Every year, HR and recruitment look like they’re going to firmly enter the digital age—adopting the fancy analytics and technology solutions folks have been imagining since the early 2000s—and every year the reality is a little bit… messier. In some emerging markets we’re seeing widespread technology implementation in HR (90% of those surveyed in Brazil said that technology was powering smarter hiring decisions, compared to around 60% in Europe), but by and large adoption of new solutions is lagging. There are plenty of buzzwords, from chatbots and ATS to people analytics and AI, but real, data-driven decision making is hard to come by.
Why might this be the case? If you look at the statistics that are floating around (like the one above), you might get the impression that people in more mature markets are just set in their ways, or they're distrustful of the technologies that the C-suite is pushing on them. But, as someone who’s spoken to more than 1,000 HR leaders in the past three years, I can tell you that that’s not the whole story. In reality, HR is still a low priority for most C-level executives, meaning that budgets are tiny and decision making cycles are practically endless. Beyond that, many decision makers don’t really understand the HR technology that’s being discussed, which makes it nearly impossible to separate the substance from the BS. Luckily, we’re here to help—here’s our three most important steps for accelerating your technology adoption in recruitment and hiring.
1. Get Your Priorities Straight
It's easy to get lost in the all the bells and whistles that come with the next big thing. People implement things like chatbots because they’re cool. Because they like the idea of having something like that on their website. But just because something is cool doesn’t mean it actually meets a critical business need or solves a meaningful recruiting problem. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Every business that wants to get serious about adopting new technology needs to first sit and down and decide on the most important priority for its HR department. Are you trying to deal with a talent shortage? Do you need to manage candidates more effectively? Whatever technology you look at should address these things from the get go. If you’re having trouble attracting candidates to your website, a chatbot on your website won’t be any help. There’s no one size fits all solution here, but you can use your judgement.
Actually, there is a one size fits all solution. Whatever technology you choose to address your HR goals, make sure you’re focusing on social and mobile. The modern candidate pool is mostly passive candidates, and these people spend zero time on job boards and tons of time scrolling Facebook, Twitter or Reddit on their phones. So, businesses need to go where the potential hires are—this is how you make sure that your priorities also aligned with your candidates’ priorities, i.e. you make it as easy as possible for potential applicants not just to encounter your brand on their mobile phones, but to learn about your company and even submit an application.
2. Empower Yourself and Others
Okay, so you’ve determined what your top priority is as an HR department. How do you proceed from there? You do your best to make leadership align their priorities with your priorities. You should be searching for institutional buy-in from the C-suite not just conceptually, but in terms of budget. Most HR departments simply don’t have the budgets to grow their technological capability as quickly as marketing teams—even though effective hiring is what makes continued business success possible! This is why HR leaders need to empower themselves to ask for larger budgets. HR no longer plays second fiddle to traditional marketing in terms of importance or technological needs, so why should it be secondary in terms of financial considerations? If your C-suite has expressed a desire for more data driven hiring processes, make sure they’re willing to back up that desire.
Critically, you should also make sure to empower yourself with your choice of technology as well. When you’re making a selection, be sure that you’re opting for something that will make your life easier when you use it. This means, first of all, that it should be easy to install and easy to use. Just as importantly, it should add value in an obvious way. Yes, this is another way of warning you against the “cool” technology (gamification might be fun, but it won’t empower you to do anything critical in the short term—maybe save it for the next round of improvements), but it’s also a way to guide you towards technologies that will put your needs—to say nothing of your applicants’ needs—front and center.
3. Don’t Expect Change Overnight
Let’s say you’ve been taking our advice, and nothing particularly special seems to be happening. What should you do? Wait. I’ve seen too many businesses give up on promising technological innovations because they expected overnight results and didn’t get them. Sure, it would be nice to magically solve all of your recruitment issues with one turnkey solution; but HR is an investment in your company’s future, and investments take time to mature. If you’ve selected and implemented your technology wisely, you’ll start to see increases in applicants or decreases in turnover or whatever your HR goal is over a course of months, rather than days.
This might seem frustrating, but the other side of the coin is that your talent pipeline isn’t going to dry up overnight either. If you’re using long-term solutions and tactics, you can expect long term results. With employer branding, for example, it can take months of posting and advertising consistently on social media channels and across the web before you develop enough employer brand gravity to generate organic applies on your careers page, but once you do that employer brand gravity keeps working. You’ll have to keep up what you’ve been doing, but you can then start to build on top of it. This way, you can adopt new technology in a smart, efficient way that adds value and reduces the risk of your efforts failing or going to waste. By lowering this failure rate, you make sure that your HR department enters the era of smart, digital recruitment, and stays there!