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The Trends and Future of HR Tech

We chatted with product development expert Ed Pederson about upcoming trends in HR technology.

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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HR technology is constantly innovating. But how do human resources and TA teams keep up?  50% of HR professionals recognize that data is the top trend in hiring practices. Yet only 9% of recruitment decision makers believe they have strong enough tech to get the job done according to a Josh Bersin study. 

According to Ed Pederson, Vice President of Product Development at staffing company Kelly, that’s a problem. “We are all consumers of various tangible goods and services in our daily lives… I don’t need to be trained on how to use Amazon. That sort of experience that we’ve all come to enjoy in our daily lives needs to translate into HR, talent acquisition, [and the] staffing industry in a big way.”  

As someone directly responsible for the agile development of new products for Kelly’s customers, Ed was the right person to talk to about the future of TA and HR tech trends. 

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What does HR tech look like today? How are the most innovative HR departments leveraging their HR tech stacks? (4:52) 

Ed finds that the more progressive HR teams look at everything from a technology perspective. It all starts with simplifying their tech architecture. 

“You look at the HR tech space and there are literally thousands of different providers all doing one little niche here or one little niche there,” he says. That kind of landscape is daunting, especially when trying to integrate every solution into the bigger picture of their HR tech stack

Ed recommends designing a clear path of what you want to do from a company and culture perspective. “[Look] across the globe of how [you] can get greater visibility into all the different labor channels, and once [you] have that how do they optimize it to get into a full strategic workforce plan that leverages the best of all [your] labor.” 

So what specific tech are the most progressive companies using? According to Ed, it's Total talent management, robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence. 

What are the specific tactics you see driving efficiency in the talent acquisition funnel? (7:53)

At his previous position at John Deere, Ed explains that he managed a base of over 8,000 suppliers.  It's an understatement that it's complicated for a small management team to optimize that chain. How can such a complex supply chain streamline processes?

Build your tech stack around an optimized workflow. By using RPA, AI, and machine learning tools, you can automatically get things done even when you’re not at your desk. “[Bots] can be out searching for candidates on the LinkedIns and Indeeds... and when you as a recruiter wake up in the morning, you've got a stack of candidates that are pseudo pre-vetted.” 

As such, there has been an increase in talent community building and direct sourcing. By using automation tools alongside HR software, you’ll build a small pool of individuals that are interested in working for your company, whether in a full-time or contingency role. 

By nurturing this talent pool, you can call on them whenever the need pops up. When you consider that 70% of companies take 1 to 4 months to fill a vacancy, you'll have a leg up on the competition by optimizing the hiring process to get candidates from interviewing to onboarding in under 30 days. 

Any recommendations for nurturing candidates specifically? (11:21)

Ed recommends taking a marketing approach when nurturing candidates or seeking passive talent. Use the creatively-minded people in your organization to make engaging visual materials, such as videos or infographics. Then use those materials to differentiate your company on dense online spaces like social media. 

“As you’re starting to learn the space and try all those things, the technology will actually help you understand what talent really interacts with,” Ed explains. “What percentage actually open the email or text message? What percentage actually watch the video all the way through? Do they scroll all the way to the bottom and read everything? Do they click on that link that you wanted them to?” 

By taking a marketing mindset, you can learn how your talent likes to be communicated to and what they actually react to. 

Are there any novel ways companies are using data? (13:34)

“Data is kind of the new holy grail that everyone is trying to figure out,” Ed admits. While the idea of manipulating data to craft a hiring narrative sounds good in a sales pitch, individuals simply don’t have the time to collect the metrics they need in order to create the story. Often, companies have to rely on third-party vendors to mine and interpret data for them. 

Data progressive companies fold that into the experiences they already have. 

“Most individuals are in their email system or they’re on [web browsers]. As you’re going through those environments that you’re interacting with on a daily basis, you might say ‘hm, I need an engineer…’ and you can hover over the word engineer and it says there’s 20,000 engineers with these sorts qualifications in a 10 mile radius and the average pay rate is this.” 

All the data you need is right there in front of you at the moment you need it. 

What HR technology trends will we see in the next 5 - 10 years? (16:13)

Many new entrant HR tech players are pushing the envelope for user experience. The goal is for employees to be able to do more with less training, a necessity as the number of remote workers continue to grow. 

As a result, Ed believes the talent acquisition funnel will become a self-service environment. “You won’t ever interact with the traditional people our structure is set up around. There’s automation and the secret sauce behind the scenes that brings you the best available candidates.” 

What’s stopping TA and HR functions from being there right now? In Ed’s opinion, it’s the legacy technology that many Fortune 500 companies still use. “We are at this precipice of a disruption that will leave some of those legacy technologies in the past and leapfrog us forward into [technology experiences] we [already] enjoy in our personal lives.”

Future HR tech is visually pleasing, mobile friendly, voice activated, and designed to make your work more effective and efficient.

Fitting it all into the COVID framework

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation that Ed describes. HR leaders were forced to seek out new ways to engage candidates in a remote work environment. As such, they have adopted data-driven HR tools to approach interviewing, hiring, onboarding, employee engagement, and more. 

The future of work is centered around data. With remote working opening wider geographic talent pools, HR professionals will have to get used to AI and RPA in the hiring process. It's no longer a question of why you need the functionality. It's when you are going to catch up. By keeping up with HR tech trends, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

About Ed Pederson

Ed Pederson is the Vice President of Product Development for Kelly. His career has brought him to over 40 countries around the world, including a stint in Siberia in the heart of December. What did he think of the experience? “It was the coldest I’ve ever been.” 

Connect with Ed on LinkedIn and find Kelly on LinkedIn and Twitter.

This is part of a series on SelectSoftware where we interview the best and brightest People people who support our mission to make buying HR tech easier. 

Are you or is someone you know interested in joining our Expert Council? Contact us!

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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Phil is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and Recruiting teams find and buy the right software through in-depth, expert advice. He has bought over $1 million worth of HR and Recruiting tools. Additionally, as of 2023, nearly 3 million HR professionals have relied on his advice to determine which business software they should buy.

Phil studied finance at New York University and started his career working in venture capital before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School. His in-depth understanding of the Saas landscape, especially HR Tech, stems from nearly a decade of researching and working with these tools as a computer programmer, user, and entrepreneur.

Featured in: Entrepreneur Harvard Business School Yahoo HR.com Recruiting Daily Hacking HR Podcast HR ShopTalk Podcast Employer Branding for Talent Acquisition (Udemy Course)

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