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Is your HR tech taking you away from the human part of your job?

If your tech stack keeps you busier than interaction with candidates, check out these tips for finding efficiencies that will give you more of that precious time back.

Is your HR tech taking you away from the human part of your job?

Today’s HR professionals see technology as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, HR tech has the power to automate tasks and unlock data insights to inform strategic decisions. On the flipside, many recruiting professionals say they are consumed and overwhelmed by the amount of technology they have to manage.

In the 2018 Monster State of Recruiting survey, 55% of in-house recruiters said that technology is getting in the way of the relationship-building activities that are at the heart of their job. What’s more, the majority agreed that being successful today requires an ever-expanding job description that includes data analysts (69%) and digital specialists (66%).

“The biggest failure of the evolution of recruiting technology is that it’s surpassed the understanding of most talent acquisition leaders,” says Tim Sackett, SCP, SPHR, president or HRU Technical Resources. “It’s moving so fast that it’s quite confusing to know what you should be putting in your tech stack and what’s just hype.”

As such, if you’re not technologically inclined, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by HR tech. The good news is if you learn to harness it the right way, you’ll have even more time in your day to devote to the best part of your job: making meaningful human connections with candidates.

Start by incorporating these best HR tech practices:

Audit and refine your current tech stack

If your processes are manual and time-consuming, carve out some time to do a little analysis as to what can be improved, says Carolyn Broderick, a longtime HR technology professional and member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) HR management and technology expertise panel.

“Always be looking at your work to see what can be done better,” she says. “When I used to manage staffing technology, I had my power users who would give me suggestions on what we could add to make life easier.”

Some questions to ask yourself and your colleagues:

  • What can we automate?
  • Which are the steps that don’t require any judgmental skills that we can parse and help move the workflow along?
  • Which aspects of our tech stack can we eliminate, and which are the most helpful?
  • What features aren’t we using because we just don’t understand how it works?

Sackett agrees that recruiting technology should automate the low-end, transactional kinds of recruiting skills as much as possible. “Doing this allows recruiters to have the capacity to spend time with candidates and hiring managers to attract and hire better talent for our organizations,” he says. In fact, he contends the industry needs more, not less, recruiting automation. “We are paying way too much for human recruiters to do things that machines can do better and faster.”

Make friends with the tech team

In Sierra-Cedar’s 2018-2019 HR Systems Survey, only 17% of organizations felt that their HR systems “always” meet their business needs. The rest identified the following barriers to using HR tech effectively: configuration and customization limitations (50%), functionality gaps (44%), and internal knowledge and skills gaps (24%).

You can probably relate if you’ve been using multiple systems to collect resumes, source candidates, contact applicants, schedule interviews, and more. Each system addresses a specific need or solves one problem, but no one thought ahead as to how each one’s data would integrate. In order to merge all the insights into one holistic big picture, you’re forced to shuffle data from one system to the next, despite not ever receiving thorough training or guidance.

Broderick says some collaboration with your IT department might be in order. “There are technologies that will make these systems talk to each other in the back end,” she says, “but you have to think about what experts you need in the room to make sure that can happen.”

Take advantage of partner resources

Sometimes recruiters have access to robust technology, but they aren’t maximizing it to its potential. That’s something that can be easily remedied by asking your customer account representative for additional training and tech support (that is probably already included in your service contract).

“It’s important to work closely with whoever supports your tech,” says Broderick. Even better, if you have a good relationship with a vendor, you can suggest wish list items that they can add to their software upgrades. Oftentimes, they appreciate customer feedback that will help improve their offerings and are able to oblige.

Make time to demo new HR technology

It’s tempting to tune out the constant stream of vendors who are approaching you with the next big thing, but scheduling in some demo time is important for the simple reason that it can help you become conversant about HR tech.

Sackett says he does a lot of demos, at least one per week, in order to stay current on what’s new. And the more you do, the easier it will be to differentiate between which ones are a great fit and which ones lack substance.

If you do happen to be wowed by a great demo, Broderick cautions you to take a pause.I’ve been in the room with recruiters when they’ve looked at systems thinking it will save them so much work. But you also have to think about what is needed to make it work in the same way the demo looked,” she says. In other words, ask a lot of questions to understand how easy or difficult it will be to implement into your existing ecosystem.

Sackett also recommends not taking the vendor’s word for it. He always asks for three references: a current customer who uses the tech the best; a former customer who left within the last year; and a current customer who is about 90 days into their implementation. “If they refuse to give me any of these three, I will not use that tech,” he says. 

Be ready for the next best thing

Consider this: More than half (58%) of companies in Paychex’s 2018 Pulse of HR survey said they use AI technology, such as voice recognition, chatbots, and virtual reality interfaces. However, only 22% say they apply it effectively.

In other words, being an early adopter is great, but only if you take the time to educate yourself, says Broderick, noting that many people aren’t actually clear on what AI even is (or isn’t). “You have to have a basic understanding of the tech and how it will help you in order to use it. Try reading case studies on how a piece of tech worked in real life,” she says.

Once you stop resisting HR technology and consider it a regular part of your continuing education, you’ll feel more confident using what you have and evaluating newer products like AI, predictive analytics, and more.

Recruiting and HR technology should be a help, not a hindrance. If you’re spending more time doing data entry and system toggling than you do with your candidates, you’re using it wrong. Look to internal and external digital partners to help you figure out how to maximize the tech solutions you have and decide if it’s time to try something new.