Recruitment tech stacks have grown, but many still challenged to fill pipelines

A new modern recruiting study from Findem, a people intelligence company, reveals that increasing diversity in recruiting is a top-three challenge for recruiters this year, although eliminating bias ranks lowest among the areas of improvement for talent leaders. 

The study also found that recruitment teams are challenged by reaching out to significantly more passive candidates, building a solid talent pipeline and juggling a large stack of tools. To help surmount these challenges, 95% want to automate more of the sourcing process. 

Solid Pipeline Tops Diversity, Remote Workforce Hiring as No. 1 Challenge
Even as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has been on center stage the past year, Findem’s study found that HR’s biggest recruiting challenge is building a solid pipeline, called out by 57% of respondents. Improving talent quality ranked second, bolstering candidate diversity ranked third, better access to pipeline data was fourth, and hiring sourcers and recruiters was fifth. Hiring for a largely remote workforce – a task thought to be a major pain-point due to the pandemic fallout – was third to last on the list, noted by just 16%. [See Chart 1].

“Building a skilled pipeline is a highly complex undertaking in any situation, but particularly in today’s competitive landscape where often the best and most loyal talent are passive candidates who aren’t actively searching for jobs,” said Findem CEO Hari Kolam. “It was a bit of a surprise to see that a sizable 74% of recruitment teams have increased their outreach to passive candidates in the past year. This is an area where automation, along with analytics, could play a heavy hand in finding and drawing in that desirable talent.”

Recruitment Trendspotting
Automation is also the biggest trend that recruitment insiders believe will shape the industry in the next few years, cited by 64% of respondents. And, although they don’t consider DE&I their number one challenge right now, it ranked second (60%) among trends to watch, followed by artificial intelligence and machine learning (55%), remote working (44%), big data (22%) and people analytics (21%). Blind hiring ranked toward the bottom, with just 8% deeming it an emerging trend. [See Chart 2].  

For Improvements, Precise Candidate Filtering Dominates Wishlist
When asked about desired improvements in their recruitment process, nearly three-quarters said the ability to precisely filter highly matched candidates. Finding more diverse candidates ranked second, and automating candidate outreach ranked third. Eliminating bias in recruiting was last. [See Chart 3].

“It’s striking to see that eliminating bias ranks last on the priority list when you consider hiring for diversity was mentioned by nearly half of HR leaders as a top challenge for this year,” said Kolam. “Unconscious bias can be a big barrier to filling the pipeline with diverse candidates, so it should be something that every HR team is actively working to mitigate or eliminate. Taking a data-driven approach to sourcing has proven to help with that.”

Tech Stacks Growing, Driven by Sourcing
Recruitment tech stacks are growing, with over half (57%) reporting that they’ve adopted new tools in the past year, while one-third held steady and 10% saw a reduction. Of those who did increase the size of their stack, 47% added sourcing tools, 29% added CRM/outreach/engagement tools, 22% added recruitment marketing tools and 21% added tools for screening and assessment. [See Chart 4].

A Look at Current Recruitment Tech Stacks
Given the uptick in tool adoption, many HR teams currently have a very deep tech stack, although one-quarter said that they are challenged by too many tools that don’t “talk to each other.” Most (45%) have five to nine tools just in their recruitment tech stack, and 24% have 10 or more. [See Chart 5]. The most prevalent tools by far are applicant tracking systems, sourcing tools, and CRM/outreach/engagement tools. [See Chart 6]

“It’s mind blowing that some of these teams have 15-20 tools in their stacks. If you’re leveraging data in all you do and checking for efficiencies on a regular basis, you should easily be able to pare down that number to something more manageable,” said Alvin Lam, vice president of global talent acquisition at RingCentral. “I was also surprised to see that just 38% are using referral tools. We do thousands of hires and more than one-third of those come through referrals. If you don’t have a tool to manage referrals, it’s time to get one because it’ll save you countless hours in the hiring process.”

One-Fifth of Recruiters Contacting 40 or More Candidates a Day
Automation could seemingly offset some of the load bearing down on hiring teams whose resources are stretched thin, yet are required to reach out to multiple candidates a day to meet their goal of recruiting high-quality and diverse candidates. The study found the majority of sourcers and recruiters are making a minimum of 10 outreaches per day, and some upward of 60. The highest percentage – 27% – are making 20-29 per team member, 22% are making 10-19, 15% are making 30-39, and 7% are making 50-59. [See Chart 7].

“Outreach can be a big time suck, so it’s a prime area for automation technology to come in and free up recruiters to focus on job number one — closing great candidates,” said Kolam. “The beauty of automation is that machines don’t get tired and worn down after contacting 30 or 40 people. They can reach out to thousands of candidates a day and, now suddenly, teams can hit the hiring goals they’ve been missing.”

Recruiting Teams Short Staffed, Missing Goals Ironically, those tasked with recruiting talent are finding themselves with internal staffing problems, with one-quarter of HR leaders reporting that they’re challenged to fill their open sourcing and recruiting positions. Given that recruiters spend upward of 10 hours sourcing candidates for one role, and strategies are shifting more toward passive candidate sourcing, which is even more time intensive, recruitment teams are under intense pressure. As a result, only 14% said that they reached 100% of their hiring goals last year – most (27%) only reached 80% of their goals.

One-Third of Companies 100% Remote, but Shifting to Hybrid in 2022
Recruitment teams have been hiring for a largely remote workforce over the past year – something only 16% consider a top challenge. However, most expect a shift to a more hybrid workforce in the coming year. The study shows that 34% of HR leaders are recruiting for companies with workforces that are fully remote. However, just 6% anticipate that their workforce will be 100% remote in 2022. 

Budgets Bouncing Back in 2021
Recruitment budgets and technology tools are on the rebound this year, as HR leaders recover from 2021 cutbacks and work to ensure their teams are equipped to overcome evolving hiring challenges. The study found 73% have upped their recruiting budgets in 2021, with 41% seeing at least a 10% increase. For 11%, their budgets remained unchanged and just 16% saw a decrease.

The full report on the study can be found at

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