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November 30, 2021

Back to Tech Basics: Why You Shouldn’t Put the Cart before the Horse

Technology is exciting. It offers ways for staffing and recruiting firms to be better, faster, and stronger, to identify and capitalize on opportunities, and to get through tricky situations. The pandemic opened the eyes of many in the industry to the potential of technology – if it allowed us to trade offices for homes almost overnight, what else might it be capable of?

But there’s danger in getting caught up in the excitement and seemingly endless possibilities of tech: forgetting – or outright ignoring – business fundamentals. It’s critical to understand that staffing tech can only be effective if it is laid upon a solid foundation of business.

In this article, we’re going back to basics, by looking at how to bake a nutritious business cake that is ready for some tech frosting.

Ensuring tech drives you toward your goals

Many of us have been caught up in automation, digitization, and technology talk since early 2020. But some firms are beginning to learn that they perhaps leaned a little too far into it. When you focus too heavily on technology, you can begin to overlook the home-grown processes and differentiators that led to your earlier success.

Sure, developing your tech stack is key to improving service and efficiency, but you can’t lose sight of yourself in the process.

New tech is so often bought as if it were a shiny new Christmas toy. People ogle at it for a day and play with it for a week, but by the end of January, it has been entirely forgotten, left to gather dust in a dark corner.

In order to realize a return on your technology investment, a tool must align with what you're trying to accomplish as a business. Ask yourself:

  • What is our reason for being?
  • What are we hoping to achieve in the next five years, and how do we plan to achieve it?
  • What business challenges are we trying to solve?
  • How might technology help us to achieve our aims and solve our problems?
  • What are use cases for our potential tech stack?
  • Do potential tools integrate? Do they overlap?
  • Who can I speak with to ensure our tech stack is working together as it should?

In short, don’t be led by technology. Be led by business goals and challenges, and use technology to overcome them. If you let technology dictate who you are, you lose focus. The firms that will thrive going forward will be those who bring a deep understanding of themselves, and how technology can enhance what they already do. Technology should be seen as a performance enhancer, not a performance generator.

Developing this deep understanding of your business isn’t just about asking the questions above – it’s about zooming in on your internal processes, thus gaining an understanding of how technology can be applied.

Building a foundation of processes and training

Work through your internal processes. Understand their fundamentals, and whether they hold up in today’s ever-more competitive environment. The mindset in staffing tends to be ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but that philosophy usually ends in the fixes being made far too late. Rather than blindly accepting old processes, challenge them and see if they hold up to scrutiny.

When you boil staffing down, we’re in the business of selling time. We should always be on the hunt for time savings and ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our processes. Go through each process, then go through it again to pick up potential improvements that you missed the first time.

Once you’ve solidified your processes, train everyone, as all team members should have an understanding of how your company works: from recruiting, sales, and marketing, through back office and IT, to managers and the C-suite. Divide training into bite-sized pieces that cater to our ever-shortening attention spans – instead of sporadic four-hour training sessions, try regular 15-minute sit-downs.

Once you have strong and well-understood processes in place, you can begin to add technology into the mix.

Technology as an experience enhancer

Just as technology can enhance your internal processes, amplify good work, and assist in meeting business goals, so too can it elevate experiences… but only if those experiences are built on a sound foundation.

The candidate experience is inextricably linked to the recruiter experience, and elevating one through technology generally elevates the other. Identify the most successful behaviors of your recruiting team, then look to apply technology that makes them even better. If you’ve found success in weekly check-ins with your consultants, use a tool that automates those communications. If you’re constantly chasing up new consultants through the onboarding process, automate data collection and follow-up.

Technology isn’t there to replace recruiters – it’s there to influence behavior, and to allow humans to do more of what humans are good at. When technology is utilized well, it’s a win for all parties:

  • A candidate enjoys a smooth, transparent, and convenient experience filled with more touchpoints.
  • Freed from admin, recruiters get to do more of the things they love doing: building relationships, filling roles, and earning more money.
  • And as time goes by, clients enjoy access to larger pools of top talent.

A candidate will appreciate your process if they know why it exists, and if its benefits are pointed out. Consider the use of auto-responses through the hiring process:

  • Thank you for your application! Here's the next step.
  • We just submitted you! Here's what happens next.
  • Don't forget you have an interview coming up. Here's what you need to know.

Does it really matter to a candidate whether these words were written by human hands? Not at all. And at least with a bot, the candidate can be confident of receiving these important communications.

By beginning with that solid process, using technology to enhance it, then telling your audience about those enhancements, you’ll begin to build a loyal pool of talent.

You can't have tech adoption without change management

Who should manage your technology?

You have a deep knowledge of your own firm, so you’ve managed to bake a decadent business cake. But applying that technology frosting is an entirely separate challenge.

Technology is now such a broad and complex subject that it’s impossible to find a single person who has all the skills and knowledge you need to level up your technology game. If you expect someone to take care of everything from social media marketing to onboarding automation, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Unicorns are beautiful… they also don’t exist.

Instead, consider hiring one or two core people – think of them as tech-savvy quarterbacks or digital jacks-of-all-trades – and give them the power to build out your organization’s technical aptitude through partnerships. Let them hire fractional experts, partners, or consultants wherever and whenever required so that you get the expert help you need to capitalize on technology and build a fully-functioning tech stack.

Technology complements good business

If you see technology as the savior of your business, it’s a fair sign that your business is in need of saving. A good staffing and recruiting business isn’t often built on technology – technology is built on good business. Sure, many modern tools and solutions are game-changers, but rarely do they change your organization at its core. The best technologies are those that amplify the processes and differentiators that made your business successful in the first place.

To recap the above, staffing and recruiting firms should:

  • Define their goals and ambitions.
  • Understand their processes, and ensure they work toward those goals and ambitions.
  • Use technology to make those processes more efficient.
  • Train their people on how to navigate processes and get the most out of tools.
  • Find the right people to implement and manage technology.

Do all that, and technology will begin working for you.