‘winning’ at talent acquisition

5 10 2011

What’s the secret to ‘winning’ at talent acquisition?  Do the corporate recruiters in your organization know what success looks like in their roles?  Is it even possible for them to get to the point where they are knocking it out of the park with each hire?

The answer to this question is dependent on several factors.

Size Matters – The amount of job openings a recruiter has on his talent workbench at any given time is a large factor in determining what success means to that recruiter and how he is going to get there.  For example, a recruiter whose bench exceeds 20 jobs is going to measure success more by how effective they are at meeting the workflow deadlines and keeping on top of where each candidate is in the process rather than by how sexy their talent pipeline is.

It’s All About ControlWhat metrics are in place by which the talent acquisition team is to be measured?  Does the recruiter have full control over all areas that can be affected by these metrics?  As an example, if the business has a pre-existing relationship with a 3rd party talent provider and the recruiter has a strict scorecard measuring performance that requires justification for every agency fill, it can set her up for failure when an agency candidate makes it through to the last round because she wasn’t involved in the discussions about this candidate that likely took place on the golf course.

Reactive vs. Proactive – We all want the same thing: the best possible talent that is fully-engaged on the job at all times, and we want them to know exactly how to do the job from Day One with almost no guidance.  Hiring managers and HR leaders should stop and ask themselves if this expectation is sane and reasonable.  With the constantly evolving technological and global business landscape new jobs are popping up every day.  Just ten years ago there was no such thing as a Content Manager, yet this is one good example of a position I would struggle to fill right now because the business is seeking ‘experienced’ individuals.  Wouldn’t it instead make more sense to engage the talent acquisition team in the succession planning and talent review meetings to discuss future needs for which a pipeline can be prepared rather than waiting until the need arises and the urgency gets in the way of finding the best possible candidates for the role?

Hiring ‘Soft’ and Managing ‘Hard’ – Hands up if you agree with this statement: ‘It’s much easier to teach someone to do the job than to teach them to care about the job’.  We are programmed to focus our time and energy searching for that ideal candidate with all the right ingredients in their work history, and to fast track them through the process when we do find them.  Subsequently we are shocked when they don’t work out because the ‘fit’ wasn’t there.  Isn’t a candidate with the right fit and determination to succeed in the job who has a track record of easily adapting to new roles going to be a better long-term pick even if they have never done the job before?

Differentiation – More than ever talent acquisition professionals need to think differently about their craft and empower themselves to challenge the ways they manage their workbenches.  If you have the advantage of working for an innovative organization that espouses new ideas and encourages its workforce to buck the norm, you should remind your talent acquisition team to leverage this freedom to find unique ways to drive success in their roles.

Timing – Sometimes it just comes down to fate, and you are fortunate enough to find the perfect candidate right at that golden moment when the ideal job presents itself.  While we do have some control over this if we are highly organized, well-connected and responsive, most of the time it is an outlier situation that we thank our lucky stars for when it happens…after which we go out and buy a lottery ticket.

It’s obvious that success at the recruiting game is largely driven by the organization and the recruitment model it has chosen to execute.  However there is certainly room for the recruiter to influence their own success in many situations that can improve their chances at meeting all expectations set out for them, if not exceeding them.  Along with ensuring that your talent acquisition strategy is structured effectively, being willing and able to work with your talent acquisition team to define the vision of success is an excellent place to start.


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