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Mar 26

Know Your Generations of Recruiting Software | 2016-03-22 | Talent Management

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Today, there are five generations in the workforce: traditionalists, boomers, Gen X, millennials and, chomping at the bit, Gen Z. Each generation is defined by the events in their individual histories and brings a slightly different view on what work is, how it’s performed and what value it holds.

The differentiations have been reported well, so instead I want to address the different generations of recruiting software applications available. As is true with each unique job and individual, each software application has a generational age that can give insight into how it might work for your organization.

Every week, I talk to talent acquisition leaders about their recruiting teams, business goals and challenges. Often, one of the most frustrating aspects of their jobs is the lack of enablement from the technology software they’re currently using. The wish for proactive capabilities, ease of use and intuitive design has them on a quest to find something new. However, much like recruiting the right hire, the search for new talent acquisition technology is not as simple as it used to be. The generational aspect now plays a bigger role in determining which software is viable for each generation.

In considering what generation of technology your company might be in, look beyond your recruiting applications and ask your IT partners about how and where the IT process at your company is going. For instance, are you currently using an older version of PeopleSoft (from 2002 or earlier)? No doubt, there is a dependence on the boomer generational products. What version of Outlook do you have enabled? What browser, and what version of that browser are you using? Turn-of-the-century versions would likely make you a traditionalist.

Traditionalist Technology

The great-grandparents of the industry, Resumix and ResTrak, were the first applications many of us used in our recruiting careers. Client-server applications sat in the office next door, with interns and administrative staff opening, sorting, prepping and verifying résumé information. They had to process these daily in order for recruiters to access the raw, black-and-white text information because there was no HTML. In addition, the processing team sent out confirmation postcards to every candidate.

Corporations of every size gravitated to this category of applications until the late 1990s, when larger issues started to appear. The Y2K conundrum had many organizations freezing their technology budget and using all IT sources to solve for the two-character year just to ensure the power stayed on. While IT was distracted with this potential world shut down, recruiting began to heat up in the tech sector like never seen before. The dawn of the broad-scale use of the Internet and demand for personal communication devices — first-generation mobile phones — saw recruiting rush out of the industrial age and into the communications age without ever looking back. By 1997, the boomer recruiting applications were born.

Boomer Technology

What I now see as the boomer technology — Recruitsoft (now Oracle Taleo), Hire Systems (now IBM Kenexa BrassRing), Skillsoft and others — was introduced as application service providers, or ASP. The pitch was simple: We can give you recruiting applications through your browser. You don’t need IT. In fact, we’ll configure it for you. All you have to do is log in.

Recruiting peaked 1998 and 2001, and these ASP solutions sold like hotcakes. The newer generational companies already had a grasp on the fact that everything was eventually shifting to the Web, and the older generations were debating bricks vs. clicks, while testing each and every product. The slowest to adopt these solutions were those who already mastered the first-generational processes. By the end of 2002, most organizations were making the switch.

The boomer generation of solutions was one of the most influential. Human resource information system applications were still delivered as “in-house” client-server solutions. Performance management and succession planning were still concepts not yet fully formed within service applications. Learning was the only other area that had fully embraced the Web as its home.

The first boomer solutions, such as Recruitsoft and Hire Systems, caused Resumix and Restrac to rethink their strategies. They attempted to turn exodus from their products back to their newer Web versions by launching Web-based applications. Resumix — now owned by HotJobs and ultimately Yahoo — retired their products altogether. Restrac — branded as Webhire and acquired by Kenexa — also expired. Other solutions came and went during the boomer generation, some of which were just before their time. Icarian is an example; it was designed on the premise that managers owned the recruiting process and had every right to be engaged in the activities of recruiting. The problem was it found itself selling to recruiting organizations and minimizing one of its best features. In a market where recruiters were kings and queens, the manager was a necessary evil, and a solution that gave them insight and power wouldn’t survive. Nowadays, manager engagement — access, self-service and participation — is expected.

Other solutions that made their way onto the scene were those aiming to solve a niche problem. Products like PureCarbon, which brokered the career website independent of the company’s website, enabled recruiters to manage employment branding content while posting jobs and creating stronger application processes. Employee referral products were another independent solution that was also absorbed into the core applicant tracking system, or ATS, software.

Other boomer applications that gained traction were job distribution solutions, or job aggregators. These quickly became extra solutions as each primary ATS worked to build these capabilities into their products directly to maintain a larger share of the fragmented dollars spent on recruiting technology.

Even well into the boomer era, we still relied on our traditional recruiting models focused on “post and pray,” distributing jobs to dozens upon dozens of job boards in the hopes that candidates would be looking for them and applying. We had yet to fully grasp the reality that we created awareness to all candidates without targeting the right ones.

Fast Forward

While these first- and second-generation solutions are no longer on the market in their original form, you can still see pieces of them in products today in the reality of skills inventories, the contract extraction features and the ability to store Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program requirements.

Today, the core concepts of these early solutions still reside in some form or another — the evolutions of career site hosting to microsite creation tools; device-agnostic user interface tools such as the phone, tablet and monitor); employee referral stand-alone programs; job distribution solutions and social relationship trolling.

Now we’re seeing another shift. Much like the one from client server to ASP, we’re moving from relational data to object-oriented. Though I am not a technical wiz, I can tell you that this will have a profound effect on how your applications will need to work moving into the next generation of solutions. Think about those products built more than 10 or 15 years ago. Are they new? Are they using the most current capabilities in technology? The answer might not matter as much as you think. What you really need to ask yourself is, “How can I ensure that as one generation of technology retires, the next will be enabled to deliver for the business?”

Stay tuned for part two, which considers how far we’ve come and just where exactly the future of recruiting technology is going in the coming years.

Source: Know Your Generations of Recruiting Software | 2016-03-22 | Talent Management

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