The Recruiter Adoption Dilemma

February 9, 2016 Tim Sackett

The Recruiter Tech Adoption Dilemma

Recruiting technology is super hot right now, and it’s transforming how all organizations attract, select and hire talent. To be a recruiter today is similar to being a caveman when the wheel was invented. It’s amazing what we can do today, that we only dreamed about doing 10 years ago.

Therein lies the problem for talent acquisition leaders.

Our teams want the latest and greatest technology. We go through the budget process to get the funds to buy these great technologies. We go through all the work of selecting and implementing these great technologies. Then, we watch our teams… not use the great technologies!

Nothing kills great recruiting technology faster than the lack of user adoption by our recruiting teams. It’s the main dilemma every talent acquisition leader faces: “What if I buy the tech, and the team doesn’t use it?”

I ran talent acquisition at a 10,000-employee health system in Michigan. One of the first things my team hit me on when I arrived was the need for technology upgrades. I took a look at what we had and the amount of hiring we had before us, and agreed with my team that we needed to add some tools to the toolbox. Health care is notoriously behind the industry curve in using effective recruiting technology, and I wanted my team to be innovative.

My team was desperately pushing for a CRM-type product so they could contact more candidates, faster, easier, etc. It was expensive — almost as expensive as our ATS, but after all of our due diligence we were sure it was going to more than pay for itself, and then some.

Experienced talent acquisition leaders already know what happened next: The product started out great. Everyone was excited. A few became masters at using it, and leveraged all that it had, but most of the team soon went back to recruiting the same way they always had. Six months in, I knew we were not getting out of the technology what we needed. This is a common problem across industries when implementing new recruiting technology.

To ensure the technology investment would still be successful, we implemented three things:

  1. We developed a scorecard to measure those who were finding success with using the product. The entire team was ranked on this scorecard, and it was highlighted at a weekly staff meeting. I always asked someone on the top to give us a tip or trick they use to be successful.
  2. We gave incentive awards out to those who were most successful using the new technology. We created weekly and monthly contests to drive the behaviors that would lead to higher usage of the technology.
  3. We partnered those who were struggling using the technology with one of the top performers. It was the job of the top performer to meet at least once per week and sit with those who were struggling with the new technology and actually work with them to help them use it fully.


The next six months were completely different than the first six months. Our usage of the system more than doubled, hires outpaced our projections, and we ended up transforming how our organization was viewed by our hiring managers.

In hindsight, I walked away with some great learnings from the implementation. First, user adoption is not a one-time kick-off event. Rather, it’s an ongoing focus and training that never ends. Second, you won’t get everyone to fully adopt. Technology changes the way we work, and some people will really struggle with this change. Sometimes, those people will need to find another role.

The single biggest reason I see companies fail to use the technology they’ve purchased is because their talent acquisition leader refuses to hold their team accountable for using the product. If we truly believe we’ll be 20 percent more effective using this technology, we better be 20 percent more effective! That means you have to use the technology. That also means some folks might get uncomfortable.

If the technology makes both the organization and the recruiter better, being uncomfortable will only be a temporary thing. If, as a leader, you continue to buy technology you don’t fully use, however, you won’t be a leader for long.

Make the most of your recruitment investment: Get five more tips to drive recruiter adoption.

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