Getting Past Anecdotal ROI in Talent Acquisition Technology

Being the devoted readers you are, you know I’ve been working on a report on the talent acquisition vendor landscape this summer. What was originally supposed to be a quick and painless research brief soon turned into one of the more challenging projects I’ve had this year. That’s because new products and tools are hitting the market every week, and categorizing them is tedious to say the least.

Just last week, I met with one of the more difficult vendors to categorize: Work4 Labs. If you’re not familiar with them, their technology “transforms social networks into a source of top-quality talent, enabling enterprises to extend their employer brands, drive referrals organically and target specific profiles.” It’s pretty powerful stuff, especially for those hiring organizations struggling to strengthen employer brand and tap into less saturated talent networks than those found on LinkedIn.

It had been more than six months since I last had a peak under the hood, and they certainly haven’t been idle. Co-Founder and CEO Stéphane Le Viet gave me the rundown on their latest and greatest, which included new mobile functionality for both employers and candidates, and upgrades to the user interface.

Social Ads – The Next Big Thing?

One of the things that has always impressed me about Work4 is its ability to turn vast and complex social networks into valuable talent portals. Part of this is the result of its strong relationship with the folks at Facebook, but the other part is dedication to keeping things as simple for recruiters as possible. A great case in point is Facebook Ads – which can be a highly effective method for targeting and engaging specific candidate audiences, assuming you’re savvy enough to understand the intricacies of pay-per-click advertising.

For the average social recruiter, however, Facebook Ads can be rather daunting.

But the folks at Work4 are taking much of the guesswork out of these ads – partly through educational webinars, but mostly through their social ads solutions. Today, many of their customers are using social ads to target even the most difficult-to-find candidates. Even better, they’re doing it for less than they would pay for a LinkedIn job post.

Considering shifting sentiments on the value of LinkedIn these days, this could be a game-changer. But when I asked Le Viet about the impact social ads are having on his clients’ sourcing efforts, hiring metrics, or overall talent acquisition performance, we ran into the same challenge many solution providers are having: He had plenty of anecdotal information, but no hard data on the performance of social ads versus LinkedIn job posts.

Building a Data-Driven Value Proposition

No matter how powerful the candidate search engine, how robust the employee referral platform, how advanced the talent analytics and reporting tool, very few solution providers these days have hard data to back up the value proposition they stand on. And as I see it, this is likely to be the next big hurdle vendors in talent acquisition technology have to clear.

Why? Because while anecdotes make great marketing material, today’s business leaders have one thing on their mind: ROI. Lacking data-driven examples of hard and irrefutable ROI among users of advanced talent acquisition technology like Work4’s social ads, I think we’ll continue to see many hiring organizations stubbornly hold onto their existing systems simply because they’re familiar. And that’s a problem.

To that end, my colleague Madeline Laurano is working hard on a new piece of research aimed at helping recruiting teams build compelling business cases for adopting new technology, and data-driven ROI plays a key role. Knowing the technology that’s available is also important, and my report on the talent acquisition vendor landscape (which published July 11) will make a nice companion piece.

If you’re interested in learning more, you know where to find me.

Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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