Q&A: How Engagement Tech Drives Recruiting

Engaged Candidates

Ben Slater is the vice president of marketing for Beamery, a talent engagement platform that melds the principles, concepts and tools that marketing enterprises use to build their customer pipeline to their recruiting efforts. We spoke with him about the dynamics of candidate engagement, and how recruitment marketing fits into talent acquisition efforts.

You refer to Beamery as an engagement platform. But aren’t there other products out there that are very similar and don’t focus so much on engagement?

The term “engagement” is really a product of us thinking about Beamery in the context of the industry and what makes it different. There are other products that do a great job with bits of what we see as talent engagement. That could be the CRM and candidate management, it could be career sites and talent attraction, it could be engagement. But we don’t think anything has the scope and breadth that Beamery does when it comes to managing the entire candidate journey in one place.

When we were thinking about the right positioning for the company, we kept coming back to this idea of a holistic way of managing the entire candidate journey in one place. We kept coming back to the central currency of engagement, of it being the thing that’s consistent throughout the entire process. That’s why we settled on “talent engagement.”  

Today we’re in a tight labor market the dynamics involved with finding talent are very tough. What’s your view of the recruiting world right now, and how do you find employers are coping?

'I think most companies would agree they don't have a huge pipeline of a highly qualified, high quality talent that's winding around their building anymore.' @BenJHSlater #HR #HRTech #Recruiting Share on X

I think most companies would agree they don’t have a huge pipeline of a highly qualified, high quality talent that’s winding around their building anymore. And I think another layer is that every company is now looking for the same blend of skills, to a certain degree. You could argue that every company now is, to a certain degree, a technology company. That puts an even bigger squeeze on certain skill sets.

To me, and obviously I’m a little biased, it really forces employers to be a lot more thoughtful about the way they approach recruiting, about the way they’re attracting and building relationships with the people who could be a good fit for their company. It’s forcing employers to be a lot more human about how they think about hiring and to really think about their value proposition as an employer.  

It seems to me there’s really two tracks going on here. One is that recruiters are playing their traditional role. The other is this idea of recruitment marketing. Could you talk about the relationship between them? How do recruiters and recruitment marketing work together?

Ben Slater

For me it’s the dichotomy between something that’s process-driven and transactional versus something that’s more relationship-driven. Think about this as a funnel. Recruitment marketing is that top layer of the funnel, where you’re attracting the right people or engaging them, helping them understand your brand, helping them understand why they should apply for a job with your company and taking them through some form of candidate lifecycle.

Recruiting is the is the process management that comes into play when someone’s been identified as an applicant or has active interest in one of your jobs. It’s pushing them through that pretty defined, step-by-step process of interview, assessment, etc. So one is more transaction and process-driven while the other is proactive and relationship-focused.

Do you think recruiters view recruitment marketing as giving them adequate support and paving the way for them?

I think it depends on the set-up of the recruitment organization. You have many overloaded talent acquisition teams that are being asked to perform marketing duties on top of their existing workload. Then you have companies that are really thinking about specialization when it comes to the recruiting team. They’re breaking the department down into recruitment marketing, talent branding, operations, sourcing and recruiting, assessment and so on. I think those organizations are a step ahead when it comes to thinking about the modern candidate journey.  

Obviously technology plays a big part in all this. Do you think vendors in the space are providing adequate tools to help recruiters and recruitment talent acquisition teams in this labor market?

I think vendors are broadly failing to provide adequate training to help recruiters use their tools. There’s a lot of good technology out there, but I think a lot of vendors fall short when it comes to building up the skills, competencies and understanding of recruiting teams so they know how they leverage those tools most effectively. It’s easy to forget that, in many cases, the person who’s leveraging your tool has never done this kind of work  before. This is very new to them. Not always—we often see recruiters hiring marketers to be part of their team. But it’s really incumbent on the vendor to help its customers understand the outcomes they’re actually looking for with the tool.  

That seems to be a common thread among HR tech vendors in general. There’s a lot of power out there, but the vendors stopped with the product. They don’t give enough attention to training users to get the most out of their products. Do you agree with that? And if you do, do you think vendors are ever going to put more emphasis on training?

I agree with that to an extent. One of the ways we’re addressing this is by building an internal talent consultancy. Our goal is to really help both prospects and customers understand what they’re trying to get out of their talent operating system. We’re trying to act as a strategic partner. What we need is for this to be the market’s approach to how HR tools are onboarded to customers.

Part of the issue is that the HR tech ecosystem has gone through enormous changes in the last five years. There’s so many new companies, and I think a lot of companies are making big promises. And with so many new tools out there, it’s hard to ask HR to keep up with everything.  

Let’s switch gears. There are two schools of thought about HR technology. One is build your own suite. The other is to work through a core solution. It seems like Beamery has a foot in both campes. What’s your view? Which do you think is the better approach, or does it depend on the company?

We see our mission as helping companies look up the second most important asset—their first being revenue, people being second as the driver behind creating that revenue, creating that value.

The important thing here is that each of these suites is founded on one really core competency, then has an additional set of tools attached to increase its market share.

Companies are always best off if people are important to them as a concept. If they agree that people are their greatest asset, they’re always better off building that best-of breed-solution by combining different tools.

But that only works if those tools play nice together. And that’s where the suites win, in many cases, because suites naturally have connections to each other. I think what you’re seeing with newer tools, like Beamery and obviously others, is that the control you get over the integration through better APIs allows a continuous flow. That’s what’s allowing companies nowadays to blend different things together.

So essentially it’s becoming easier for companies to assemble their own package?

Yeah, exactly. And I would preface that by saying it’s a roundabout way. No company is looking for more tools. No one ever said I want to use more software. But I think companies need to be able to handle really well three core competencies in the candidate and employee lifecycle: employee management in the HRIS, the application, and everything that sits before the application. Beamery is a tool that combines everything that sits before the application into one place.

Looking out over the next year, what’s the biggest development or biggest trend you expect to see in talent acquisition technology?

There’s a couple of things.

First, recruiting and talent acquisition were traditionally part of HR. Today, talent acquisition is really standing on its own two feet in the business as a trusted partner. I think we’ll see an extension of that this year. Already in many companies TA—not only HR—is getting a seat at the mythical table. If you read any kind of annual letters from CEOs at Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 companies, talent is always one of the top things on their mind. I think it’s a natural extension that talent acquisition becomes more and more important an issue. So that’s number one.

Second, I think that companies need to be more personalized throughout the entire recruiting process, whether it’s the way they engage people on their website or how they create a real-time experience for candidates or leverage different types of candidate data to more effectively categorize and market to prospects. This is only going to become more important as organizations think about the roles that they have to fill right now, and how they can get the very best people for those roles. That could be anything from ties to the campus to diversity, personalization and relevance. I think that’s only going to increase the demand for solutions like us. That’s obviously exciting from our perspective.

Finally, I’d say we’re operating in a society where personally identifiable information is coming under more scrutiny than ever before. Last year we had GDPR. On the horizon, I see more focus on the way organizations handle candidate data, the ways they make sure that information stays private, the way they respect candidates’ desires and requirements throughout the process. Particularly for global organizations that have to deal with legislation in multiple geographies, I think compliance, while it’s not sexy, becomes even more important to the way that companies think operationally about talent.

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