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There is No Silver Bullet in the War on Talent

A CHRO once asked, “what is the silver bullet when it comes to the war on talent?” and when we responded, “there isn’t one,” the executive was utterly deflated. She, like many HR executives, was hoping there was one thing, just one, they could change that would magically deliver quality talent and fill all critical roles immediately.


We went on to explain that recruiting and hiring great employees does not solely rely on well trained recruiters, an efficient operating model, employer branding, workforce planning, internal mobility, nor the right technology. It’s an ecosystem where all of these elements coexist, and are well integrated, that deliver great talent. It’s attacking the challenge from every angle. 

Know what you have, and what you need.

Estimating business growth and strategic planning is nothing new for businesses, yet the concept of connecting that data to headcount is incredibly difficult for companies. If you want to have a fighting chance in recruiting the talent you need, it’s time to direct energy into workforce planning. We’ve all read about the competitive market, and how difficult it is to hire. Using the “just in time” method for recruitment is putting you months behind. Net, net - it’s time to do some serious reflection.  Ask yourself: What skills does the company need to meet revenue targets? Is there internal talent that can be trained and moved into these roles? How many additional employees will the company need to support the growth? How many should you expect to turnover? The goal is to determine how many jobs (by function and quarter) the company will need to hire for in the next 12 months.  At its simplest form, expected number of openings = (Growth + Attrition) - internal moves.  Look, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be close.  So, pull together your leadership, finance, sales, HR and talent acquisition teams, and start understanding the type of talent you have, and forecasting what you need.  



Invest in talent acquisition. 

Companies invest in their production teams, but oftentimes forget about the entire support system that makes those teams exist. In this case, we are focusing on talent acquisition (TA). Companies should be investing in training and tools that help these teams continue to recruit and hire great people. Consider bringing in training that teaches the recruiters to source talent rather than rely on applications. Give them a budget to purchase the tools and technology that will reduce manual efforts and help them source quality talent for your company. Want to really see the team shine?  Have a compelling employee value proposition and empower TA and Marketing to execute an employer branding strategy. Ahem, this is where those good benefits, PTO policies, competitive compensation packages, and collaborative culture come in. When attacking the war on talent, you need to have well-trained recruiters, excellent technology, and an attractive EVP; help get the team there by investing in them. 



Get on board, hiring managers. 

Recruitment is a partnership; one that the hiring manager needs to participate in. The number of times we’ve seen hiring managers handover a job description, and expect the perfect candidate to show up is alarming. Stop expecting recruiters to be software engineers, finance managers, or HVAC technicians.  It is your job, hiring manager, to provide insight and guidance around the role and team that arms that recruiter with enough information to go out and find the talent. Sit down with the recruiter and tell them more about the team, your leadership style, and how success will be measured. Help them compose pre-qualifying questions and give them ideal responses you are looking for. Not only does this provide enough information for the recruiter to use when prospecting candidates, but then they can also vet candidates, and only send through those who meet the basic requirements agreed to. And when they do find those amazing candidates, which they will, be quick to respond, interview, and move to offer. If you are sitting on candidates for a week, rescheduling interviews, or need to “see more candidates” that role being open for months is on YOU, not the recruiter.



Document.

For a talent acquisition function to have an efficient operating model, it’s time to document via a talent acquisition playbook. The process of creating a playbook is more than a set of slides; it is ensuring everyone on the team is working in the same manner. There is a clear outline on scope. Process flow maps outline roles and responsibilities. Goals are clear and transparent.  There are templates that guide each part of the process to maximize efficiency and drive a best in class function. Additionally a playbook ensures the function is sustainable. As new hires come in, they ramp quicker because the ways of working are clear and easy to reference. Looking to scale your company, including your talent acquisition team?  Time to create that playbook. 



Monitor the metrics. 

Incorporate talent analytics to monitor the health of recruitment and manage performance. Are you sitting there thinking - we’re good, we look at the cost per hire (read as we know the cost and how many hires)? You, my friend, are not good. You have a start, but it’s time to expand your KPIs. For example, looking at the recruitment throughput - if a hiring manager isn’t interviewing any of the candidates a recruiter sends, there’s a disconnect. Do you know what your best source of offers is? Certain tools work better for specific types of jobs, but you won’t know what those are until the data is measured. How about average time per stage? Is there a bottleneck in the process? If so, where and why? When done well, data tells a story. It helps us understand where problems are, and where support is needed. A metrics-driven talent acquisition function is one that makes sound business decisions, and when you are looking to hire quality talent quickly, you need to monitor the metrics. 



Now, we could go on and tell you about university recruitment, talent pipelining, etc., but for the sake of this blog’s length we'll leave that to a future post. The point is, talent acquisition teams need the organization’s support. So, understand what is needed versus what currently exists within the company, invest in the team, and get everyone on board. Build efficiency through documentation and monitor the health of the function through metrics. Remember, there isn't one component that wins the war on talent, it’s the entire system. 


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