TL; DR: Helping more than 3,500 companies around the world identify, recruit, hire, and onboard new employees, the iCIMS software platform alleviates the headaches of talent acquisition. Businesses can use the company’s platform to process applications and stay abreast of changing compliance requirements across all industries and levels of positions. Behind UNIFi, a comprehensive platform that integrates iCIMS software with hundreds of third-party tools to source, screen, and employ candidates, iCIMS improves the user experience for both applicants and enterprise organizations.
After working at iCIMS for nearly three years, Al Smith was shocked — really, how hard could hiring people be?
“You’ve got applications, interviews, payroll, taxes… come on, they’ve been around forever. What could be new?” the Vice President of Technology asked.
The software company already had a handful of applications that streamlined recruitment, applicant management, and onboarding. Al and his team were crafting a comprehensive system that combined the data management capabilities of all three programs with other information from third-party vendors.
“I was amazed,” Al said. “It’s dynamic, and there are always new regulations, different classes of hiring, different devices, and so on. Talent acquisition is hard. There’s no question about it.”
The end result, UNIFi, connects with background check merchants, payroll software, and hundreds of other tools to provide a single platform for managing every aspect of the complex hiring process.
“We help customers utilize data to make better decisions in their hiring processes,” Al said. “We really deliver a lot more value for our customers by pulling together a cohesive plan and infrastructure to solve a bunch of common problems.”
Providing a Strong Foundation for All Industries and Hiring Levels
In business for 17 years, iCIMS initially focused on helping hiring managers track applicants with the company’s first piece of software, Recruit. Over time, iCIMS expanded its offerings to include Onboard, a program for getting new employees set up with benefits and training.
As businesses grow, the search for qualified new employees gets harder. Recognizing this, iCIMS created Connect to build talent pools, manage events, and market customers’ brands to prospective candidates.
“Software to manage the hiring process is definitely not sexy,” Al said. “But it is the foundation. We always want to make sure we’ve got our customers’ foundations and building blocks really working well. It’s geek sexy.”
Now, the iCIMS Talent Acquisition Suite puts up some rather impressive numbers by processing 2 million jobs per year and 33 million applications from a pool of more than 200 million candidates.
The platform handles any industry or any level of job opening, according to Al, who said “a lot more” than 100 vertical industries use iCIMS.
“When you look at the profile and hiring requirements in retail, technology, shared services, or executives, they’re just different,” he said. “We handle everything from people hiring farmhands to people hiring research scientists. Believe it or not, we do all of that with one codebase.”
How UNIFi Came to Make Integrations Easy, Scalable, and Configurable
Recognizing the inefficiencies of disparate recruiting systems, iCIMS leadership saw a powerful opportunity in uniting the raw programs, technologies, and data management tools already in use.
When crafting UNIFi, the iCIMS team identified three basic goals that would appeal to the company’s wide range of customers: The program needed to be user-friendly, customizable, and able to streamline processes for businesses of all sizes.
“In the process of doing that, we realized that not only are we doing a better job for our customers, but it makes everything so much less stressful,” Al said. “It’s really empowering for us to realize that we can bring power to our customers so easily, just by solving common problems.”
1. Creating the ‘Periodic Table of Talent Acquisition’
The company’s first challenge was understanding exactly what its platform needed to do. When customers asked iCIMS representatives if a given software program integrated with a particular background check service or payroll system, for example, they’d get different answers from different employees.
When taking inventory of the different types of vendors and services that might integrate with a talent acquisition platform, Al and his team uncovered roughly 2,000 potential options. They built what Al called the “periodic table of talent acquisition,” organizing the various needs into categories.
“That helped us start to think in more systemic ways about the different needs you have when integrating systems like that,” he said. “As a result, we realized there were a lot of problems that were common everywhere. We knew we could solve a lot of that.”
2. Introducing Standard Connectors and Working With Vendors
In addition to creating a marketplace to catalog the various integrations available to UNIFi customers, iCIMS introduced Standard Connectors. Using REST APIs and iCIMS-defined best practices, Standard Connectors enable a robust integration and ensure an optimized workflow.
“Regardless of which background check vendor you’re going to work with, for example, we know what data you’re going to get,” Al said. “It’s a rich, reusable integration. For our customers, we wanted to make a more predictable and faster time to value.”
3. Enabling More Predictable Success Through Data
More than 150 different products utilize standard connectors within the iCIMS marketplace, a number that Al said is growing rapidly. Integrations that used to take months to configure can now be set up with minimal technical resources and are much faster to activate.
“We knew that we could reduce the friction our customers commonly felt,” he said. “That gives our customers the freedom to choose the best products to integrate with by making it easy to switch if something is not meeting their business needs. We’re trying to provide data that looks at the business outcomes. For instance, how many of the people you hired actually worked out in the long run? We help you make better calls and gain success in your hiring practices.”
Coming Up: Next-Gen Connectors and Improved User Experiences
Next for iCIMS, according to Al, is enabling a more seamless user experience across the hundreds of third-party integrations.
“If you’re using our product and access an integration, you get a popup and totally different UI experience,” he said. “There’s different navigation, colors, and all sorts of things.”
Next-gen connectors will add another layer of data management by providing analytics on the integration’s availability and performance.
“The goal is for everything to feel built in,” he said. “Our next-gen connector will deliver a fully integrated UI, enable even faster activation, and will automatically configure everything.”