4 trends every TA leader needs to know about today

Investment in talent acquisition technology is trending downward—but that doesn’t mean innovation has slowed.

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That was the consensus of Madeline Laurano, co-founder of Aptitude Research Partners, and Tim Sackett, CEO of HRUTech.com, during their HR Tech Conference mega session this week on the state of the TA tech landscape.

This year, investments in TA tech increased by 51%—a figure that stood at 73% two years ago. That’s not necessarily bad news for the market, however, Laurano cautions.

“Are companies still buying TA tech? Yes. Does it look like the same as two years ago? No,” she says. “Companies are becoming more strategic. They’re not buying disparate solutions. It’s more strategic buying today.”

Central to that strategy is rethinking the overarching aim of talent acquisition—to support both recruiting and retention.

“They’re two sides of the same coin,” says Laurano. “I think that’s encouraging for where TA tech is going. Companies that really link the two are able to see better results.”

To do so, Laurano and Sackett say, HR and TA leaders need to take note of four emerging TA tech trends:

1. Skills-based ‘everything’

The word “skills” has become ubiquitous in the TA landscape—and for good reason, Laurano says.

Madeline Laurano, Aptitude Research
Madeline Laurano

According to Aptitude Research, 90% of companies have created new roles in the last year, and 62% eliminated or plan to eliminate roles. Meanwhile, 65% of employers have identified skills gaps.

Enhancing and aligning workforce skills are not just goals of HR any longer, Laurano says, but rather have the buy-in of all executive leaders.

“Organizations are looking at how to adjust to change and are embracing a skills mentality,” Laurano says.

Many, however, get “stuck on skills,” particularly in finding the tech to help them build skills taxonomies. It’s a challenge, Laurano notes, that AI will help alleviate.

2. High-volume hiring

There is a split happening within the TA tech stack when it comes to high-volume hiring.

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Traditionally, even if 90% of an organization’s 10,000 annual hires are hourly, they still get “jammed into” an ATS alongside the salaried accountants and salespeople. Today, however, TA tech designed for hiring hourly workers is emerging.

Such tools can provide the candidate experience these workers are craving, says Laurano, noting that lagging tech is causing the hourly hiring experience to last four to six weeks in some cases.

“They’re not happy. They’re not getting the experience they need. They’re not getting the communication they need,” she says.

At a Midwest manufacturing company, for instance, Sackett notes, hourly workers had to click through 27 screens to apply—and leadership questioned why their conversion rate was just 1%.

“We have to stop making candidates jump through these hoops,” he says. “I can’t believe it took us this long to get here.”

3. CRMs

There are two forces at work reshaping CRM tech.

For one, traditional CRM providers are “trying to be anything but CRMs,” Laurano says. They’re trying to be talent intelligence platforms, employee experience platforms and skills-based providers.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett

At the same time, sourcing providers are trying to move into the CRM space.

“It’s been confusing for companies interested in CRMs to try to figure out who the players are and what these providers offer,” she says.

The CRM space has always struggled with low adoption. But that, too, may be changing. Whereas last year, CRM tools were primarily categorized into three buckets—TA suite, stand-alone CRM and advertising agencies—today, those categories have shifted: sourcing, recruitment marketing, talent intelligence.

“CRMs can be the coolest tech,” Sackett says, “if you have the right use case and the right people.”

4. AI

Unsurprisingly, like all other corners of the HR tech market, AI is dramatically reshaping the TA tech landscape, the speakers say.

“AI is the biggest trend,” Laurano says, noting she views the tech as a means of “enhancing, not replacing” what TA professionals can do.

According to Aptitude Research, 63% of companies are investing or planning to invest in AI solutions—a jump of 21 percentage points from just three years ago.

The technology, however, isn’t necessarily taking over TA tools overnight. Sackett compares it to a frog boiling in water—when the water is turned up one degree at a time, the frog doesn’t even notice.

“Three years from now, it’s not going to be ‘AI,'” Sackett says. “It’s going to be tech that does amazing stuff for us—built around this invisible stuff called AI.”

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].