Prasadh M S |
The year was 2000…we were in a marathon of huddles with an American HR Tech start-up. They had cracked Resume Parsing, the technology that converted resumes to a digital database. Apart from parsing resumes, the solution promised automated profile matching and predictive sourcing capabilities. Recruitment Automation was happening right there in the room! This came at a time when job portals were revelling in their success. The disruption the job portals ushered was online digital resumes to eliminate printed resumes. Recruiting organisations were developing their own little CRM tools to manage job orders and track CV submissions. Finance experts were hammering away at invoicing and collection trackers. For an industry that was investing in shelf space and box files to manage an ocean of printed resumes, anything digital was manna from heaven.
Fast forward to 2018 and we are now in huddles with AI and ML-based startups for Recruitment Automation. Investment on in-house development continues. We’ve learnt a few new terms like intuitive, minimalist and mobility to compare the tools we assess. But the Silver Bullet for Recruitment Automation remains elusive.
The Ever-evolving Recruitment Function
Recruitment is in the top quadrant of business functions that constantly evolves and reshapes itself. Recruitment is akin to a Rubik’s Cube with multiple interlinked moving parts. With a vast scope for innovation and disruption, it is no surprise that 66% of the HR Tech VC deals in 2017 were bagged by talent-acquisition related technologies. The dynamism of the Recruitment space is also its bane. The ever-changing landscape offers one of the shortest runways for validation. Every new tool and solution needs to quickly prove itself worthy of being at the user’s desk. An estimated 60 – 75% of HR Tech initiatives fail to deliver their promise in the committed timeframe. The chances are high that a much-needed solution becomes irrelevant by the time its deployed. Barring the long-timers, most of the solutions are conceived in a hurry, built in a rush and rejected in a jiffy.
A Problem of Plenty?
The HR Automation space over the last decade has seen a flurry of start-up and investment activity. Among the total estimated 9200+ HR Tech companies, over 5100 are in the Candidate Sourcing and Recruitment Process Management space. Analysts, consultants, and consumers struggle to logically arrange and understand this massive inventory of tools. While the consuming end struggles to comprehend, the creating end is jostling for space and attention. For want of a structure, HR Tech tools is often bucketed into 11 to 13 genres. The Recruitment Automation genre alone comprises of 8 to 10 sub-categories. This problem of plenty has often made product selection look like an accident.
Treating the Symptoms
Recruitment Management has always enjoyed a high automation quotient and solutioning potential. However, a majority of the development bandwidth is consumed in treating the symptoms rather than the cause. Candidate no-shows for interviews is a symptom that has been treated with scheduling and re-scheduling automation. Video interview platforms and geo-enabled candidate tracking tools also treat the same symptom. One quick check into probable causes enlists an opportunity relevance, employer branding, interest retention etc. These deeper causes remain largely unexplored. These are interconnected hi-touch zones where it remains to be proved if just automation would help. Recruitment automation is an area where more is definitely not merrier. There is a rise in instances of Talent Acquisition teams bogged down by the sheer number of tools and platforms they need to be on. The fact that these tools do not share logical handshakes only doubles the trouble.
To Follow or To Lead?
A careful examination of the Recruitment Automation tools and solutions shows that this space primarily follows and rarely leads. Picking an innovation that’s in vogue elsewhere and applying it to a Recruitment problem has been a common route. While this could be attributed to the shorter runways, the window of the relevance to the solutions also ends up being short. If the slowdown in the number of new HR tech startups over the last 30 months is an indicator of an emerging poise, the $5Bn funds deployed around the same period shows potential. Despite a marginal reduction in the total investments in HR Tech, Recruitment related sub-sectors continue to dominate. Recruitment tech controls the lion share of investments by consuming one-third of the pie. With such potential for investment, the sector will definitely benefit from fresh thinking and innovation. Fresh solutions to core issues are clearly the need of the hour in Recruitment Automation.
The Silver Bullet
A decade ago, large MNCs with recruitment processes around the globe, clearly swore by a few tools. They endorsed the comprehensive problem solving that few of the talent acquisition and talent management platforms brought. The likes of Kenexa BrassRing and Taleo in their pre-acquisition avatars were pitched as Silver Bullets for the talent acquisition domain. These platforms and few more were seen running large Global Delivery Centres and Centres of Excellence for Recruitment with remarkable results. However, the talent and technology landscape has fast-forwarded its own evolution, making some of these solutions look like legends from the past. In the current search for the Silver Bullet for Recruitment Management, large end-to-end enterprise solutions suffer due to their sheer weight and complexity. On the other hand, smaller tools with singular scope are nimble but suffer on relevance and poor interoperability.
The search for the Silver Bullet in Recruitment Automation is hence set to continue for a while longer. After all, no Rubik’s cube can be solved one face at a time. 😊