Believe it or not, the future of talent acquisition is already here. All of the tools and ways of working have been around for several years now and widely available at pretty cost-effective prices. However, as with many struggling to adapt to the future of work, the reason these are not more widely used is because of the fundamental mindset shift required in what work actually needs to be done. As I repeatedly say, transformation is not about the technology, that is easy, it is about how you use that increased capacity to deliver higher value outcomes. So, let me walk you through exactly how you can advance the capability of your talent acquisition function today.
It is no longer about managing the process
The key to having a modern value adding talent acquisition function is about moving away from managing the process and standard operating procedures. When most people think about the type of work talent acquisition does, they think about posting job adverts, screening resumes, arranging interviews, preparing contracts and facilitating onboarding. You can automate all of that today, with existing technology. It is not new technology either, most of this technology has been around for a decade or so. The talent acquisition professional in the future of work is no longer a process monkey, but instead a talent advisor and coach. Advising and coaching leaders and managers on what types of capabilities they need to hire and how to acquire them.
According to McKinsey research 82% of CEO’s feel that their company is unable to attract the right talent. This is not a surprising figure, because most companies do not actually have a talent attraction strategy. This is because Talent Acquisition is focused on managing the process when someone applies. A talent attraction strategy for most firms consists of a job advert on their career site, which is basically a copy of the job description, that they then post on to the relevant job boards. If no one applies, they ask a recruitment agency to find someone. The more “advanced” teams have also made some sort of 3-minute career video that they posted on YouTube as well. But this is not a talent attraction strategy by any means.
High performers are usually passive job seekers not actively looking for a job, and therefore not looking at career sites, job boards or engaging with recruitment firms. So how useful is this approach really? Now imagine instead, the Talent Acquisition team freed up from all of that admin and managing of processes, could instead spend that same time proactively reaching out to people at competitors, building relationships with the talent pool and creating a community. Instead of waiting for someone to apply they should be having coffee’s and lunches with the talent on a daily basis and articulating why your company is a better place for their career. Then when a vacancy does open up, there are already a long line of pre-qualified candidates able and willing to do the job.
Another key reason why firms struggle to attract the right talent, is because a hiring managers expectation are not aligned to market realities. If you speak to any headhunter, they will cite this as one of their main complaints about their clients. I remember a leading tech company that I worked with in the early 2010s who were trying to build a big data capability. This was brand new and as hot an area as Artificial Intelligence is now. They were looking to hire people with 5 years’ experience and pay $50,000. They had been struggling to hire anyone for 2 years and could not understand why. The answer was quite simple. No one had 5 years’ experience in something that didn’t exist 5 years ago, and as the talent was so rare, no one would work for a salary that was the same as those who were doing other jobs in the company with 5 years’ experience. You cannot have the same salary band for these individuals.
By having a proactive talent acquisition team that is engaging with the talent community on a daily basis, the team are able to provide crucial intelligence and advice to leaders on how to shape a job vacancy. Instead of being sent a job description by a hiring manager, posting it and waiting for someone to apply, the talent acquisition person should be advising the manager on what the market is able to provide in terms of capability and how much it will cost. By aligning these expectations up front, hiring talent becomes incredibly simple. You have a position that is aligned to market realities and a talent acquisition team who have established relationships with the community who perform that role. Although sadly, there will always been one manager that insists you can find 5 pink unicorns on every street corner and will refuse to listen to logic!
Finally, with the capacity freed up from automating the process, the talent acquisition team will be able to focus on coaching managers on how to properly identify and assess the correct talent. Research has shown that nearly half of all managers have never received any formal interview training. In truth, many managers are just expected to know how to interview, but very few firms invest the time in actually running ongoing training and coaching around this topic. Its why nearly any interview done seems to follow the same format. Talent acquisition will have the capacity to run both formal and informal training, plus be able to use psychometrics and other tools to help ensure adequate team fit and productivity.