We recently conducted a search for a VP Talent Acquisition on behalf of a prominent technology company. Given the prevailing economic uncertainties, we expected the talent acquisition community to be somewhat ‘unsettled’. But while there were certainly TA leaders ‘on the market’, we actually found a profession that is quite stable and increasingly mission critical. It is also a function being asked to be far more strategic, contribute more and enhance the sophistication with which it delivers. TA Leaders are frantically trying to meet the challenges.
The following is a quick summary of what we learned in the course of conducting the search in question…
- Even in a relatively soft market, the challenges of finding quality candidates remains a primary concern. As part of this, any tools/technologies/techniques that can aid or automate building better candidate pipelines is being considered. There also appears to be a recognition that part of the solution lies in more effectively engaging and nurturing passive candidates pools.
- With a lull in hiring levels compared to recent years, TA organizations are taking the opportunity to audit current capabilities, tools and resources and compare them against potentially better practices.
- While some TA organizations appear content to keep things simple, others are expanding what they measure…. time to hire, sources of hire, offers accept rate, reasons for rejection, recruiter workload, time in stage, best sources of hire etc etc. This is also part of a bigger push to be data driven. Allocation of resources and productivity are also under discussion as firms consider the cost/benefits of using in-house ‘sourcers’ and other specialists to augment existing recruiters/business partners team members.
- The TA functions in smaller and more entrepreneurial firms continue to be largely led by recruiters with placement agency pedigrees. These leaders are very hands-on, carrying a full recruiting load while also managing small teams. Most complain about being unable to get out from the day-to-day recruiting weeds and the challenges of managing their in-house client expectations.
- The larger the enterprise the more likely TA leaders are to mention recruiting process issues/delays as a major drag on their teams.
- Executive search professionals/teams are embedded in an ever greater number of organizations.
- ‘Candidate experience’ is starting to be measured by many firms– overall interview process, number of steps, scheduling efficiency, timeliness of response and follow-up, onboarding process etc… several TA leaders spoke of trying to treat candidates more like customers.
- Clear articulation of Employer brand is table stakes for attracting candidates in competitive markets. TA is expected to work more closely with marketing on branding issues, messaging, content, social media strategy etc.
- Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a hot concern for organizations and TA organizations are adding their voices on the constellation of inputs such as benefits, compensation, work conditions, internal mobility etc that impact on the attraction, development and retention of talent.
- Internal mobility considerations are pushing Talent Acquisition to ensure internal candidates are part of every process. It is also forcing organizations to be more sophisticated in how they talk about jobs, the experience/attributes necessary for success and how internal and external candidates will be evaluated. Clear push to integrate TA and talent development/talent management. Gone are the days when TA stops when candidates are hired.
- As the TA function becomes more complex, data-savvy and integrated into the broader talent management organization, a more strategic TA leadership is demanded. There is clear evidence of a non-recruiting, OB/OD pedigree becoming more common in senior TA leadership roles.
Should be an interesting few years ahead for the talent acquisition function…
About the Author
Robert Hebert, PhD is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1991, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting requirements.
Contact Robert by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (1) 416-365-9494 EXT 777