Your Talent Tech Stack for 2018

Your Talent Tech Stack for 2018

We’ve come a long way.  There are increasingly few of us that remember the wilderness years before LinkedIn arrived. There are still fewer who remember writing things down with a pen and paper.  Whilst there are still those who cling to older technology or who will forever sing the praises of “banging the phones” there’s very little doubt that technology has made a big impression on the world of HR and Recruitment.

From slow and steady adoption we seem to have hit a current boom time for HR technology.  There’s a gold rush in full swing and the new prospectors with their cries of “Recruitment is Broken!” are headed west with dreams of HR heroism buoyed up on the promise of VC money.

As HR Tech buyers the future, we are told, will be full of AI and robots doing our jobs for us, freeing us up to do other things.  We haven’t been told what those things are quite yet but rest assured we’re all redundant…maybe.  Though the future is uncertain the present can be just as confusing.  What are the tools people are using now, what will they be using next year? How will we find, assess, hire and manage their people going into 2018?

Luckily, this isn’t one of those futurist prediction posts that will be neatly swept under the rug when it transpires we won’t all be enslaved by HR AI’s (maybe a few years later). I wanted to know what tech people were using now, so I asked them.  This survey of some of the recruiters, HR and general “talent” people at the coalface of hiring is of the practitioners. The respondents here are all members of a hiring community called DBR. A community of practice with over 1000 members in a range of companies ranging from 5 to 166,000 people strong. They represent a vast variety of industries, levels and experience. They are the buyers and, more importantly, the users of the current wild west of HR Tech. These are their answers to questions around tech for sourcing, assessment, interviewing, hiring process and HR. I hope that this will give the reader some insight into the plethora of tools available and which particular tools are used most by the “wise crowd” that DBR represents.

Average respondent’s company size

As I mentioned the makeup of the DBR community is pretty diverse.  It does have a leaning towards tech startups in Europe and as such has a bias towards companies that are hiring at scale or are going through rapid phases of growth and having to adapt to new ways of working at least once a year. Average company size on self reported headcount is 4558 employees.  If we take out the outliers at either end of the scale (that 166,000 and the few single employees in their own companies) average size seems a more believable 756 employees. That’s who answered, but what did they say…


One of the areas of HR Tech that has seen an explosion of new tools and services has attempted to tackle how we find and contact prospective candidates. I divided these into free (or freemium) services and the more fully featured sourcing suites.

There are a wealth of chrome plugins that enable their users to find contact details or enrich the data shown on other sites. These tools rise and fall quickly and those listed here are the survivors of an still ongoing battle for space in a recruiter’s toolbar.

A clear lead for ContactOut.

There are so many of these tools it was impossible to list them all – other tools that the respondents mentioned included OctoHR, RocketReach,, Nymeria and Intelligence Search by Shane McCusker.

At the other end of the spectrum there are a number of paid tools that are more fully functional, some feature access to private data sets or offer more intuitive recommendations using AI.
A joint top choice here of Workable’s PeopleSearch tool and the Entelo Platform.

The “other” section here was two free tools that their users had migrated to a paid version of Hiretual and Mahiba, a StepStone product for enriching social profiles.

There are still a number of Sourcers who will have us believe that using tools of this type is in some way inferior.  Indeed, one of the respondents comments ” I don’t use any of them, I feel its a little bit like domesticating a wolf”.  Not to get too caught up in the war of the Sourcers vs. Recruiters we asked if the respondents used boolean.  So whilst many can, the growing number of tools are a path to the same result with less effort. The learning here seems to be that for those organisations who are prepared to pay for sourcing tools those tools replace the need to write complex boolean strings.

One of the biggest technical changes to happen in the world of recruitment has been the rise of LinkedIn. Since it’s launch in 2003 it’s become the foundational tool that recruiters all “have to have” to be able to do their jobs. Despite what seems like a love-hate relationship with the platform people are still buying from the ever diversifying range of licences that LinkedIn sells.  The growth of other tools and the chrome extensions we’ve already seen may well explain the move from “Recruiter” to “Recruiter Lite” licences.  LinkedIn seems to be maintaining a firm hold in some camps though with the “I’ve bought everything!” option including licenses, careers pages, job slots and InMail packages.  People still love their LinkedIn.

Amidst the sourcing tools a new type of souring venue has risen, the “Talent Marketplace” is a disintermediation of the third party agency relationships that a lot of organisations rely on. Here candidates are presented in a searchable format and are contactable for a price.  This “biddable network” is yours for either the price of entry or a pay-per hire basis.  Are people using these marketplaces?
In short, yes. There is benefit here, ease of use and the on-demand nature of the platforms was cited as reason for adoption.  However, these tools suffer from the curse of all marketplaces, that when in their infancy they have to attract both company and candidate (both sides of the market) to their forum.  Respondents reported unease at some of the candidate messaging (“Earn more money” type messages) and disappointment if the platform didn’t have a readily available supply of candidates i.e. they were in the wrong geography.

The outright top pick was but there were a whole host of other platforms mentioned –, Hackajob,, and the brilliantly named were all mentioned more than once. Experiences here seemed to vary greatly though, some of the less than favourable feedback included “<company name>, but it sucks“, “not worth it” and “had it for two weeks haven’t used it since“.  Recruiters are a tough crowd.

Despite the rise in the availability of tools and the supposed death of job boards (people have been pronouncing them dead for at least ten years now) it seems that recruiters still advertise their roles rather than relying only on a blend of boolean and telepathy. So where do they advertise? 

Results here are, I think, as expected.  The market dominance of Indeed and LinkedIn remains intact. Though Google’s entry into the market was much vaunted the results haven’t yet been seen at the coalface.

Of course the respondents had a lot of others they use too, they tend to be specific to skill set, experience level or geography and included -StackOverflow Jobs, Prolific North,,, Glassdoor, welcometothejungle, AngelList, SaasJobs, linuxjobs , Wired Sussex, Ada’s List, Facebook groups, Behance, Dribble, Mind the Product, Escape the City, boolerang, PR Weekly, Guardian Jobs, Campaign Jobs, Gamasutra, Gamesmith, Charity Jobs, Retail Choice, CTP RightJob, JobTeaser,, itsnicethat, Built in NYC, TalentRocket, Stack Overflow,, Stackshare, CodePen, Hacker News, , Authenticjobs and Codebar.  So the job board might not be quite dead yet…

The Process

Way back in the depths of history an ATS was a blackhole into which candidates could fall and never be seen again.  The first attempts at a system for applicant tracking was clunky and, as I remember it, full of buttons you weren’t quite sure of what they did.  Luckily, there’s been something of a renaissance in the world of the ATS and there are some standout tools that help rather than hinder the process of contacting and guiding candidates through the process.  It’s this guiding people through the process rather than processing humans that sets apart the old from the new.  The newer a company is the more say an engaged talent person seems to have over which system to use.  That’s reflected in these results.

Clear winner for this group of respondents was Workable.  Followed by Greenhouse and then Lever.  The untold story here though is the number of older systems still in use (potentially because of the expected high costs both time and money) in implementation and also the number of respondents who don’t currently use any system at all.  As with the job boards there are a number of niche suppliers here too – meeting the needs of a limited use case i.e. for the National Health Service or for complex compliance environments.

For those people who use an ATS it can be where they spend the majority of their day.  So is that screen something they’ve come to love or a page they dread to open? We asked the users to rate how much they enjoyed using their particular ATS, some declined to comment, some only had a few users to comment at all, so here are the unscientific results.

For some users the choice of a tool as foundational as an ATS is tied to their philosophy of how hiring should be done. There’s a correlation in the reported enjoyment of a tool and who was responsible for choosing to implement it.  There are some strong feelings about ATS tools.  Some of the more entertaining commentary offered by the respondents included “We are sadly on <company name> (not really used) but migrating to<company name> (heavy sigh) in January. If I had my choice we’d move to <company name> but decision was made before my time!“.  “<company name> – it’s not an ATS but an HRIS with a horrible recruitment bolt-on” and even “<company name> (it’s shit)“.

Other tools? Where else do people invest in HR Tech?

With the increasing number of tools available, the modern tech stack looks more like a watchmakers tool kit than the sledgehammer ERP systems of old.  Using the right tool at the right time can make the recruitment process more agile, can allow access to new pockets of candidates and can even help savvy recruiters make their opportunities seem more attractive that the competition.

There are a growing number of tools to assist at the “top of the funnel” or to provide insight into how a candidate might interact with your careers site before they apply.  So does anyone use these tools?
  Whilst there wasn’t a lot of response to this question (people aren’t using these tools as widely yet) they are continuing to grow.  Tooling that supports the holy grail of “Talent Pipelining” is out there. The “other” section here was dominated by people using sales CRMs and using google analytics to understand their conversion better, still others have this more passive CRM function as a part of their existing ATS. For others the value was yet to be proven “These tools are a luxury, I’ve not got the time to do this when I need people right now. I can’t tell a hiring manager ‘I’ll get you someone in two months when they’re nurtured enough’ “.

Psychometric Assessment 

Another place HR Tech is proving useful is in assessment.  The paper forms of old are quick to be replaced with newer systems with instant results.  Asking people what they use here gave some alarming results…
MYERS BRIGGS!?  Ok, so now I’m over the initial shock and can reference my previous disgust for Myers Briggs here,  we can see that some people are prepared to spend and are using these tests as another datapoint in their recruitment process.  In addition to those above people also mentioned – DISC profiling, Saberr,, Scoutible, StrengthScope, McQuiag, Thomas International, OPQ, MTQ48, and the James Bond villain-like named, MindX.

Video Interviewing

For a growing number of organisations video interviewing has proven to be a great differentiator.  Allowing them to arrange interviews faster and assess candidates at a greater volume.  Some of the more advanced video interviewing tools make claims to decrease costs, eliminate bias, and go as far to offer voice stress analysis. Are these tools the essential future of recruiting?

Nope. Not yet. Not if these recruiters have it right.  By far the largest use of video was in the “other” category and here is was mainly asynchronous rather than recorded and repurposing standard (i.e. not recruitment specific tools) like Skype or Google Hangouts.

Engineering Assessment

There are a lot of developer specific hiring tools and in particular those that tread the fine line between judging if a candidate is skilled and not being annoying enough to put off those who are skilled are in demand. Which providers do our sample group use to test developers and software engineers specifically?Out right winner here was Codility, mentioned over 20 times by our respondents.  There were a host of others though HackerRank, CoderPad, Collabedit, Codeassess, Geektastic, Devskiller, and Skillmeter.

However, by far the biggest majority here reported that they have their own in-house tests, often based on their own particular industry or even their own codebase. With developers becoming more in demand in 2018 expect this area to grow further as vendors try to make assessments that are testing for candidates without slowing down an often competitive recruitment process.

After the Hire

Whilst there’s always been a need for background checking companies, technology has given rise to enhanced methods and seen the growth of identity verification as an enhanced service. With these services becoming easier and easier to implement and use the days of a casual telephone reference could be over.Onfido comes out on top in the survey responses and seems to be the go to for the companies that responded. The large “other” response here were taken up by credit checking agencies possibly because of the number of fin-tech companies in the makeup of the respondents.

Special mention for the alarming and potential litigious response “Backchannel referencing from our wider network“. Sinister!


Technology as the great enabler should be a perfect fit for the task-attribution minefield that is employee onboarding. Though there are a number of new entrants to the area the feature creep in the world of the HRIS that means this collection of tools may soon have to fight for position with incumbent products turning their products into another feature of an existing system.
Despite that worry we did find a few users of onboarding software.  A tie in the options between HR Onboard and Walk Me.  With so few selections the “other” section hides a laundry list of options, so honorable mentions to Personably, Sapling and as ever a good old Trello board.


Designed first as a hideous torture device by Torquemada and his Spanish Inquisition the HR system has also undergone a well deserved rethink recently.  From it’s conception as replacement for a filing cabinet to it’s newly evolved form as “the OS for your business” HR systems have moved from necessary evil to necessity, so which one to use?First in the survey was CharlieHR a great tool that offers both a freemium version and paid options, allowing companies to utilise proper HR tools at a time before they’d normally consider them. Second was Workday and then BambooHR. Workday is more of the larger organisation ERP-style solution which some see as having beneficial integration with other departments though increasingly the need for “integration” seems to be going away, especially when that integration comes at the cost of a dependency on one company underlying all your systems.

FMS (Freelancer Management System)

Once you’ve got yourself an ATS, an HRIS and a load of contractors you’ll probably be “OMG! I need an FMS ASAP!” or maybe not. However, a way to manage your relationships with contractors might be beneficial to both your internal systems and HRMC won’t assume you’re trying to evade income tax…
Like all of these questions others were mentioned Kalo gets the honorable mention for being mentioned more than three times along with some companies who prefer to run two instances of their HR System.

Aside from these tools there are other places you can spend money on HR Tech, who wins in these categories?


Software for managing what people are doing and when they do it? Yep!
A lot of votes here for 7Geese the OKR management tool, comments were that it was great for transparency and communicating work done to the rest of the company. That large “other” section again hides repurposed tools like Excel and the comment “We look at who uses slack the most, and match it up with who complains about being over-worked the most“. Most widely used tools here were Trello and Jira but ownership of those tools was in another department e.g. “engineering use Jira“.


Software solutions  for making the arduous process of performance reviews easier? I’m in! But what software does everyone else use? PerformanceHub takes the crown here but again there are so many other options hiding in the “other” section.  Multiple mentions for 15five and Small Improvements.  Still more people are using simpler Google Forms and even email responses.


Employee Engagement used to be just a once a year survey during which people desperately tried to remember what they did in April of the previous year. The application of technology means that the best of these new systems can offer insight into team structure, relationships with peers and management, employee wellbeing and the very best can be used as a predictor of engagement, happiness and world peace… the last one wasn’t true. So which of these wonder tools is worth investing in? 

It’s close but the winner here is Peakon. For a majority of our respondents the “other” section was again a mix of survey software like Survey Monkey and Google Forms.

Internal Communications

There comes a time in the growth of all companies when the CEO just shouting is no longer effective.  What do you do if your employees are spread out too far or there’s too many of them?  Don’t worry! There’s software for that!  Opening up an entire new world of possible social faux pas and productivity drain, what communications tools do our teams use?Slack is the runaway first choice here. I’m guessing not least of all because I asked a bunch of people from a Slack community… but probably also because of it’s free version and it’s “integrate with everything” attitude.

The modern workplace seems to be a list of tools and tech each with their own issues. Coming soon to a workplace near you “Well the notes are in Asana and the docs are in Google and we’re updating on Slack but we also have a management board with Trello and we use FB for Work during the day as well as a private LinkedIn group and some mindfulness tools…”

Other tech?

Surprisingly there are still more places to utilise some more tech in your Talent function.  So what did we miss? Any glaring omissions?
Apparently, yes. Glassdoor – The most named by our respondents in this section. Glassdoor is the original “company review” site. Paying allows you to respond to and reorder reviews.

Other tools that people named were –

  • Google Hire – Currently in invite only beta outside the US
  • Stack Overflow – Primarily a developer community, this site also has a job board, company profiles and a CV library.
  • Brandmentions – A tool for measuring the success of marketing campaigns
  • Sunlight – A curated learning and development tool
  • Lucidchart – Online diagramming software – used here for org charts
  • Survey Monkey – For surveys. That one was easy.
  • Mixmax – A sales tool for email, tracking opens and automating some replies, in a bit of scope creep also has a meeting scheduler and email templating.
  • Textexpander – One of my favourites, set up shortcuts to insert something you type a lot. Check this one out.
  • CareerArc – Employer branding for social media.
  • Social Talent – Learn to be a Recruiter with specific Recruiter L&D.
  • FreeAgent – Accountancy software, use case here is for invoicing and T&E monitoring for contractors.

That’s a whole lot of tech!

There we have it, a snapshot of Talent Tech across a wide variety of companies, industries and stages of growth.  There is definite bias in the selection of respondents.  DBR is UK centric (though it does encompass members form 15 timezones) and it’s members are a very tech savvy bunch, more likely that most to be early adopters.  If you disagree with their choices, well that’s what DBR is all about.  If you’re not a vendor, a third party recruiter or likely to annoy everyone else, you can apply to join here.

As this survey is limited in it’s scope if you’d like to participate and have your tech stack included in an update to this post you can! Just click here to be heard.

Finally I did ask respondents where they heard about new tech.  The overwhelming majority came back with “DBR” and the feedback that being sold to was a turnoff.  Vendors take note, partnering to understand the use case and individual will get you a lot further than selling pipe dreams and silver bullets. The last word to these comments – How do you hear about new tech? “Usually I start with DBR because I like getting honest opinions, then have a nose round pitching events like RecTechFest. Then my head of people will buy whatever her last company used regardless of what anyone else thinks.”