HR Tech Conference Day 1: Give Candidates What They Want

At the beginning of this year, it was predicted that the candidate experience would be a top trend for 2012. As we reach the end of the year, my briefings at Monday’s HR Technology Conference at McCormick Place in Chicago confirmed that. The continuing high unemployment means more people are looking for jobs, but it also means currently employed candidates are less likely to make a move to a company that starts off treating them poorly. With that in mind, this year’s conference has been about finding a solution to this trend – how to attract, recruit and retain the cream of the crop.

While cooped up in the pressroom all day, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with some pioneers in the HR tech space. I’ve met with more than I can cover, but here is a taste of my top five picks of companies to watch. Each is doing a little something to enhance the candidate experience and make HR’s job a little bit easier.

1. In preparation for the conference, I was catching up on vendors I was planning to meet with and came across news that Hireology announced late last week that it ended the third quarter with record revenue and its second consecutive quarter of 100 percent customer growth. I’m not surprised. The company provides a SaaS-based selection management platform that helps SMBs and multi-site enterprises organize their hiring process and leverage data and tools to make better hiring choices. Its provides clients capabilities such as online applicant management, job profiling, customized candidate interview guides and scoring, online skills testing, behavioral interviews and verification services such as background checks and drug screening. With so many companies wasting their money with bad hires, it’s not shocking to hear Hireology is in high demand.

I had the privilege of speaking with CEO Adam Robinson today, who told me the company is moving into the performance management and performance review sector in 2013. After three years of helping distributed organizations such as franchise systems leverage data to make better hiring decisions, it’s now time to close the gap between a good hire and what he or she brings to the table.

2. Earlier Monday technology company TalentWise announced TalentWise Hire — a single online, SaaS platform that automates the hiring process so HR can manage all hiring activities electronically, including applications, assessments and offers; background checks and drug tests; new hire forms, employment eligibility verification, and tax credits and incentives. I had the opportunity to meet with Bill Glenn, the company’s vice president of marketing and alliances, who reminded me that hiring is the first impression a prospective employee has of the company’s culture. Because of this, TalentWise’s most recent product was created to enable HR to achieve some strategic goals associated with the hiring process, including:

  • Reduced cost and improved productivity by reducing and often eliminating the need for paper, fax, mail, and multiple vendors and systems.
  • Reduced compliance risk by leveraging automation to ensure process consistency.
  • Professional and engaging candidate experience, leading to improved time to productivity and new hire retention.

What interested me most is that this portal is tailored to any organization’s specifications, including branding and content. It allows new hires to get acclimated and begin the on-boarding process ahead of day one and for current employees to get answers quickly regarding corporate programs, benefits and training. The customization is pretty remarkable. If you’re at the event, check out booth 125.

3. I later met with T.J. Radtke, founder and president of Acertiv, an online recruiting service that helps companies quickly and cost-effectively find qualified candidates and helps job applicants stand out from the crowd to get hired faster. Through the ProofSheet product, candidates provide proof for their bullet-level claims. The candidates find sources to certify their claims by using professional social networks and other tools, adding them to their existing résumé.

The company’s patented products enable applicants to validate specific career accomplishments and access and reuse their certified career data throughout the course of their careers. Radtke said approximately 43 percent of candidates who have been guided to Acertiv’s product after applying for a position have logged in to start the ProofSheet process, and 15 percent have completed the process. Not only is this an easier way to reference check, it gives employees more control, and if there’s one think prospective and current employees want, it’s control.

4. For the past few years Cfactor has provided DeVry University employees with a unified environment — a common destination point regardless of business unit, location, geography or technology systems – that engages the entire enterprise and enables employees to connect and foster relationships with others outside of their primary location. When I asked Deb Maher, senior director of HRIS and shared services of DeVry Inc., why she adopted this tool, she said: “We teach our students how to have a career; why wouldn’t we do the same for employees?” She has a point, no? After all, 75 percent of DeVry’s employees do not have on-site HR. “With this environment, you’re not just a set of data, you’re you,” Maher said. “You don’t think about replacing your boss, you’re not disengaged because of the lack of career development. You see opportunities and you see them much further than you did before.”

5. Last but not least, I sat with Ashley Hoffman, vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships for Brazen Careerist. I had read this article on her company’s speed-dating like product for Gen Y, and I was interested to hear how Brazen Careerist caters to other generations. In 2010, the company set out to create a virtual event platform that would bring employers and top talent together in an engaging and efficient way online. Today, the virtual event platform is used by organizations such as Amazon, Citi and Deloitte, across all generations and job openings. The events usually last two to three hours and good candidates can be invited back for deeper, in-person interviews, while candidates who are not a great fit will be weeded out early on, they say.

While candidates only have to log in for a few minutes to make themselves known, I still didn’t believe this would work. After all, is this safe to do at work? What if your boss finds out? Hoffman told me most job board sites say they have the highest traffic on Monday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. Candidates have divulged to Hoffman that they’ve attended during their lunch breaks or on coffee breaks. The fairs are informative and fun; they give employees control and keep them engaged, and if there’s one thing I learned Monday, it’s that these are the keywords for candidates in today’s job market.

If you’re not joining us at the conference this week, be sure to follow @HRTechConf and participants’ reactions and coverage by monitoring the #HRTechConf stream.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s briefings and keynote in the morning. Come back to Tuesday evening for more takeaways!