In a data-driven world, HR professionals are under greater-than-ever pressure to impact bottom-line results and justify their existence. Successful talent advisors have learned to use HR technology to guide applicants through the employee lifecycle and better align HR strategy with overall organizational goals.
The challenge then becomes: How can you teach HR tech to students and adult learners? Where do you start? What’s important? What do most HR students and professionals bring to the table? What can they learn on their own?
I have previously identified data-driven challenges talent advisors face as they prepare the next generation of HR leaders. Central to that challenge is the sheer unpreparedness of faculty members to teach HR technology to the masses. A 2013 SHRM study of 372 academics noted that 61 percent of faculty cited HR technology as a perceived deficiency in HR training offered to undergraduate HR students.
The paucity of information about HR technology in HR textbooks further compounds students’ preparedness. In the current HR textbook (with a copyright date of 2016) I use for my introductory human resource management class, HR technology is, at best, a minor topic. “Human resource information systems” garners fewer than 500 words. “Big data” warrants two paragraphs. One sentence refers to “applicant tracking systems (ATS).” Business process integration approaches? Procurement approaches? Product development? System integration? Software as a service? Candidate relationship management? Dealing with vendors? Totally absent.
With neither academicians nor textbooks providing the background to assist the HR professional in developing expertise around HR technology, vendors have asymmetric information in discussing the virtues and flaws of the technology the HR professional is buying. This asymmetry can create an overreliance on the vendor to provide what the HR professional hopes will be an honest assessment of the organization’s technological needs.
What’s the Solution?
If professors, books and vendors are unwilling to provide the assistance required to become an HR technology expert, the burden falls upon you, the HR professional How should you go about accomplishing this?
Here are three practical things you can do right now:
1. Attend the HR Technology Conference & Expo.
If you are going to learn about HR technology, you may as well start with the conference devoted to the subject. Held every October, the HR Technology Conference & Expo provides the HR professional with an opportunity to network with others well-versed in the field. There is an expo hall with the most up-to-date products, as well as educational sessions that will deepen your understanding of the field.
2. Attend a user conference such as CareerBuilder Empower.
Many technology vendors have a conference for users of their product (CareerBuilder is one of them). It provides an opportunity for the vendor to demonstrate new software iterations, as well as highlight companies who have used the company’s products in a meaningful fashion.
3. Read and learn from thought leaders in the space.
A number of individuals are writing and talking about HR technology. Tim Sackett’s blog is a good place to start. Each Tuesday, he devotes his energies to a particular technology issue or company. John Sumser and William Tincup are engaging in cutting-edge HR technology research at Key Interval. Also, be sure to check out the HR technology musings of Jeremy Ames, Naomi Bloom, and Steve Boese. You might also join the HR Technology Conference LinkedIn group, too. By following these noted thought leaders, you will come away richer and wiser about the topic.
My advice is simple. By following these steps, a savvy and sophisticated talent advisor can gain the knowledge necessary to restore a more balanced relationship between the HR buyer and the seasoned seller.
Throughout the month of October, our resident talent advisors are focused on all things HR technology. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions and learn about the latest trends in HR tech.