What Do All These #HRTech Acquisitions Really Mean?

Check out our list of HR technology mergers, acquisitions and fundings by clicking here

Last night the news broke of yet another HR technology acquisition, Randstad acquiring Monster.com to the tune of $429 million. This year has been a big year thus far for HR technology as the smaller tech startups and businesses are moving along the technology evolutionary scale from an idea, seed funding, series funding and either acquisition, private equity or IPO. Larger businesses are looking to diversify and expand their offerings. Hence, the reason why Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and now Randstad, Monster.

What Do All These #HRTech Acquisitions Really Mean?

HR technology is no different than the rest of the technology world outside of our small but active and complex microcosm. Businesses operate the same inside as well as outside HR and recruitment. We are just a bit territorial of our industry. It’s a special one. We’re small but mighty, and we are also hesitant to let anyone into our circles of trust. I think that’s because know just how special we really are.

Now, I don’t consider LinkedIn or Monster to be small by any means. It has been well known that Monster has been actively shopping for a buyer the last 36 months. That was apparent in the lack of marketing dollars spent. Only recently have they been investing in conference sponsorships and expo exhibits. As for LinkedIn, their core product might be “Recruiter,” but the real opportunity for Microsoft lies in the the host of other product offerings especially their data and social ad targeting. LinkedIn pretty much has a stronghold on the talent acquisition market considering that 87% of recruiters rely on LinkedIn to find talent for their openings. This data comes from Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey.

All these acquisitions signal a change in the recruiting and HR industry. We are changing. We are evolving. We are expanding beyond our microcosm and we are ripe for disruption. The employment life cycle is shrinking as companies expand into different areas. The question is are we, as members of this tight community ready for what that might mean?

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New players are emerging in our industry

Whether it’s companies like The Muse, iCims or Glassdoor or the host of startups that seem to be multiplying like bunnies, new players are emerging in our industry. There are literally hundreds or even thousands of HR technology companies created, started, founded and folded every single month. It’s exciting but aggravating in an industry that has operated the same forever. Our hiring processes haven’t evolved outside of digital products, paperless services like onboarding, applications and e-verify. A large albeit shrinking percentage of companies still host HR technologies on premise. We are fighting evolution every step of the way. As Kris Dunn said on his blog about the Monster and Randstad acquisition, “The older we get, the more we learn that nothing is forever.” Kris goes on to suggest that your research and development budget in HR tech should be used to keep you relevant, evolving and changing. Otherwise we get complacent and fail to innovate.

Products, services and technologies are expanding

Companies like CareerBuilder moving beyond their job board rooms and expanding into more offerings across the employment life cycle. Companies like Randstad are moving beyond their traditional roots and expanding their offerings to include more services. Margins are larger when you own the product you are selling, and most importantly you have access to the data and metrics of organizations as well as competitors. There is no longer a clear line between vendors who simply offer products, technologies or just services which makes it complicated for all of us, myself included.

Areas are Graying

Recruitment is marketing. HR is the new sales. Our industry has a hand in every part of the business. Often our counterparts in those positions, departments or industries aren’t so eager to invite us in with open arms. For example, a product like Hubspot bleeds into the recruitment marketing or employment branding space having its roots in marketing. We might not like outsiders, but it’s equally challenging to sell across categories and also work within your organization across departments. We are territorial beings.

It’s crazy complicated to work in HR and recruitment

I know what you are thinking. Tell me something I don’t know. All these HR technology acquisitions, changes and evolutions are making it crazy complicated to work in recruiting and human resources. Everyone wants to play in our sandbox, and as practitioners we believe we deserve to play in other’s too. I don’t see all the complexities as a negative but as an opportunity to shine a positive spotlight on our industry. It’s also an opportunity for us to facilitate these conversations and learning opportunities first. We can extend an olive branch to others and build those relationships before our competitors do. As a writer and thought leader, these changes are also an opportunity for me to provide resources, facilitate discussion and help push conversations along to places we might have been avoiding or are hesitant to address.

Truth be told, it’s not “getting crazy” in HR and recruitment. It already is and has been crazy for a while. Acquisitions like Monster and LinkedIn demonstrate the value of human resources and recruitment. Our industry is strong and at present it might be small, but that will change. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited and honored to be along for the ride. I’m looking forward to not just witnessing the disruption but to have a hand in transforming processes, technologies and business practices in a positive way.

Check out our list of HR technology mergers, acquisitions and fundings by clicking here

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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