Article: Talent Acquisition - Past & Future

Talent Acquisition

Talent Acquisition - Past & Future

With close to USD 60 million invested in the Indian HR tech market of candidate sourcing & other talent acquisition technology solutions, this space is buzzing with action.
Talent Acquisition - Past & Future

As we start the New Year, we are looking at some of the research work done in Talent Acquisition over the last 2 to 3 years to decipher key trends and look at how HR technology vendors in the Indian market have shaped up to help businesses address these aspects.

The business imperative

Here we refer to the AON Hewitt Best Employers India Study 20161. With more than 100 organizations representing 12 different industries and a cumulative employee strength of about 950,000, this study helps us understand the generic trends and challenges faced by businesses in India.

As per this report the top emerging people risks/challenges impacting organizations are:

  1. Rising salaries
  2. Inadequate leadership pipelines,
  3. Inability to retain employees and
  4. Critical skills shortage

The report argues that Best Employers continue to have a commanding position in these 4 identified challenges, thus implying that investing in building the employer brand and people capabilities serves the organization well.

The other aspect this report talks about is the changing nature of internal and external demographics for most businesses. These changing demographic situations mean that businesses will have to – design organization for innovation, agility, and speed, create work cultures to deliver 10 x impact and manage the young, the old and the connected workforces.

The Aon report helps us understand the multiple building blocks of becoming a best employer which are essentially organizations that win in the talent market. Businesses need to focus on delivering the basic infra, talent and staffing requirements while ensuring there are relevant and enough career opportunities supported by a culture of rewards and recognition along with inspirational leaders at all levels of the organization

All of these are essential elements that organizations of various sizes will look to build through their journey and we now look at various HR aspects & how these objectives are supported via multiple HR Technology solutions in the space.

The Challenges of Talent Acquisition

One of the biggest challenge companies of all sizes and across industries face is to recruit the right talent. It is amply evident from the above mentioned AON Hewitt Best Employers India 2016 study and similar other studies.

The challenge of talent is multi fold in Indian context as companies have to sift through multiple profiles to find the right fit for job skills and company culture. Organizations are also struggling to build leaders from within and hence have to depend on leadership talent from outside, thus making the process of identifying and attracting such talent more challenging.

With more than 271 million students registered in under graduate programs2 India is one of the countries with highest number of graduates however the question of employable talent from this talent pool remains one of the largest problems in the recruitment business.

When one looks at this from the lens of technology solutions, it's not difficult to see why there is so much action in the Indian HR Tech industry around recruitment and especially around sourcing & selection.

The “Other” Channels of Sourcing

82% of organizations depend on job portals3 like Naukri, Monster, Timesjobs , Career Builder and others as their preferred hiring channel. The next 2 major sources of seeking relevant talent are employee referral and social media.

This predominance of job portals is also making companies and HR Tech solution providers innovate on other possible and available sources like employee referral, career sites and talent focused communities.

Companies like Career Builder, TMP worldwide, LinkedIn and Glassdoor are some of the solution providers which are helping organizations setup these alternative channels of engagement with potential talent pools.

With the advent of social media, companies are increasingly looking to leverage the use of various social media tools especially LinkedIn and Facebook for talent acquisition purposes. 3 given this reality, employee referrals which tap into social networks of employees is a great opportunity that has been explored by HR Tech providers in the Indian market. Players like Happy2Refer and Grownout are some examples which help companies in this process.

While these solutions help organizations tap into existing talent pools in an innovative manner, there are other solutions that are emerging in the Indian HR tech space which aim to help companies tap into currently untapped or unrecognized talent pools. Some noticeable mentions in this space are Sheroes – helping women get back into a full or part time job and Workflexi which aims to create platform for the “gig” workers in different job categories.

Job boards mentioned above have typically largely focused on what was termed as white collar jobs, there wasn't much effort taken to organize data about the blue collar or daily wage earner population. The success of babajobs, which was then acquired by Quickr changed this. By creating a job portal for not only the B2B sector but also recognizing potential of jobs created in every household, Quickr jobs aims to connect all job seeking population in different trades irrespective of their educational qualification.

With approximately only 1 in 4 graduates from Indian colleges being employable, as per various industry reports, the potential to provide necessary skills to this talent pool is enormous. Companies like Hackerrank, Hackerearth, Aspiring Minds, ELitmus and Cocubes help organizations connect with a pre-assessed pool of talent. These platforms have thus become an important gateway between academic institutions and corporates. By establishing certain parameters companies are able to assess vast pool of talent while significantly reducing the cost of acquiring the same.

The Mobile Future

TRAI data indicates that that we have over 1 billion subscribers of mobile phones and from that roughly over 300 million use smart phones9. A survey done by Pearson Talent lens10 found out that 76% had seen career opportunities in their inbox on mobile & 74% had visited a career site on their mobile. With less than 10% having downloaded an app regarding job application or any other aspect of talent acquisition, this space is likely to see increased action and adoption from many HR tech players especially in the recruitment space.

While for many companies the journey to the mobile recruitment starts with ensuring their career sites are mobile optimized, it does not end there. Companies now have to increasingly think about the complete candidate experience via mobile as most of the TRM and some of the ATS level actions can happen via mobile. Companies are increasingly focusing on the end to end process starting with brand building, job posting, sourcing, assessment, and on boarding8 to happen via mobile.

While no single technology solution today is available which handles each one of these aspects efficiently under 1 platform companies are increasingly looking at integrating best of breed solutions in each of the above categories to stitch together a unique yet seamless user experience.

The Cognitive Technologies

One of the other growing trends is the use of AI in recruitment technology in general and sourcing in particular. With solutions like Glider.AI, and this space is slowly gaining prominence within recruitment tech. Interestingly the AI 1004 list published by CB Insights recently named 3 HR Tech companies from North America as promising AI applications and all of them happen to be in the talent acquisition space. This proves that, many solution providers are looking to solve the problems of talent acquisition using AI especially for sourcing and identifying the right fit candidate.

The other technology that will continue to see increased adoption would be video interviewing platforms. Technology solutions like Skype, Google Duo have ensured that video interviewing is now easily available even via mobile. But companies like Talview are looking to add a layer of analytics on top of the video interviewing process, thus making it more efficient for the recruiter.

The rise of Analytics

Companies like Spire Technologies and Edge Networks are focusing on use of analytics coupled with cognitive technologies to aid in sourcing & talent decision making. These companies use the power of data combined with contextual search and AI to make the job of recruiter more efficient and eventually more effective. These solutions help companies not only look at talent outside the organizational walls but also effectively assess & identify talent within the organization.

As many organizations look to break the data silos and cross reference information within the organization building data models based on historic data of candidate behaviour or employee performance is now possible. Companies can easily see how patterns of absenteeism impact attrition or how employees with certain background perform on the job. By combining this data from different organizational silos companies are now looking to build predictive models, that would help them hire effectively.

The use of analytics is not only restricted to talent decisions but also assessing the effectiveness of various recruitment marketing strategies. As companies and HR departments look to learn from their marketing counterparts they would increasingly look at recruitment marketing analytics to assess effectiveness of approaches. With the advent of sophisticated data analytics tools and platforms, companies can now easily test their assumptions in a simulated environment before deploying the actions. These insights gained by using a data based approach to every aspect of talent acquisition will ensure that the guess work is going out of the process.

The missing pieces

Organizations are increasingly focusing on candidate experience in the entire recruitment process, this has given rise to 2 types of broad solution categories in the talent acquisition marketplace – Talent Relationship Management (TRM) and Applicant tracking System (ATS)5

Where the TRM solution sets help organizations focus on the external – candidate facing parts of the processes while ATS helps organizations manage their internal functions of recruitment effectively & efficiently. The focus on the TRM side has been to ensure that relevant candidates see the relevant information in an effective & engaging manner, while the focus of ATS has also been similar while also providing just in time decision support analytics to help recruiters become more effective & productive.

The solution spectrum within Indian HR technology focused on talent acquisition has largely been on job boards followed by candidate assessment. We see a huge potential for an Indian HR tech solution provider to create an end-to-end TRM solution set specifically targeted at Small & Midsized Indian organizations. While many HRMS solution providers like Peopleworks, Darwinbox, Adrenalin and Ramco amongst others have focused on improving and integrating the ATS features into their solution set, we see a great potential for these players to work with TRM point solutions to help create a unique value proposition for their customers specially in the SMB segment.

With close to USD 60million6 invested in the Indian HR tech market of candidate sourcing & other talent acquisition technology solutions, this space is buzzing with action. The combined impact of helping companies build new sourcing models focusing on the candidate experience while using cognitive technologies7 holds a lot of promise for this space in future.


  1. Aon Best Employers India 2016 Study
  2. MHRD Statistics
  3. Human Capital Trends 2014
  4. CBInsights Research
  5. Toolkit for Recruitment Marketing
  6. HR-Tech India Report
  7. Look Ahead at Talent Acquisition
  8. Technology Trends 2018
  9. TRAI files
  10. Mobile recruitment in TA
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Topics: Talent Acquisition

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