HR Technology Column the New Recruiting Entrants Differ from the Older Guys

The applicant tracking system is the new HRMS -- necessary but largely administrative. Now value is in the recruiting "edge" applications and how companies are using them to find, build and maintain relationships with candidates. The shift involves more than social recruiting and candidate-relationship management. It's spurring a new war for recruiting-software leadership.

Monday, August 19, 2013
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Making predictions about recruiting technology is perilous. As you know, it's the source of the greatest innovation in HR; the function where every new technology coming down the pike is tried first. Sometimes new technologies are even developed for recruiting. It's hard just to keep up.

Plus there are endless experts: ERE lists six regular recruiting columnists and about 150 contributors! Though some are for its more general HR site. Don't even mention the number of bloggers!

And then there's John Sumser: our first daily blogger 17 years ago, when he was most expert about job boards, though his footprint has spread much wider with a continued focus on recruiting. Still whip-smart, despite being eligible for Social Security, John disagreed with just about every word I wrote last time about the next generation of recruiting software. You may be amused to hear our short podcast together, particularly the last five minutes.

Naturally, John will still be one of four guests on The HR Tonight Show at HR Tech. And I push on with my thesis buoyed by the third grey-beard expert in recruiting technology, Gerry Crispin, calling my last column "prescient" on the LinkedIn group. His recruiting panel at HR Tech is always a hit.

Briefly, the simple thesis is the applicant tracking system, the miracle of years gone by, is now the new HRMS, necessary but largely administrative.

The HRMS was once surrounded by a blizzard of more strategic applications like performance management, compensation and even recruiting, which finally coalesced into integrated talent management suites and more recently into unified HCM with Core HR and TM.

Similarly, the dozens of current "edge" applications in recruiting - social, mobile, video, sourcing, referrals, internal mobility, candidate relationship management, et al - are waiting to become the new talent acquisition suite or being incorporated, to greater or lesser degrees, into brand new big company recruiting applications from larger vendors such Cornerstone OnDemand, SuccessFactors and Workday.

More important than the apps themselves is their purpose. According to unbearded, but equally expert Elaine Orler, who will make sense of them all in her Recruiting Technology State of the Union breakout at the conference: "This is the proactive relationship management side of recruiting. It is finding, building and cultivating relationships with current and future talent for the business."

"It requires more than just CRM and more than just social broadcasting (pushing jobs to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It requires the ability to capture information that matters, maintain the connection to that information as it changes (a profile update on LinkedIn, for instance) so the updates are transparent to the recruiter. And it creates the ability to turn that information into intelligence in the recruiting race."

Let's look at some of the newer products.

Start with David Wachtel, who runs Cornerstone's recruiting product. At the last two annual Convergence user conferences held in early June, I have sat down with him for a demo. And started the first meeting by saying:

"Your CEO Adam Miller says your app will be for how people recruit today, not like the legacy apps: Taleo, BrassRing, et al. So forget the standard ATS stuff; I've seen dozens of variants. I only want to see your functionality that proves him right."

And David showed it to me.

His and Adam's strategy, rather than incorporating all of the edge applications, is to facilitate what every credible study points to as the two best sources of hire: internal mobility and referrals, without ignoring getting new candidates. In other words, the people who already work for you, and the people they know.

An idea good enough to forgive the company calling the application "Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud."

Cornerstone's new Universal Profile allows employees to give more information about themselves, becoming more transparent to internal recruiters and passively marketing themselves more fully for open positions. The new Employee Career Center (in performance management) exposes open requisitions to employees for active applications, as well as referral bonuses, suggests possible next jobs for them, and offers five ways to send out jobs to their friends (including searching through social networks for matches).

The recruiting app benefits from Cornerstone's social collaboration functionality, once a separate module but now being embedded in all its TM applications. That includes private social conversations among interviewers of a candidate, a feature SuccessFactors first introduced but admits is not getting much adoption from clients, perhaps because Jam, its social networking software, has to be purchased and implemented first. I've long thought it a huge innovation.

HireVue has been tightly integrated (with single sign-on) for video interviewing with Outlook integration for previewing and notifications. Outlook is also integrated for interview management, a classic ATS function.

Like every vendor, Cornerstone has some mobile capabilities in place well ahead of most customers' willingness to adapt them, though recruiters and candidates are leading the pack in HR in mobile. CRM is still a work in progress, promised to be full blown by the end of the year. 

In this new large client recruiting war, SuccessFactors benefits from the incredibly smart decision made just a month before SAP bought it: acquiring jobs2web. And then from its own decision to keep employed the small company's "Client Value Managers," who essentially act as consultants to customers before and after implementation. Critical for navigating this new recruiting landscape.

And finally, from SAP's insistence that the product, renamed Recruiting Marketing (RMK), run on the same tech stack as the rest of SF's talent management applications. Teamed up with the existing back-end ATS, now known as Recruiting Management (RM), the two make up the RX offering (get it, like BizX?), though they can be bought separately.

The product's new VP Sales & Strategy Lisa Hartley (yes, from Taleo and once a child worker at PeopleSoft) estimates RX has 770 clients (a mix of its traditional SMB and now larger companies) with about half using Recruiting Marketing. SF claims about 4,000 clients overall.

RMK is about attract and engage. RM is about assess, select, screen and onboard.

The process starts with analytics, as it should, because jobs2web was one of the first dashboards to pull it all together for recruiters. Most candidates now start looking for a job with a Google search, and RMK does Search Engine Optimization to make clients' job openings rise to the top of the list.

All the jobs are tagged, so recruiters always know the source of the application, and from the dashboard they can send emails, post to job aggregators like Indeed and SimplyHired, post to major or niche job boards, track the major search engines and push ads out onto the social networks.

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And then in a sourcing funnel, find out many visits people made to each and the applications that were started and finished from each. How many applicants were deemed qualified, how many interviewed and how many hired. From each source! Very impressive.

Referrals don't yet meet the level of Jobvite, which doesn't just send open jobs to employees but automatically (with their permission) searches their social networks and suggests possible matches. Both Cornerstone and RMK require a manual search.

The career centers RMK creates for clients (or rather the Client Value Managers help create, representing about one-quarter of what customers pay for the application) have a cool map widget. Click on it, and it shows the geographical location of a company's jobs everywhere in the world! With drill down for enlarging a section, of course.

Hartley says RX also has a feature I first heard proposed at a 1999 Resumix user conference. It might have been from Sumser. When someone from a hot competitor applies, alert the recruiter immediately! In this case, client Microsoft wants to know about applicants working for Google.

Recruiting Management has some interesting twists. The best is "print and go," which assembles and prints all the documents for a recruiter or hiring manager rushing off to an interview. Nice, but let's hope they took the time to review them earlier!

Three years after I complained about it, RM still doesn't have resume parsing and extracting, though Hartley insists it's finally all locked and loaded with a technology partner, awaiting legal review from SAP. In an era of candidates increasingly "applying with LinkedIn" and their online profiles, perhaps I'm the only one who still thinks that's essential.

For its part, Workday has only outlined the design principles of its recruiting solution, much awaited by its customers, who will get to see the early details at Workday Rising, the annual user conference on September 10, where it was announced as a future a year ago.

Workday VP HCM Product Strategy Amy Wilson (yes, another PeopleSoft child, but who stayed at Oracle for awhile) reiterated that it will be designed first for mobile, a policy Workday has for all new applications. She considers this essential for recruiting, which is often done "on the go."

Like SuccessFactors, it will include access to the entire talent pool (both internal and external candidates), onboarding new hires, and drill down into actionable analytics. Also mobile career sites and analytics, including the sourcing funnel on a phone. Eyeglasses, please!

No word yet on incorporating the edge applications, though Workday has a tight referral partnership with Jobvite.

So listen for another salvo in the new recruiting war a week after summer ends with Labor Day.

HR Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is founding co-chairman of the 16th Annual HR Technology ® Conference & Exposition, returning to Las Vegas, Oct. 7-9, 2013. This year's conference program is online with the late news of Jeopardy-winner IBM Watson appearing on stage. Or download the brochure. You can comment on this column at the Conference LinkedIn Group, which doesn't require prior or future conference attendance to join. He is also host of The Bill Kutik Radio Show ®. He can be reached at


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