* Update on June 30, 2016.  Interestingly, subsequent to this article, Taleo and Workday both ranked #1 for different things in the recent Top 70 ATS’s Research Report (Taleo is #1 in market share and Workday is #1 in market share growth year to year)  

A former Taleo exec commented to us the other day that he thinks “Workday will eat Taleo’s lunch”. He wasn’t disgruntled at Oracle/Taleo, but just telling it like he sees it.

What I can tell you is that the calls from Workday’s sales team to Oracle HCM customers have been getting more frequent. Workday’s platform is being touted as a “one-stop shop” for enterprise companies, and current Oracle customers are their #1 target.

And it’s clear that Oracle’s leadership is worried about Workday’s growth too. In a move out of character for Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.50.06 AMOracle, they have an entire page on their website detailing the differences of their product with Workday. Certainly this is the type of marketing you expect from an upstart company, but not from a powerhouse incumbent like Oracle.

When looking at Oracle’s comparison chart, it’s clear that recruiting is central to the debate in HCM. It makes sense. I’ve heard several talent leaders talk about evaluating Workday Recruiting, the ATS module that the company released in May 2014. And the target of Oracle’s comparison.

Like many talent leaders, I haven’t had a really good look at Workday Recruiting yet. I’ve heard people mentioning the product, but haven’t seen it up close. I wanted to dig in to see how the platform looks from  a Candidate and Recruiter perspective.

Hot HR Technology Trends

As luck would have it, I received an email from an Oracle sales rep just as I started to write this article. The Oracle sales rep had recently contacted me on LinkedIn, and was messaging me about HCM technology trends.

The interesting part is that the email had a link to a Forbes article written by Meghan Biro titled The Hot HR Technology Trends of 2014. These were trends that the Oracle sales rep insinuated were important to the HR Tech buyer today. The hot trends included:

    • Cloud-based
    • Mobile/Social
    • Simple, Intuitive User Interface
    • Social Collaboration Tools
    • Analytics and Reporting

I look at these 5 trends through the lens of the people who are touching the technology the most, Candidates and Recruiters. I look at each trend and ask, how does the technology impact the Candidate Experience? And, how does the technology help a Recruiters be more effective?

Most talent leaders have been warned not to have a “check-box mentality” with new recruiting technology. However, you’ve got to start somewhere when you are evaluating new technology.

Let’s see how Workday Recruiting stands up to the top HR Technology Trends sent to me by Oracle.

Workday Recruiting’s Pitch

My first step was to watch the Workday Recruiting Product Preview video. This would provide a lens into what Workday deems most important with their product:

[youtube id=”UU0j-_x1CzM” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”500″]

Whether or not you want to invest 2:58 in the video, here’s the key points driven home about Workday Recruiting in the pitch:

1. Mobile: “Glassdoor study says 86% of candidates are doing a job search from a mobile device”

2. Responsive Careers Sites: Within the first 20 seconds, we are told that Workday Recruiting provides responsive careers sites for the any device experience

3. Mobile Apply: “including LinkedIn integration to reduce the amount of candidate drop-off”

4. Screening: “Quickly identifying top candidates is a priority, create a list of candidates to be sent to the hiring team in minutes”

5. Talent Pipeline: “Build and manage a pipeline of current employees, external candidates, and prospects”

6. Collaboration: Recruiters can easily work with the hiring team, and keep everyone informed on progress

7. Collaboration Pt. 2: Hiring Managers are provided clear and intuitive recruiting information on any device

8. Analytics: Talent leaders have the ability to view data and analytics in real-time

9. User Interface: “Un-matched usability and visibility for your recruiting organization”

The product preview sounds amazing. If it works like the video says, it could be a major upgrade over Taleo.

However, I couldn’t help thinking that Workday Recruiting was simply checking all of the boxes like I’ve been warned about in this pitch. Looking at the Hot HR Technology trends sent to me by Oracle though, and you can see 4 of the 5 points touched on clearly and specifically: Mobile, User Interface, Collaboration, and Analytics. There was no way the Oracle sales rep could know they were teeing this up, but Workday Recruiting hit the mark on these trends in their pitch.

That said, it does give me pause when the Workday Recruiting video ends with a quote saying, “recruiting just got simpler, faster, and smarter”. Say what you will about legacy technologies like Taleo, but that’s a very bold claim for Workday to make as they enter the ATS market for the very first time.

Workday Recruiting Reviews

The Workday Recruiting video pitch seemed many of the key pains that talent leaders face. For that reason alone, the product is worth a deeper look. Is this really how their system is working in the real world? What are other people saying about it?


The first thing I like to do is look for case studies. The challenge is that the case studies on the Workday Recruiting section of the website are broad. Each of the case studies at the bottom of the page are general in focus. They’re not Workday Recruiting-specific. Well-known brands such as Chiquita, Flextronics, and TripAdvisor are all featured, but none of the videos included speak specifically about Workday Recruiting.

After a bit of digging, I did find a blog post on the Workday site from June 3, 2014 that is focused on Workday Recruiting. It’s a bit of a flag that they are not talking about recruiting with more frequency in the Workday HCM blog. This was the most recent post they had on recruiting, and it is going on 6 months old. The good news however, is that the blog piece featured a customer speaking specifically about Workday Recruiting:

[youtube id=”gGTw1oWSzvA” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”500″]

The video runs 1:43, so it’s good and short. Here’s my take on it:

1. Early Adoption: The video spends the first 22 seconds talking about being an early adopter and influencer

2. Recruiting-Focus?: It took 47 seconds of the video before getting to the recruiting specifics. Just saying.

3. Selection: Talk of a better and more efficient selection process so that the very best can be hired. No mention of Talent Pipeline like in the pitch, but sort of close.

4. Collaboration: At 57 seconds in, we finally see one of the key themes in the pitch video being hit, and it’s driven home well

5. Mobile Apply: At 1:10 the customer covers mobile apply and it’s impact on reducing drop-off and gaining insight into candidate behavior

6. Analytics: The video closes with a quick mention of how they will now be able to “know our hiring sources”

The second half of the video seems more focused on recruiting. However, I’ve got some concern that Workday is not writing in their blog about recruiting. Nor are they getting to the key points of recruiting quick enough in this customer video. This can be a signal of the check-box mentality.

It’s a small sample size, but this seems like a missed opportunity. I predict you’ll see Workday capitalize on the movement toward advocate marketing in a big way. Especially as more companies mature in their use of the Workday Recruiting product. Unless Workday Recruiting customers just aren’t happy with the product.


As I looked around the internet for expert analysis, I discovered a good piece by Josh Bersin written at the time Workday Recruiting was launched. The title of the article mirrored my state of mind: Workday Recruiting: Will It Disrupt The Talent Acquisition Software Market?

Workday Recruiting

When Josh Bersin speaks, talent leaders should listen. He’s got a great perspective on the talent acquisition industry, and is excellent at provoking thought. In fact, here are a few of my thoughts on his article about Workday Recruiting:

  • Bersin states that “the launch of Workday Recruiting accelerates the “end of the standalone applicant tracking market” for large enterprises”. And he goes into more detail by saying “Workday’s entire product strategy is based on developing a unified system which manages all areas of financial and human capital management.”  This could be a huge pain point for most talent leaders. Trying to bring financial and human capital leaders together can be a major challenge. And who says the best financial and human capital software can be produced by the same company. Integration is obviously crucial, but at what cost?
  • Bersin also states that, “a number of complementary partnerships are in place, including providers of background checking, video interviewing (Workday integrates HireVue), and job boards, demonstrating the completeness of Workday’s approach. The company is not planning on working with every third party recruiting tool and vendor in the market, but we believe the ecosystem will grow rapidly”. This is critical because talent leaders need an ATS that is flexible. Not one that you can only do whatever the system can do. If they don’t build it, you can’t get it. Portability is critical to stay on the cutting edge.
  • One other thing that popped out was in the comments section. There is an interesting comment from an Oracle employee: “Josh, Nice post and we (at Oracle) welcome Workday to the recruiting market. One quick clarification – we have not bundled Taleo with our ERP solution. We still sell it stand alone. We very often sell it at the same time we sell Oracle HCM Cloud, but it is not bundled or included automatically. Oracle Financials Cloud is a different product set as well. They all share a common platform and are unified, but are sold separately”. I find this very interesting because the fact that Taleo can be purchased on its own could be a very distinguishing factor.

Aside from Josh Bersin’s article, you can definitely find more opinions and reviews online. One good page to dig through is at TrustRadius where they have 39 reviews on Taleo vs. Workday. However, the big missing piece is that most reviewers are talking about Workday in general versus Workday Recruiting. And that’s one of the major points for talent leaders to be aware of, reviewing the specifics of Workday Recruiting versus Workday as a whole.

Questions You Need To Ask

Based on the limits of Taleo alone, Workday Recruiting will be worth a look for most talent leaders. The Hot Technology Trends sent to me by Oracle themselves, also makes Workday Recruiting worth a look. But most leaders understand that changing enterprise software of any kind can be a massive challenge.

If I were a current Taleo customer evaluating Workday, I’d be asking these questions:

  • Customers:
    • Which customers in my industry are using Workday Recruiting currently?
    • How do your customers rate the process of migrating to Workday Recruiting?
    • What are the everyday users (candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters) of the platform saying so far?
  • Portability:
    • Do I need to use all of the Workday HCM suite to use Workday Recruiting?
    • Is it possible to port applicant information and analytics into other enterprise systems?
    • Am I able to set up two-way communication between Workday Recruiting and my other enterprise systems?
  • Roadmap:
    • How is Workday incorporating customer feedback into future releases of the product?
    • How does Workday plan to interface with emerging technologies in the recruiting industry?

Will Workday eat Taleo’s lunch? I’m not sure. It’s early, so expectations should be tempered.

However, it’s clear that this is only the beginning of a long and rigorous debate between these two platforms. It’s a matchup that I will be watching closely with great interest.


Jason Webster is a co-founder and advisor to Ongig, a cloud-based next-generation job description system to help you attract the best talent faster. Ongig integrates with all major ATS’s (like Taleo, Workday and all the major Top 70 ATS’s!). Early clients of Ongig include Yelp, GoDaddy, Verizon Digital and Autodesk. 

by in Recruiting Software