paint splashing togetherRecently the list of rad new tools that everyone fawns over at the HR Technology Conference came out. And they look pretty interesting. But the thing that has me wondering are why are all these different tools coming out now? Is there something in the water? Has the economy boosted just enough so that somehow HR technology is cool again?

Is it that a bunch of sophomore tools just got bought and the freshman are taking over the school? Or as some (very smart and vigilant) analysts have pointed out, is it that Recruiting and Talent Acquisition have owned social from the get-go and big global enterprise wants that social freshness for their very own?

Now, we’re seeing an entire bevy of software tools that (promise) to do more than that. While Recruiting 3.0 made much of social outreach, and showed how to scale for the enterprise (memorable buzzwords included: transparency, service, candidate experience, accessibility) companies AND individual sourcing and recruiting teams found themselves overwhelmed, disenfranchised and increasingly dependent on tools that heretofore had been unable to do the job of an experienced recruiter. But like waves crashing over one another on the shore, the sheer amount of data overwhelmed many of these tools, forcing existing tools to adjust their algorithms and search capabilities (see Monster’s 6Sense, eGrabber et al), new tools entirely dependent on searching social to come in to play and get massive amounts of funding (see Branchout, Work4Labs, etc) and finally, a different idea to emerge among entrepreneurs.

Let’s back it up for a minute. To date, hiring/recruiting tools have come in two buckets.

Tools to find active job seekers. These are job boards (whether they be boards themselves or aggregators like SimplyHired, Indeed, etc.), recruitment marketing tools, mobile or social recruiting tools (e.g., Work 4 Labs, Jobvite, etc.).

Tools to find passive candidates. Here you have LinkedIn Recruiter, AIRS search tools, Resume Databases, niche professional sites and communities.

Now, companies from coast-to-coast are introducing tools that mix up the buckets and do both of these things, looking at both the entire landscape of passive candidates, but with an eye to who is actually active among those folks. The “bubble up” mentality and unique search capabilities (that primarily make sense of the mountains of not just social data but social EVIDENCE) are what makes these tools unique from their predecessors and a trend worth noting. From Washington D.C. based Remarkable Hire to San Francisco’s Entelo, the trend is surfacing in multiple places. Add to that the fact that the entrepreneurs behind these products are as diverse as the products themselves (Entelo founder Jon Bishke comes from education, RH founders were in consulting) and you have a significant groundswell in talent acquisition.

Why this matters:

Case studies from companies like Gild, Entelo, and Talent Bin, all show that the “social evidence model” works (although each company has a different and proprietary way of evaluating talent.

The passive candidate has been the great white whale for recruiters for some time. By combining social evidence of capability with online indicators of movement (like the aptly named Radar and Sonar), these companies are making it easier to reach out, turning an annoyed passive candidate into a known “interested” prospect.

If investment is any indication (and I think we established at the beginning of this article that they are) the money is following these new tools. What remains to be seen is whether these tools will be engulfed by another wave crashing to shore.

in HR Software]