Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be reading this if you were satisfied.
You’re reading this because you’re frustrated with the status quo. Or maybe there’s some organizational frustration surrounding your TA processes (you’re not alone by the way — almost 75% of TA specialists are in the same boat). You could just be overwhelmed at the endless ocean of technology vendors claiming they can save your company.
Regardless, you’re here. And so are we.
Together, we’ll go through a step-by-step guide (because who doesn’t love a list) on what to do before buying hiring software.
And maybe — just maybe — you can leave here a little bit more satisfied than you arrived.
1. Define the problem(s) you’re actually trying to solve.
I can hear your sarcastic groan from here.
Ok, sure, this might seem obvious. But honestly, take a step back and really think about it.
64% of companies aren’t satisfied with their ability to anticipate their own needs. Yet we still see organizations rush to fill gaps in their hiring process that don’t even exist.
Paradox Sr. Director of Product Jenn Giusti spent 25 years in the HR world, and was in charge of purchasing and implementing new technology more times than she can remember. And she believes that if you don’t spend the proper time to get this part right, you’re not setting yourself up to succeed.
“The first part of even defining a problem is figuring out if there’s truly a problem,” said Giusti. “Sometimes, it’s not the current technology’s fault; the employees just aren’t properly trained.”
The solution to your issue may not cost a cent — just some time in the classroom.
Granted, sometimes, you are better off apportioning part of your budget to improve your technology stack. Even still, companies will often misdiagnose things as problems while completely ignoring the root of their issue.
For example, Autism Learning Partners, a full service healthcare provider, was previously struggling to hire their monthly quota of behavioral technicians. So the answer is simple, right? Increase candidate volume.
Not so fast.
After implementing and using our Conversational ATS (a simpler, mobile-based ATS powered by conversational AI) to educate candidates on the intricacies of the role, they saw a different pool of candidates begin to accept their job offers. These candidates turned out to be much better fits. Cue the domino effect: Better candidates were hired, employee turnover dropped, recruiters’ quota stayed the same, and Autism Learning Partners suddenly had more viable candidates than open roles.
Now, that’s a great problem to have — and not necessarily one that warrants the purchase of a software to fix.
The point is that the problem you may think you need to fix could actually be a side effect of the actual issue in your organization. And the worst case scenario is spending your budget on something that’s not going to fix your problem in the short term, or grow with your business in the long run.
So please. What are you actually trying to solve?
2. Rally the troops.
Nobody likes sending out a Zoom invitation to half the company. But sometimes, big decisions mean big meetings.
Now that you know what you’re trying to solve, you should figure out who needs to be:
A.) Aware that you’re making this decision.
B.) Actively involved in making this decision.
Roles commonly found in Group A include finance, security, IT, etc. These people obviously won’t be using the software on a day-to-day basis (barring a surprising but always welcome career change), but their knowledge will be instrumental in figuring out logistics and possibilities. Plus, bringing in different arms of the organization may help reveal additional necessary software requirements.
An important, but frequently omitted, subsection of Group B is the actual end users of the product. While they may not be privy to the high-level details of the decision, they’re ultimately going to determine whether the purchase is worth it.
“You need to get buy-in from the people actually using the software,” said Giusti. “You can have the flashiest technology in the world, but if people don’t adopt it, it’s not going to matter.”
Highly effective hiring teams are 4x more likely to have transparent metrics accessible to all stakeholders in decision-making. Don’t leave anyone out.
3. Figure out the financials.
“Know your dollars.”
As the former Global Head of TA and Talent Strategy at McDonald’s, Josh Secrest always made sure to understand what his budget was and where he was spending it. He believes that before you can even consider asking for more money, you need to figure out if you can consolidate what you’re currently spending.
“If you know the ins and outs of your budget, it’s going to be easier to figure out where to gain efficiencies with your current spend,” said Secrest. “The easiest and fastest way to buy new technology is to swap out dollars.
That being said, asking for money shouldn’t be off the table. You just have to be smart.
A great business case won’t guarantee you millions of dollars in new spend. But it can help convince your CFO to open the vault a little. Keep in mind that these new dollars are an investment: while it will cost a little more today, the right solution can yield you millions in hard costs and operational savings.
Asking for money can be a little nerve-wracking. But if you have the data on your side, you’ll make a CFO-proof argument.
4. Start shopping.
Sorry, this headline is a little misleading. But “shopping” sounds much more fun than “research.”
But really, Google (or whatever search engine you prefer — we don’t judge) is your new best friend. Reach out to your network, check review sites like G2, browse product websites, and download content. Don’t just be a sponge. Be a ShamWow.
If you do, you’re going to realize things you didn’t even realize you could realize.
I’ll even give you a head start. Would you have guessed that mobile functionality was recently voted the most effective hiring technology? Without doing the research (that you already started by clicking this article, by the way), you may have missed that piece of information.
But does that mean that you’re going to 100% buy mobile software? Absolutely not.
This is where your problem-defining skills are really going to be put to the test. Don’t just cling to the first stat or solution you see. There are a lot of products on the market. Some are fantastic — some aren’t. All of them will tell you that they can fix your problem.
So remember what’s important to you, and have fun exploring.
5. Consider a request for proposal (RFP) process.
In the time it took you to read this sentence, a new SaaS startup was just founded in San Francisco.
Seriously, the TA tech space has more vendors than anyone could physically count, all with different benefits, drawbacks, and price points. Should you feel unsure about how to compare your options, you may want to think about an RFP process.
During an RFP process, you outline your requirements in questionnaire-style documents, and software providers can answer how they would solve your specific challenges. These documents also serve as a great starting point for structuring data, comparing answers, and figuring out which vendor is right for you.
Granted, RFP processes aren’t for everyone. They can be lengthy, expensive, and potentially cumbersome to fill out, especially if there are a clear few frontrunner vendors in your space. Consult your friends in Group A to find out if the RFP process is right for your problem; regardless, never make the buying process a one-horse race. Consult your options.
6. Call for backup.
For someone familiar with ATS’s and CRM’s, dealing with API’s, CPU’s, and AI can be a little challenging.
It could be worth considering seeking outside advice from a consultant. They’re not only well-versed in the latest and greatest software on the market, but may also have knowledge in specific industries, use cases, and platforms. Debrief them on your company’s challenges and requirements — and let their expertise take the wheel.
Consultants are able to leverage their experience and knowledge to recommend customized solutions based on your problems. Buying any sort of high-tech software is going to be a big decision with a big cost — why wouldn’t you want to get an expert’s opinion on what does and doesn’t work?
At the very minimum, don’t hesitate phoning a-friend within your industry or adjacent to it.
“People are typically very open to sharing what’s worked for them or where they’ve stubbed their toe,” said Secrest. “The advice I got from the other TA leaders I would call was invaluable.”
That’s not to say you should give outsiders final authority on what you’re going to be spending your money on. But remember that when you’re in a sea of unfamiliar territory, there’s always life preservers you can call on to help.
7. Schedule some demos.
At this stage, you’ll have a shortlist of which software you want to see more of. Which means it’s time to work a little TA magic and schedule some interviews.
Treat these demo calls like you may treat a job interview:
- Prepare a list of questions you want answered
- Look for reasons that this specific candidate might be a good fit and/or a bad fit
- Discern key pay metrics that stakeholders need to be made aware of
Also, and hopefully this goes without saying, make sure the product is safe. IT security was the top priority of people looking to buy new software. The last thing you want is for a faulty product to put your brand at risk.
Finally: Remember that, should everything go well, this relationship will last far longer than the initial demo call. The software has to work — but also make sure that you’re comfortable with the people behind the product.
“I always ask for client references, not just from current clients, but from clients who left in the previous year,” said Giusti. “I want to know if they left because of the software or because of a difference in opinion with the team.”
Demos may be daunting — but you work in TA. You specialize in extracting kernels of truth from total B.S. These salespeople got nothing on you.
8. Think beyond the purchase.
Ok, so you’ve got everything sorted out. Now you just gotta sign the dotted line.
But first, a final step. Before you make things official, you need a grasp on how you’re going to handle the real work: implementation.
Only 41% of companies say they’re well-partnered within their organization on technology optimization and training. Your goal is to make it 42%.
Make sure you know how much the vendor will support implementation post-signature, and how much will fall on your team’s shoulders. Speaking of those shoulders, remember our Groups from Step 2? It’s time to bring them back into action.
“Figure out your KPI’s — your measures of success,” said Giusti. “Everyone should know at the beginning what the goals ahead look like.”
Define an internal team that can execute your implementation, as well as any necessary change management around the business. And remember to always be communicating to ensure a successful process.
Buying hiring software is not easy, especially nowadays. But when you do it right, you can transform your business.
And spend less time feeling dissatisfied in guides like these.