Global TA Day: Recognizing the Recruiter Experience

If you are into HRTech or TATech, you got the memo that today is Global TA Day.

I just asked ChatGPT, ‘What is Global TA Day?” and it responded with;

“If “Global TA Day” exists, it could be a day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness about talent acquisition (TA) practices and professionals. Talent acquisition involves finding, attracting, and hiring qualified individuals to fill positions within an organization. If this day has been established, it may involve various activities, events, or initiatives to recognize the importance of talent acquisition in the workforce.”

This a friendly, simple response, but if you are in this industry, building tech or following the work of recruiters and TA teams, you know that this day signifies much more. It is a day of appreciation for the people doing the work, connecting job seekers with meaningful opportunities, and helping companies grow.

We studied recruiter experience over a year ago and found that companies need a better understanding of this important role. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of recruiters believe that their role needs to be understood by leadership at their organization. They need to start with the following:

–       Understanding Today’s Reality: What pressures are recruiters facing, and how do they feel about their job and the future of talent acquisition?

–       Understanding the Role of the Recruiter: How are recruiters spending their time today, and what would they like to focus on?

–       Understanding What Resources Recruiters Need: What services and solutions will help recruiters in their jobs?

Talent acquisition is challenging. As companies invest in talent acquisition strategies and technology, they need to understand the challenges that recruiters face today. One in two companies state that IT is more involved in TA technology decisions, yet IT professionals are only sometimes aware of the realities of the labor market. Recruiters can only get the support they need if their reality is validated across the organization.

This divide in how leadership, recruiters, and IT perceive talent acquisition has created different technology adoption experiences. TA and HR leadership are happier with the recruitment technology (73%) they have in place and would be more likely to recommend it to other organizations (91%). One reason for higher satisfaction is that TA leaders are two times more likely to influence these technology decisions directly. Recruiters are more frustrated with their technology and the resources available. Many traditional technology solutions must be designed for the modern recruiter and integrate with their workflow or help them attract and hire talent.

As companies think about the future of TA Tech, they need to understand and validate the recruiter experience and build solutions that will help the individuals doing the work from sourcing to recruitment marketing to interviewing and onboarding new hires.

Happy Global TA Day to everyone working in this amazing industry!


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.

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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!

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

Conversational AI: Transforming Talent Acquisition

On Global TA Day, we want to highlight one of our favorite areas of TA tech today…conversational AI.

In 2020, Aptitude Research published a comprehensive study on conversational AI to understand key drivers, highlight differentiators, and outline the business impact of these solutions. One year later, the talent acquisition landscape has significantly changed. Companies are feeling intense pressure to improve efficiencies, identify quality hires, reduce bias, and humanize the overall experience for both recruiters and candidates. As companies look closely at talent acquisition technology to help lift the administrative burden of recruiting teams and engage with candidates in a more meaningful way, conversational AI checks every box.

Here are the top findings from our report.

Conversational AI Is Not a Point Solution: Companies are still learning the value that conversational AI brings to talent acquisition. Companies that have leveraged these solutions to improve the application or screening processes are already recognizing the impact it can have on areas such as interviewing, onboarding, and internal mobility. Conversational AI is shifting from a quick-fix, point solution to a critical component in an end-to-end talent acquisition strategy. Conversational AI, unlike chatbots, is not a point solution. The more companies adopt these solutions, the more they recognize the potential throughout talent acquisition, and see advancements in use cases.

Conversational AI Is an Intelligent Assistant: Companies often think that candidates do not want to engage with conversational AI. The reality is that individuals are very familiar with conversational AI in their consumer and personal lives. Siri, Alexa, and other assistants help individuals get answers and guidance, and have become a part of daily life. Similar assistance plays a critical role in talent acquisition, offering candidates a “support team” as they go through various stages of their journey.

The ATS and CRM Markets Can’t Compete: Despite several acquisitions and ongoing discussions about conversational AI in the ATS or CRM solutions, only 30% of companies are looking at their existing providers for conversational AI capabilities. Many ATS and CRM providers partner with conversational AI providers even when they have their own capabilities. Conversational AI      requires deep domain expertise and a commitment to continuing to innovate and enhance the capabilities and intelligence offered.

Conversational AI Is Still More Than a Chatbot: The 2020 Aptitude Research report outlined the differences between conversational AI and chatbots. But, the confusion around the two still persists today. Companies quickly understand the difference when they implement these solutions, but do not always see it during the evaluation phase. According to Aptitude Research, 84% of companies want more than a basic chatbot to support their talent acquisition efforts.  Companies are requiring conversational AI solutions that understand the context around recruiting processes versus basic UI changes from chatbot. They are looking for an intelligent assistant to help both their teams and candidates.

Conversational AI Is Completely Transforming High-Volume Recruiting: Conversational AI is becoming the standard in high-volume recruitment. Currently, 65% of companies have some high-volume recruitment needs that include hourly, gig, volume of hires, and number of applicants. Conversational AI gives these companies a competitive advantage, helping them to compete for talent, fill positions quickly, and improve quality of hire.  Companies are automating 90-95% of process, screening and scheduling in under three minutes, and hiring in two days.

Recruiters in Professional Hiring Also See Massive Benefits: Recruiters are bogged down every day with repetitive tasks that keep them from doing the work they enjoy and the work that impacts the business the most – finding and meeting with more talented people. Companies in centralized, professional recruiting organizations state that 72% of recruiters are more likely to stay at their current job with the use of conversational AI, largely because time spent on administrative tasks is reduced by 50%.

The Audience for Conversational AI Is Expanding to Employees: Most companies are familiar with the use of conversational AI to support sourcing, apply, and interview scheduling. But, the interest in this solution for onboarding and internal mobility has increased this year. Conversational AI is not only candidate-centric, it is people-centric. Nineteen percent (19%) of companies using conversational AI are leveraging these solutions in the new hire process and 12% in internal mobility. Remote recruiting is the primary driver for the increased demand in these areas. Most companies rely on their HRMS or ATS for onboarding capabilities, and while these solutions include workflows and forms compliance, they do little to enhance the new hire experience.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

Marketing Automation and CRM: Understanding the Difference in Talent Acquisition

We are starting to conduct demos and interviews for our Recruitment Marketing Platform/CRM Index report publishing this fall. Last week, someone asked me if the greatest challenge is the lack of adoption from employers or the lack of capabilities from providers.

The answer is both.

Companies that invest in recruitment marketing and CRM do not always have the expertise or change management needed for these systems to be effective. Aptitude Research found that only 2% of companies use all the functionality in the CRM. Not an ideal situation when over 60% of companies spend more on their CRM than on their ATS.

But adoption is not the only frustration in recruitment marketing technology. Most providers offer CRM and career sites but lack marketing automation. CRM and marketing automation serves two distinct purposes in helping companies nurture and engage with talent before applying for a job.  In consumer marketing, companies may commonly invest in both Salesforce and Marketo (now part of Adobe). In addition, they may use Hubspot (which offers both). But, the value and difference between the two are clear. Many companies are not clear about what marketing automation does and what providers to consider in talent acquisition.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation helps companies better engage and nurture talent by automating marketing tasks and letting companies know which candidates are cold, warm, and “ready-now.” It sits at the top of the funnel and manages all interactions with talent, including when they visit a career site, open an email, open a job advertisement, etc. It solves what the ATS, LinkedIn, and CRM cannot do – informing recruiters when someone is ready to be hired and engaging that individual in a meaningful way. Integrating CRM and marketing automation software can increase a company’s recruitment marketing capabilities and improve the experience.

How Does it Help?

Marketing automation helps companies understand the talent they are attracting, manage talent pipelines more effectively, and provide a better experience to both recruiters and candidates. Some of the use cases include:

  • Lead Nurturing: As today’s companies face challenges attracting talent and managing applicant volume, they need to nurture their candidate relationships over time. Candidates are not always ready to apply for a job with their first engagement. With marketing automation, companies can check in with candidates, create more meaningful relationships, and track engagement levels to know when candidates are “ready now.”
  • Target Audience: With marketing automation, companies can better understand their target talent and track who is interested and engaged. It uses a multi-channel approach to understand what content individuals are interested in, how they want to receive that content and then serves up relevant information. In addition, it provides visibility into the marketing activities to see what activities are working and what needs to change.
  • Analytics: Once a campaign has ended, the system generates analytics showing how successful the campaign was and what may need to change for the future. Analytics provide insights into candidates that are cold, warm, and ready now.

Who are the Providers?

Companies have multiple options for marketing automation in marketing, including providers like MailChimp, Keap, and Constant Contact. And, many providers have been acquired over the past few years, including Pardot by Salesforce, Eloqua by Oracle, and Marketo by Adobe. As a result, marketing automation is a critical area of investment for the modern marketing professional. But, in talent acquisition, this category has not taken off in the same way.

Some sourcing providers like Entelo have tried to transform marketing automation and build a category but faced internal challenges. Some CRM providers have tried to improve talent pipelines and candidate nurturing but still fall short. A few providers are bringing more awareness to marketing automation and gaining traction, including Candidate.ID and Herefish by Bullhorn. Candidate.ID is one provider that stands out for its commitment to marketing automation, ease of use, and ability to help companies attract in-demand talent. Herefish by Bullhorn enables companies to automate workflows, processes, and communication to accelerate staffing firm’s growth. With these providers, recruiters receive notifications when candidates are interested, and their profiles are updated in real-time, reducing time-to-fill, improving candidate engagement, and increasing conversion rates.

As we get closer to publishing our recruitment marketing/CRM index reports, marketing automation will be a theme we cover. It provides companies with a better way to engage and nurture talent where a traditional CRM falls short.

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New Research: Conversational AI in Talent Acquisition

One of the biggest changes in talent acquisition technology over the past year has been the uptick in conversational AI. Companies are looking for better ways to communicate with candidates, improve efficiencies, and offer simplicity- especially through the past three months.

I am excited about Aptitude’s latest research report on this topic in partnership with Paradox. Currently, 38% of companies are investing in conversational AI compared to 7% last year.

Below are some of the key findings from this research:

1. Conversational AI is more than a chatbot. Many of the misperceptions around conversational AI stem from the belief that it is simply a chatbot. Chatbots provide value in giving responses to candidates in real-time. These responses are typically canned answers to basic questions delivered through text. Conversational AI offers a more sophisticated and more personalized solution to engage candidates through multiple forms of communication. Conversational AI gets smarter through use and connects recruiters and candidates in a more meaningful way. In fact, 39% of companies using conversational AI state that the most significant benefit is improving the candidate experience (Aptitude Research). By referring to this technology as “chatbots,” companies miss the many use cases for engaging talent and the numerous benefits beyond saving time.

2. Companies that use Conversational AI see high adoption and satisfaction. Low adoption and poor satisfaction are two common complaints with talent acquisition technology. According to Aptitude Research, 79% of companies see the value in their conversational AI investment. One reason is that these companies see greater adoption across their talent acquisition teams. While companies are using only 3% of their ATS functionality and only 2% of their recruitment marketing functionality, nearly 60% of companies are using all of the capabilities in their conversational AI solutions (Aptitude Research). Conversational AI is intuitive and straightforward when compared to many other areas of talent acquisition technology.

3. The Conversational AI market is growing. Conversational AI is quickly becoming a crowded market; many providers seem to have a chatbot, which creates confusion and misperceptions about how to evaluate and select a partner. While several of the ERP and ATS providers have chatbots or are looking to build chatbots, conversational AI solutions are few and far between. Companies that want to transform talent acquisition through better engagement and an improved experience are looking at stand-alone providers. According to Aptitude Research, nearly 60% of companies are looking at stand-alone providers over their ATS providers.

4. The investment remains steady during this global pandemic. While other areas of talent acquisition technology have been slowing down during today’s global pandemic, the investment in conversational AI remains strong, with over 30% of companies still investing or planning to invest in these solutions in the next year. As companies face new realities with remote recruiting, candidate communication, and the future of work, conversational AI solutions can support companies through this uncertainty.

5. Companies should look beyond candidates. When considering conversational AI, most companies think about the apply process or the screening process. Yet, many companies are expanding their use of these solutions into areas such as interviewing, onboarding, and the employee experience. The benefits of consistent communication, real-time feedback, and 24/7 access should benefit more than candidates. It should reach employees and HR teams as well. Companies are exploring the use of conversational AI to support the full employee experience. McDonald’s just announced plans to hire 260,000 people this summer and conversational AI is a big part of its’ story.

6. Companies across many industries are leveraging these solutions. Conversational AI is disrupting many industries. The belief is that these solutions are only suited for retail and restaurants. Aptitude Research found that the most significant growth was also in financial services, healthcare, and aerospace.

This report is available today and includes the business impact of conversational AI, use cases beyond talent acquisition, and a McDonald’s case study.

Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

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.


Blog Talent Acquisition Strategies

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.


New Research: Talent Acquisition Trends 2018

We launched our talent acquisition survey last week and we have been busy analyzing the results. Forty percent (40%) of companies are increasing their headcount this year and as a result, talent acquisition leaders are looking closely at what strategies and technology they have in place. Background screening, internal mobility, candidate communication, and recruitment marketing are all recurring themes as we look at the early findings. Especially in high-volume industries such as retail and hospitality, organizations need solutions that will help them quickly identify quality hires and provide a more meaningful candidate experience.

We have lots of new research and data we will be publishing over the next few weeks but here is a sneak peek at some of the early findings:

Background Screening Has the Greatest Impact on Quality of Hire: Over 50% of companies said that background screening solutions have the greatest impact on quality of hire. Screening solutions help organizations make better decisions around the talent they are bringing into the organization. Most companies are investing in criminal background checks as well as verification of employment and education. Over 60% of companies view screening as so strategic that they are moving it up in the process.

LinkedIn is Losing Some Love: Companies are still leveraging LinkedIn and identify it as top area of investment for the next year. But, some companies are beginning to question the value of the tech giant. One in 5 companies that use LinkedIn do not believe it is effective at sourcing passive candidates. One in 4 companies that use LinkedIn believe it is too expensive and are unsure about alternative sourcing solutions.

Candidate Communication is Still Immature: It is the most basic area of talent acquisition. Yet, most companies still fall behind in their ability to communicate effectively with candidates. Only 11% of companies are providing transparency on the status of the application (a significant decrease from 32% in 2017) and only 24% of companies are providing candidates with information relevant to the job.

ATS and Recruitment Marketing: More companies are looking at the value of one provider for recruitment marketing and ATS. One in 4 companies use a single provider for both and these providers cited a consistent experience, bundled pricing, and integrated data as major drivers for investing in end-to-end talent acquisition. We are expecting to see an acquisition or two in the recruitment marketing space in the next year or two.

Yes, we have lots of data on AI, GDPR, Blockchain and all the other trends you might expect in talent acquisition. If you would like to schedule some time to talk through our early findings, we would love to hear from you!


The Seven Year Itch: What Will Happen to Taleo’s Customers in 2018?

2018 promises to be a pivotal year in talent acquisition technology. I’m not talking about the amount of new providers, AI discussions, or strides to improve the candidate experience. I’m talking about the fact that many of Taleo’s (now Oracle) key customers will be nearing the end of their seven year contracts. It is the elephant in the ATS room these days. Providers are eagerly anticipating some type of mass exodus of enterprise clients and hoping to gain more market share. But the question remains: are these customers really going to leave Taleo, and if so, where will they go?

The answer is not as simple as we might think. Sure, we can expect some customer churn. Today’s companies have options and the next generation of ATS providers have been building out capabilities and trying to move up market. Not to mention Workday’s growing presence in ATS deals. But the reality is that many companies are planning to stick with Taleo. They need a provider that can support a global enterprise organization, provide the scalability and security they need, and one that can integrate with their HRMS. In the ATS world, global providers are few and far between.

In conversations this year, we found out that many companies have lowered their expectations for their ATS and are focusing more on recruitment marketing and the ecosystem of providers that integrate with their core systems. The ecosystem is where they see innovation and transformation. Yet, the challenge is that many of these providers are still learning how to support a global enterprise client and don’t necessarily have a ton of experience.

Below are some of the key criteria that are important for a global talent acquisition department (for both ATS and ecosystem providers):

–          Security and Scalability: It goes without saying that security and scalability are the most important considerations for global talent acquisition. These systems must be able to scale with increased demands and provide the security that will satisfy both HR and IT.

–          Resources: A large global organization needs more than a few representatives to support their complex requirements. They need a dedicated team of representatives that can work with them from selection through implementation and help tackle challenges with adoption. They need the right resources who will be willing to listen and execute.

–          Integrations: Integrations are particularly complex for large organizations — especially when you think about the amount of data that these organizations need to manage. Companies should look at providers that have a strategy around integrations and a history of working with clients to ensure that integrations go smoothly.

–          Partnership: In talent acquisition technology, companies need to think less about selecting a system and more about selecting a partner who will support them. Providers need to listen to their clients’ needs and be open to making adjustments to the product and their roadmap.

Aptitude is in the process of updating our ATS Index this summer and many of these themes and differentiators will be addressed in more detail in this year’s report. Stay tuned…