An Interview With HR Open President, Jason Sole


Looking to learn more about HR Open Standards President, Jason Sole? Well, when he’s not volunteering his time to help promote HR Open at conferences or representing the Consortium at US Chamber events he’s the Director of Sales Engineering at DirectEmployers Association (DE). Jason serves as the primary liaison between the Development, Member Support, and Partnership teams at DE. A bit of a technical smoke-jumper, he’s able tackle and solve problems, explain complex technical issues to non-technical audiences, and pre-check setups and data gathering to make new projects flow smoothly. Jason is the proud parent of two children and enjoys taking trips to Disney with his family.

As the President of HR Open Standards, Jason goes the the extra mile to advance technology standards and positively impact the HR technology landscape. Jason answers some questions about HR Open, the standards, their impact, and how you can get involved.

For those who may not be familiar, can you tell us a little bit about HR Open Standards?

HR Open Standards is an international consortium of HR Technology creators. We have been around since the 1990s and existed for a long time as the HR-XML Consortium. We rebranded several years ago to reflect the changing nature of the technology and how it was being consumed (there were a lot of new alternatives to XML coming out).

Our goal as an organization is to provide a space where the builders of HR Technology–the engineers, developers, CTOs, and support staff–can come together and collaborate. This is primarily with the standards we produce, but we also provide a way for technologists at different companies to come together and compare notes.

Very interesting! How did you get involved and how many years have you had the opportunity to participate?

I have been active with HR Open Standards for six and a half years. I started by serving on the Technical Steering Committee in August 2013. At the time, another colleague at DirectEmployers was a board member, and they needed someone with a technical background to help offer some insight. They were doing a lot of work with mobile data standards, and mobile web development was an area with which I had experience.

That sounds like some great experience – tell us more about the roles have you played throughout the years within the organization.

I have had several roles within the organization. I have chaired the Technical Steering Committee for six years and served on the Board of Directors for five. I was Secretary of the Board for 2018 and 2019, and I am Board President until the end of 2020.

What impact do you feel HR Open Standards has had on developing HR data exchange standards?

HR Open Standards is the only organization with a comprehensive set of HR standards. As such, it has had a profound impact on the standards ecosystem for HR systems. This has also allowed DirectEmployers to participate and help lead some interesting projects. Recently, we helped with the pilot program for the Job Data Exchange project at the US Chamber of Commerce where we collaborated with, Google, and the US Chamber to build a data exchange proof of concept between employers, educators, and government.

Congrats on your new role as President of the Board of Directors! What will your responsibilities entail in this new role?

Thanks! I will serve as one of the public faces of the Consortium, as well as help facilitate relationships the Consortium has with other organizations and standards bodies such as the US Chamber of Commerce and PESC.

How do you feel your involvement has affected your work with DirectEmployers?

It increases the visibility of DirectEmployers with the technology providers and decision-makers in the HR Industry. I can maintain contacts and relationships with other HR Technology companies that would be difficult or impossible otherwise. Also, I am exposed to new ways of thinking and solving problems, which is always helpful as DE encounters new technology and challenges.

How do you feel your involvement has enriched your career and helped with your role as a Sales Engineer?

It has forced me to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I am naturally an introvert, but leading an international organization, and representing them in large, crowded meetings require that I expand and practice the non-technical side of my skill set. That skill set is critical in a Sales Engineering role where my job is making technology understandable and approachable to those that might be intimidated by it.

What projects are you actively involved with at the moment? Anything new and exciting on the horizon to share?

We are working with the US Chamber of Commerce and the White House to work on a collaborative set of data standards for the HR Technology community. It moves at the pace of government, but we are trying to create a unified approach to solve known problems. The hope is to free up capacity in the industry to build new things and stop solving the same problem over and over.

What has been your biggest takeaway from the work you’ve accomplished at HR Open Standards?

The HR Technology industry is both humongous and small. There are huge players across the entire globe, but you often see the same organizations and people at events. Those organizations all have smart and driven people who are trying to solve all kinds of unique problems.

What is the best way to get involved with HR Open?

Encourage your vendors to join and participate in the Consortium. The more voices we have, the more effective we are. Also, the more we can standardize and integrate like-minded systems, the simpler and cheaper the implementation of new HRIS systems will be.

We appreciate Jason’s contribution to HR Open and the standards. If you want to know more about DirectEmployers and how they offer simple solutions for complex OFCCP compliance and recruitment marketing challenges head over to their website to learn more!