The Worst Part of Buying Recruiting Software

buying recruiting software

If you’re old enough to remember this, you’ll understand why my experience as a vendor in the recruiting software space sometimes makes me feel like a certain undervalued paper delivery boy: 


I was asked about Lever’s competition the other day. (I get asked that a lot. It’s a test. It’s a way for practitioners to learn who else is out there that maybe they haven’t heard of… and also to learn how confident we are in our applicant tracking product. I get it, and it’s a smart strategy. I use it, too.)

I told this particular prospect that I understood the question, and I’d give them the expected answer in a moment, but first I wanted to give the real answer, which isn’t another vendor at all. It’s the jigsaw puzzle of spot solutions larger companies have pieced together to do all the things they need done, including plugging holes in technology solutions that only get them part of the way there in some cases. Over time, companies can wind up with dozens of solutions, each of which is used to maybe 30% of its capacity, all of them in a delicate balance that no one really quite understands.

Evaluating a new solution requires a mental commitment to understand—and subsequently dismantle—that puzzle, keeping all the pieces organized so that some of them can be put back together later. And that’s just the easy part; when it comes time to put the puzzle back together, there are conditions: The head of TA must put the new picture together in way that…

  • Doesn’t trigger any massive change management effort, either amongst the recruiting team or amongst hiring managers
  • Doesn’t raise costs without also improving functionality
  • Doesn’t raise bigger questions about the company’s HR tech stack that cause the head of HR to step in and take over the process
  • Doesn’t push the TA team to circumvent the system, say by eliminating beloved features or standardizing processes in a way that impedes top performers
  • Doesn’t make the phone blow up with vendors!, vendors!, and more vendors! who heard that the company is considering a change and want the opportunity to pitch
  • Definitely doesn’t cause current vendors whose contracts are being cancelled to try to “sell around” the head of TA—which can wreak organizational havoc.

 Even before we look at the competitive landscape and begin showing how we’re better than all the other players (at least in the use cases in which we compete), we have to overcome all of that.

Nay; we have to overcome the mental anguish associated with anticipating all of that. Which is why, ladies and gentlemen, I’d say that the the worst part of buying recruiting software isn’t buying recruiting software at all, it’s thinking about buying recruiting software.

And that brings me to the answer to the next question, which is, What can I do about it? Frankly, I think the best thing you can do is laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, and make sure that when you do buy something, you buy it from a company you like working with, filled with people who will send you love notes on Valentine’s Day and genuinely mean it when they call you to ask how you’re doing, who also happen to have a great product that they’re proud of. Because there’s nothing you can do about having to navigate the jungle of technology buy cycles; but you can sure as shoot choose who you take that journey with.

A few tweets from the people Lever loves working with: 

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