HR Technology Column New Recruiting Systems -- The Edges Move to the Center

The next era of recruiting automation is arriving. "Edge application" functionality is no longer hanging off old applicant-tracking systems, but is slowly being moved to the center by at least three major vendors. Workday, Cornerstone OnDemand and Ultimate have all recently announced new recruiting systems or the latest version of a young one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
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Sorry to repeat myself: But you know the day of the applicant tracking system (ATS) is so over!

The center of value in recruiting automation long ago shifted to the so-called "edge applications," including candidate relationship management (CRM), referrals, social recruiting and search engine optimization.

Now, the edges are no longer just hanging off old applicant tracking systems. Their functionality is slowly being brought into the center by at least three major vendors selling to larger companies.

By chance - and I don't think they were competitive moves - Workday, Cornerstone OnDemand and Ultimate have all recently come out with brand new recruiting systems or the latest version of a young one: all built from the ground up. More details on some of those, and updates on the latest from SuccessFactors and IBM, will be featured in a future column.

Sorry, no stack ranking on which is the best. All are in their early stages. Certainly not a Magic Quadrant, Wave or Marketscape on the subject that you might be able to buy soon from Gartner, Forrester or IDC. I don't have the matrixed template for that kind of analytical rigor.

Instead, after recent in-depth demos, I'll tell you what I like about the current functionality, what's missing, plus disclosable insight about future directions.

Just know it's all based on my following recruiting automation since it began in 1988! If you remember both MicroTrac (a tough one) and Resumix (a bit easier), drop me an email. A few extra points for describing i-Search or HireSystems.

Workday's app has been the most anticipated, both because its customers have been screaming for it and because it's in the same industry spotlight as the company. Work began about two years ago; the app was minimally previewed at last fall's user conference, lightly demoed in April and finally demoed in some depth in mid-May.

Much was written about it after April's light demo, most of which needs to be revisited.

All 600+ SaaS customers got Workday Recruiting with the April 18 release; 70 have already paid to subscribe (like payroll, there's a separate charge) as of late May and most were implementing at that time. None is live yet. The 70 include development partners and early adopters Four Seasons Hotels, Equifax, Brown University, McKee and others.

Starting development at least a year earlier, Cornerstone has sold recruiting to about 170 of its 1,703 customers (as of March 31); around 65 are live; and some were sold standalone, which may be important because, in years past, many companies have been willing to use best-of-breed apps for recruiting. Cornerstone remains the learning management system partner for Workday, which sells no apps standalone.

Ultimate had used other vendors' code until February 2013, when it started writing UltiPro Recruiting following its research with users. The organically built application became generally available in May this year, and more than 30 have been sold and eight customers are live. Ultimate generally targets smaller companies now than Workday.

Workday's VP of Product Management Leighanne Levensaler, who provided the company's numbers, is direct about its value proposition: "Redefine how hiring teams find and nurture candidates," she says.

"Recruiting is a team sport, which currently has a lack of collaboration or connection to other apps and an ATS designed only for compliance and recruiters," she says.

In addition, Leighanne emphasized that the first release was designed to be an end-to-end replacement for Workday customers and prospects so they would feel comfortable enough to rip and replace their current ATS, notably large-customer leaders such as Oracle/Taleo and IBM/Kenexa/BrassRing. Plus SuccessFactors and Lawson (now Infor).

Leighanne and her team (including VP Amy Wilson) have clearly delivered a comfortable replacement application with the necessary collaboration. Plus, just like Workday's original HCM Copernican Revolution (now frequently copied), the software revolves around the candidate. Every action a recruiter or hiring manager might want to take travels around the system with each candidate.

The application has great navigation and ease-of-use for the functionality it has. But with so much steak, there's not much obvious sizzle or just plain "wow" in the first release. But wait, read on.

Many of the edges have been brought inside and integrated everywhere in the application, most seamlessly video from HireVue, which is on the menu bar. Also the individual candidate communication functions of CRM, though not yet mass campaign management (coming in August with Workday 23). Referral functionality doesn't yet touch the automation available with Jobvite.

The knotty problem of interview scheduling won't be available until February in Workday 24. Leighanne admits sourcing marketing functionality is still "light."

Workday will continue partnering for commodity services like job-board posting and aggregation, background checking and video interviewing. The rest it plans to write itself.

The sizzle starts on the road map. Workday has long had a partnership and even a special relationship with recruiting's mother lode, LinkedIn, because CEO Aneel Bhusri, as a partner at venture capital firm Greylock, led its investment in LinkedIn and remains close with its founder (and now chairman) Reid Hoffman.

The exact fruits of that relationship for Workday Recruiting are not yet certain or public. Leighanne says the current version's automatic ability to show an applicant his or her LinkedIn contacts at any company using a Workday-powered candidate site is a special feature. A hiring manager can also look at an applicant's profile and see their common contacts. If they're both signed on to LinkedIn.

More important will be what better "cross-system awareness" Workday gets from LinkedIn. Today, recruiters using Taleo, BrassRing, PeopleFluent and Lumesse have special rights to view LinkedIn from within those applications, rather than toggling between the two.

Doesn't sound like a big deal to you and me, but go ask a recruiter who's gone cross-eyed from toggling all day long.

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The point is LinkedIn is the single most important resource in salaried recruiting today (with a nod to Gild, Entelo and TalentBin, which do it differently for software engineers). Recruiters would sooner stand at their desks all day than give up the special functionality of their $8,000 seat on LinkedIn (last price I heard; your rate may vary).

Any recruiting app that gets truly favored integration with LinkedIn will have a huge advantage.

Cornerstone has actually done a fair amount with LinkedIn just using the public API's with no friend at the company. For instance, it can fetch full LinkedIn profiles from within its application, instead of the abbreviated version supplied when someone "applies with LinkedIn." That service is scheduled to end soon.

In its system, Ultimate allows candidates to edit their LinkedIn recommendations (the long, written ones; not the little pictures). It is also working on which LinkedIn connections work at a particular company, similar to Workday's.

Workday has an increasingly not-so-secret weapon: the recently acquired Identified. In the August release, that technology will match candidates with jobs using metadata, rather than parsing and extracting every word from resumes, which sounds like how Resumix worked.

Then there are ambitious plans for Identified doing machine-learning (which Resumix never did, instead requiring hand-coded knowledge engineering) in order to consolidate what is known about each candidate and make recommendations.

In short, we've only seen Release 1.0 from Workday, even though it came packaged with Workday 22.

For its part, Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud has niftily solved the interview scheduling process. Other apps, like Taleo, have to open Outlook for scheduling. Cornerstone can simply pass the confirmed appointment to Outlook. Again, not much of an issue unless you have to do it dozens of times a day.

Cornerstone has added the well-known concept of "tags" to recruiting. Created by an administrator but custom to every company, they can mean "willing to relocate" or whatever and help solve the challenge of capturing knowledge. Tags can be used all over the application, and being standard, they are dead simple to search.

The company has also embedded some aspects of CRM in recruiting, but it remains its major future for the November release.

Referrals are more advanced than Workday's but not the most powerful. From the email with the requisition, a current employee can easily search LinkedIn connections for matches to it. But the system does not do it automatically nor simply presents the results for action.

So nobody is yet meeting the best-of-breed "edge" functionality available today, nor would they be expected to. But they are moving the edges toward the center where they belong. More details about that and more functionality from these vendors shortly.

HR Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is co-chair emeritus of the 17th Annual HR Technology ® Conference & Exposition, returning to Las Vegas, Oct. 8-10, 2014.  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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