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  • Writer's pictureMark Valdez

Winning the War for Talent with Software: Employ CMO, Allie Kelly

We are excited to have Employ’s Chief Marketing Officer, Allie Kelly, join us this week to provide her perspective on software’s role in building a best-in-class hiring process. Employ is the parent company of leading Applicant Tracking Systems including JazzHR, Lever, and Jobvite serving more than 12,000 customers.


For many SMBs, it can feel like David taking on Goliath when trying to hire great people. What can SMBs do to compete against larger organizations?

As companies attempt to keep up with demands of the current labor market, it can be difficult for small-and medium-sized businesses to navigate the hiring landscape. In an environment where there’s simply not enough talent to go around, SMBs are taking increased risks to compete with larger organizations.

Employ data indicates that for small-and medium-sized companies, 62% are taking more chances on candidates due to the tight labor market, including looking beyond the lack of industry experience (45%), gaps in work history (42%), and missing requirements or years of experience for the role (33%).

Overcoming the tight labor market has companies relying on specific strategies that enable SMBs to make open roles more attractive to candidates. For example, the most successful SMBs now are emphasizing:

Remote Work

By focusing on remote work and hybrid work environments, companies can demonstrate the flexibility they have in prioritizing worker needs. Employ data for SMBs reinforces this. In fact, 31% of HR decision makers in small-and medium-sized companies who provided remote work and hybrid options found it a useful strategy to overcome the tight labor market. Further, 36% of SMB recruiters report that, in the past year, they have had candidates turn down an interview or job offer due to a lack of flexibility or remote work options in their workplace.

DEI Initiatives

Companies who have been successful in attracting talent also indicate they have focused on the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts of their organization. This enables hiring teams to connect with candidates who recognize the value of these initiatives in the workplace. According to Employ data for SMBs:

  • 57% said diversity would be a priority for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals in the next year.

  • 47% of SMB recruiters said their organization is putting more emphasis on diversity in hiring in 2022 than in 2021.

  • 12% have had candidates turn down an interview or job offer due to a lack of diversity in their workforce over the past year.

Other Useful Recruiting Tactics

SMBs have found that focusing on well-defined recruiting tactics can significantly impact their recruiting outcomes. In the last year, recruiters have refocused their efforts on:

  • Posting on more job boards, or increasing job board spend: 48%

  • Actively engaging with former applicants or employees: 38%

  • Actively engaging with passive candidates: 36%

It’s also important to understand recruiting tactics that are no longer effective. Within the current labor market, SMBs report that they have stopped using the following tactics that once worked in their organization, but no longer work today:

  • Free posting to job boards: 33%

  • Waiting weeks to generate an offer: 32%

  • Waiting to provide recruiter feedback and response: 26%

The hiring market is obviously super competitive right now. From your perspective, what are the best practices for running a first-class hiring process and what role does the ATS play in this process?

Hiring Best Practices

The labor market is primed to continue making it challenging for organizations to find enough of the right talent. This means businesses should evaluate talent acquisition initiatives that will make it easier to compete in a difficult hiring landscape for the long-term. Rather than solely dwelling on a short-term view of economic ebbs and flows, companies should prioritize a recruiting approach that focuses on processes, people, and technology.

Identify ways to optimize the recruiting process.

Leverage data-driven insights and analytics that inform where bottlenecks exist in the recruiting process and uncover opportunities to speed time-to-hire and boost the quality of candidates. By keeping a clear pulse on the talent pipeline, companies will have insights into where the recruiting process can be improved.

Deliver positive experiences for key stakeholders.

Take care to invest in the needs of hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates, and deliver positive experiences for this recruiting trifecta. Work to shorten feedback loops, improve communication and collaboration, and engage each stakeholder more deeply within the hiring process.

Leverage purpose-built recruitment technology.

For recruiting to function as a strategic lever within an organization, business and talent leaders must provide recruiters with the tools and resources necessary to compete in a fierce labor market. Recruiters recognize the need for additional tools, which is supported by Employ data, with 63% of HR decision makers and recruiters anticipating that an increase in recruiting technology spending would be necessary in the next 6 – 12 months. By adopting recruitment software tailored-made for the organization’s complexity, size, and need, companies can ensure they are more competitive to connect with the right talent and streamline their processes.

Increasing Speed of Hire

Hiring is a race for talent. Competing on speed is one of the most important areas recruiting organizations should seek to improve. According to Employ data, the average time-to-hire is under two weeks for 32% of respondents and between three to four weeks for 53% of respondents. This means that for 85% of talent acquisition professionals, the average time-to-hire is 4 weeks or less. Further, 48% of recruiters say time-to-hire is shorter today than just one year ago. If companies are not finding areas within the recruiting process to shorten, then they are likely missing out on key talent to competitors. Identify areas to decrease, whether it’s sourcing time, screening time, feedback loops from internal hiring teams, or offer times. When done strategically, organizations will find they can enhance the ability to connect with available talent.

What Role Does the ATS Play in This Process?

For companies small and large, a purpose-built applicant tracking system (ATS) streamlines the hiring process, making it easier to source and connect with quality candidates and saving valuable time filling open roles. Using an ATS benefits a recruiting strategy in the following ways:

Automating Time-Consuming Tasks

Saving time is one of the most important advantages of using an ATS. While each step in the hiring process is critical, many are manual and time-consuming without the help of recruitment software. Yet with the right technology, companies can easily source candidates, schedule interviews, and even automate candidate communications.

Streamlining the Hiring Process

Not only can an ATS take over manual tasks, it also identifies where improvements can be made to speed up the rest of the process. Analytics within the ATS can pinpoint bottlenecks and make suggestions to improve speed of hire. Furthermore, an ATS ensures that candidates receive timely communication and creates workflows that make sense for each company’s own hiring process.

Improving Hiring Collaboration

Hiring is highly collaborative. But it can also create roadblocks and increase the length of time it takes to hire new employees. Aside from the administrative aspect, including other team members in the decision-making process is an effective way to ensure a quality hire. Collaboration is made easy within an ATS, where hiring teams can easily view the status of hiring workflows, view notes, and see comments from each member of the hiring team to keep the process moving forward.

Offering a Better Candidate Experience

When candidates have a positive experience during the hiring process, companies can attract better hires, improve candidate quality, and improve employee retention. An ATS helps businesses stay on top of communication with job seekers, and keeps them engaged throughout the process, which is crucial to a positive candidate experience.

Ditching Hiring Bias

Through system automation and process uniformity, an ATS also helps reduce unconscious hiring bias. Minimizing bias ensures job seekers are on an even playing field and supports the organization in its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to hire the best talent possible. An ATS can help ensure that each candidate goes through the same steps, which protects candidates (and employers), and helps contribute to a larger pool of candidates for your business.

Growing Candidate Reach

The right recruitment software can help attract more candidates with automated postings to hundreds of job boards and social media platforms. It can reach job prospects without the time investment of finding, visiting, and posting job openings on sites across the internet.

Data is just as important to your recruiting as it is for any other business function. What does it mean to run a data-driven hiring process from your perspective?

Data-driven recruiting is an approach to hiring that uses analytics specifically for talent acquisition to inform and improve the recruiting process. Getting a handle on recruiting analytics, creating visibility, and shining a light on the most vital aspects of hiring performance is critically important. By tracking metrics, such as funnel, source performance, quality of talent pool, satisfaction scores, and diversity, companies can see how their recruiting strategy is performing, fine-tune what’s broken in the hiring process, and continuously improve.

Companies have to get even more nimble and learn how to analyze talent data in real-time to adjust and improve their processes. When an organization is dedicated to increasing agility by leveraging recruiting data and analytics, it can benefit greatly. Here are a few of the most common benefits:

Improved Sourcing Effectiveness

For quite some time, recruiters and hiring managers have had to find candidates based on feel and previous experience. But the sheer volume of open positions and time required to source quality candidates requires a better approach. Data-driven recruiting helps uncover more quality candidates by specifically understanding source effectiveness and measuring items like number and quality of sourced hires. Having the ability to measure, analyze, and refine the sourcing function is a key component to optimizing the entire recruiting operation.

Enhanced DEI Initiatives

Leveraging data-driven insights and analytics can also enhance agile recruiting by better supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. When companies are laser focused on expanding the inclusiveness of their workforce, recruiting analytics can help track and report on the diversity of the hiring funnel based on key DEI data. With insights to help identify top DEI candidates, organizations can take the time and guesswork out diversity hiring, while also eliminating unconscious bias.

Decreased Hiring Costs

By focusing on the best sources for talent and streamlining the hiring process using data-driven insights, businesses can help decrease overall hiring costs. Identifying and tackling roadblocks to hiring, organizations can decrease time-to-fill or the elapsed time between a job opening is posted and when it’s filled. Measuring time-to-fill can help uncover the real cost of filling a role, especially since productivity and revenue can both suffer the longer a job remains open. Plus, starting with more qualified candidates allows companies to save time and resources on talent that may be a poor fit for the role.

Improved Candidate Experience

When collecting data regarding the hiring process, it can help identify pain points for candidates and create a more positive candidate experience overall. Identifying candidate conversion rates along the recruiting journey helps employers identify candidate engagement levels, especially as they encourage candidates to apply. Understanding key areas throughout the candidate experience can help pinpoint areas where potential hires are not receiving an optimal candidate experience so hiring teams can work to improve their interactions.

Ultimately, to get most value from a data-driven approach, companies need real-time analytics that improve responsiveness and the ability to make better hiring decisions. Recruitment software that automatically reports on key metrics can empower companies to make these data-driven decisions in real-time. Leveraging recruiting analytics to drive greater visibility, smarter automation, and more predictable hiring results is the ultimate goal of using a data-driven approach.

What metrics should teams be most focused on in their hiring process?

The best recruiting metrics are the ones that help improve the recruiting process. Recruitment metrics are designed to measure successes and bottlenecks in the recruiting process. Metrics include key performance indicators (KPIs) that help measure progress of your recruiting. These metrics allow for more agility, pointing out trends and potential issues as they happen. Here are some of the most valuable KPIs in recruiting analytics:

  • Source effectiveness

  • Candidate conversion rates

  • Application source

  • Application conversion rates

  • Application to interview ratio

  • Number of applications per requisition

  • Average time candidates spend in hiring process

  • Source of hire

  • Hiring manager satisfaction

  • Recruiter satisfaction rates

  • Candidate satisfaction rates

  • Interview to offer ratio

  • Quality of candidate

  • Quality of hire

  • Time to hire

  • Diversity of talent pipelines

  • Internal mobility rates

  • Employee retention rates

Implementing an ATS may not have as obvious of an ROI as software systems for other functions. How do you quantify the ROI for those who might be skeptical?

At its most basic level, ROI of an ATS focuses on proving value of reducing the manual activities associated with recruiting. When companies understand how many hires they make in any given year, can quantify the total hours per week, month, and year they spend on recruiting activities, can calculate the total amount of spend on paid jobs boards and other channels to promote open positions, and can pinpoint the total amount spent annually on hiring-related activities, they are able to articulate how investing in recruitment software can deliver return on investment for the company from an automation perspective.

Also important to the ROI of recruitment software is understanding how candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters benefit by measuring key metrics like quality of hire, time to hire, and satisfaction rates. When companies use recruitment technology to streamline hiring, they also create a better experience for job seekers that impacts likelihood of offer acceptance, quality of hire, and employee retention rates. Additionally, with a purpose-built ATS, hiring teams benefit by speeding time to hire and increasing hiring collaboration. Ultimately, the ROI from recruitment software is directly tied to the organizational yield from new hires. When companies have a system in place that optimizes talent attraction and candidate engagement, the quality of hires made also increases accordingly. To calculate the ROI from this, companies can measure decreases in time-to-hire, less candidate attrition and higher candidate conversion, improved quality of hire, increases in employee retention, and higher satisfactions rates.

The risk of implementing a software system is that it is so rigid, you end up having to adapt your process to the software rather than have the software work for you. How do best-in-class systems best conform to existing hiring processes?

Recruiting technology must be purpose-built to meet the needs of customers, not the needs of the provider. It must solve the challenges of recruiting and tackle the expectations of candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters. And it must also support the existing hiring workflows of the organization and be tailor-made for specific recruiting needs. Employ recognizes that not all companies are the same when it comes to hiring, and provides choice, flexibility, and unmatched scalability through its recruitment software and services. Whether it’s easy-to-use, affordable recruitment software powering SMB hiring with JazzHR, an end-to-end talent acquisition suite for growing companies with Lever, unmatched capabilities and platform flexibility for large, complex enterprises with Jobvite, or scalable outsourced hiring services from NXTThing RPO, Employ offers recruiting solutions for companies of all sizes and complexities to grow their unique workforces.

Talent acquisition technology must understand how recruiters currently look for talent day-in and day-out and should validate their experiences. This means ensuring that recruitment software supports recruiters in their processes, helping them automate, streamline, and reduce the manual requirements of their jobs — like sourcing and scheduling. Because when recruiters are supported with the right technology, they will be more effective in their jobs and make the talent acquisition function more successful.

Organizations must also take a long-term view of their recruiting needs and understand the scalability of solutions for the future. Look for talent acquisition providers with technology that can grow and evolve with the business as its needs change. Companies need to think beyond where they are now and look for talent acquisition offerings that can scale for any level of recruiting complexity. This means no matter the size of the business, companies can have access to the most innovative set of end-to-end recruiting solutions and services — all the way from small-and medium-size businesses to the enterprise-level that is purpose-built and can support their processes.

Evaluating talent acquisition technology for the future should take into consideration the breadth and depth of offerings provided. End-to-end solution providers have a tremendous advantage over point solutions because they centralize and streamline the recruiting technology stack. And they empower companies to attract and hire talent like never before, seamlessly integrating to other HR solutions and services, and ensuring the best experience for recruiters, hiring managers, talent acquisition teams, leadership, IT, and of course, candidates.

Looking future-proofed talent acquisition technology means finding capabilities and functionality that is intuitive for all users, solves the greatest recruiting challenges, supports existing hiring workflows, spans the recruiting lifecycle, and delivers measurable outcomes for the business.

We love to talk about the additional capability modern SaaS applications offer through their API integrations. How have you seen APIs play a role in complementing the capability of the ATS?

Talent acquisition software and recruitment technology needs to fit into the overall HR and IT environment. Integrations should support virtually any existing HR Tech ecosystem. APIs and other integrations automate data handoff between different systems to streamline the recruiting process, eliminating manual entry and increasing accuracy.

Employ collaborates with more than 1,200+ partners and offers a wide array of pre-built and custom integrations to drive added value to every stage of the recruiting funnel. Each of our brands has integrations into a wide variety of tools to complement applicant management workflows, including vendors for background checks and I-9/eVerify, reference checks, assessments, onboarding, scheduling, e-signature, text recruiting, and social media platforms. Our tools span the talent acquisition lifecycle, from recruitment marketing to intelligent messaging to internal recruiting, integrating into all of the most popular enterprise HCM and ATS products, including Workday, Infor, iCIMS, and more. Plus we offer direct integrations into top job boards, including Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn, as well as job board aggregators and candidate sourcing.

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