Mar 26 2021

Trending HRTech tools in Talent Acquisition

“ Talent Acquisition needs to be as adaptable and as flexible as the rest of the organisation to address future goals.”

by  Ben Cho , Senior Lecturer, Singapore Polytechnic School of Business

What have we learned in 2020?

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of technology in all aspects of our lives. It changed the way we live, play, and work. Having to deal with increased uncertainties and risks has made us more adaptable and more resilient. There is now an increased acceptance and appreciation for life-long learning even in the most resistant employees. Digital transformation in all segments of society and the economy has been accelerated. Work from home (WFH) - so as to be socially responsible - has changed the way we connect and collaborate with each other. The high penetration rate of mobile phones within the population has also accelerated the introduction of a new way of working: work from mobile (WFM). The better user experience offered by mobile apps compared to laptop applications has made it easier for the government and businesses to leverage technology for its outreach.

Adoption of WFM tools by the government has seen widespread acceptance of mobile apps like SafeEntry and TraceTogether, used for contact tracing, and HealthHub, a one-stop health portal. On the other hand, the adoption of WFM tools in businesses has seen increased acceptance of collaborative, continuous learning and remote-working tools, such as Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn Learning and Trello, and cloud storage tools like Google Drive.

The adoption of WFM tools in human resource (HR) in particular, has created a new genre - HRTech tools. This pandemic has caused organisations to pay more attention to the health and well-being of their employees, turning the spotlight to employee experience (EX). But EX involves more than just health and well-being. Employees will be expecting great EX not just whilst working in the organisation but from the start, when job seekers are responding to ads placed by the organisations. Just like other areas of HR that required a rethink to incorporate technology, Talent Acquisition (TA) is no different.

Image Attribution: Freepik 

Technology adoption in Talent Acquisition (TA)

In the new normal, talent acquisition’s importance as a strategy has grown tremendously. An organisation needs to be agile and nimble to respond to increased uncertainties and unpredictabilities in the business environment. Undoubtedly, TA needs to be as adaptable and as flexible as rest of the organisation to address future goals. The pace of adoption in talent acquisition has quickened significantly. The following are some key environmental factors and considerations:

1. Virtual/Remote work environment

With everyone working from home, candidates will not be able to experience the vibrant and engaging work environment during job interviews. The new norm necessitates new ways of screening and interviewing candidates, to understand how they might fit into the organisation. Technology can help with that by transforming the way organisations interact with their candidates online. Some examples are a chatbot to answer initial questions about the job and the organisation, an automated assessment system to screen candidates, and an applicants tracking system (ATS) to engage candidates during the recruitment process.

Image Attribution: Freepik

2. Changes in candidate experience and expectations of employer branding

Candidate relationship management has become more important in the new normal since the candidate experience will be taken as a proxy for employee experience by the candidates. Just as an organisation screen and selects its candidates, candidates do the same with the organisations they apply to. Leveraging technology in candidate relationship management is the digital transformation needed for a pleasant, engaging, and consistent candidate experience. A compelling candidate experience will increase the desirability of the organisation and improve the employer’s branding further.

3. Data-driven insights

Traditional recruiting and screening rely heavily on in-person meetings and intuition. This can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, especially in a pandemic. By leveraging technology like AI and data analytics tools, organisations can be more efficient, reduce costs, and improve the quality of hire.

3 Key Components in Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is about finding the right person for the job. It typically involves:

1. Employer branding

When job seekers consider the kind of employee experience in an organisation, they refer to an organisation’s employer branding. This is their perception of how the organisation treats its employees and candidates. Positive and clearly-defined employer branding is a key component in attracting, engaging and retaining the organisation’s current and future talent.

2. Sourcing

Candidate sourcing is the search for potential employees to fill current and future job openings. Technology tools like job portals and job boards can be leveraged for a more targeted approach.

3. Screening and selection of talent

Screening is the process of reviewing job applications. This begins after sourcing and involves going through resumes and cover letters. Organisations want to find candidates who have good person-to-job fit and good person-to-organisation fit. Traditionally, this is a tedious and laborious process. However, technology can be employed to make better talent selections, increase hiring efficiency, and improve candidates’ experiences. 

Trending HRTech tools in Talent Acquisition

The COVID pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and hastened the adoption of digital solutions. This is the digital advantage an organisation needs to be more resilient in the face of adversity, to recover faster, and to gain their competitive advantage post-pandemic.

In pursuit of the above goals, the following HRTech tools can be employed:

1. Employer branding

Jobseekers are getting tech-savvy and use social media extensively, especially amongst the younger set. Traditional job boards targeting these job seekers have to level up. Besides details and descriptions of the job at the offer, sophisticated job seekers want to know more about the hiring organisation. Recruitment marketing and employer branding are becoming an important consideration for job seekers before they even consider applying to the organisation. Job portals like Talenttribe and GlassDoor are catering to this special group of job seekers by showcasing employers in the portal, and their pros and cons, supported by past and current employee reviews.

a. Conversational chatbots in recruitment marketing

In 2016, Facebook launched a chatbot platform for their Messenger app which allowed business accounts to automate chats with their customers. This provided the automation needed to engage customers 24/7. Similarly, conversational chatbots can be employed by organisations on their websites to engage and delight jobseekers. This is especially true for “casual” and “undecided” job seekers who are browsing an organisation’s career site.

Conversational chatbots can initiate a conversation engaging candidates in a conversational exchange answering recruiting FAQs such as availability of job openings; steps needed in applying for a job; and specific job details such as salary expectations; skills and qualifications required. Details about the organisation such as employee benefits; organisation culture; and more recently work from home policies; COVID preparedness; and medical benefits can also be shared.

Well-designed conversational chatbots will leave a positive impression in these passive jobseekers’ minds creating a favourable employer brand of choice. This positive experience will hopefully convert them from passive to active jobseekers when they proceed to apply to the organisation.

By making the career site experience a simple, easy and engaging one, conversational chatbots are becoming essential in an organisation’s recruitment marketing strategy.

2. During the process of sourcing

Candidate sourcing is about knowing where to find the best and most suitable candidates. It is a process of searching, identifying and contacting potential candidates for current or planned open positions.

Some of the difficulties recruiters may encounter are:

  • low numbers of candidates;
  • low quality of candidates;
  • not knowing where to begin the search for leads for the recruitment pipeline;
  • lack of time to do searching, identifying and contacting potential candidates.

The following HRTech tools can make sourcing more efficient and productive:

a. Job Boards

Job boards are online platforms where organisations with open positions can connect with job seekers. In the past, job boards were usually a portal on the Internet. Now, job boards have evolved to meet jobseekers’ preference for mobile phone apps. This evolution has created opportunities for differentiation in job search, in job matching, in ease of use, and in how jobseekers’ and businesses’ needs are met.

Another key differentiation that has arisen is job boards specialising in a segment of the job market. Some specialise in blue-collar jobs, some in non-executive and service positions, and others in IT jobs. Some examples of popular job boards are Snaphunt, Jobshine, Grabjobs, Findjobs, Wantedly, and Iotalents. Job boards will continue to evolve and will continue to appeal to active job seekers as an efficient and effective job-search tool.

3. During the process of screening, short-listing and selection of talent

Screening, short-listing and selection is often a long, labour-intensive and time-consuming process. There are three steps in the process: First is identifying individuals with the right qualifications; next, is ranking these candidates for short-listing; followed by a dialogue between the hirer and the candidate to verify and ascertain good person-to-job fit and good person-to-organisation fit.

Managing the three steps is not easy, and when you couple it with the need to interact and engage the candidates, this consumes much time and energy. This is where automation and artificial intelligence can help!

Automation can be employed from the moment an organisation receives applications for its job openings. The high volume of resumes received can be overwhelming even for well-staffed and experienced recruiters. This provided the motivation to automate manual and repetitive tasks like interacting online with candidates, screening and evaluating resumes, and preparing a shortlist for interviews.

Throughout this process, now and over the years, data are gathered on the hundreds and thousands of candidates. This data can be systematically managed using either an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Both systems work similarly in aggregating and organising data across different touchpoints between organisations and jobseekers and channels such as job boards, career sites, mobile apps, email marketing, and others. Artificial intelligence when applied to automation and data makes automation intelligent. This intelligent automation will mean less time spent on routine and repetitive tasks, and recruiters can devote more time to value-added activities like interacting with candidates at a deeper and more personal level.

This integration and automation when employed by organisations will improve employer branding and drive a better candidate experience.

a. Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) not only organises applicants’ information and track applicants for jobs in an organisation, but it also improves the organisation’s productivity in talent acquisition and allows organisations to better match candidates’ expectations at every stage of the recruitment process. Regardless of whether a candidate gets hired or not, the candidate experience provided by the organisation has a great impact on the organisation’s employer branding. With an engaging candidate experience, even the non-hire candidates can be effective ambassadors for the organisation. For these non-hire candidates, in future, ATS can be employed to re-engage these candidates when opportunities arise.

Some trending ATS are Manatal, Oleeo,, and RecruiterPal.

b. Resume Parsing, Search & Ranking

Resume parsing, or sometimes known as CV parsing, is an automation tool designed to gather, analyse, sort, and rank resumes according to suitability for the job and organisation. The software uses either keyword-based, grammar-based, statistical methods or a combination to do its work. More and more artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are being introduced in resume parsing. In a significant way, this has increased the accuracy in the process saving valuable time and energy for the recruiters.

There are many standalone options for resume parsers. One such example is RChilli. And there are also resume parsing modules bundled within an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Image Attribution: Freepik

c. Conversational chatbots

The use of conversational chatbots is not confined to recruitment marketing, it is also used in recruitment automation. Conversational chatbots have enabled and Adaface to offer recruitment automation to their clients. These chatbots take over some of the repetitive tasks in recruitment such as:

  • to collect candidates’ information such as resumes and contact details;
  • to ask screening questions about candidates’ experience, knowledge, and skills;
  • to rank candidates based on metrics such as qualifications and the answers to the screening questions;
  • to answer FAQs about the job and the application process;
  • to schedule a job interview.

Artificial intelligence tools incorporated in the chatbots can further improve the metrics used in ranking candidates thereby enhancing higher accuracy in rankings, and increasing the chances of a suitable match.

d. Background Screening

Before hiring a candidate, due diligence must be done by the recruiter. A background check or screening is a process to verify that a jobseeker is who he/she claims to be. It includes checking and confirming the validity of the jobseeker’s education, employment history, and other activities from their past. These checks are important in identifying potential hiring risks so as to ensure safety and security in the hiring organisation. These checks are traditionally administered by a government agency, but they can also be administered by private companies like Avvanz. Organisations have an obligation to ensure a safe working environment for all and to prevent employment problems arising from a poor hiring decision.

e. Assessments

(i) Psychometric assessment

A psychometric assessment is conducted in order to evaluate a candidate’s personality and abilities. The assessment aims to provide measurable, objective data that provides more insights to a candidate’s suitability. Organisations who choose to use psychometric assessments can gain a better overall evaluation of the candidate, thus enhancing accuracy in finding the best talent.

Psychometric assessments are usually conducted online, which allows it to happen at any stage of the recruitment process. Going digital also facilitates integration into the existing applicant tracking system (ATS) of the recruiting organisation. Two such trending examples are - Xobin and Mettl.

(ii) Gamified Assessments

Gamified assessments are essentially enhanced psychometric assessments which harness the full scope of game-thinking. Gamified assessments capitalise on the inherent psychometric properties of games. Games are well suited for evaluation purposes as participants make decisions that test their verbal, numerical, and logical reasoning, situational awareness and judgement. This experience is more engaging and more realistic for the candidate while the organisation ends up with behavioural data points that can be helpful in its selection of candidates. Examples of gamified assessments are Talent Games and Gametize.

f. Video Interviews

There are two types of video interviews. One is a live video interview which may be recorded. This is not too different from a typical Zoom video call or a typical Microsoft Teams video call. The other is a pre-recorded video of a candidate answering pre-defined interview questions. Both types of video interviews, live-recorded or pre-recorded, can be easily shared with a larger panel of assessors.

Besides the video recording function, video interview software integrates interview scheduling, chatbots and AI as a complete package to streamline and simplify the interviewing process. While some of these software packages are independent, others may be integrated within an applicant tracking system (ATS). Two examples are Talview and Astronaut.

g. Virtual Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of helping a new employee fit in with the hiring organisation. This allows a new hire to acquire the knowledge, skills and behaviours in order to become an effective member of the organisation. Given that remote working now the new normal, a rethink is necessary since there isn’t a physical office to welcome and connect with new hires. Software technology offered by Digidesk is an example of virtual onboarding.

Digital transformation is the process of integrating technology in all areas of an organisation so as to deliver greater value to an organisation’s stakeholders. In talent acquisition (TA), digital transformation has taken place through the use of HR technology and it is delivering a more efficient and more effective process when finding and hiring the best jobseeker. Employer branding and candidate experience have been driving this transformation in TA while the pace of change is being accelerated by the COVID pandemic. Just as we can expect more organisations to adopt the HRTech tools, we can also expect more HRTech startups with great value propositions. 

Download the infographic about trending HRTech tools in Talent Acquisition here

Ben Cho has been part of the teaching staff at Singapore Polytechnic School of Business for 19 years. At work, he thoroughly enjoys interaction with his students and the challenges of mastering new technologies in his course of work. In his free time, Ben enjoys a good squash game and wildlife and sports photography. 


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