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Kate Wadia

Phase 3 Consulting

Former Managing Director

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Talent acquisition, technology and where this leaves you


Talent acquisition is merely nearly new; by comparison the capability of HR technology is really new. Talent acquisition is recruitment turned retro. Does it differ? Yes, and we have fashioned today’s HR thinking on talent into longer-term, strategic and cyclical practices that extend beyond just filling the job.

Here I’m going to take a brief look at the link between talent and technology today and pose one or two personal questions to get thinking on in your professional life.

Many of us will have been at the CIPD’s Software Show. Or Recruitment Show. The same show. I support the CIPD’s overt link here between the two partner specialisms for HR.

That people technology and talent strategy should be a part of the same conversation, on the same day and in the same meeting of delegates makes absolute sense to me.

Very much new in 2017 we saw Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) at the centre stage for software. But talent remains strong as a sustained theme on the technology side of the arena.

The technology providers realise that they cannot afford to ignore the fact that there is an ongoing agenda for CIPD members on talent.

The “war for talent” (coined by McKinsey in 1997) may be a phrase that feels a little past-it, but its practice is far from past tense.

We may war over buzzwords for it, but the real battles only increase to get the best (at times the only!) people in our industries.

A snapshot or quick search of HR reading on Brexit or the recent general election is enough to confirm us that it is becoming harder to recruit the right people.

How does demand work?

  • Talented candidates are in demand.
  • Talented candidates demand technology
  • Technology responds with tools
  • Those tools attract the talent. If your acquisition strategy matches your engagement and performance delivery, then in theory that war for talent is won

And in this virtuous circle the HR leader invites technology companies, yes, to focus product development on engaging with their candidate pools, with the result that talent acquisition technology offers arguably the best examples out there of people technology as a respectable match to wider market consumer tech tools.

A slightly nerve-wracking twist for us as HR professionals is that we can find ourselves hearing from the IT people how we should recruit.

How does supply deliver?

To get practical and to whet appetites, look out for (as witnessed at the CIPD shows)….

  • To recruit: passive candidate search tools; advert posting to multiple media and to match multi-post, one-click application; social and media referrals
  • To select: “gamified” assessments, online psychometrics, video interviewing, predictive success insights
  • To on-board and engage: give and receive the “pulse” between new starter and organisation in pre-months and induction

The recruit, select, engage functions are challenged by software I’ll term non-HR. Take LinkedIn as the obvious example. Notice yourself if you’re already thinking that one is old hat!

Facebook in February this year began to allow Business users to post jobs. Google are making a repeat attempt in the year ahead to enter the jobs market more directly with the (anticipated) Google Hire and Google for Jobs and bear in mind that search is what Google is all about.

Will this push the HR technology providers even further in their investments in talent acquisition capability?

How do you need to work with this?

I put to you to question what this means in your own role.


  • Calling all candidates! Do you care about the tools with which you are recruited? What do they say about a prospective employer? Does that matter? Will you tolerate less than you expect? In the volume that the technology can provide for, how will you stand out from the crowd?
  • Hiring in HR! How relevant is this technology to your own candidate talent pool? Which bits of which kits add a real value to you and which are glam and gloss to be admired and screen-stroked but set aside? How much can you cope with? Does your vendor provide?
  • Vying as vendors! How are you dealing with the uncertain boundaries defining your traditional competitor market? Are you going to concede to the specialism? Can you extract for your clients a subset of functionality where you excel?
  • Cautioning consultants! Have a view on this. What’s yours? Does the advancement of social and consumer tech affect your advice to clients about core HCM products? For example, do you still wish to promote an inevitable benefit of integration?

Talent technology deserves its showcase spot. I think it will be there next year too.

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Kate Wadia

Former Managing Director

Read more from Kate Wadia