The following is an interview with Karen Antrim, a thirty-year hiring and talent acquisition veteran. We wanted to pick her brain on what HR Tools are interesting to her, as well as the best practices and frameworks she’s learned over time. Enjoy!

What's your story, how did you get into the world of HR?

28 years ago I become a manager and then a director in an IT Services firm. While there, I grew the first department I ran from about 50 employees to about 320. As a hiring manager, I had the chance to see how effective (and not effective!) recruiting practices can impact all aspects of the business. I then moved to a software development company and ran their technical support and customer service functions. Again, as a hiring manager and leader of a department of 80 that required a seasonal spike to 150, Recruiting become a core focus of my job.

13 years ago, I became a Talent Sourcer providing dedicated sourcing to a group of 8 recruiters. My background in database search, internet technologies, and recruiting helped to pave the way. Along the way, I developed the 4 sourcing training modules in the Recruiter Academy Certified Recruiter program. I also provided advisory services to a community of Healthcare Talent Acquisition professionals. In that role, I have spun up 18 Sourcing Teams in 15 of the country’s leading Healthcare Systems. Providing the roadmap to process, workflows, metrics (with a Sourcer Scorecard), training on sourcing techniques and even participating in the interviewing and hiring of staff.

What are some of your favorite HR tools and why?

I’m really excited about predictive analytics. Everyone is buzzing about AI, and I believe there are some good case uses for AI (chatbots in particular), but predictive analytics to determine the right candidate for the right position for them. Predictive analytics is based on actual data, not keyword matching or human interaction to provide feedback. This not only uses real data to help make decisions but in the hiring process, it can reduce unconscious (and sometimes conscious) bias.

One of my favorite tools in this space is a company called Arena. Arena Predictive Analytics uses job req disposition date from the ATS to predict retention of candidates applying for the job. If Recruiters and Hiring Managers follow the predication recommendation, they have case studies of reducing turn over by at least 22%. 

What mistakes have you made when buying HR software?

Early on, I did not include a key stakeholder department in my needs collection. When we began the implementation, we learned that this key user group had specific needs that were not included in the customization and implementation. The result was additional money and time.

I still see this today especially in Talent Acquisition. Too many times, an HR ERP system will be implemented but TA was not consulted in the buying decision. They are handed a new ATS (and possibly CRM) without adequate time and input for their workflow needs. The ERP might be perfect for benefits administration, payroll or other, but be woefully insufficient on the ATS side. 

What are your best tips for getting internal stakeholder buy-in for new HRTech?

Show how the investment (and use the word investment instead of cost) will result in cost savings. Try to show actual dollars. For example, in Recruiting we can often measure the cost of vacancy for empty positions. If a piece of tech is going to help us fill those positions more quickly, or reduce turnover thereby avoiding the vacancy, figure out how many positions need to be filled in order to pay for the tech.

How do you vet HR vendors?

The typical first step is to perform the needs analysis within my organization. This includes working with HRIS to determine what connections, if any, the product needs to make with other systems. This will fundamentally build your vendor list.

Then I research the company history and longevity. I’ll even look for employee reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed. I believe the temperature of the employees is a key indicator of the quality of the company. Then I’ll look at their implementation and customer service (or customer success) team.

Frankly, much of the software we buy today is a commodity. There are several vendors doing the same thing. The implementation team and customer success team are who makes or breaks success with the end-users. I’m not typically interested in talking to references they provide me because they are only going to provide a reference that is going to say good things. I will try to dig around and find other companies using the product (with some products such as ATS, CRM, chatbots, and texting, you can tell what they are using by interacting with their career website). Then I’ll see if I can get a hold of TA Manager and get feedback.

Thanks again to Karen for sharing her insights! Please subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest in HRTech, or send us a note if you’d like to share your knowledge with our audience.

This post originally appeared on SelectSoftware's blog where we write about the latest in HRTech.

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