Well there’s no typical day, but we’re celebrating Global Talent Acquisition Day, so here’s a peek behind the curtain. What does “talent acquisition” actually entail? And, facing the current challenges of an increasingly shrinking talent pool and skills shortage, what does it take to attract and hire the best talent?
Having been in recruitment for over twenty years, I have witnessed a lot of industry changes and recently there has been an even greater shift. This is most clearly seen in how you source candidates. Whereas before this was quite reactive, simply putting out a job ad and then waiting for the CVs to pour in, this has been completely turned on its head, particularly with the more competitive landscape. Talent acquisition is now more of a headhunter role, proactively seeking out those new candidates, even if you may not actually have an active role to recruit for.
This means the hard work starts far in advance and relationship management is key. You don’t speak to people to hire them that day, it could be a year later that they finally join your organisation. You need to be keeping in regular contact, having those constant communication touch points, managing expectations throughout and most importantly, keeping them engaged. Even once candidates are in the interview process, this can still last one or two months, and they may have to meet different decision-makers across different locations. You don’t want to lose people because a process took too long and you didn’t ensure to keep the candidate interested and looked after. Luckily, nowadays this can be aided by technology to take care of the admin side and ensure that you have a full overview of where someone is in the interview process, who they’ve already spoken to and when you were last in touch.
Playing the long game
It’s also not just a question of bums on seats and getting people through the door. Talent acquisition professionals now need to be planning and thinking ahead, looking at the future impact of that hire and how they perform and progress in the business. An easy way to measure this is looking at your internal mobility numbers. When it comes to talent acquisition, internal talent is often overlooked but if people are moving into other internal roles, this is a clear sign you got the hire right in the first place. The same goes for promotions. Are you bringing people up from within or whenever a gap does appear? Are you always having to source new talent externally? If so, you need to be reflecting on your initial hiring strategy, looking for people not just to a fit a certain role at a particular time but how you see them moving through the company and mapping out a potential career path. Not to mention, seeing the possibility for development is also a major draw for candidates as well.
With this is in mind, it also changes what you’re looking for in candidates, with the required skills continuously changing, these are less important, and it is having the right attitude and approach for a particular company that come to the forefront. Finding the right skills is hard, but finding someone who is the right cultural fit, even more difficult. Part of being a good talent acquisition professional is knowing how the teams you’re hiring for work, how they interact with one another and if you have a great candidate with all the skills but not the right personality, knowing when to walk away Plus you must simultaneously ensure that you’re pushing the diversity and inclusion case. But you don’t need to sacrifice values and culture to tick the diversity and inclusion box, rather it is about people’s preferred way of working and attitude – that has nothing to do with background or skillset.
To know if you have that sought-after candidate who has the desired attitude, regular communication won’t suffice if you only scratch the surface. Think like a psychologist. Everyone has different reasons for looking for a new job and different factors that drive them – do not just assume it’s the usual (higher salary or promotion). To make sure that your candidates are truly right for the role, you need to find out what it is that motivates them and why there are talking to your company. A lot of this also goes unsaid, so it is also important to try reading between the lines, understanding how people tick and what they’re thinking, even if they may not be saying it.
From your side, do not keep anything hidden but fully open up. Honesty is the best policy and making false promises is not the way to draw in those amazing candidates. Talk of incredible (but non-existent) employee benefits may get them to sign on the dotted line but they will not stay in the long run. As soon as they realise that the reality doesn’t quite match up, you will have lost that new employee, not to mention, damaged your employer brand and your own reputation – with relationship building being so key, you cannot afford to burn any bridges. So, don’t paint a picture of utopia, talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.
Talent acquisition is not an exact science and while it has greatly changed over the years, it is only going to keep transforming at an even quicker pace. One thing is for certain, it’s unpredictable, so like your new candidates, be sure to go with the flow – even when the unexpected comes up. Whether it be your candidate revealing their skills as a magician, forgetting that they are in a video interview as they casually sip a glass of wine or getting up to shut the door, revealing they are in their best business shirt… and a pair of boxers. And remember, Global Talent Acquisition Day is the time to be recognised for all our great work, so be sure to also give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.