Written by Nathan Hewitt

Recruitment is NOT a cost center – here’s how to start proving it in 2023

Recruitment is not a cost center | Sapia Ai recruitment software
It’s an understatement to say that recruiters and talent acquisition managers have had it tough over the last four-odd years. The pressures have compounded like a line of falling dominoes: First it was the COVID-19 pandemic; then came the mass talent migration; then the advent of new concepts like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘acting your wage’, which, like them or not, seem to be the manifestations of a tired and existentially anxious workforce.

Now, in 2023, it’s likely that we’ll have to contend with a global recession.

Hiring is tougher. Candidates are wary and they expect more. Duh.

So do companies and their CEOs. However – and somewhat counter-productively – many companies have sought to cut recruitment budgets, lay off recruiters and talent acquisition managers en masse, and deprioritize long-term recruitment marketing strategies. We’re facing troubled times, and recruitment (and perhaps HR, more generally) is being treated as a cost center.

This misunderstanding of HR as a money sink is nothing new. It happens during every trough in the market. But, if we don’t make efforts to change this perception, 2023 will be a particularly painful valley to climb out of.

Why is recruitment treated as a cost center?

CEOs have been keen on talent strategy for years, but are struggling to quantify the effects of recruitment and talent acquisition activities. They cannot see the A to B journey, the action and its result. When the market is good, talent is in abundance, and you’re hiring effectively, nobody cares. But when times are hard, nebulous processes are put under harsh light.

Relatedly, recruitment and talent acquisition leaders are struggling to prove that the outcomes of their work are driving revenue. This is primarily an issue of data capture and analysis, in our experience: When companies come to us to help with hiring quality talent, the number one issue they have is to do with metrics and KPIs. Most do not know how to reliably measure quality of hire, nor time-to-hire, nor the effectiveness of their recruitment marketing channels. Many know that their processes are plagued with inefficiencies, but are not sure how to go about fixing them.

(To be clear, totally understandable. This stuff is hard.)

The big and unmanageable HR tech stack

Where recruitment is concerned, a HR tech stack tends to look like this: an unwieldy ATS, often coupled with a conversational AI or scheduling tool.

These technologies cost big money. As a result, the question CFOs and CEOs will be constantly asking of HR is this: Is it adding real value? Can you prove it? Or are we simply stuck to a system that tackles old problems with insufficient solutions?

The bottom line is this: Enterprise companies are overstacked, overworked, and need to adopt different solutions to old problems. It doesn’t mean less tech, necessarily, although it can; it means the right tech.

Focus first on areas of lost productivity.

Easier, perhaps, than it sounds. It’s always better to iterate than to completely restructure your hiring function. So get your team together and examine your processes. How much time is spent:

  1. Sourcing and reviewing candidates (including, importantly, reading through resumes and cover letters)?
  2. Screening?
  3. Scheduling, rescheduling, and conducting interviews?
  4. Organizing and corralling hiring managers?
  5. Gathering, collating, and providing feedback to candidates?
  6. Communicating with candidates, more generally?
  7. Onboarding?

Ideally, you have baseline data in your ATS to help you arrive at some indicative numbers. But let’s assume that you don’t: calculating rough person-hours is enough to see where time may be spent more effectively.

In our experience, sourcing and screening are the stages in which quick wins might be gotten. As time-honored research (and our Smart Interviewer product) shows, resumes and cover letters are not useful indicators of candidate quality or potential. They can be easily falsified. What’s more, Sapia and Aptitude research from 2022 discovered that 22% of candidates drop out at the application stage and 24% at the screening stage.

The biggest companies are starting to focus more on this. According to the Wall Street Journal, employers like Google, Delta and IBM are combatting the tight labor market by easing strict needs for college degrees.

Interviews are another huge cause of inefficiency. Structured interviews are the best explainer (at 26%) of an employee’s performance, but many companies allow recruiters and hiring managers to conduct interviews haphazardly, causing a misidentification and loss of talent that can be hard (if not impossible) to measure. If you’re interviewing badly, how can you know if you’re capable of finding good candidates? What’s the associated cost of such a problem?

It’s no surprise, then, that according to our research, 50% of companies say they’ve lost talent due to the way they interview. Big costs involved there.

Next, focus on measurable metrics

Don’t worry: We’re not going to lay out a massive and exhaustive list of metrics you should be tracking. Not feasible; you’re overworked as it is.
Instead, we’ll prescribe three good places to start, including links to helpful blog posts explaining how you measure them effectively:

  1. Candidate abandonment rate
  2. Candidate source attribution (or where candidates actually come from)
  3. Candidate experience baseline

Each of these metrics can help you improve efficiencies, and in turn, start to prove that your recruitment function is having a positive effect on business outcomes.

Layer on tech that can help you drastically improve hiring efficiency, while giving you time to focus on big picture stuff

At a certain point, we must realize that force-multiplying technology is the only way to win in the unfolding ‘now’ of work. We’re spending way too much time with processes that can be repeated and automated – often out of some sense of duty to uphold 1:1 human connection (as if technology completely removes that, which it doesn’t).

And, because we do this, we weaken our position at an executive level: CEOs care about what is scalable, and the average recruitment function, traditionally speaking, does not.

In a recent episode of our Pink Squirrels! podcast, Sapia CEO and founder Barb Hyman had a chat with expert HR change management leader, Kyle Lagunas, about this very topic.

The one foolproof way to elevate recruitment in your company

We exist to help you hire better, faster, and with fewer headaches. Our Smart Interviewer takes care of the scheduling, interviewing, and assessment stages of your process – saving upwards of 2,000 recruitment hours (av.) per month, and enabling you to offer jobs to candidates within 24 hours of application.

It’s delivered in a chat-based format (hello, Gen Z!), and candidate responses are assessed according to science-backed personality models. This means you can be sure you’re getting top talent, and you can prove it with measurable, repeatable data.

That’s not all: Our tech is blind, which means it natively disrupts bias and maximizes the size of your talent pool. Everyone gets an interview, and everyone gets personalized coaching tips whether or not they get the job. Our application completion rate, for all customers, sits at around 85% on average; our candidate satisfaction rate is well over 90%!

(And, if you need a second stage interview, you can use our Video Interview tool.)

Everything you do with our platform is pulled through to comprehensive data dashboards, allowing you to see hiring efficiency, quality, time, diversity, and other metrics. CEOs love this kind of transparency.

There you go: time saved NOT having to screen, review resumes and cover letters, compile candidate feedback, communicate with candidates, or improve hiring manager interview techniques.

When you’re saving that much time and money, your recruitment (or HR) function has more bandwidth to focus on long-term talent acquisition and people initiatives.

Don’t struggle in 2023 – speak to our team today about how we can solve your hiring challenges.


What is a good ATS actually supposed to do?

According to Aptitude Research, 58% of us companies are currently dissatisfied with their ATS provider.

One in four are actively looking to replace their tech.

This dissatisfaction comes from a phenomenon known as overstacking.

Put simply, companies over invest in a raft of HR technologies, throwing big dollars into solutions that don’t provide clear benefit or ROI.

The thinking is this: “Everyone has an ATS. If I implement one at my company, I won’t get fired.”

But obviously, as Aptitude’s research shows, most ATSs are not doing what they’re expected to do – they don’t provide enough efficiency, and they don’t solve for things like quality of hire and time to hire; the metrics that CFOs look at very closely.

So what’s the real problem?

Augment your ATS, don’t replace it

The dissatisfaction is due not to an inherent fault in ATS technology, but a fundamental misunderstanding of what an ATS is supposed to do.

Look at it this way: an ATS is like your laptop computer. It has all of the parts that make up a good (or bad) computer: chips, CPUs, keys, a screen, and so on. In this sense, an ATS is more hardware than software. You need it, but you need more, too.

What you add to your ATS – your computer – is what transforms it into a tool that can be used to produce and extract value. If you bought a computer and tried to create documents on it without installing Microsoft Word, for example, you can hardly blame the computer for the missing functionality. It’s not fundamentally designed for word processing – it’s the platform that facilitates it.

Therefore, if your ATS is not helping to improve key performance indicators like quality of hire or time-to-fill, the ATS isn’t the problem. The problem is you don’t have the ATS plug-in designed specifically to satisfy those KPIs.

So, without first considering what a good ATS is, and what a good ATS should do, spending big money to replace it will not solve the problem – only delay it.

How to know if your ATS is salvageable

First, you need to ask yourself (and your business) the following questions:

  • Is your HR tech stack actually providing value, and in a way you can prove?
  • What do you actually need your ATS to do, that it isn’t?
  • What are some better, more cost-effective ways to make your ATS work better for you?

By partnering with your existing ATS,’s smart hiring automation solution can help you achieve 90% completion rates and 90% candidate satisfaction rates – and you can even achieve a time-to-fill of as little as 24 hours.

We’ve even helped one customer, Spark NZ, achieve a near-complete removal of hiring bias.

This isn’t a case of simply throwing good money after bad. It’s about making your ATS into a solution that actually works for you – and in ways that you can prove.

You could replace your tech and call it job done. Maybe you’ll be gone, off to a new business, in the three or four years it will take for the cycle of dissatisfaction to repeat. But that is not a good solution.

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Sage Advice: How AI and Smarter Hiring Can Boost Your Business

In case you missed it: The other week, Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly, sat down with Sapia’s Steven John, number 45 on the Sage Top 100 list for 2017, and asked him his thoughts on AI and just how important he feels it is to get it right.

Stephen Kelly: “I’m really pleased to be engaging today with Steven John… an absolute expert in recruitment and people development.”

“So, Steven, tell us a bit about what you’ve done. You’ve got a massive following, 18,000 followers on Twitter. You’re a renowned expert. Tell us a bit about that.”

Steven John: “Well, my background is technology and recruitment. As a lot of recruiters do, I kind of fell out of university with no real idea of a career path and landed in tech recruitment. I spent 13 years as a recruiter and then more recently had the opportunity to take my professional skills that I learned in recruitment and bring them into a business that’s using AI to help businesses make smarter hires.

“I’m a customer success manager for an AI business called Sapia.

“In terms of what we do, we use predictive models to help businesses make smarter hires so they can identify who might be a better or more likely to be a better salesperson or deliver a better customer service experience to their customers.

“Whatever the metrics or the KPIs that their business is using to understand how its people are operating, our solution can help you understand, from the candidate market, who should we be spending our time with, who should the human beings within our talent team be spending time talking to.

“Because of the model, the algorithm has helped us sift through quite a large number of candidates. I’m sure you guys get hundreds of thousands of candidates here. So how do we identify those shiny pins in the haystack? So that’s what our models do.”

Smarter hiring using AI

SK: “Well, I think that’s brilliant, Steven. And obviously, kind of the relevance and gems of this Facebook Live session is to bring it down to all the entrepreneurs out there who are thinking about growing their business, living their dreams, pursuing their passions, and we all know the fuel of that is talented people.

“You mentioned artificial intelligence – AI, machine learning, predictive analytics aimed to make smarter hiring decisions that will really boost your business forward. What is your current experience of where we are on that journey?”

SJ: “I think a lot of businesses are ready. I think more businesses are ready than they probably realise. If I think about the numerous engagements that I’ve had with numbers of businesses, prospects and current clients, the things that strike me as quite interesting are the amount of data that businesses have.

“Surprisingly, some of the businesses who I would have thought would be incredibly data-heavy, will have a lot of data on their people, haven’t been quite so. But the good news for those businesses and even the smaller businesses is that there are solutions available in the market that can help many companies get started on that journey.

“Sometimes I am surprised by how other businesses or some businesses invest their time, money and effort in technology solutions, in buildings, in lots of infrastructure and pieces of kit. But what they don’t necessarily do is invest as much money in their people.

“The encouraging thing is there are now lots of solutions available to businesses of all shapes and descriptions that will really help them start to make smarter decisions for their hiring processes.

“The people are the lifeline of the company. The cost of people is probably one of the most.”

SK: “It’s worth noting most of our customers who are in the services business, about 70% to 80% of their cost base is the people they hire and manage. And we believe in people science.

“So certainly, when they’re here, we want to be pretty scientific, but the recruitment of them could be as scientific as that so we get the right person with the right skills, the right attitude, and the right competence to be successful.”

Sage Advice: How AI and Smarter Hiring Can Boost Your Business



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Recruitment Software

Whether it’s a revolution or evolution, technology touches our lives in ways that few could even imagine just a few years ago. There are few, if any, industries that have not been transformed by the digital age.

With the rise of new technologies and automation, there were some that feared the robot apocalypse was upon us. Who needs actual people when machines, algorithms, software and programs can do the job faster, smarter and more cost-effectively?

In the recruitment and HR industries, as job boards, social networking and websites like LinkedIn began their relentless rise, many believed that the human touch was about to stripped from an industry that only exists for human capital.

Of course, the very opposite is true. While there’s no denying some roles and industries have changed forever, advancing technology means new industries are emerging, new roles are being created and new skills are being sought by candidates and employers alike.

In the hiring industry, recruitment software is here to stay. This article explains how it can be working hard for you and providing a seamless and rewarding experience for your team, your clients and for every candidate.

The technology landscape in recruitment and HR

In this article we’re specifically looking at recruitment software and exploring its role and impact in the hiring process. Before we do, it’s important to understand its context and connection to the technology that can support the complete employee lifecycle. This extends from talent acquisition right through to the ongoing management and development of people through HR teams. The recruitment strategy and candidate management technology pipeline covers:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – tools use to manage and analyse interactions with past, current and potential candidates. It enables a proactive and ‘always on’ hiring strategy, by tagging, categorising and growing deep talent pools.
  2. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – an online platform that simplifies and streamlines the entire recruitment process from sourcing to selection. We’ll explore ATS in this article.
  3. Vendor Management System (VMS) – tools used by specialist recruiters and companies to manage the end-end process of contingent labour – freelancers, contractors, sub-contractors, statements of work (SOW)
  4. Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) – the core people system underpinning an organisation’s HR department with capabilities that may cover: onboarding, human capital, leave management, learning, recruitment, performance management and feedback, payroll and benefits.
  5. Learning Management System (LMS) – Learning and development is critical for organisations to evolve workforce skills and knowledge to meet skills gaps and evolving technologies. These tools administer, track, report and deliver
    e-learning, training and development programs


So what is recruitment software?

Recruiting software is not one thing. It’s an umbrella term for different tools that address different stages of the recruitment process. From creating job requisitions and conducting candidate screening to scheduling interviews and even sending out job offers, recruitment software can automate every step of the hiring process.

Generally, most types of recruitment software can be categorised into four categories and will address some or all of these key functions of the recruitment process:

  • Sourcing – this is all about identifying, finding and attracting potential candidates.
  • Engagement – how recruiters, candidates and organsations stay connected throughout the hiring process. It’s about nurturing relationships.
  • Selection – a range of tools and technologies to help accelerate the process of identifying candidates with the best or appropriate qualifications from the pool of applicants
  • Hiring – software tools that can be used to manage and coordinate the practicalities and processes of hiring and even onboarding candidates

Just as there are many types of recruitment agencies, there are many types of recruiting software and every solution will look different. Some recruitment agencies may also manage work placements so their recruiting software technology stack may include a Vendor management System as described above.

An agency placing technology professionals into permanent positions will have very different sourcing, database and engagement needs than an agency working to high volume briefs for customer-facing service roles. An agency retained for search and recruitment at the highest executive levels will have different needs again.


Why do you need recruitment software?

It’s rare to find anyone in the recruitment business that hasn’t begun to automate at least some of the hiring process. Job seekers – and not just those tech-savvy millennials – have been quick to embrace and engage with mobile apps, social media, job boards and more to find their next job. However, there are still many organisations relying on outdated and labour-intensive recruitment methods.

Recruiting software has been developed and continues to evolve to address the universal challenges and experiences of recruiters the world over:

  1. Time – Filling any role could take weeks or months, much of it spent reviewing and screening CVs and candidates, communicating with candidates and hirers, scheduling and coordinating interviews, making job offers and more. Recruiting software can help automate these processes and give you back your time to concentrate on higher value tasks.
  2. Costs – As much an issue for recruiters as it is for the businesses engaging them, traditional manual and paper-based processes can be expensive. Recruiting software can dramatically lower costs to hire, repaying technology investment quickly.
  3. Hard work – Any recruiter will tell you there are simply not enough hours in the day (or dollars in the budget) to stick with traditional labour-intensive, manual processes, especially in high volume recruitment briefs. Is there really anyone who will manually read and screen the CVs of 5,000 applicants?
  4. Free the people – For most hiring and talent acquisition teams, human resources are stretched thin already. Recruiting software can give your people more time to deliver a positive experience for every candidate.
  5. Skills shortages – In the history of work, there has always been and always will be industries and times when it’s challenging to find appropriately skilled candidates. Recruiting software can help recruiters find more candidates, with the right skills to fill roles sooner.



What does recruitment software do?

The hiring process has many steps. From promoting job opportunities to screening CVs, tracking candidates to making job offers, there are many pressure points.  The process can be costly and time-consuming and if things go sideways, you’re not just burning hours and dollars, you could be burning candidates too by making poor hiring decisions.

Automated recruiting software can do all the heavy lifting for you. It organises all the tools and all the data in one place to provide end-to-end functionality through the complete recruitment process. Simplifying and enhancing that process ensures a better experience for everyone –  recruiters, hirers, HR departments… and job candidates alike.

By streamlining process, recruiting software can help you significantly reduce hiring costs and fill roles faster.


What are the benefits of recruitment software?

Here’s how your organisation can benefit from recruitment software:

  • Automation – It’s not about software doing your job, it’s about software helping you to do your job better. From managing client databases to scheduling interviews, automation of many daily tasks can give you back time to focus on higher value briefs and enhancing the candidate and client experience.
  • Hire better, faster ­ – Through the one platform,  recruiting software can help improve hiring metrics including time to hire, cost per hire, employee retention, turnover rate and quality of hire. An easy, pain-free application process means more candidates are likely to apply for your jobs.
  • Finding, attracting and cultivating candidates – Candidates are the fuel in the engine of the recruitment business. Most recruiting software solutions will include capabilities to implement a CRM system to build deep talent tools of ‘ready to go’ prospective candidates.

A CRM platform may stand alone or integrate with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that can streamline the entire recruitment process. At its simplest, an ATS is a data-driven system that eliminates the paper chase of traditional recruiting. There are fewer opportunities for data-entry errors and as data is digitised and can even be stored in the cloud, say goodbye to physical files and unwieldy paper charts.

Every ATS is different, but most will include integration with online job boards, careers pages and resumé databases, automated hiring workflows, communication capabilities and reporting tools.

  • Evaluating candidates – As reading and screening CVs and job applications can be the most time-consuming part of any recruiter’s job, this is one of the areas that many recruiters prioritise for automation. Driven by artificial intelligence and powered by machine learning, Ai recruitment tools are used for 3 key functions in the hiring process: sourcing, screening and interviewing of candidates.

Ai tools can use text, voice and even video to automate part or all of the evaluation and interviewing process. Making the recruitment process up to 90% faster, it’s especially useful for high volume recruitment briefs such as frontline retail or customer service roles.

  • Support diversity goals – Ai-enabled interviewing and screening can help reduce the effects of unconscious bias – the inherently human prejudices, personal preferences, beliefs and world-views that shape our assessment of others. Our biases can easily have a negative impact on candidates and mean you’re potentially missing out on the best candidates for the job. It can also mean employers are missing the opportunity to cultivate workplace diversity and all the benefits it delivers.

PredictiveHire’s Ai recruiting tool is a text-based, mobile-first interview offering blind-screening at its best, with no gender, age or ethnicity revealed.  Candidates rate the experience highly and appreciate personal feedback and coaching tips.

  • Reporting and insight – Most recruitment software solutions will provide easy, extensive and accurate reporting so you can gain valuable insights into candidates, trends, costs of recruiting and more.

Good reporting and centralised information can also enhance communications and collaboration between all stakeholders in the hiring process – candidates, recruiters, hiring teams and employers.



Ready to continue your exploration of recruitment software and the benefits it can bring to your business? Find out more about PredictiveHire’s Ai-powered recruitment tool and how we can support your recruitment needs today.

You can try out PredictiveHire’s FirstInterview right now, or leave us your details to get a personalised demo








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