Recruitment drives HR Technology innovation

Recruitment drives HR Technology innovation
Recruiters. Love them, loathe them. Whatever your view, it is undeniable that recruitment has long been the driver for innovation in HR and Talent Management technology.

From the very moment the first English backpacker picked up a telephone to target a prospective new client, a candidate scratched out a CV on the first versions of WordPerfect, or a Personnel Manager checked the fax machine for incoming job applications, recruitment and technology have been inseparable bedfellows. An industry that is competitive by nature and by definition will always seek to innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack.

As insatiable consumers of technology, recruiters have naturally also been at the forefront of its innovation. Recruitment databases have long been a critical asset of both in-house and agency recruiters, and the early adoption of optical character recognition tools enabled candidate resumes to be picked apart and the details reposited for current and future reference. Email and calendar tools brought efficiencies to the job requisition and candidate management processes encouraging broader participation and shortening the time-to-hire.

The mid 1990’s saw the rise of the internet and it was recruiters again who seized the opportunity this presented blazing a trail in the adoption of internet-based applications. While the broader HR industry was still grappling with how to perform the complex calculations required to run their payrolls, recruiters were driving the development of the early eRecruitment systems that paved the way for the integrated Talent Management solutions that are now the standard for HR technology.

During the tech wreck of the early 2000s, it was vendors like Taleo, Vurv, BrassRing and PageUp who not only survived but thrived. They did so largely because their solutions solved real problems and created true value for their customers. In the process, the competition that ensued accelerated innovation further. It is no surprise then that most of these vendors have since been acquired to become a part of larger HR technology vendors as the industry itself has finally found its mojo.

In more recent times, the adoption of social technologies in HR has once again been led by the recruitment function. The advent of job markets such as Monster and Seek spawned a proliferation of niche job boards and led to the rise of LinkedIn as the standard for business-related social networking. The rapid rise of social technologies in the business context has seen yet another wave of innovation to leverage and embed these tools to create value through the generation of social capital.

Having attended the recent HR Technology Conference 2012 in Chicago, it was evident once again that recruitment continues to drive much of the innovation in our industry. In the expo hall, nearly half of the exhibitors had solutions that focused in whole or in part on the talent acquisition end of the HR space. Whether it was the use of social and mobile technologies for candidate interviewing – such as Hirevue and Spark Hire – to recruitment marketing solutions – such as Smashfly and Jobs2Web (now part of SuccessFactors) – the evidence of continued innovation was as strong as ever.

Interested to know your thoughts. Do recruiters still drive HR Technology innovation? What are some of the best innovations you’ve seen?

David is the MC for the upcoming RECTEC conference

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