The ATS Market: A Changing Landscape

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) market has long been the cornerstone of recruitment technology. For companies with over 100 employees, having an ATS is almost a given. The market for the past 10 years has been uneventful. Companies buy an ATS, replace their ATS, and complain about their ATS.

This year, however, the landscape of ATS providers is rapidly evolving, driven by growing dissatisfaction among users and significant gaps in traditional systems. As new providers enter the market with innovative solutions, it’s an exciting time to be looking at the bread and butter of recruitment technology.

The State of the ATS Market

The ATS market is facing three undeniable truths:

  1. Widespread Dissatisfaction: Many companies are unhappy with their current ATS. Issues range from user-unfriendly interfaces to limited functionalities that fail to meet modern recruitment needs. We found that less than half of companies are happy with their ATS.
  2. High Replacement Rates: Aptitude Research found that 1 in 4 companies are looking to replace their ATS within the year. This statistic underscores a significant shift in how businesses are approaching their recruitment technology.
  3. Gaps in Functionality: Traditional ATS platforms often lack critical capabilities in candidate relationship management (CRM), frontline worker support, and effective candidate communication. These gaps are increasingly difficult to overlook in today’s competitive job market.

Historical Options: Best of Breed vs. HCM Suites

Historically, companies choosing an ATS had two main options:

  1. Best of Breed: These are specialized ATS providers focusing solely on recruitment technology. While they traditionally offered advanced features and superior user experiences, many have struggled to keep pace with evolving demands. Some have been acquired by private equity firms (iCIMS and Jobvite and Lever), which has often led to a shift in focus away from end-users.
  2. HCM Suites: Large enterprise software providers like Workday, UKG, Oracle and SAP fall into this category. These providers have been winning deals over many of the best of breed providers for integration, advancements in AI, and the ability to integrate ATS capabilities into broader HR functions.

Current Landscape and Emerging Trends

The dissatisfaction with current ATS options and the gaps in traditional systems have paved the way for new providers and innovative solutions to emerge. Key trends include:

  1. Recruiter Experience: Greenhouse stands out in the best of breed category by maintaining a strong focus on both the candidate and recruiter experience. And, one of the few best of breed ATS providers still committed to DEI initiatives with recent announcements that include resume anonymization and enhancements to its scorecard funcationality. While it primarily serves the lower enterprise and mid-market segments, its commitment to the recruiter sets it apart.
  2. Integrated CRM and Communication Tools: Modern ATS providers are increasingly incorporating CRM capabilities and enhanced communication tools to improve engagement with candidates throughout the hiring process. This shift addresses one of the major gaps in traditional systems. But for many of these providers, CRM is just a check the box and lacks meaningful functionality.
  3. Support for Frontline Workers: There is a growing recognition of the need to support frontline workers, who often have different recruitment needs compared to office-based roles. New ATS solutions are emerging that cater specifically to these requirements, offering more tailored functionalities. We found that 1 in 2 companies with frontline workers are reevaluating their ATS and now they have better options (hello Paradox!).

New Entrants and Latest Announcements

Several players have recently entered the ATS market, bringing fresh perspectives and innovative solutions. The categories are not clearly best of breed vs. HCM suite anymore. Companies have options that not only fill the gaps with traditional systems but offer advanced capabilities that range from skills to communication to AI.

These new announcements change the buying behavior around recruitment technology. It makes the ATS not the core component and shifts the value to areas of TA tech that can drive real transformation.

These include:

  • Paradox: Paradox launched an ATS for frontline workers and has been supporting companies like McDonald’s with end-to-end recruitment.
  • Gem: Gem added ATS to its suite of solutions that includes CRM and sourcing and analytics.
  • Eightfold: Eightfold announced the first AI-native and talent intelligence ATS system two weeks ago at its Cultivate event to expand its TA solutions.
  • Payroll Providers: Every SMB or mid-market payroll provider seems to be expanding its suite into broad HCM that includes ATS. These providers offer a simple option and integrated capabilities.

These are just a few of the ATS announcements this year and we expect to see more. This disruption is addressing longstanding issues and introducing advanced capabilities that cater to the modern recruitment landscape.

The ATS market is undergoing a significant transformation. With a clear trend towards improving user experience, integrating advanced communication tools, leveraging AI, and supporting diverse worker types, the future of ATS looks promising. As new providers continue to innovate, we can expect a more dynamic and effective recruitment technology landscape, better suited to the demands of today’s employers and job seekers.


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.


Strategies for Improving Candidate Communication

Every candidate deserves a fair, consistent, and human experience. Candidates want to know that they are being considered for a role, and they want to receive feedback on where they stand in the process. At a very basic level, candidates want to be treated like people. Unfortunately, companies do not always have time to engage with candidates in a way that is consistent and fair. As a result, most of today’s challenges with candidate experience start with communication.  Communication should be consistent across your hiring process, from pre-application to onboarding. The good news is that companies can improve communication by using a mix of automated tools and human interaction (especially in later stages).

I am looking forward to presenting some of our research on candidate communication and the impact on talent acquisition during a webinar with Clinch tomorrow. Below are a few topics we will cover:

  • Omni-Channel Communication: Most companies rely on email as their primary form of communication in talent acquisition. Yet, mobile usage has increased over the past year and 43% of candidates do not always open their emails. Email limits how a company can engage with talent, slowing down time to fill, and providing a negative experience for both recruiters and candidates. Companies must consider an omni-channel email approach that includes text, messaging, and conversational AI.
  • Measuring Communication Efforts: Communication efforts can make a significant improvement on candidate engagement and overall TA efficiency. Companies should consider measuring traditional metrics as well as response times, time to respond, and engagement levels.
  • Candidate Expectations Have Shifted: Candidates expect consistent communication throughout the entire TA process. Communication does not happen at one stage in talent acquisition. It must be a constant throughout the candidate journey.
  • Mobile Comes First: Candidate behavior has changed since the pandemic. More people are working remotely, and candidates rely on their mobile device to research jobs, connect with brands, and apply for a job. According to this study, 62% of candidates are using their mobile device more this year than last. Candidates want to be able to use one device to communicate with a potential employer, and text meets the needs of the mobile-only mindset by providing faster response and personalized engagement in real-time.

I am looking forward to sharing new research and trends on candidate communication tomorrow. I hope you can join!


Countdown to HRTech: Acquisitions

The TA tech market is not slowing down even during the dog days of summer.

My latest blog in the countdown to #HRTechConf focuses on acquisitions. Just a few weeks ago, I was wondering if we would see any big announcements this month, and then, three major (and surprising) acquisitions were announced. Acquisitions are a natural part of any industry. Providers are looking for partners to help expand their global footprint, customer base, or product portfolio. And, sometimes, they are just simply about revenue. In 2020 and 2021, conversational AI, automation, analytics, video, and branding drove many of these decisions. Each of the acquisitions below enhanced the capabilities of the providers and offered customers something more across TA.

Some of the acquisitions from the past two years include:

This month, acquisitions look a little different. Some were a last-ditch effort to stay afloat, and others were a doubling down of similar solutions.

Here are my initial thoughts about some of the most recent acquisitions:

Employ Acquires Lever

Employ (owned by private equity firm K1 Investments) announced the acquisition of ATS provider Lever. Employ is the combination of Jobvite, JazzHR, and NXTThing but also includes the acquisitions of Talemetry, Talentgy, Canvas, and Rolepoint. The addition of Lever gives the Employ umbrella three ATSs, 2 CRMs, employee referral capabilities, communication, analytics, and an RPO. It is one of the largest end-to-end talent acquisition platforms, but each product and brand will remain separate.

If you are confused, you are not alone.

This is not the first time we have seen ATSs buying ATSs. Typically, one ATS will replace or complement the other, but in this case, three separate ATSs. The plan is to have JazzHR support SMB, Lever the mid-market, and Jobvite the enterprise.

Below are my thoughts on the acquisition:

  • Lever is a solid ATS. I like Lever, and I think Lever is a great ATS for mid-market and high-growth companies. With over 3,000 customers and some big tech brands. Lever’s differentiators include its investment in analytics this year. It offers visual insights and integration with Tableau and other analytics plugins to help companies understand their data and take action. One thing that sets Lever apart from other providers in this report is its company culture. It is the only provider in this report founded by a woman with the highest Glassdoor ratings. It values customer feedback and tries to work that into product enhancements. Was Lever a smart company to acquire? Yes, but the confusing piece is the overlap with Jobvite.
  • Jobvite is not currently an enterprise ATS. Jobvite supports mid-market and a few enterprise clients but does not truly compete against global enterprise ATS providers. Making the jump from mid-market to enterprise is no small task and requires a different approach to sales, marketing, and product.

SilkRoad Acquires Entelo

Onboarding provider, SilkRoad, acquired Entelo, a sourcing provider. This acquisition was the most surprising to me. SilkRoad was once a leading talent management provider that could check every box from recruiting to performance management to compensation. Does anyone remember the Red Carpet? But, what SilkRoad did better than anything else was onboarding. It was one of the first providers to offer forms compliance, tasks management, and a new hire portal. I made a bold decision around six years ago to ditch its talent management suite and focus solely on onboarding and employee experience/transitions. It has remained relatively quiet until this month. The Entelo acquisition puts SilkRoad back in the talent acquisition market with a top-of-the-funnel solution.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Robert Tsao is the right choice. Robert Tsao (ironically was at Jobvite previously) will take over as CEO of SilkRoad. Robert was Entelo’s CEO for the past few years and deeply understands TA tech.
  • Market perception will be a challenge. The market perception of both companies is that they are no longer relevant. Entelo, at one time, was a leading sourcing provider that seemed to lose its way. Customers started looking at providers like SeekOut and HireEZ as better alternatives. The team will have to work on the product and marketing to shift some of this perception and make Entelo relevant again.
  • Not the last stop. My guess is that SilkRoad won’t stop at Entelo, and we will see another acquisition to complete its TA tech portfolio further.

Harver Acquires Pymetrics

This acquisition makes the most sense to me out of the three this month. Pymetrics is a leading assessment provider with some large customers, including Unilever. And Harver has been building a hiring experience empire over the past few years. It made several strategic acquisitions over the past few years, including WePow, Checkster, FurstPerson, and Launch Pad. Its combined offerings include unique differentiators such as a strong experience, a comprehensive suite of solutions, and feedback. Unlike other solutions that stop at the offer, Outmatch includes a feedback loop on hiring decisions to have post-hire data and AI-driven insights to help companies make better decisions for the future. With over 1200 customers across a wide range of industries, Outmatch is best suited for enterprise and global enterprise customers.

Only 4 weeks until the HR Technology Conference! Hope to see you there!


Countdown to HR Technology Conference: High-Volume Recruiting

Only six weeks until the HR Technology Conference, and one trend that we have focused on over the past two years is high-volume hiring. We found that 65% of companies have high-volume recruitment needs today. And this percentage continues to increase. Unfortunately, high volume is one area most traditional ATS systems fail to address. Instead, they focus on professional hiring and ignore the experience, capabilities, and solutions needed to attract, recruit, and hire this forgotten workforce. For example, in our high-volume research this year, only 27% of companies know if their hourly workers have transportation to an interview. Only 33% know if candidates have access to a laptop. Yet, most solutions do not consider the unique needs of these candidates.  

High-volume companies must find quality talent while managing hundreds, or even thousands, of applicants. Unlike traditional corporate hiring, high-volume needs are extremely time-sensitive with speed-defining success. Over the past year, high-volume hiring intensified as many companies were forced to reduce time to fill from several weeks to several days. The experience needs to be simple, frictionless, and mobile-first.

Fortunately, some technology providers are focused on improving high-volume recruiting – this is where we see most of the disruption in talent acquisition. Paradox is one provider that offers a completely reimagined experience for high-volume candidates. Through conversational AI, it provides an alternative to an ATS. It allows companies to advertise jobs, engage with talent, offers a simple apply process, screen candidates, schedule interviews, assess candidates, and initiate onboarding all through a single, mobile-first experience. Paradox is also hosting a career site for companies, including McDonald’s.

AMS Hourly, Fountain, and TalentReef also offer a better alternative for high-volume hiring needs and include end-to-end capabilities from recruitment marketing to onboarding.

Text recruiting is another way that companies are improving high volume hiring. Candidate behavior has changed since the pandemic and 62% of candidates are using their mobile device more this year than last. Hourly candidates want to be able to use one device to communicate with company, and text meets the needs of the mobile-only mindset by providing faster response and personalized engagement in real-time. Providers like Emissary offer simple end-to-end text recruiting solutions that integrate with ATS providers.

Programmatic job advertising is another TA technology category that improves high-volume recruiting. It streamlines and automates advertising of jobs and provides visibility into how companies should spend their advertising dollars- a huge expense for high-volume industries. It saves hiring teams time, reduces costs, and helps to target the right talent. Some of the leading providers include Appcast, Joveo, and Pandologic.

And, there is even a HRMS focused on high-volume that will be at HR Tech...Harri.

These are just a few of the providers improving high-volume hiring. Here are a few trends impacting high-volume recruiting:

“High Volume” Is a Broad Category: The greatest confusion around high-volume recruitment is the definition. Companies often consider a narrow definition of high-volume recruitment limited to hourly or gig workers. For example, one in three companies defines “high volume” as hourly recruitment. The reality is that high-volume hiring is broader and impacts 65% of companies. It includes any company filling over 1,000 positions in a short period of time. As hiring ramps up this year, this study found that companies in various industries (including aerospace and defense, financial services, technology, and healthcare) identified high-volume needs.

A Traditional ATS Is Not Enough: Sixty-five percent (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. High-volume recruitment technology must be simple, intuitive, and mobile responsive. Eighty-two percent (82%) of companies with high-volume hiring needs are increasing their investment in technology this year.

Quality Is as Important as Efficiency: Companies face pressure to fill high-volume positions as quickly as possible. As a result, efficiency becomes the priority for many organizations with high-volume needs. They want to improve and streamline the talent acquisition process to reduce time to fill. Despite this focus on efficiency, 61% of companies stated that quality of hire is the most critical metric for success. Companies must ensure they are engaging and hiring the right talent as they focus on improving the time it takes to fill positions.

High volume is a critical topic in talent acquisition, especially as companies prepare for more change next year. I look forward to learning more about how companies tackle their challenges and new technology providers in this space.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

New Research: TA Buyer’s Guide Top 10 Findings (Part 1)

I am excited to announce that we published our annual talent acquisition buyer’s guide report this week sponsored by Verified First. It serves as a resource for anyone interested in learning more about the trends impacting technology and the requirements critical to making decisions. The talent acquisition technology market is constantly changing, and staying ahead of trends is becoming more challenging. Organizations need to evaluate providers based on a new set of criteria that encourages partnership and collaboration between the business and the solutions. Trust in the company, product, and roadmap is a critical part of the buyer’s journey and a key differentiator when evaluating solutions.

Evaluating technology is not as easy as it used to be. Ten years ago, the talent acquisition technology market was comprised of multiple providers offering clear products in defined categories such as background screening, job boards, applicant tracking systems (ATS), assessments, and onboarding. Today, the market has exploded with hundreds more providers and new ones entering each month. Additionally, the lines have blurred. Many of these providers offer several solutions in talent acquisition or have created new categories of technology, making a buyer’s decision much more complicated.

Below are 5 top findings from this research:

  • Efficiency is driving decisions. Companies have stated that improving efficiency is the key driver when evaluating technology providers. Companies are looking at providers to improve time to fill, increase recruiter productivity and improve overall decision-making in talent acquisition technology. Improved efficiency benefits the candidate and the employer by helping candidates receive communication, stay informed and move through the process.
  • Talent Acquisition Technology Investment Continues to Increase. Although some technology investment has slowed down over the past year, one in four companies are increasing their TA investment, and 44% of companies invested in new technology in 2020. Companies are looking at providers to support the challenges they face but often do not consider how they will work with the existing technology infrastructure.
  • Companies need to measure ROI early. Only 1 in 2 companies measure the ROI of their technology investment. As talent acquisition is being held more accountable to the business, showing the value and the timeframe is critical. Measuring and demonstrating ROI is a crucial part of any technology decision and does not need to happen after a company makes its investment – it should actually be considered before.
  • True partnership helps to improve adoption. Adoption is a challenge in talent acquisition technology. Only 3% of companies use all the ATS functionality and only 2% in their CRMs. Companies need to look at how their provider will partner with them during implementation and how they will make that relationship stick after year one, year two, and beyond. Companies should consider their change management resources, and customer advisory boards and councils, customer feedback sessions, and “Idea Labs,” where customers are free to voice concerns and connect with other customers.
  • Companies are looking to replace solutions this year. The top areas of TA tech replacement this year include ATS, CRM, background screening, and assessments. Before evaluating technology options, organizations should conduct an internal needs analysis and be prepared to answer some questions internally. Companies need to identify and communicate expectations before evaluating solutions. Before signing on with a provider, companies should ask how confident the provider is in meeting these expectations and what plans they have in place to meet and even exceed them.

TA buyers face more difficult decisions today with new providers, new categories, and new pressures. The TA tech market changes rapidly, and companies must balance their own unique requirements with the providers that will partner with them. This report can help companies at any stage of their TA tech buyer’s journey.

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Jobvite Acquires Talentegy: Improving the Candidate Experience Through Analytics

This week, Jobvite announced the acquisition of Talentegy, a leading talent analytics platform designed to help companies improve the candidate and employee experience. This announcement follows a busy summer for Jobvite with the acquisition of Predictive Partner and launch of AI Innovation Lab, which includes new capabilities for analytics. While many of its competitors have halted investments this year, Jobvite continues its commitment to enhancing capabilities and providing a more comprehensive end-to-end talent acquisition platform.

And, the timing is right. The ATS no longer defines the talent acquisition market. Companies need different capabilities to engage talent, improve the candidate experience, and measure their effectiveness. This acquisition is significant because it represents the future of talent acquisition technology and redefines these platforms through the lens of analytics, technology, and partnership.

What is Talentegy?

Talentegy was created to help companies provide more engaging user experiences. It tracks user activity across all talent systems (CRM, career sites, HRIS, etc.) and enables companies to measure what’s working and what’s not working to maximize these experiences. Some of its differentiators include:

  • Companies do not need IT involvement or in-depth integrations. Talentegy brings multiple systems in one view through its Smart Tag capabilities.
  • Talent acquisition leaders receive automated alerts when candidate and employee engagement is not working. They can then adjust their strategies.
  • Talentegy offers surveys that collect feedback on candidate and employee experiences to inform talent acquisition leaders better.

What Does This Mean for Jobvite?

Jobvite has invested in robust data analytics this year, and Talentegy continues that strategy. It will allow Jobvite to help companies understand what needs to change and how to improve the candidate experience. Customers can leverage the Talentegy solution as a standalone product or purchase it as an add-on to Jobvite’s current Analytics offering. Jobvite will also incorporate Talentegy product capabilities into its existing suite of solutions.

Acquisitions are not easy. They can create new opportunities for customers, but they can also create frustrations or disruptions. Add a pandemic, and they become even more challenging. Jobvite has done well. It has made very strategic decisions around its investments and its impact on its culture. It continues to expand its offerings while maintaining a commitment to its employees and customers. And it is helping to make the TA tech industry as exciting as it was in 2019.

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Google Hire: What Went Wrong?

“We’ve made the difficult decision to sunset Hire by Google on September 1, 2020. While Hire has been successful, we’re focusing our resources on other products in the Google Cloud portfolio.”

If you work in talent acquisition, you probably heard the news. Google Hire (once considered “the future of the ATS market”) is shutting down. It comes as a surprise since just last year it was the most popular topic in the ATS industry among thought leaders, competitors, and companies. If anyone could disrupt the talent acquisition market, it had to be Google. The plan was to gain momentum in the SMB market and then eventually move up to the enterprise market. It seemed to be working, and enterprise companies seemed very interested. But two years later, the company decided to sunset the brand and got out of the ATS business.

Before we focus on what went wrong, it is important to start with what went right.

What Made Google Hire Great?

In 2017, Google launched its Hire product and gained immediate attention as being THE de-facto ATS for small companies, inevitably replacing providers like Lever and Workable customers. Its main differentiator was efficiency. Companies could “Hire Faster with Google,” and it was able to prove this through various case studies and ROI examples. Lola reported that they could hire talent in seven days, and Trader Interactive was able to save recruiters five hours a week of administrative work. In a time when showing the value of tech is becoming harder and harder, Google Hire seemed to figure it out. And it wasn’t just efficiency that Google did well. It was also interview scheduling, candidate profile, and analytics. It integrated with the Google Suite of products. It was simple, and based on a candidate-centric model.

So, What Went Wrong?

Although Google’s decision to exit the ATS market may seem sudden, the wheels seemed to come off the bus earlier this year. A few things stand out:

-Google has a long history of killing products, including products that appeared to be successful. Some people call it the Google graveyard. Over the past few years, it has shut down Google Hangouts, Google Trips, Google +, Google Allo, Google Notification Widget (called Mr. Jingles), Google Goggles, and Google Weather. And these are just a few examples. Google Hire now joins this list.

– Bogomil Balkansky, who was the VP of product for Google Hire and connected to most people in the industry, seemed to go on some type of sabbatical last year. Sabbaticals happen especially at companies like Google, and his reasons may have been personal but taking time off when a product is gaining so much traction is unusual.

-Most of Google Hire’s clients appeared to be in the tech market. While having clients at innovative companies is exciting; anyone that has sold tech to tech knows that it is hard work and challenging to scale.

– Google for Jobs started to raise some concerns. Over the past two years, Google has faced over $9 billion in anti-trust fines and Google for Jobs is now under fire for claims that it is unfairly pushing users to its services and away from other third-party sites.

What Happens Next?

Now that the future of the ATS market looks a little different, what can companies expect over the next year?

Current Customers: Google is extending contracts up to a year for current clients. Customers will have a year to figure out where they want to go next.

Competition: The ATS market has always been competitive, but Google’s announcement has added fuel to the fire. Providers like Workable and RecruiterBox are aggressively going after these Google Hire customers. HireHive posted this message on Twitter: “Google Hire is shutting down. Well, at HireHive we’re not planning on ‘sunsetting’ our platform, ever. And we’re offering every Google Hire customer a free account for six months.”

LinkedIn: Last year, LinkedIn announced it plans to develop an ATS for small companies. Google’s exit could allow LinkedIn to gain market share and establish itself as a leader in the ATS space.

Above all else, the Google Hire story highlights the tremendous opportunity providers have in the SMB market. Too often, providers try to move upmarket, chasing large deals and customers. But, what they forget is that SMB companies want to change and either has no system or a homegrown product. Providers that stay committed to this market can achieve significant growth.


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iCIMS Acquires Jibe and Continues its Leadership in All Things Talent Acquisition

If you don’t know the history and the background of iCIMS and CEO, Colin Day. It’s an interesting story. iCIMS is a SaaS talent acquisition provider that has achieved tremendous growth and profitability in a highly competitive industry. Most of its early success stems from its commitment to customer service and Colin’s strong leadership (even through two recessions). While other providers have tried to reinvent the recruitment model favoring what is “new”, iCIMS has focused on what it does best- helping companies attract, recruit and onboard talent. It’s a basic strategy and one that has worked.

But iCIMS’ success is not just the result of its customer support, it has also taken significant risks.  In 2012, I met with Colin and CMO, Susan Vitale, in Boston. They were about to announce the decision to ditch iCIMS’ talent management products in favor of a talent acquisition suite. It seemed like a crazy idea when every other vendor was “biggering” and “biggering” into all things HCM. iCIMS was scaling back to focus solely on talent acquisition. Colin recognized that talent acquisition deserved its own suite of solutions and its own conversation. And, he was right.   

While many other providers struggled with acquisitions and customer churn, iCIMS continued a path of steady growth eventually moving up market to support some global enterprise clients. It acquired Jobmagic and TextRecruit and built out a marketplace to provider connectors with third-party providers. The recent acquisition of Jibe further supports its vision for an end-to-end platform.

Below are my thoughts on what this acquisition means for the market and what customers and prospects should consider:

          Recruitment Marketing Platforms: Recruitment marketing continues to be a top investment for enterprise organizations and the value of having one provider for both CRM and ATS is clear. Similar to K1’s acquisition of Talemetry and Jobvite, one provider offers more consistency of data and experience. It isn’t long before we will see other recruitment marketing providers getting acquired.

          Customer Support: Many of the recruitment marketing providers have neglected customer support. They have angry clients and angry former clients. It’s not pretty but it’s true. This is a market with significant market churn as customers look for better partners. I can name a handful of companies that I work with that will not even take a briefing from some of the providers in this space. Jibe has remained under the radar but has maintained its customer support. Johnson & Johnson is an example of a long-time customer that improved its job discovery of critical roles to a 41% increase in high-quality job applicants per search.

          Enterprise Growth: Recruitment marketing is an enterprise market- at least for now. Large companies want solutions that can help them enhance their branding and engage with talent before they apply. As iCIMS looks to move up market, having a recruitment marketing provider with demonstrated support for enterprise companies is critical.

          Branding: Acquiring a new company can create growing pains in terms of product and development and branding. This acquisition is not iCIMS first rodeo. It has learned some lessons with the TextRecruit acquisition and plans to make this a smoother process. We can expect a consistent experience and brand for customers.  

It is a great time to be in talent acquisition. Companies want better solutions and providers are making smarter decisions about where and how they should grow. We should expect to see more acquisitions in the recruitment marketing space over the next year and I am looking forward to seeing how this announcement unfolds.


Best-of-Breed vs. ERP in Talent Acquisition

The debate between ERP and best-of-breed is still very much alive in talent acquisition technology. In our latest survey, companies are two times more likely to invest in best-of-breed providers. These companies recognize that in many cases, best-of-breed solutions are able to provide both seamless integration and depth in functionality. These providers integrate (through an ecosystem or marketplace) with third-party providers such as background screening, assessment, and video interviewing providers, as well as existing HRIS providers. Aptitude’s research found that companies are 4 times more satisfied with a best-of-breed talent acquisition provider than a traditional ERP provider.

Below are three reasons why companies are considering best-of-breed over ERP: expertise, experience, and adoption.

  • Expertise: Many best-of-breed solution providers are building expertise into their solutions. These providers understand how to help organizations navigate talent acquisition and have product roadmaps designed for talent acquisition functions. Some providers are demonstrating their deep domain expertise by helping companies improve diversity and inclusion, offering organizations capabilities such as anonymous screening, job description checkers, and bias detection initiatives. These providers are also providing scalability to help support clients as they grow. According to Aptitude’s research, 56% of companies are investing in providers that can demonstrate deep domain expertise in talent acquisition.
  • Experience: Recruiters need an easy way to attract, recruit, and hire talent. If a technology provider is not solving that problem, they do not have a viable solution. Many legacy ERP solutions are too complicated. Best-of-breed technology providers need to make it simple and address the challenges they are facing. According to Aptitude’s research, companies using best-of-breed solutions are improving the experience for recruiters and candidates.
  • Adoption: Less than 20% of companies view their ERP provider as a partner once a solution has been implemented. Companies need to look at not only how their provider will partner with them during implementation, but also throughout the course of their relationship.

We are about to kick-off our recruitment marketing research and this topic of best-of-breed vs. ERP is still a very relevant one as many providers looking at expanding both capabilities and services. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!