Revisiting Talent Acquisition: What has Changed?

Every day, workforce decision-makers must face the disruptive forces influencing the world of talent and business. Staff reductions, ever-changing marketing conditions, and sudden shifts toward remote working are part of the experience. Amid the pandemic, support for talent acquisition understandably dropped on the priority list.

However, even as they reduced staff, many companies faced continued demand and competition for talent. Rising unemployment did not necessarily translate into easily available talent in high-demand skills. In some fields, such as IT and healthcare, the costs for workers remained steady or even went up. And when it came time to hire workers, business leaders found themselves with limited resources to execute their talent acquisition strategies.

Today, it’s a new world. Most organizations have adjusted to the immediate impact of economic disruption. It’s time to look ahead. Work has to be done. Value must be created. Innovation remains a priority, and companies need talent to make it all happen.

Now is the right time to take a second look at the talent acquisition function. How do you rebuild from a reduced team? Should you consider more flexible approaches to processes, technologies, and partners? Should you rethink your digital strategy? Or, should you simply reinvent talent acquisition from the ground up?

If you struggle with these questions, you are not alone — and an effective talent strategy is within reach. The path to that strategy begins by revisiting your goals, technology, and opportunities to improve. In many ways, the rules in talent acquisition have changed. And adapting to the differences will be critical to an effective talent strategy. The questions that follow can help guide your planning as you look past the impact of the pandemic to face tomorrow’s demands.

Report: Recruitment for the New Normal 

women writing in notebook

Are You Solving for Results That Matter?

An informed talent acquisition strategy does not focus on a single measure of success; rather, it encompasses multiple, complementary goals to deliver meaningful and lasting results. Consider the following areas of improvement and potential transformation.

Cost and Speed
The Story: Speed and Cost Metrics Can Track Performance, But May Not Solve Problems
A company can become very efficient at filling roles quickly and cheaply while suffering from high turnover or poor performance. Nevertheless, time-to-fill and cost-of-hire remain relevant as measures of performance. Today, smart companies struggle to put those measures in context and interpret their meaning to gain meaningful improvement.

What’s Different: Companies Can Look into More Detailed Metrics to Drive Improvements
When roles remain unfilled or quality of talent falls short, replace the finger-pointing of the past with detailed data and clear answers for improvement. By accurately executing and tracking all aspects of the process in a digital environment, organizations can see exactly where they are succeeding and where they are falling short. For example, is fulfillment consistently late because the quality of candidates is low, or does the job description fail to align with the real supply of available talent? Or, are hiring managers taking a long time to make decisions? Knowing the answers can make changing course easy for everyone involved.

Takeaway: Don’t Rely on Hunches and Opinions to Fix Gaps
If you rely on opinions and hunches to pinpoint the gaps that are slowing down results and driving up costs, take a second look at your technology. Are your systems capturing the timing and source of candidates at the outset? Can you track the milestones and stakeholders in the process, from responding to the initial application, to scheduling the interview or making the hiring decision? Capturing the right data turns a blame game into a problem-solving discussion. Everyone wins, and performance improves.

Quality of Results
The Story: Measures of Talent Acquisition Quality Have Been Elusive
Candidate fit and quality-of-hire are true indicators of talent acquisition performance, but measuring these indicators is not easy. Quality of slate, including interview-to-hire ratios, can help reveal recruiting effectiveness. Post-hire information on job tenure, retention rates, and employee performance are ideal indicators, but they are slow to develop and often hidden from talent acquisition in inaccessible silos of data.

What’s Different: Data to Track Quality is More Available Than Ever
Today, every part of the talent acquisition process represents a potential connection to better quality candidates and hires. Great employer brands attract the people best suited to the organization’s culture, mission, and business. Solid recruiting efforts identify and target workers with the right skills and experience to get the job done, along with the aptitude to learn and adjust to new demands as they arise. Being able to capture all data to measure talent quality can validate talent acquisition performance.

Takeaway: Consider People and Technology as Essential to Driving and Measuring Results
It is possible to bridge the silos that separated data sources in the past and gain a picture of how the talent you hire succeeds on the job. But data from disparate systems won’t come together on its own. Informed guidance, both from internal sources and external subject matter experts, is needed to determine how the organization will gain a snapshot of talent quality. The main challenge for employers will be to ensure that all stakeholders — from talent partners, to HR, hiring managers, and leadership — commit to making tracking quality of talent a central part of the recruiting strategy.

Workforce Readiness
The Story: Companies Struggle to Adapt and Scale Talent Acquisition to Fit Their Needs
Speed and cost matter, but long-term adaptability is equally important. Is your talent acquisition strategy positioned to tackle hiring across multiple roles and skill sets? How quickly can your recruiting organization scale up to meet new demand? How well can it evolve to compete for talent using new technologies, remote engagement models, and smarter, data-driven strategies? The readiness of the talent acquisition function to meet these demands is a major driver of success in an unpredictable business environment.

What’s Different: Rapid Change is Now a Constant
Adaptability has always been top-of-mind for forward-thinking companies as they developed their talent acquisition strategies. In today’s recruiting organization the ability to navigate change is not necessarily a competitive advantage; instead, it is a basic table-stakes requirement for the post-pandemic business environment. Long-term goals still drive success, but achieving those goals may require rapid shifts in the work needed to move forward, or adjustments to who does the work and how the work gets done. Talent acquisition teams require access to candidates, quickly and effectively, when and where the need arises.

Takeaway: Make Flexibility a Priority in Your Talent Strategy
The pandemic revealed how quickly conditions can change — not over a year-to-year time frame, but monthly, and even from one week to the next. Access to a broad array of talent and flexible talent acquisition capabilities are now essential. If you are not yet thinking about flexibility and scalability in your talent acquisition strategy, now is the time to start.

group of individuals looking at laptop

Are Digital Gaps Holding You Back?

Technology provides more than a convenience for recruiters or candidates. It makes the difference between a recruiting program’s success and failure. Without the right technology, organizations struggle to keep up with information overload and stand out in a noisy digital environment.

With a sound digital ecosystem to support them, companies can make smarter decisions and deliver a better candidate experience. From improved insight into talent supply, to virtual “superpowers” that free recruiters from the burden of sifting resumes, technology can help organizations meet several long-standing talent acquisition challenges.

Visibility to Talent
The Story: Companies Often Use Past Tactics Rather Than Current Data to Drive Strategies
In the past, organizations grew accustomed to dated recruiting habits rather than data-driven decisions to determine their strategy for securing talent. If you recruited a programmer through a certain channel, you went right back to that channel. The reason was simple: most talent acquisition operations had little access to talent supply information beyond what they already used in the past.

What’s Different: Data and Analytics Tools Intelligently Draw from All Sources of Talent
In a post-pandemic business environment, the recruiting strategy that worked six months ago may be completely ineffective for current needs. Without an updated view of where talent may be found, an organization may target the wrong places, offer the wrong pay, use the wrong message, or simply recruit for the wrong skills.

The good news is that technology advances can give employers the intelligence to make more informed decisions. Examples of innovative resources include social media searching tools, market analytics that leverage the latest workforce data, and platforms that draw potential candidate information across multiple sources. These sources can include applicant tracking systems, candidate relationship management (CRM) platforms, and employee-facing sources like internal Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS).

Takeaway: Don’t Rely on Hunches to Make Important Decisions
Total workforce technologies such as AGS’ QuantumWork platform can help locate and draw from talent pools across disparate systems, and smart data can help determine the right offer to attract people with the skills to fit the need. If your organization relies on hunches and instinct to decide where to secure talent and what to offer, start focusing on filling that gap with data-driven intelligence. Your competitors are likely to be doing the same.

Identifying and Targeting Talent
The Story: Companies Struggle if They Wait for Talent to Come to Them
Finding and matching the right talent to fit the requirements of a role is a primary focus of traditional recruiting. The old post-and-pray model of sending an ad to a job board and hoping for a response will no longer sustain a lasting talent strategy, yet companies often rely on that approach to fill roles with mixed results.

What’s Different: Digitally Enabled Sourcing Provides a Clear Path to the Right Talent
Today, much of the talent acquisition process takes place in a digital environment, and companies cannot assume job seekers with in-demand skills will come to them. Instead, they have to find and connect to people through large volumes of data and various engagement channels. Social media, internal systems, and external data pools all represent potential talent sources. Manual searching can only go so far, as recruiters cannot sift through information quickly enough to uncover potential candidates. Technology advances can keep hiring companies ahead of the data, with automated resources spanning all facets of talent acquisition for any given role.

Takeaway: Data and Analytics Tools Underpin a Must-Have Sourcing Capability
Thanks to machine learning and other AI-driven innovations, talent acquisition technologies can cover the vast sea of data across internal systems and social media sources to reveal potential candidates. Treat such capability not as a convenient replacement for human expertise in sourcing but as a must-have tool for identifying and focusing on meaningful talent choices.

Communication and Candidate Care
The Story: Employers Struggle to Bridge the Communications Black Hole
Historically, the job seeker experience was characterized by a relationship in which the employer had the upper hand. With more candidates than jobs available, companies could tolerate indifferent treatment of applicants, confident that they could secure needed talent. Candidates often had to navigate a cumbersome application process with little way of knowing their status. The proverbial “black hole” in the application process was accepted as a necessary evil.

What’s Different: Competing Career Options Mean Less Tolerance for a Poor Candidate Experience
Job seekers with in-demand skills can entertain opportunities from multiple employers or explore other options such as freelance or contractor work. More choices mean less patience for a poor application experience. Yes, candidates continue to endure non-responses from recruiters, as well as ghosting and cumbersome applications. They may still encounter exhaustive form fields to fill and redundant tasks to complete. But, if those candidates have other opportunities, they will likely drop out of a poor application process and tell their friends not to apply either.

Takeaway: Revisit the Candidate Journey to Address Gaps
Continually review and assess your recruiting processes from a candidate’s point-of-view. Technology can help fill the gaps by automating administrative communications such as status reports, scheduling, or process changes. The same automation can free the recruiter to better respond to more human needs, such as advising candidates and building relationships. Ultimately, the quality of the employer-applicant relationship forged by better communication can make the difference between a lost candidate and a great employee.

A team working in conference room

Where Are the Opportunities for Talent Acquisition Transformation?

Determining a long-term recruiting strategy is complex. It involves many different options related to technology, processes, and internal and external resources. So, while it is easy to get lost in the complexity, you can also rise above it.

Don’t focus entirely on one single component as the make-or-break ingredient to success. After all, behind the complexity is a basic process and experience for every stakeholder. An effective talent acquisition strategy is built on fundamental steps in the journey to a great hire: attract and find the right people, make the right hiring decisions, and give talent a great start to their tenure once hired.

Talent Attraction and Sourcing
The Story: More Targeted Recruiting is Replacing the Traditional Talent Funnel
Traditionally, recruitment was modeled as a candidate selection funnel where many initial applicants to a job posting were reduced to the few most highly desirable candidates. The thinking was simple: more talent at the beginning meant a higher-quality short-list at the end.

That funnel mentality no longer works for many roles because candidates who would be the best fit may drop out of the running before reaching the end. Likewise, recruiters simply don’t have the bandwidth to sift through large numbers of less qualified candidates at the outset.

What’s Different: Quantity of Applications Does Not Translate to Quality of Hire
When it comes to bringing candidates to the table, more quality and less quantity is the answer. Successful companies strive to align their employer brands to attract the talent they need. They use smart sourcing approaches, such as the AI-driven social search technology, to identify potential candidates through the digital social media landscape. They use chatbots on career sites to answer applicants’ questions and ensure they are a fit for the role they’re considering. And, they expect recruiters to spend less time sifting resumes and more time building relationships with the talent they seek.

Takeaway: Reach Workers Where They Are and Speak Directly to Their Needs
If you want to raise your standards for securing the right-fit talent for a role and your culture, details matter. Leading organizations know that their employer brands must be genuine, reflected through the voices of employees, and communicated through channels that meet the candidates where they are.

Talent can come from campus recruiting, human cloud resources built on referrals, silver medalists from previous open roles, and current employees, to name just a few. The competitive recruiting organization reaches out to talent through these sources with relevant interactions that speak directly to their interests and needs. Looking to better connect with the talent you seek? Prioritize smart, data-driven sourcing, automated communication where possible, and human interaction where it is needed most.

Screening and Selection
The Story: Ineffective Screening and Interviewing Create Costly Hiring Risks
The cost of a bad hire is estimated at approximately 30 percent of the employee’s salary or more. Screening, interviewing, and selection are important to talent acquisition performance, and they have a lasting impact on the business. Unfortunately, companies struggle to arrive at strategies for identifying the best-fit candidate in an unbiased, consistent, and measurable way.

What’s Different: Companies are Improving Objectivity to Reduce Bad Hires
Advances in technology enable a selection process that is more flexible, unbiased, and transparent than ever. AI tools can provide objective evaluations through video media. Bias-free applications can remove indicators of race, ethnicity, or gender from applications to help prevent tainted decisions. Platforms for testing skills and competing in code-camp style events can reveal real-world capabilities for many technical skills.

Complementing the technologies are practices that can make interview and selection as objective as possible. Consider consistent question lists for all interviewers and expanding the interviewer panel to include a broader and more diverse cross-section of the organization. Together, the right training and tools can help provide a more accurate predictor of a candidate’s success.

Takeaway: Improvement Depends on a Commitment of People and Technology
Look to recent advances in tactics and technology to move beyond instinct-based hiring decisions and deliver more reliable results. Consistent processes, use of advanced applications for interview scheduling and delivery, and training on interviewing best practices will be integral to every talent acquisition process.

Onboarding
The Story: Onboarding is Often Treated as a Cumbersome Necessary Evil
While much attention is given to attracting and engaging talent, onboarding is frequently overlooked. In fact, less than half (38 percent) of employers say they are always prepared for the new hire’s first day. From computer, email, and phone setup, to coworker introductions, and planning and goal setting, onboarding activities can make a difference in employee success and impact on the organization.

What’s Different: The Day-one Experience Drives Engagement
Companies are getting more intentional about streamlining the onboarding process, particularly in virtual work environments. Onboarding technologies organize the new hire process through a single automated platform. Reminders can be pushed to everyone involved, according to an established timeline. This process eliminates simple errors (e.g., the scheduling of online interactions before finalizing computer setup), and it ensures important activities are not overlooked (e.g., introductions to managers, coworkers, and project team members).

Takeaway: Invest in Onboarding to Cultivate Highly Engaged Employees
Simple, easy, and fast processes are expectations of the consumer experience that workers now bring to their employers. Survey data indicates that highly engaged workers are more than twice as likely to feel strongly about their positive day-one experience than other workers. Deliver an onboarding function that brings together the resources, people, and processes to help workers succeed, and the result is a more engaged and productive workforce.

man talking on video chat

Thinking Ahead: Don’t Wait to Take Action

Talent acquisition is an imperfect journey. You may not have the most current tools or the means to commit to a massive investment in a new technology stack. Maybe you don’t have the funds to rehire the recruiting function that you reduced earlier this year. These are challenges, but they are not insurmountable. In fact, they are likely to be a part of the landscape for nearly every workforce decision-maker today.

Meeting these challenges requires organizations to think differently than they have in the past. Hiring a staff of in-house recruiters or buying and implementing a cutting-edge acquisition technology stack is a commitment that is relatively inflexible. Instead, consider partnerships as a more flexible approach for leveraging the technology and workforce experts to transform talent acquisition.

Partnering with a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) solutions provider like AGS is one such flexible approach. Scalable solutions offer alternatives to fixed costs, and the RPO provider has the expertise, resources, and technology to tackle the most challenging demands.

Whether augmenting current in-house resources, taking on the full talent acquisition operation, or delivering on specific aspects of your talent strategy, the right partner can help you execute a practical talent acquisition strategy that will support your organization in the future.

Report: Recruitment for the New Normal 

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    David Cardile
    Written by David Cardile
    David Cardile is the Director of Business Development, Talent Solutions at Allegis Global Solutions and is responsible for expanding the business’ portfolio of clients for Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Total Talent Solutions. David has almost 20 years of experience in the recruitment space for the APAC region.