I met with this year include:

  • Criteria Corp: I was surprised and impressed with Criteria Corp. Founded over 15 years ago; it has grown to over 4500 customers with offices in North America and Australia. It provides pre-hire assessments early in the process and structured interview capabilities. It has made several acquisitions over the past few years and is definitely worth watching for anyone interested in this space.
  • Indeed: Indeed was another surprise this year. As one of the largest providers in TA tech, their enterprise solutions include over 200 assessments, including video job simulations.
  • HireVue: HireVue provides an OnDemand Video Interviewing (VI) platform, structured interviewing solutions powered by text (Builder), technical and game-based assessments, HireVue Hiring Assistant, and complex scheduling capabilities.
  • Modern Hire: Modern Hire has over 15 million candidates and enables over 1 million hires in over 20 languages in 200 countries and territories. Modern Hire combines assessments, interview technology, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence into one solution.
  • Pillar: Pillar is an interview platform that enables companies to reduce bias in the interview process and improve efficiency through structured interviews, analytics, and coaching.
  • Sapia: Sapia combines science with experience in a smart interview platform that includes chat interviews, video interviews, analytics, and assessments. It helps companies improve the candidate experience, quality of hire, and decision-making.
  • TaTio: TaTio (formerly Skillset) is a job simulator that matches candidates to the right opportunities. It was one of the providers in this year’s Pitchfest, and it includes an AI-based job simulator that enables candidates to try out the core tasks of a specific position before they apply for a job.

Also, providers like CrossChq and Searchlight had a large presence at the event. While they do not provide interviewing solutions, their combination of reference checking and predictive analytics improves decision-making and quality of hire.


One area of HR Tech that I was most disappointed in was DEI. Every provider seems to use DEI as a marketing tagline, yet few offer real capabilities or solutions. Some others have even moved on from DEI to adopt the latest trend. DEI was a key driver in technology decisions two years ago. Today, companies identified efficiency, quality, and experience over reducing bias. However, companies should not sacrifice reducing bias. The right technology can solve multiple outcomes, but companies must be careful when evaluating providers.

Two providers that I will highlight are Textio and iShield. Both use AI to identify language that may be exclusive or filled with bias. In addition, Textio launched a performance management solution last week, and iShield (another Pitchfest contender) integrates with Slack and Teams.

Employee Experience

Companies today must rethink their approach to talent and humanize work. They must focus on the individual, build more meaningful relationships, and provide an experience rooted in inclusivity, humanity, dignity, and trust. This area of HR Technology has grown significantly over the past few years, and we found that 64% of companies are increasing their investment in experience solutions.

A few providers that I met with include:

  • Click Boarding: Employee experience begins with onboarding. we found that 86% of new hires make their decision to stay in the first 90 days. Click Boarding is an employee experience platform providing onboarding solutions that impact employee growth and retention.
  • Guild: Guild is a women-owned career opportunity platform. It is designed to provide every employee access to learning and career growth and streamline the cumbersome administration of education benefits. Learners have access to over 2,000 programs that Guild curated from various learning providers, and 70% of its learners are the first people to seek higher education opportunities in their families.
  • Paradox: Paradox is a conversational AI provider expanding from talent acquisition to employee experience. Its solution better engages talent with 24/7 response times and personalization. Companies use Paradox for many use cases in the employee experience, including onboarding and internal mobility.
  • Phenom: Phenom fits into several of the categories listed above. It made several announcements last week, including an HRIS platform. Its talent experience platform supports candidates, employees, recruiters, HR, and managers with a broad suite of solutions and an intelligence and integration layer.
  • Spotlyfe: The winner of the Pitchfest, Spotlyfe is a people-first platform that allows employees to work smarter and live better lives. It includes intentions, gratitude, and analytics.
  • TeamSense: TeamSense was part of the Pitchfest and offered a text-based solution for front-line workers to improve communication and provide better engagement through channels that are more accessible.

 Recruitment Marketing

 It is designed to improve the front-end of the recruiting process and tackles most of what the ATS doesn’t do…engaging with individuals before they apply for a job. The most critical capabilities in these systems include career sites, CRM, analytics, apply, job distribution, talent networks, candidate communication, events management, internal mobility, automated scheduling, and employee referrals. These systems have matured over the past few years with intelligent workflows, personalized content driven by AI, omnichannel communication, and more automation.

Below are a few providers I met with last week:

  • Built-In: Built-In connects tech talent to the right technology companies. Its content and community give tech professionals insights into hiring companies nationwide.
  • Candidate ID (an iCIMS company): Candidate.ID brings marketing automation to talent pipelining and recruiting ‘in-demand’ talent. It supports enterprise organizations by engaging, nurturing, and converting ready-now talent through use cases that include alums, internal hires, contingent workers, diversity hires, early-career hires, and referrals.
  • GR8 People: Gr8 People is a global technology platform that supports end-to-end talent acquisition and helps companies source, attract, engage and hire every workforce type in one experience. Built with automated workflows, it provides personalized experiences for every user.
  • Symphony Talent: Symphony Talent is a recruitment marketing platform and an employer brand partner. It offers technology solutions that include CRM, programmatic advertising, career sites, assessments, and analytics. Its’ service offerings help companies with EVP strategy, career site design, and content marketing.

Big thanks to everyone who made this conference a success! See you next year!