Last week I was talking with a friend who is the Director of HR for an eleven million dollar company. They are trying to find an applicant tracking system to replace their current solution, and he asked me for some advice on where to start his search. He spent several hours looking around the web, scouring Google, and checking in with friends (hence the call to me). After all of that searching, all he had was a headache from the various frustrations he met during his search. While the experiment is quite informal, I think it’s an interesting peek into the mind of your average customer.

Why he’s changing platforms

He has been really happy with the applicant tracking system his company is using, but they have slowly started “premiumizing” the basic features he has come to rely on to get his daily work done. Bit by bit it was an acceptable nuisance because the basic price fit his budget and it was a tool the company had used for three years successfully.

We all know the truth, though. Businesses change. Products change. That’s part of life.

However, the new pricing model is built not on how much the system is used from a recruiting standpoint (number of applicants, job postings, recruiters, etc.), but on how many employees the company has. My friend is having trouble making sense of why that is the driving factor of the price when it isn’t relevant to the duties of a recruiter.

To be blunt, he feels slighted by the company that he has put his credibility on the line for, because he now has to request additional funds to purchase another system, train hiring managers to use it, and find out how to import legacy data into the platform.

I’m certain the new prices are going to fit some customers well, but it isn’t something that he can fit into his budget, so he’s on the hunt.

Lack of pricing information

Like pretty much every business decision, one of the initial hurdles is budget-based. In other words, can we afford it? However, even a simple question like that is virtually impossible to answer in a cursory review of some of the applicant tracking websites out there. Here are some of the questions that surfaced:

  • So how is this pricing model determined again?
  • How much will it actually cost? Is there a setup fee? What’s the annual cost? Is there a discount?
  • The website says “free trial,” but I have to give them a credit card number to test it out—I don’t know if I trust them enough to give them that information just yet.

Lack of feature description

The next priority is feature set. Will this do what we need it to do?

  • The website doesn’t have any screenshots. I need to see the user interface to see if it’s going to be intuitive for the recruiting team, hiring managers, and candidates.
  • It lists a key feature I need, but it doesn’t tell me what tiers the feature is available for.
  • I’d really like to see a demo or video tutorial, but all of that stuff is locked behind a sales rep. I don’t want to get on someone’s telemarketing list—I just want to look at the application.

Do your potential customers a favor

Have someone who is unfamiliar with your product visit your site and the sites of two or three of your competitors. They need to be looking for standard information: pricing, features, etc.

Without prompting or leading them, allow them to try and see how quickly they can find the information they are seeking and track how long it takes to do that.

If they have trouble finding the information, then a change might be necessary. Don’t do it for me–do it for your customers.

My personal laptop is on its last legs. I have been thinking a lot about the tool, what I’ve learned from using it, etc. That led to this post. Enjoy!

A few years ago, I signed up for the Google CR-48 prototype Chromebook pilot program. And then I promptly forgot about it. Then, one morning a few weeks after signing up, I walked out the back door and noticed a box that I had received in the mail. I ran through my purchases recently and couldn’t remember anything requiring shipping, but it had my name on it so I popped open the box. To my amazement I found a new Google CR-48 laptop!

The geeky stuff

What makes the CR-48 computer different from the one you’re using right now? Well, the whole operating system is built on the Google Chrome web browser. There’s no desktop. There’s no file system. It’s all on the web. While that has some limitations (mostly due to “how we’ve always done it” syndrome), it’s amazingly freeing to not be tied to a massive, slow-moving operating system. And those limitations are shrinking every single day.

What this means for HR pros

You know that big, heavy HRIS you are tied to? It’s not going to be around forever. Or maybe you’re clinging to a massive Excel file to manage all of your HR data (been there, done that!). In case you haven’t been paying attention in recent years, HR technology folks like talking about SaaS (software as a service) tools that are delivered through the web. Those sorts of applications are the future for HR and recruiting technologies. Systems like the one I’m using to write this post will revolutionize the way computing is done, and that can only help to speed up the move to web-based HR and recruiting platforms.

I don’t expect you to be a technology wizard. Not everyone’s a geek or a nerd, but it helps to know some of the basic ideas and trends that drive the industry. You might not be using any tech yet. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone in the “paper only” brigade. But I will say that it can’t last. Paper doesn’t scale. It’s a totally different thing to say you are handling 50 employees with processes built on paper than saying you could do the same with 100 or 10,000 employees.

Simple instructions

The instructions I received with this computer were simple. Play with it. Try to break it. If something breaks, tell us so we can fix it.

Pretty simple, right? Do the same with your own tools, especially if you are in the selection process. Try things. Run through the most difficult, confusing process you have with the application. Do everything you can to break it, because you’d hate to know that it was incapable of performing X task after you buy it, right?

What HR technology are you evaluating? If you could wave a magic wand and change how you’re doing something currently by incorporating technology, what would it be? Why? 

human resources portalI’ve had “create an employee HR portal” on my To Do list for a while now, and this week is the one where I check that little item off as complete. When it first appeared on the list, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was looking for. Besides walking around and asking people what they would like to see on there (which isn’t a poor option, but it didn’t seem very productive on my part), I wasn’t sure what to cover.

Information to include in an HR portal

My fabulous manager reminded me to treat it like a “first line of defense” for repetitive questions. Kind of like a “FAQ” to help people find what they need quickly instead of having to ask me repeatedly for the information. With that in mind, I made a short list to start from so I didn’t get overwhelmed: Continue reading

Whew. I don’t travel that often, but the coming weeks are going to be quite busy. I hope to meet many of you at least once in this whirlwind, so check out the list below to see if we’ll be at any of the same events.

calendar of events

HR Florida-August 27-31

This is my first HR Florida excursion, but I’m really pumped to attend. From working with a few friends on the pre-conference Social Media Academy to having the time and topics to blog about throughout the duration of the conference, I am very excited about this experience.

Hire Minds-September 28-30

The good folks at Snagajob reached out to me about speaking on social media and I couldn’t turn them down. It sounds like an amazing event with a small, intimate group of incredibly talented individuals. I’m honored to attend!

HRevolution-October 2

I did a video a few days ago on HRevolution. If you want a ticket, it’s one of the cheapest events out there but has a consistently high rating from attendees. Definitely encourage you to check it out!

HR Technology-October 3-5

While I might not be able to stay for the entire event, I’m a geek/nerd at heart, so you know I’ll be in love with some HR technology. Working for a startup means that we’re always just one big proposal win away from needing something more powerful than Excel as an HRIS system. :-) I’ll be looking for some ideas and hope to meet some great people for the first time there.

In the midst of that is work, family, and volunteer stuff, so it’s definitely going to be a wild month, give or take a few days. So, how about it? Anywhere you’d like to meet? Feel free to shoot me an email!