The Top Recruiting Products of 2018

These are the top recruiting products of the year as judged by the editors of Human Resource Executive® magazine.
By: | September 7, 2018 • 6 min read

Each year, the editors of Human Resource Executive® conduct a Top HR Products contest and, in partnership with a roster of outside consultants, choose the 10 or so that they believe represent the most innovative new solutions on the market that are helping business leaders meet the ever-evolving HR needs of their organizations.

As was the case in the last few years, a number of leading solutions are in the area of talent acquisition and screening. The 2018 winners also illustrate the increasing prominence of artificial intelligence and machine learning in emerging HR technologies. Below, we’ve listed those outstanding products specifically for the readers of the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Bulletin. (On a side note, you’ll be able to see and test for yourself some of the latest and greatest talent-acquisition products on the Expo floor at the upcoming Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference, in addition to hearing from some of today’s most compelling thought leaders in recruiting. The conference will take place Feb. 20 through 22 in Las Vegas, go to to learn more.)

Special thanks go to the following experts for sharing their insights on the 2018 entries: Gerry Crispin, principal and co-founder of CareerXroads; Bill Kutik, HRE’s HR Technology columnist; Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research; Elaine Orler, CEO and founder of Talent Function and program chair of the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference; and Brian Sommer, CEO and founder of TechVentive Inc.


As always, we encourage you to perform your own due diligence before making any investments.

Textio Hire

Textio, Seattle

What It Is: Textio Hire is an “augmented-writing” tool designed to ensure that recruiters have a greater chance of getting a reply from emails to targeted candidates. The software uses a predictive engine built to automatically learn from a continuously updated data set of actual emails and their performance metrics, which are used to help recruiters write messages and job descriptions that will resonate with candidates. Textio Hire analyzes messages as they’re being written and flags words or sentences that could be problematic or could potentially turn off candidates and suggests replacements. Every recruiting email written in Textio Hire is assigned a Textio Score, which rates its overall effectiveness, from 0 to 100. Recruiters can use Textio Hire while creating messages in LinkedIn or Gmail via a browser extension; similar capabilities for Microsoft Outlook are planned for an upcoming release.

Why We Like It: Experienced recruiters understand that simply cutting and pasting an existing job description into an email will likely result in zero response. Textio, which made its name with an AI-powered platform that helps recruiters create bias-free job descriptions, created Textio Hire specifically to make this type of outreach more effective. It’s built to understand the words and phrases that resonate with job seekers and those that don’t—such as the word “ninja” when reaching out to female candidates. The product is user-friendly and intuitive and, by letting recruiters access it without having to leave LinkedIn or Gmail, minimizes any potential interruptions to their workflow. Most importantly, because Textio Hire is an AI-enabled product, it’s designed to learn over time so that your messages will continue to get smarter and more persuasive.


AllyO, Sunnyvale, Calif.

What It Is: Cloud-based AllyO uses artificial intelligence to manage traditional inefficiencies and lost job applicants caused by a poor candidate experience, overburdening and menial task-driven recruiting processes (read: costly), and a lack of visibility/control for HR and recruiting leaders. AllyO overcomes those hurdles by using what it calls “deep workflow” and “conversational” AI to completely automate end-to-end recruiting. It engages job candidates via texting over both web and mobile platforms. It is multilingual, offers quick deployment, and integrates and scales with existing HR systems and processes.

 Why We Like It: We’ve all heard how AI is transforming HR, especially in the recruiting realm as it relates to enhancing the candidate experience. In other words, the objective is to ensure the application experience is fun, easy and non-frustrating (AllyO uses the word “delightful”). AllyO may be just what the recruiting doctor ordered, as its simple, no-nonsense interface may qualify it as truly transformative technology. Best of all, recruiters and employers can stay compliant without disrupting their current ATS systems, and AllyO works with career pages, job boards and within marketing campaigns. It’s impressive to experience how AllyO can handle the range of recruiting chores, including qualifying candidates for “best fit” roles, and automating interview scheduling and post-interview interactions—all done via AI. With investors including Google and Randstad Innovation Fund on board, HRE isn’t the only one who likes what it sees in AllyO.

IBM Watson Candidate Assistant

IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

What It Is: IBM Watson Candidate Assistant is designed to match job seekers with an organization’s open positions they’re best qualified for based on their skills and background. Candidate Assistant analyzes a user’s resume and then sifts through job openings, using its job-matching capability to deliver personalized job recommendations. The product’s chatbot function, built on IBM’s Watson cognitive platform, is pre-trained on more than 60 commonly asked questions from job seekers. Clients can modify, add or change the questions based on reports that Candidate Assistant provides and have the option of adding their own custom content to the platform or having IBM help them create it.

Why We Like It: Imagine the ideal job candidate: motivated, a team player, hardworking and eager to learn. The only drawback is that he or she may not be familiar with all the different job categories at your organization for which he or she is qualified. Candidate Assistant can make it easier for such a person to find a perfect match at your company. Consider also the passive candidates organizations are eager to reach—by making it relatively painless for them to see what they’re qualified for, Candidate Assistant can make it easier to reel them in. For companies that are seeking to diversify their ranks and/or hire for hard-to-fill positions, Candidate Assistant is worthy of serious consideration.

Media Cloud (M-Cloud)

Symphony Talent, New York

What It Is: Billed as the industry’s first vertical-technology stack for recruitment media, M-Cloud is a self-contained system driven by Symphony Talent’s AI engine and takes the inefficiencies and guesswork out of recruitment marketing. It allows talent-acquisition leaders to apply programmatic, real-time, results-driven media optimization by focusing on outlets that provide the best fit and highest-quality candidates. It also continually refocuses company efforts on the most important jobs for both active and passive candidates. Campaigns can be geo-targeted to multiple locations and job titles can even be tested for each location. It also works for brand ads such as banners, mobile ads, pre-roll video, native ads, social ads and general search ads such as Google. With M-Cloud, companies only buy those impressions likely to result in quality applications.

Why We Like It: The platform is flexible enough to self-optimize separately for various job categories and different regions of the country or world, providing companies with a solution to streamline and centralize their recruitment-media efforts across job functions and regions. Its versatility also supports on-the-fly changes to hiring needs, and it has the ability to instantly launch new campaigns to accommodate the never-ending shifts in recruitment budgets and goals. Additionally, a set of API integrations is baked into the platform, allowing it to connect seamlessly with all the media channels used to reach candidates. In addition to eliminating the need for media contracts, the platform also positively impacts a company’s bottom line by automatically shifting spending to the jobs that need more traction, rather than the typical over-investing in a job that already has enough applicants. Perhaps best of all, the platform is simple to learn—requiring no more than 15 minutes of training, and all that’s needed to get started are the company’s recruitment goals and budgets.


Avature Contingent Workforce Management

Avature, New York

What It Is: Avature Contingent Workforce Management is a single-platform solution that tracks contingent workers throughout their employment life cycle. It’s a full talent-acquisition platform through which recruiters can source new talent or engage with previous contractors. Companies can use Avature as a direct-sourcing strategy in which contractors create profiles to highlight their skills, apply for open projects, and update their compensation data and availability. Or, using the Agency Management Portal, employers can keep all communication and activities with outside staffing agencies in one location. The Hiring Manager Portal lets users submit and approve project requisitions, review candidates and schedule interviews, as well as rate contractors on skills and project deliverables at the end of an assignment. There’s also the Avature DNA Social Portal, a social-network platform designed to keep contingent workers engaged and aware of what’s going on at the company. Built into the platform are options for personalized email marketing, sharing jobs on social media and sending “keep-warm reminders” (to remind recruiters to regularly call high-potential candidates).

Why We Like It: With predictions of a 50 percent contingent workforce by 2020, employers will need a total-talent solution to manage gig workers, and Avature CWM has created a talent-acquisition function that traditional vendor-management systems were missing. The tool is intuitive and applicable to all types of contact workers—from staffing agencies that submit workers for open projects to freelancers applying for themselves. A fully customizable platform means that companies can keep their branding consistent at every step in the process. Avature CWM’s DNA Social Portal is among the solution’s most unique offerings. Companies may not want contractors to have access to the company intranet, for instance, but by using DNA Social, employers can create a contractor intranet that updates contingent workers about the latest company news, new jobs and any other relevant information. This helps engage contingent workers and, coupled with targeted marketing strategies, reengages them so that they want to take on more projects with the same company.

Andrew R. McIlvaine is senior editor for talent acquisition at Human Resource Executive. He oversees coverage of talent acquisition and recruiting and also edits the weekly Recruiting Trends Bulletin e-newsletter and its associated website, A Penn State graduate, Andy also spent two years in the U.S. Army prior to attending college and attained the rank of sergeant while serving in the Army Reserves. He can be reached at [email protected]