Making the Most of Your HR Tech Stack | Phenom

Maggie Blehar

August 26, 2022

Getting the most out of your HR technology starts with knowing what you already have — and then understanding where you can optimize for the future. 
 

On last week’s episode of Talent Experience Live, Ed Newman, CEO & founder, and Amy Schwenck, VP of Growth at talentEXP shared important information on how to make the most of your HR tech, including how to:
 

  • Evaluate your current HR tech stack
  • Identify company must-haves for the future
  • Get what you need to fill short-term and long-term gaps
     
Scan through the highlights of their talk below, or catch the full episode here!
 


How do I evaluate my current HR tech stack effectively?
 

Because development in the tech field is moving fast, Newman suggested that “from a business practice standpoint, companies should be constantly looking and evaluating what’s coming.” Think of it the way you’d approach an investment portfolio, he advised. Some technology, like human capital management software, will fall into the long-term investment category.
 

Other technology may fall under the category of short-term investments, technology that you’re testing out or using temporarily as stop-gap measures. Either way, “you should always be carving out some of your budget to experiment and looking at what’s coming down the pipe,” Newman said.
 

His other tips include:
 

  • Do a full tech stack review every 2 years at a minimum, evaluating investments and legacy tech that may need to be replaced. 
  • Evaluate what your platform provider offers before investing in point solutions. 
  • Constantly look at your long-term strategy and road map and adjust as necessary.


“Always be researching,” Schwenck added, advising a quarterly meeting to go over long-term and short-term tech investments. HR tech evaluation doesn’t have to be overwhelming: delegate some research to team members with an interest in technology, she suggested.
 


Related reading: How to Get the Most Out of Your HR Tech Right Now



What are some “must-haves” for today’s HR tech stack?
 

Evaluating what tools are right for your HR tech stack can be overwhelming, especially at the scale and velocity with which the field is changing. So how can you identify the must-have HR technology that’s best for your company? 
 

Internal Talent Marketplace tools that help HR and TA leaders understand the talent that’s already in-house top Schwenck’s list. Schwenck’s other must-haves include:
 

  • A compelling career site that’s authentic to your organization and entices visitors to leave contact information, which gets funneled into your CRM.
  • A CRM that enables sales- and marketing-focused recruiting.  
  • Sourcing tools capable of collecting and analyzing good data.


Tight integrations are another important aspect of the tech puzzle. “You have to have these systems talk to each other. Otherwise, adoption can fall down,” she said. That means selecting tech that will serve all talent audiences: candidates, applicants, hiring managers, recruiters, and employees.
 

For Newman, prioritizing the CRM/career site combination and ability to do real marketing — not just blast out jobs — is critical right now. “We’re finally at a point with the tech where we can do real marketing, where we can personalize content, where we can create a digital experience that gets that employer brand messaging across in unique ways.”
 

AI and automation features that alleviate the administrative burden on recruiters are key as well, as they leave them with more time to focus on the people part of their jobs.
 


Which stakeholders need HR tech most right now? 
 

Recruitment teams were hit hard during the pandemic, and they haven’t fully bounced back yet. Because teams are now smaller, Schwenck stressed the importance of leadership understanding just how necessary recruiters are to their companies — and providing them the resources and technology they need to do their jobs well. 
 

Hiring managers are another group traditionally overlooked in the recruitment process, Schwenck said — and they need support in the form of training, technology, and access to data so they can back up their recruitment team. “They should see what they need in front of them — very easily — with a really slick UI,” Schwenck said.
 

Newman agreed, calling hiring managers the “next frontier.” While the last decade has been all about candidate and employee experience, hiring managers are key stakeholders who need tools and platform plug-ins that allow them to interact seamlessly with candidates and recruiters.
 


What is AI’s role in talent acquisition?
 

Talent acquisition teams rely heavily on AI and automation to do their jobs well, but what does AI really mean in this context and what is its role in the field? 
 

Newman called AI the industry’s “biggest buzzword” today, warning that we should be careful in how we refer to it. 
 

“AI is new tech, and it’s becoming the price of admission for any type of solution in the market,” he said. You’ll have technology platforms that are either “smart,” with AI built into the DNA of the product, or they’re a legacy tool. “And that’s what you need to watch out for,” he warned, with some companies trying to “bolt” AI onto tools that aren’t built for it. 
 

Think of AI as a problem-solving tactic — and it gets better over time. For example, AI can learn from candidate profile data and interactions to help them get through an application process more quickly, or personalize their journey by serving up relevant content and job recommendations. 
 

“It’s technology that’s going to help facilitate a user to be more efficient with their processes based on the data that’s running through the system.”
 


Related reading: The Definitive Guide to AI for Recruiting



How does a talent community relate to HR tech?
 

The idea of a talent community is changing rapidly, Newman said. Yesterday’s talent community consisted of blasting jobs out to a candidate contact list, while today it has evolved to include capturing candidate information, flowing it into the CRM, segmenting audiences, and sending content tailored to specific audience characteristics. (A talent experience platform is a key piece of tech for managing a talent community.)
 

If an organization is prepared with a content strategy for communicating with talent community members, this is a great way to build engagement and deepen the talent pool. But Schwenck and Newman warned that a solid strategy is imperative for it to be effective.
 

“If you’re going to collect contacts for a talent community, make sure you have a plan to keep them engaged. Otherwise, they’re not sure why they signed up,” Newman said. Schwenck agreed by saying, “Don’t set the expectation that you’re going to communicate unless you’re going to fulfill it.”
 


How do I identify gaps in my tech stack?
 

Beyond assessing your own application process, Schwenck recommended the following steps to uncover gaps in the candidate experience that the right tech could help address:
 

  • Mine available resources, such as podcasts and blogs from industry experts, for guidance.
  • Refer back to the tech stack must-haves discussed above and prioritize what you need most.
  • Survey internal stakeholders (e.g., recruiters, hiring managers) about their experience with your process.
  • Engage partners and vendors to find out about offerings you may not be taking advantage of. 
  • If your peer network recommends a piece of tech, research that tech but tap your team for their opinions as well. 


Stressing the last point, Schwenck added: “You should dive really deep into that conversation and question why that technology, and why that change. Not all organizations are the same so it might not be the best thing for yours.” 
 

Newman agreed: “One company’s best practice could be another company’s worst nightmare … be selective about what you’re diving into and make sure it’s aligned with what’s right for your company,” he said — in terms of culture, compliance needs, and goals you’re working toward. 
 


Related reading: 2022 State of Candidate Experience Report



How important are integrations when evaluating a potential tech partner? 
 

“Integrations are absolutely paramount today,” Newman said. Solutions that don’t easily integrate will atrophy, he added, because they’ll create silos, limiting visibility into a candidate’s interactions with your brand. 
 

Make sure you have a clear plan for what needs to integrate and how data flows through your organization, he said, because some vendors will exaggerate just how well their integrations work. This involves research and strategy development on your end: “You can’t rely on the vendor to tell you that,” Newman warned.
 

He suggested seeing if the vendor has partnerships with your other technology products. If yes, great. If not, that isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, but it means that integrations will involve more work. One option to explore? Third-party organizations that set up integrations.
 

A key takeaway? Avoid stand-alone solutions!
 


What HR tech challenges do you see trending?
 

Schwenck named the following hurdles that organizations tend to face in evaluating and selecting new HR tech:
 

  • Implementation challenges, especially in ensuring a smooth implementation that stays on time and within budget. 
  • Prioritizing the end-to-end talent experience in tech strategy. People are often overwhelmed with workload demands that the mindset shifts to just getting the job done. 
  • Data optimization and ensuring that tech will gather the data that will drive outcomes, not just data for the sake of data. 


Newman pointed out that when organizations simply “lift and shift” past processes onto new technology, they don’t get the full benefits of the investment: “You want to set [technology] up so that your people will use it to get the job done, and then all the data you need is captured and available for reporting and analytics.” 
 

What are you excited about for the future of the HR industry?
 

For both Schwenck and Newman, increasing attention on internal mobility represents a breakthrough. “In the last five years, we’ve started to see some pretty significant movement, and companies are really starting to invest in this area. And because of this, the tech is evolving as well,” Newman said. “It’s such an important part of the total ecosystem.”
 

Schwenck feels like this is one of the best things to come from the pandemic, adding, “We needed to look inward … and tech has been fast to help us respond to that need.”

 

Learn more about the Phenom talent experience platform by booking a demo here.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience management. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.