Jeremy Ovenden, HireserveJeremy Ovenden – MD, Hireserve

Back in 2002 we were discussing the entry of the ERP HR vendors into the e-recruitment market and whether they would have a significant impact on the specialist e-recruitment software vendors.  10 years on has anything changed?


A dramatically changing recruitment landscape

The way in which companies recruit has changed dramatically in the past decade, with the Internet enabling corporate websites, suppliers and job seekers to become more sophisticated, interactive and connect 24×7, 365 days a year.

10 years ago HR and recruiting managers had little awareness of the opportunities web based recruitment could offer.  Candidates were emailing their CVs but there was little understanding of e-recruitment systems and how they could enable candidate relationship management and reinforce an employer brand.

Now HR managers are more skilled at using technology to fulfil their requirements and have gained a greater understanding of what an e-recruitment system can offer them.  Of these organisations that may already have an ERP supplier in place, the easiest, most cost effective and suitable solution might seem to be to implement the e-recruitment module of their ERP supplier.  After all, the suite is already integrated with the company’s systems; implementation will be quick and easy and will enable business-wide reporting.

Is this really the best way to solve HR’s problems?

With many ERP vendors, their recruitment modules have historically had a perceived lack of importance and have remained underdeveloped for many years.  When a large ERP vendor offers multiple products, a smaller module in its suite might not be given the development time it requires.  Innovations and upgrades can take months not weeks and deployment maybe dependent on completion of a whole ERP suite upgrade.

In 2012, however, is that all changing with the biggest ERP players in the market realising the growing significance of talent management? Oracle has acquired Taleo, SAP acquired SuccessFactors and now IBM, is acquiring Kenexa.

Alan Whitford, managing partner of Abtech partnerships, points out:

We are already seeing potential side effects of the Oracle/Taleo deal as Oracle pushes its large company administrative and processes burden onto the smaller company Taleo.  In particular, Taleo Business Edition, which was a small, lean and quickly reactive part of Taleo is now becoming mired in big company processes. speech marks

Alan also believes that this effect will certainly become evident with IBM/Kenexa over the coming months.

Discussion groups are already buzzing with questions regarding development cycles, upgrade paths and potential of increased pricing models, combined with lower investment in support and sales staff. speech marks

Whilst the large players integrate their latest offerings, the specialist e-recruitment vendors continue to offer a best-of-breed solution.  Many specialist vendors are a “single product business” which are passionate about producing and delivering a product that is first-class and offers a breadth of functionality that an ERP vendor would not be able to offer.  By maintaining continuous development, responding to customer needs and offering a high level of customer service, a specialist vendor can deliver an agile and customised product.

Technological shift

A specialist provider can also be very quick to deploy an e-recruitment system for its customers.   The most significant technological change e-recruitment systems have experienced is speed.  A provider that uses Software as a Service (SaaS) solution means that literally with a click of a button the customer can start implementing the product.

The internet now provides a means of transferring information and an e-recruitment system can (and needs to be able to) talk a common language to enable seamless integration with other external systems an organisation uses. The agility of a specialist provider means that integration with, for example, an on-line testing provider can be achieved within just days instead of months or even years. Frequent release upgrade programmes mean that all customers can benefit from new features immediately they have been added to the product. And this is one of the key points: specialist e-recruitment systems can only survive if they “connect” with other internet-based services such as on-line testing, social networks, job boards etc.

Every provider of these services provides XML-based interfaces accessible over the internet – the problem for a customer of a slow or inflexible e-recruitment provider may be that they are unable to “connect” their e-recruitment system to such providers – or at least not within both reasonable time and cost constraints.

Candidate Expectations

For today’s graduates who have been brought up with the internet, their expectations when job seeking is that all the information they require to search and apply is online.   Surprisingly many organisations are still not recruiting online and for today’s job seeker an organisation’s online presence will, virtually without exception, set the impressions for the prospective candidates.

If a candidate then decides to apply for a vacancy and the recruitment process is poor this may impact on their decision to proceed with a potential employer.  With the wealth of applicant tracking system analytical data available customers can see exactly where candidates are “bailing out” of the recruitment process – and this will so often be linked with the ease or otherwise of completing the application process.  As a consumer if you suffer a bad online experience you are unlikely to use the organisation again and that is the same for a bad candidate experience. You lose faith in an organisation if they can’t offer a good employment service.

What does the future hold?

For the ERP vendors only time will tell following the major players’ recent acquisitions.  For the specialist providers there needs to be constant development and innovation of the product, offering the most flexible, intuitive system to deliver the recruitment needs for organisations today and in the future.

There are many tools available to recruit today and an e-recruitment system is only one part of the overall recruitment process.   A recruiting manager needs to ask how will it fit into the company’s overall recruitment strategy and how it will reach the people you want to work for your organisation.

10 years ago social and mobile recruiting did not exist and there are some new players in the e-recruitment market responding to these rapidly growing channels.  The majority are offering niche applications and tools to address a specific requirement such as mobile recruiting and there are now some incredibly innovative apps available.

Many job seekers are now using smartphones, iPads and other tablet devices and expect to view a mobile optimised version of a company’s website.   Organisations need to adapt their current recruitment campaigns to engage with candidates on multiple platforms – the platforms that candidates are increasingly using through choice. In a recent mobile recruitment survey by Educate, 63% of respondents had searched for a job using a mobile device, whilst 48% had actually applied and a whopping 79% stated that they would apply on mobile if they could.

A mobile-optimised careers site allows candidates to easily navigate and search for jobs and today’s top e-recruitment systems can deliver to companies an engaging, socially-connected, brand-enhancing and user-friendly mobile recruitment platform.  It can also give an organisation the ability to offer its candidates an apply via LinkedIn button, post a live Twitter feed and provide live job listings on Facebook.

The job seeking graduates of today whose expectations are to apply online will become the HR managers of tomorrow and what will they expect from their e-recruitment systems?

Alan added:

What we see today, as we have seen in the past, is that new technologies create a buzz which eventually disappears and become part of the normal fabric of life.   The future generation of recruiters and candidates will expect them to just be part of the everyday recruiter tool kit for candidate communications. speech marks

So yes, 10 years on, things have changed dramatically and in ways that few would have foreseen. The one constant is that the ERP HR vendors have made little impression on the market and the number of specialist e-recruitment technology providers has grown considerably – and the market itself has changed shape with the advent of social and mobile – leaving the ERP HR vendors still on the starting blocks.

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About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.