Are HR & Tech Just Beginning to Collide?

Just did a new guest blog for our friends over at HrRemix as part of their Future of HR Series. Here is an excerpt and be sure to have a look ….

When people ask about the future of HR technology, it’s difficult to paint a crystal clear picture because we can never be positive of what the coming days will hold. Yet, while complete certainty is unavailable, experience and understanding lead us to some well-informed, and thus very likely, conclusions about the impact of modern science on some of the most fundamental aspects of our field.  In essence, the collision between HR and technology has only just begun. READ MORE

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The Lacking Intelligence with HR Technology Integrations (a.k.a. The Dongle Just Doesn’t Cut It)

The word “dongle” has become a part of my daily lexicon. It’s a very odd word that sounds strangely dirty. Everyone laughs when it comes up in a meeting. (See, you are laughing right now and I seriously am not trying to be provocative.)

The odd part of a dongle is the fact that it even exists. It connects one thing to another thing to yet another thing to make the first thing work.

Standard HR technology integrations work the same way most of the time. One technology, usually an ATS, has a bunch of dongles hanging off connecting various other pieces of component software. That’s fine if all you are trying to do is just get the information back into the system of record.

But, what if you want to actually leverage that data throughout the hiring process? Here is an example I see all of the time … an ATS has “hooks” into a skills test, pre-employment assessment and a background check. A candidate applies, takes the skills test, then takes a pre-employment assessment, then phone screen, in-person interview, yada, yada, offer. Typically, the only real information going back into the ATS is the score. You can clearly see that they passed the skills test and that they got a satisfactory score on the assessment.

Here is the lack of intelligence though. What about your ability to actually use the information, beside the scores, in a meaningful way? Think about the pre-employment assessment. Most vendors provide a wealth of information about the candidate and their job fit. Most also provide detailed narratives and interview questions. Some even provide specific coaching and on-boarding suggestions. Standard integrations miss all of this and “check the box” that a screening component was completed, but the leverage effect is lost.

In the other post, I talked about breaking the silos in talent selection. I discussed that information collected in one part of the screening process is not usually shared effectively to drive another. Current HR integration strategy can really cause or exacerbate this problem. We are focused on the scores of various parts of the selection process or the fact that they have simply taken place, but require entering multiple systems to gain any insight into the issues identified.

This is not an easy problem to correct. HR tech vendors and their clients have long struggled with the gross inefficiency of building an integration. This is improving as API’s become more open and mid-ware components such as HR Integrations become more mainstream. But, this doesn’t solve the intelligence problem.

In the meantime, HR needs to make sure that even though the ATS is showing that a process is complete, the full report explaining why a candidate scored as they did is being shared and used throughout the screening process. Without this intelligence sharing, the integration becomes a very elegant way to “check the box”.

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Response to “Reference Checks: Neutral is the New Negative and Getting Negative Info is Gold”

Just read HR Capitalist’s blog post entitled “Reference Checks: Neutral is the New Negative, and Getting Negative Info is Gold…”. In it @Kris_Dunn discusses simply receiving “name, rank and serial number” on a candidate is the new standard of a negative reference. But is it? I’m going to go with sort of. I know, it’s a really weak answer but let me explain.

I am CEO of a company that provides automated reference checking technology called Chequed.com. Our cloud-based solution checks thousands and thousands of references per month. Typically, automated reference-checking technologies like ours (there are a couple other companies provided similar, albeit differentiated products) see reference completion rates of over 80%. When I say completion, I am referring to a complete reference check with answers to all requested information. That is a pretty startling difference from the phone-based reference checking average of around 20% that our research indicates (as well as personal experience hiring a lot of people … I started my career as a technology recruiter).

So, back to my answer of simply getting name, rank and serial number as an indicator of a negative reference. Truth is that is depends a great deal on the position. Higher level professionals are more able to arrange calls with their references and get them to provide detailed information. Lower to mid level candidates may not have this luxury as the impact of a reference breaking corporate policy is just not worth it.

Beside the issue of career level, the much larger reason is that the phone-based reference checking model is flawed and will continue to yield fewer and fewer successful reference checks. They will also yield far fewer truly negative references where specific information is gathered from the call that will prevent a bad hire.

I say it’s a flawed model because it rests on premise that a reference provided by a candidate, who has a relationship with that candidate, is going to throw
their buddy under the bus to benefit someone whom they don’t know and have no interest in. Why would they do this? Got me. Corporate policy has just provided a convenient excuse for an already dumb request.

Automated reference checking technologies have started to disrupt this process finally and see far higher completion rates. Most importantly, the results can use assessment-based logic (at least in the case of Chequed.com who is the only one I can speak about first-hand) to make it predictive of on-the-job performance. We usually see negative reference rates between 15-20% versus under 5% which is average for phone based.

Back to HR Capitalists notion that no information is the new negative, under a flawed model there is probably some truth to that but we can do far better to make reference checking relevant again.

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HR Tech Sales Rethunk

Yes, I meant rethunk instead of … you get it.

Riding the train to Manhattan (father/daughter weekend) reading an article in HRB about the secret to smarter sales and the new art of the “Big Idea”. Showing the buyer how it can be done better in a fundamentally new way based on a need that they may not be able to articulate yet. Basically, it says that the days of “Solution Sales” … asking a million questions to identify a “hook” (need), developing an internal champion and presenting a solution specifically focused on that need … is over.

Had this exact conversation with my VP of Sales the other day.  I am the CEO of a software company and buy a ton of stuff from a ton of sales reps, most of whom suck royally at selling but I’m sure are fine people. Who in the hell wants to be on the receiving end of a technology sales rep go through this mundane process of asking questions of no value to the buyer only to have the answers used as hammer once the vulnerability is found???? Or even worse, having them offer to “come visit me” to smack me with said “solution” hammer.

HR technology vendors (present company included) are stuck in an old-fashioned selling pattern. The pace of HR tech demands that vendors step up and show the buyer the light. Show the “Big Idea” on how [NAME THE CATEGORY … RECRUITMENT, PERFORMANCE MGT, ETC.) can be done so much better and stop focusing so much time on how a solution is the perfect fit for some narrowly defined problem articulated by the buyer  (or worse, RFP) who likely understands neither the full scope of the problem or the possibilities that exist today.

Here is the challenge .. HR Tech sales reps (our reps at the top of this list) start delivering the Big Idea more and the “solution” hammer less … challenge the buyer to think bigger.

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