Talent Acquisition's Shiny Object Syndrome"

May 11th, 2017

Amanda Hahn



One of the most touted “New Rules of Talent Acquisition” from Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Report reads as follows: “Companies have talent acquisition technology platforms that manage sourcing, video interviewing, interview management, candidate relationship management (CRM), and onboarding.” Considering the number of players in the recruitment tech space, it should come as no surprise that this “new rule” has been widely publicized. But with so many vendors and solutions to choose from, are talent acquisition functions falling prey to “Shiny Object Syndrome”?

Does Your Function Have "Shiny Object Syndrome"?

businessEvery innovation in the talent acquisition tech space comes with a parade of press releases, news articles, and observations published by your LinkedIn peers. Such a perfect storm of positive publicity is, by design, impossible to ignore. A properly run PR campaign can persuade even the most skeptical buyer to visit a solution’s demo page. Most solutions providers are innovating in one way or another, and their new take on sourcing, interviewing, or onboarding seems to open a whole new world of talent acquisition possibilities. These new solutions are so shiny that it is easy to forget why we buy them in the first place. Let’s look at a couple examples where the symptoms of shiny object syndrome are on full display.

Example #1: Sourcing Spend vs. Candidate Consideration

The average talent acquisition function invests 25% of their budget in sourcing tools. Keep that in mind when reading through this example. There are a huge variety of options in the talent sourcing space: some come with a focus on social outreach, others use innovative ways to put your application in front of as many candidates as possible. And with predictive analytics, nearly every solution can be properly referred to as “data-driven.” With so many options in so many niches, almost every sourcing function will leverage more than one of these tools - and most will use more than five. “That’s great!” you might be thinking. “More candidates plus analytics means a greater chance of finding that perfect needle in the haystack.” Well, sort of. But consider this: the average job opening has over 250 applicants, yet less than six are actually considered.

"Do you really need seven sourcing tools when you’re only considering 2% of your candidates?"

That’s right: only 2.4% of candidates are ever considered for the job they applied for. Does dropping that number to 1% really help?

Example #2: Screening Candidates with Social Scraping

When building the aforementioned unwieldy talent pool, those who make screening decisions are put in a difficult position. If so much investment is put into candidate sourcing, it feels like a waste to throw out half the talent pool with a simple ATS screen. To make more justifiable screening decisions, you need more data to work with. A recent trend in candidate assessment attempts to fill this information gap with data scraped from candidates' pages on social media. On the surface, it makes sense: social media pages contain a huge amount of information that differentiates candidates with similar resumes and qualifications. But in a recent panel at the I-O Psychology Conference SIOP, the EEOC had a different perspective: tread lightly when using social data to assess candidates. When using data from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to make screening decisions, it becomes easy to make decisions that have adverse impact. In other words, what might look like the great solution to a common problem could land you in court.

Identify the Challenge Before Investing & Fully Vet Each Solution

measurementTo avoid ending up with an “exquisite corpse” of solutions, the talent acquisition function must identify where it has challenges or opportunities - and fully vet each option. In the first example, it would make sense to redirect funds from one of two of the less powerful sourcing tools to a solution that enables you to consider more candidates. In the second example, it would make sense to work with a provider that leverages a validated approach, using I-O Psychology methods to evaluate candidates based on job success criteria. With the right solution you can utilize new types of data to better identify top performers fast, and even improve on old methods of mitigating adverse impact.  Every new tool needs to enable its users to perform their jobs better - not give them more to manage. If solutions are purchased before challenges or opportunities are identified, front line users will become disenchanted and quickly fall back into their old way of doing things. But if you invest in solutions that address actual problems, you’ll be astounded at the rate of adoption. Identify and be aware of your problem, then consider a solution. Not the other way around.

Carnival Cruise Ships is a great example of how identifying a problem can lead to an innovative solution.

Read how they cut agency costs, built onboard talent teams 80% faster, and increased talent retention.