Transforming Talent Acquisition for the Digital Age

Is your recruitment process ready for the digital era?
By: | November 28, 2016 • 5 min read

Nowhere is HR’s digital transformation moving faster than in the area of talent acquisition. With the evolution of talent management cloud solutions and the advent of new recruiting technologies, companies have changed how they find, hire and engage talent. Today’s technology makes it possible for organizations to discover new insights, such as which passive candidates may be ready to make a move or who is most likely to become a top performer.

In today’s market, the candidate is king. Digital transformation in talent acquisition brings together social, mobile, video and cloud technologies to make the candidate experience much like the consumer experience. Since the majority of candidates start their job search via mobile, the ability to search and apply for jobs on a mobile device is a must-have for recruiting.


A case in point: An airline catering and services company began seeing a significant uptick in applications when it started providing candidates with an end-to-end, mobile-enabled enrollment process that allows them to apply online and import data directly from their LinkedIn profile or their Google Drive or Dropbox account. The process also allows candidates to quickly register with the system using Short Message Service (SMS) through either text or Quick Response (QR) code. The company has found that mobile-device traffic constitutes 72 percent of the monthly visitors to its career site. It also found that, when applicants are unable to apply from a mobile device, only 45 percent return to a computer to complete the application.

To attract today’s candidates, the entire recruitment process—not just the initial application—needs to be quick, convenient and engaging. Emerging technology allows a candidate to not only apply for a job via a smartphone, but to take an interactive assessment, self-schedule an interview or click on a link to a video interview that can be completed online at any time—all in a fraction of the time of the traditional recruitment process.

Engaging candidates in a way that’s convenient for them is well demonstrated by a healthcare company that required a flexible solution to better accommodate schedules of shift-based workers. Calling candidates during the day isn’t always practical, and in some cases overnight workers may be sleeping during normal business hours. The company deployed a solution that lets candidates digitally interview at their convenience or self-schedule a live interview. Now, approximately 40 percent of candidates opt to go through the digital-interview experience.

A digitally enabled process can not only increase application rates but also improve candidate engagement, build the candidate pipeline and shorten the overall time-to-fill. An electronics company looking to attract top technology candidates found that its dated solution and manual processes simply weren’t resonating with its target audience. Pontoon, the company’s recruitment provider, used technology and cutting-edge applications to establish brand credibility, including the use of digital interviewing through HireVue. The technology was well-received by candidates and hiring managers alike. It increased candidate volume, allowed managers to review applicants more quickly and reduced time-to-hire.

The digital transformation of talent acquisition is not just about how technology automates and streamlines the process but about how companies are changing the way they deliver services. Many organizations are moving to a more proactive, consultative model in which recruiters provide guidance based on expert market insight and analytics. They can now analyze labor market data and combine the data with historical hiring information to advise hiring managers within a matter of days (instead of 10 to 20 days) if there’s a likely issue in meeting the time-to-fill target. The ability to make immediate recommendations based on data to adjust the sourcing strategy or change the requirements of the position saves time in the process and allows recruiters to consult more strategically with the business.


Leveraging data more strategically to create a predictive model is an increasingly important benefit of a digital HR transformation. Some organizations are now using technology to create algorithms based on key factors—such as number of jobs held, years of industry experience, level of education and academic performance—so they can target candidates predicted to have the strongest future performance. Interactions with candidates will be increasingly informed by predictive models. Websites will continue to get smarter and machine-learning capabilities will be able to deliver personalized content to help candidates make decisions or encourage specific actions based on whichever stage they’re at in the recruiting process.

In this fast-moving market, it can be difficult to define the right talent acquisition strategy to take advantage of the latest technologies. For organizations looking for a place to start, here are four important things to keep in mind:

Focus on the candidate experience. Engage the candidate, create a streamlined process and provide the right mobile access channels.

Ensure you have the right “digital backbone” to support your talent acquisition strategy. Educate yourself on the various talent acquisition technologies available in the market. Create an integrated technology strategy that is not just a set of individual, disparate technologies but that provides a cohesive framework for how they all work together to create a seamless approach.

Create a holistic model that not only leverages talent acquisition technologies but redefines how you deliver services. Transforming the talent acquisition function should take into account how resources will be aligned, how roles will be structured, what specialized skillsets are required and how hiring managers will interact with candidates.

Leverage talent analytics to create actionable insights. Develop a strategy for analytics, starting with a few high-priority areas. Begin by understanding what your best performers look like, where they are and what attracts them. Use available labor market tools, sourcing analytics, recruitment marketing and candidate-relationship management technologies to attract, capture and nurture the right talent.

Your organization’s broader digital business and customer strategies likely include creating efficient, innovative and mobile-first experiences. Building a leading-edge, engaging and effective digital recruiting process dovetails with this objective—and perhaps can even lead the way.

Stacey Cadigan is director of the HR group at Information Services Group, an advisory firm headquartered in Stamford, Conn.