HR Technology Q & A with SHRM Young Professional Council's Jillian Caswell


The 2017 Human Resource Executive 20th Annual HR Technology Conference takes place October 10-13 in Las Vegas.  As a 2017 HR Technology Conference Insiders Blogger, I interviewed several speakers to get their perspective on how technology and trends are impacting the HR profession. I also reached out to a few young professionals - the future of HR -- to understand how their views on technology. 

Jillian Caswell is a human resources advocate who, inspired by the strong women who mentored her early in her career, strives to serve as a recruitment and HR resource for young professionals and those looking to make a change in their careers. She is dedicated to pursuing this endeavor through community engagement, mentorship, outreach, and public speaking. She is especially driven to engage with youth in expanding their horizons and encouraging early exploration of potential career paths. Need resume help? Struggling to feel confident in your interview responses? Just don't know where to start in changing your career from a time clock punch to pursuing your passion? Jillian would love to be a resource in working together to chase your dreams!  


MK:  As a busy HR professional which HR technology is most helpful to you now and why?

JC: Only one question deep and it’s already tough to decide on one specific answer! The recruiter in me finds the social media and networking side of tech to be incredibly useful. Apps from LinkedIn Recruiter, ZipRecruiter and CareerBuilder are really convenient ways that I can stay in touch with top talent while I'm away from my desk and zooming around our campus. In a highly competitive work space like healthcare, and with the added challenge of looking for candidates willing to relocate to our slightly remote location - Alaska! - timing and keeping lines of communication can make a game-changing difference in our talent acquisition. On the other side of things, while it is not HR specific, I love technology that allows for collaboration and organization, like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Skype for Business helps me stay connected and on the same page as my team and our department’s goals.


MK:  As an HR young professional, where do you think employers have a huge opportunity when it comes to updating their talent acquisition processes or technology?

JC: Again, the recruiter in me can’t resist finding huge areas of opportunities for improvement in our existing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). With a previous employer, I was tasked with hunting down the best fit for a new ATS and waded through program specs, demos and countless conversations with solution architects to narrow an initial list of 25 to a top three. Currently, finding a “one size fits all” solution is nearly impossible – the experience is either phenomenal on the candidate side and an uphill battle for HR and recruitment to work through on the back end, OR the candidate application process is riddled with glitches, is not compatible with all browser or types, or simply makes it frustrating and discouraging for candidates to get their information in front of the right people. On one end, this makes for a poor start in engaging potential talent with a frustrating user experience. At the other end of the spectrum, it creates an environment with ineffective recruitment practices, resulting in longer time to fill, woefully underutilizing your existing applicant pool, and time wasted in manually logging important but time-consuming documentation of contacts.


MK:  New HR technology continues to evolve to improve the “employee experience”.  How can HR technology improve the employee – and the candidate -- experience today?

JC: Mobile access! While I certainly understand the security concerns and challenges that come with providing employees (and candidates) more functionality and access to critical employment information while they’re on the go, mobile engagement is quickly displacing the trusty desktop computer as the primary way both candidates and employees want to interact with organizations. Mobile access can be attractive to future potential employees by demonstrating an organization’s ability – and desire – to keep up with the changing times while also increasing the ease current employees can access or request desired employment information, thereby empowering employees to seek knowledge first and THEN call HR if additional clarification is needed.


MK:  HR leaders will need to begin investigating and testing new forms of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to deliver more value to their workplaces, such as chatbot assistants. How do you see AI making the HR profession more efficient and effective in the future?

JC: As many other medium to large scale organizations often do, my HR department can become hammered with simple requests, often for the same information, in a single day. While an employee portal has helped to alleviate some of the deluge of inbound calls with quick questions, AI such as chatbot assistants could be hugely effective in providing fast responses to cut and dry questions such as “When is open enrollment?” or “How can I change my address?”. Even if the inquirer eventually does need help from a live person in HR, this can at least eliminate some of the initial lines of questioning and then the HR representative and the employee can begin the conversation at a higher, more in-depth level.


MK:  As technology continues to evolve, what do you think the future of HR will look like?  

JC: Automation and cloud technology is going to be at the forefront of HR’s technology growth. By the coming increases in automation, it will continue the momentum of propelling our profession into one of strategic importance, rather than the day-to-day tasks of filing I-9s or FMLA claims. It will become more important than ever that HR professionals continue to think in the mindset of a strategic business partner with their organizations values, mission, and vision in sight and demonstrate the value behind the seat at the table we’ve all worked so hard to earn. For my fellow young professionals in HR, I believe this means seeking out strategically-minded mentors and training as early as we can. Just because we’re getting our foot in the door doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking ahead about the future value we need to provide to remain meaningful contributors to our organization’s success.



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