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Nailing Talent Acquisition Technology Adoption in 2021

Talent acquisition technology adoption ideas

44% of companies have implemented new recruitment technology during the 2020 pandemic.

As we’re getting started in 2021, even more companies will be adding new tools and systems to their stack to enable more robust remote hiring and working, fully digital operations, and new ways to report on activities or forecast results. But what will the adoption of these talent acquisition technologies look like?

Why does talent acquisition technology adoption matter?

No matter how great your selection process was, now matter how competent your implementation team, your technology rollout will be a total flop if recruiters do not use their new tool. If your investment is collecting metaphorical dust on people’s hard drives, and having exactly zero impact on your recruiting operations, your ROI on what was probably a costly and time-consuming investment won’t be positive.

Technology adoption is hard to get right. Anything that involves asking large groups of humans to change the way they do anything is tricky. Asking them to change the way they work is even trickier, because the stakes are higher. When the old tools and the old processes have served you faithfully for the past three year, you are hesitant to throw away the certainty of that outcome for the maybes of a new tool.

In addition to that, forming new habits takes time. If you are used to starting your day by opening a certain set of tabs, and then clicking on your ATS, and going down your emails in a certain order… It will take some effort and some practice to open your CRM first instead, then sync your emails, then open Linkedin, or whatever it is that the new process asks you to do.


How do you measure adoption rates for talent acquisition technology?

After implementing Beamery for our customers for the past five years, we’ve found that it usually only takes a few weeks to get a good sense of whether the teams are on track for adoption or not. This is true across the board, from rapidly scaling tech companies to international enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees. Users decide whether Beamery is a product in which they want to invest their time fairly quickly. Most TA organisations do not enforce the use of new systems top-down, and even for those that do, they may struggle to drive adoption unless users realise value quickly in their first three weeks.

High levels of recruiter adoption (%WAU) and retention (% of users coming back week after week) are clear signs that recruiters at a company are getting value from their new tool or process. Otherwise, they would find ways to get around it and to keep doing their work without using it. To measure adoption, look at the following metrics:

  • User adoption over a specific period of time: number of recruiters who used the tool during the period/total number of recruiters.
  • User adoption of specific features: similar to the first one, but for a specific feature only.
  • Time to first {key action}: average number of days before users perform a key action with the new tool, such as creating their first candidate filter, or their first nurture campaign, or their first time importing a candidate using a browser extension.

What can you do to improve talent tech adoption?

When it comes to adoption, there are some basic implementation good practices that will get you almost all the way there:

  • Communicate the value of the new technology in a relatable way: Share numbers around the expected impact on the quality and the number of hires. Outline the positive changes in the daily work of your recruiters, and on the experience of candidates. Modern talent tools are exciting- give your team a chance to discover why.
  • Give your team ownership of success: Ask your vendor to help you choose good success metrics, and then discuss them with your team to set targets that are owned by everyone. It can be a number of candidate profiles enriched or campaigns launched by a certain date, a number of candidate pools or fields defined, or certain reports populated and shared with leadership by the end of a set period.
  • Establish a timeline: schedule periodic reviews of the change process according to a timeline. Your vendor should be able to provide approximate timelines in which you can reasonably expect to complete discovery, implementation, training and ramp-up.
  • Make people accountable: Assign ownership of separate items like training team members, formalizing the team’s best practices, or launching the first campaigns, to specific team members. An excellent way to ensure adoption is to include non-supporters of the new tool in this exercise; they are more likely to be brought over if they own part of the process.
  • Don’t rush it: urgency is often used to motivate team members to implement a new change. However, it’s important to remember that completing change in a short period of time is not the goal. It’s great to be able to capture value from change early, but it’s much more important to ensure it goes well.

Looking at usage analysis to drive talent tech adoption

After establishing general change management tactics, you can go a step further and focus on the specifics of the tool you are implementing. AT Beamery, we aggregate and anonymize user data to understand how our customers use the different features of the product over time. This analysis revealed a few things.

talent acquisition technology adoption phases

First, adoption goes through a few different phases, from onboarding and training, to value discovery, to habit formation, to established everyday usage. Not all users who go through onboarding will continue using Beamery every week, for example, but these who complete the training are 50% more likely to stay as long-term users, than those who don’t.

You can conduct a similar analysis with whatever tool you’re implementing, discover what parts of the onboarding and implementation process are most likely to influence long-term adoption, and focus your energy on those.

Another insight you can leverage is that some features are more likely to drive adoption than others. At Beamery, we call them “focus features”. Our technology delivers value as a whole, but our data does show that people who successfully use certain features in their first week are much more likely to use the system in the long term. These might not be the core features of your tool, but simply something that recruiters find particularly impactful in one part of their process, or something that solves one of their pet peeves. Identify those “focus features”, and your talent tech adoption problems might just go away.

Talent and people teams are still adapting to the changes brought on by the past year—not just the temporary ones like lockdowns or economic slowdowns, but also the more permanent ones, like a wider acceptance of remote work and schedule flexibility, and higher expectations around transparency in the workplace. All of these changes mean new processes, new tools, and new implementations.

Successful adoption of talent acquisition technology is a matter of planning and attention to detail, but also of human relationships. Aptitude Research's recent report on the Foundations of Talent Acquisition highlighted a number of factors that go into successful deployments of new talent acquisition processes or technologies, but the one that often challenges TA leaders the most is the human one. Getting people to change their way of working is hard, and it’s important to not underestimate the work needed to ensure that your teams get onboard with your new technology.