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By all accounts, the talent acquisition space today is a candidate's market, driving recruiters to compete for their attention. As the unemployment rate hovers around the lowest in decades, there remains a large pool of less-than-qualified applicants and an ever-shrinking group of highly qualified, skilled ones. For recruiters, it can be challenging to not only effectively engage this handful of workers, but also continue to woo others that are employed at an organization but could be swayed into leaving, if given the right opportunity.

This will become nearly impossible, however, if recruiters continue to use outdated, siloed technology that delivers poor candidate experiences, says Elaine Orler, co-founder and chairman of TalVista, a recruiting technology provider. When candidates call the shots, they don't put up with recruiters that ghost them, or complete lengthy applications with no updates in return. They expect seamless, transparent experiences. What will it take for today's technology to enable these?

In our Q&A below, Orler gives ReWork readers a sneak peek into her breakout session at this year's Cornerstone Convergence and explains why the future of recruiting comes down to the intersection of three key technology elements: engagement, intelligence and responsiveness.

Can you describe the talent acquisition environment today? What are some of the forces that are transforming it?

We are in one of the most uniquely triangulated situations to date. Hiring is competitive right now, especially when it comes to filling positions that have a long list of skill requirements. At the same time, new technology is creating so much volatility with what work looks like and how work is being delivered. On top of that, we're in an interesting political environment. Movements like #MeToo and the fight for gender pay equality, for example, impact recruiting because candidates want to hear how your company is responding to these issues. All this makes it very challenging for recruiters to find viable candidates.

At Cornerstone's Convergence conference this year, you plan to talk about why engagement, intelligence and responsiveness must converge in recruiting technology. Can you give our readers a preview of what you plan to discuss?

Traditional recruiting technologies have been designed for a transaction-based model. Old school applicant tracking systems (ATS), for instance, have always been designed for data collection. Right now, however, we're finally seeing these tools transform to incorporate the three key pillars of engagement, intelligence and responsiveness.

These tools no longer operate in a process-focused way where the candidate comes to fill out application forms, is added to the ATS and then never contacted again. Applicant tracking technology has become more interactive. Whether it be via a chat bot or a scheduling tool, technology that's built with engagement at its core will socialize more content to the candidate, offering to send them status updates via text and notify them of  other job openings. Hiring then becomes about candidate experience and the journey they choose, instead of being all about filling an empty seat.

With responsiveness, we're moving into a more immediate communication culture that sets candidate expectations effectively. Thanks to automation, we see recruiters increasingly being able to automatically say something like, 'Thank you. We typically get two hundred applicants per job and it takes an average from two to three weeks to respond.'

The intelligence component might be a little more aspirational, but we're slowly moving from reporting to analytics to intelligence. Intelligent recruiting technology can put information together that might not have been connected before and apply predictive capabilities. It should be able to identify when, for example, a candidate isn't the right fit for one role, but could be for another, future position. We're going to see smarter solutions as these three forces continue to come together.

Can you expand on how technology supports the convergence of these forces?

Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation tools are supporting these three areas. For example, today's recruiting tools offer chat bots that help with engagement through more content rich and interactive experiences. These experiences allow candidates to create their own journey through conversation, but it's also collecting intelligence as interactions happen. It can understand what candidate preferences are, process their responses and more. And, of course, bots can automate responses to speed up communication between applicants and recruiters.

As these automation technologies mature, we'll hopefully see more consolidation because for the time being, many product categories are still transaction-based categories that focus on one area, like engagement, but can do a little bit in other areas too. What we will likely see more of are engagement-intelligence-responsiveness connectors.

Will these connector tools improve candidate experience? Will they help recruiters meet candidate expectations?

Absolutely. The interactivity of these tools will allow users to feel like there's a deeper connection to the company—even if it is with a technology system.

What are you most excited about heading into the Convergence conference? The theme this year is the Power of Potential—how does that fit into your work?

The idea of the Power of Potential is interesting because we're seeing talent acquisition moving increasingly towards 'total talent.' That means expanding the definition of talent acquisition to not just the employee but also the contractor, the temp, the consultant, the advisor, the extended partner or network of people that exist within the infrastructure and framework of a business.

Today, talent acquisition teams have no line of sight, intelligence or engagement when it comes to many of these other types of recruiting efforts, and yet they fill such a big need in the business. Today, there's potential to correct that and go down the path of better engaging these individuals as well.

Check out Elaine Orler's session and many others at Cornerstone Convergence, taking place June 3-5 in San Diego, California. To register for the conference and see the full agenda, click here.

Photo: Creative Commons