Recruiting is now a race for talent. Software companies hope to help HR keep up.

Given the chaos that has hit the job market over the last two years, speed is paramount when trying to find talent. Cloud vendors like Jobvite and Oracle are using AI, machine learning and automation to help companies snag top candidates.

Jobvite Senior Vice President Dwaine Maltais

In a talent landscape where speed is paramount, cloud vendors like Jobvite and its SVP Dwaine Maltais are using AI, machine learning and automation to help companies snag top candidates first.

Photo: Jobvite

More than ever, following the shift to remote work spurred by the pandemic and The Great Resignation, the experiences of the last few years have emphasized just how critical talent is to any organization.

“Our customers will say to us, ‘If we can't hire, we're dead in the water as a business,’” said Oracle Senior Vice President Nagaraj Nadendla. And as companies scramble to find and recruit scarce talent, demand for software that can speed up the recruiting process is on the rise.

In the past 10 months, recruiting startups Eightfold, SeekOut, Gem and SmartRecruiters have all hit unicorn status by promising to make the recruiting process more efficient. Established players like LinkedIn and Workday are also investing in product features that can help recruiters, from providing candidate recommendations to reducing time to hire.

“Today if you miss an opportunity to speak with a candidate and move them along, then that candidate will very likely have another opportunity and offer out the door,” said Jobvite Senior Vice President Dwaine Maltais. “[The] first-mover advantage is so critical these days with as competitive of a job market.”

In a talent landscape where speed is paramount, cloud vendors like Jobvite and Oracle are using AI, machine learning and automation to help companies snag top candidates first.

The war for talent

To Maltais, recruiting is an absolutely essential component of a company’s overall strategy. “It's where companies are meeting their business strategies and their workforce plan, but you can't execute on your business strategy if you don't have the right people in the right spots in the right places,” he said.

To some extent this has always been true. The need to find the right talent helped HR establish its status as a key driver of business value, and a critical aspect of that shift over the years has been technology.

Although it might not be apparent at first glance, HR departments have actually been keenly interested in software improvements for years. “They’ve also been one of the earliest adopters of new technologies, which you would not generally think about,” said Maltais, who mentioned complex searches on unstructured documents such as resumes as technology HR pioneered. Not to mention that “recruiters and HR and people were searching for jobs online in the very early ‘90s.”

HR isn’t new to the cloud either — in fact it was one of the first business functions to make the transition. “HR got in the cloud a lot earlier than finance and supply chain,” said PwC partner Dan Staley.

But given the pace and complexity of today’s recruiting environment, being in the cloud is now a strategic imperative. “Those that are still non-cloud-based, I think they're feeling the pressure,” said Nadendla, because it's more difficult to broadcast opportunities or for candidates to find them.

In this market, time to engage is critical, said Maltais. “A day getting in the way of that can mean the difference between making a hire and having to continue searching and sourcing,” he said.

HR departments recognize this challenge, and they’re looking at new technologies that can speed up time-to-hire. “What we’re noticing in HR is that there's a desire to use what's called these more disruptive technologies: RPA or Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain VR, etc.,” said Staley.

But the realities of hefty implementation costs and difficult integration processes are leading HR departments to outsource most of the heavy lifting to cloud vendors. “Instead of them going in and building something custom on their own, they're waiting until the software vendors incorporate it into their products,” he said.

In fact, cloud vendors like Jobvite and Oracle are already using digital assistants, chatbots and other technologies to do just that. At Oracle, the company is using AI in its Oracle Recruiting human-resources software to automatically winnow large funnels of candidates down to a shortlist, said Nadendla.

“We synthesize skills, job history, education, certifications, and we do natural-language processing and many other things that go into the algorithms to help identify what is the initial shortlist you should focus on,” he said. “It's almost like an advisory role: We suggest, recommend, provide predictions for certain types of roles, how much time would it take to fill, etc.”

At Jobvite, AI is being used to automatically send outreach messages to candidates in a company’s database. In some cases, AI-assisted outreach is actually more effective than the alternative.

“We're seeing open rates and click-through rates in excess of 50-60% from that type of a reach out,” said Maltais. The company is also using more text-based interfaces, like text messaging, to react more quickly to candidates. With a text, “you're getting responses back generally in 90 seconds or less versus email versus picking up the phone,” he said.

Other parts of the recruiting process, from scheduling interviews to searching candidate databases, are also being made more efficient via automation. While technologies to make recruiters’ lives easier have always been valuable, noted Maltais, today “it’s a game changer in how they're staying afloat and being able to get the talent that they need.”

Pick me

The cloud is essential to moving at this faster pace, but there are still challenges. Although “70-80% of all HR organizations have at least something in the cloud,” said Staley, an organization’s current vendor may not be the right fit today given the significant changes in the market for employees.

Because HR departments were often first to the cloud inside their companies, since that time, “maybe your organization's requirements have significantly changed and maybe through an acquisition or new business ventures, what they had before no longer meets what they need going forward,” said Maltais.

This means many HR organizations are dealing with multiple vendors that can be tricky to integrate and manage. “We found that 50% of organizations or HR organizations routinely make a habit of purchasing from multiple vendors,” said Staley, citing PwCs latest survey data.

But when it comes to recruiting, using multiple vendors can lead to more problems than solutions. “It's disconnected candidate experiences, it’s disconnected processes, not to mention you have [to have] unified data sets to be able to drive optimal outcomes for the organization,” explained Nadendla.

That’s why at PwC, Staley sometimes encourages clients to use fewer vendors. “Organizations are looking to be more productive, more efficient. And if you can use fewer vendors, you're talking about reduced interfaces, lower cost to maintain,” he said.

Nadendla, for one, thinks the industry is shifting away from the explosion of vendors caused by the so-called “best-of-breed” enterprise software movement towards single vendors. “Increasingly, we see quite the opposite, which is more of standardization on a single-cloud solution, particularly given the benefits and the touch points across the suite,” he said.

Like most SaaS industries, in the human capital management world, there’s a complicated web of partnerships and competitors amongst vendors. At Jobvite, Maltais said of large HCM players Oracle, ADP and Workday, “in some cases we’re partners, in some cases we compete with them.”

Ultimately though, Maltais thinks Jobvite has a leg up on both Oracle and Workday when it comes to recruiting because of its singular focus: the traditional argument against large vendors. “At the end of the day the big difference between a Jobvite and an Oracle, who's also a partner and a valued partner from that standpoint, is that we are 100% focused on talent acquisition,” he said.

At Oracle, Nadendla disagrees, and sees Oracle’s ability to provide cloud-based human capital management (HCM) from “hire to retire” as a necessity, especially as recruiting and employee management move closer together.

That’s why Oracle is making a play to become a complete vendor for all of HR software, not just recruiting. “We have a tremendous set of investments across Oracle Labs, not just recruiting but HCM and across Oracle apps,” said Nadendla. The company is also focused on incorporating emerging technologies, although that would likely be via building in house as opposed to M&A. “AI and machine learning and others, no we don't see any acquisitions,” said. Nadendla.

At Jobvite, the company is putting its money into text-based interfaces and automation. “We've invested really heavily in text-based interfaces, whether that's through chat, whether that's through making it easy for someone to apply to a job, whether it's checking schedules,” said Maltais.

It’s clear the pandemic changed the relationships between employees and management but it also clarified that talent is critical to enterprise success. Buyers, vendors and startups are all seeking anything that can give them an edge.

At every quarterly call you hear that “the most important asset in an organization is its people,” said Maltais. “So it's critical that companies have the right talent, when they need it, for the goals that they're trying to achieve.”

This story was updated with the correct brand name of the Oracle Recruiting software.


Niantic is building an AR map of the world

The company’s Visual Positioning System will help developers build location-based AR games and experiences; a new social app aims to help with AR content discovery.

VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces.

Image: Niantic

Pokémon Go maker Niantic has quietly been building a 3D AR map of the world. Now, the company is getting ready to share the fruits of its labor with third-party developers: Niantic announced the launch of its Lightship Visual Positioning System at its developer summit in San Francisco on Tuesday. VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces, Niantic said.

Niantic also announced a new service called Campfire that adds a social discovery layer to AR, starting with Niantic’s own games. Both announcements show that Niantic wants to be much more than a game developer with just one or two hit apps (and a couple of flops). Instead, it aims to play a key role in the future of AR — and it’s relying on millions of Ingress and Pokémon Go players to help build that future.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.


Why it's time to give all your employees executive coaching

In an effort to boost retention and engagement, companies are rolling out access to executive coaching to all of their employees.

Coaching is among personalized and exclusive benefits employers chose to offer their workforce during the pandemic.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Executive coaching has long been a quiet force behind leaders in the tech industry, but that premium benefit, often only offered to the top executives, is changing. A new wave of executive coaching services are hitting the market aimed at workers who would have traditionally been excluded from access.

Tech companies know that in order to stay competitive in today’s still-hot job market, it pays to offer more personalized and exclusive benefits. Chief People Officer Annette Reavis says Envoy, a workplace tech company, offers all employees access to a broad range of opportunities. “We offer everyone an L&D credit that they can spend on outside learning, whether it's executive coaching or learning a new coding language. We do this so that people can have access to and learn skills specific to their job.”

Keep Reading Show less
Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.


Microsoft thinks Windows developers are ready for virtual workstations

The new Microsoft Dev Box service, coupled with Azure Deployment Environments, lets developers go from code to the cloud faster than ever.

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of developers' biggest challenges.

Photo: Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of the biggest challenges that developers have raised with the technology giant over the last several years: managing developer workstations.

Microsoft Dev Box, now in private preview, creates virtual developer workstations running its Windows operating system in the cloud, allowing development teams to standardize how those fundamental tools are initialized, set up and managed.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.


Okta CEO: 'We should have done a better job' with the Lapsus$ breach

In an interview with Protocol, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said the cybersecurity firm could’ve done a lot of things better after the Lapsus$ breach of a third-party support provider earlier this year.

From talking to hundreds of customers, “I've had a good sense of the sentiment and the frustrations,” McKinnon said.

Photo: David Paul Morris via Getty Images

Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon agrees with you: Disclosing a breach that impacts customer data should not take months.

“If that happens in January, customers can't be finding out about it in March,” McKinnon said in an interview with Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@procotol.com.

Latest Stories