​The evolving Talent Acquisition landscape

11 days ago by Euan McNair
Future Of Talent Acquisition 0524

As we look at the evolution of Talent Acquisition we ask ourselves, what is Talent Acquisition?

We're delighted to invite Euan McNair,Talent Acquisition, Employer Brand & Inclusion Director, People Function at Aegon to share his thoughts with us as to whether the definition he wrote back in 2016 has stood the test of time. Now over to Euan...

In an article I wrote many years ago I deemed Talent Acquisition to be, “a strategic approach to identifying, attracting and onboarding top talent to efficiently and effectively meet dynamic business needs.”

For me, the definition still works but in short, it’s hard!

Here are some stats that highlight our predicament

  • Employer branding increases employee engagement by up to 20%. – LinkedIn

  • 78% of companies prioritise diversity to improve their employer brand. – The Manifest 76% of candidates consider a company's reputation before applying for a job. – Glassdoor

  • 90% of job seekers will accept a job offer faster when a recruiter contacts them. – Zippia

  • 78% of candidates say the overall applicant experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people. - TalentAdore

  • Diverse teams deliver 60% better results and make better decisions in 87% of cases. - Forbes

See, I told you, it’s hard right?

In this article, I will reflect, predict and share some of my views of the specialism which I love. Anything that is hard needs to be broken down to more manageable chunks and, that is where I will start.

A lot has happened since my 2016 article yet many of the elements I shared (I believe) are still true today. So, let’s focus on how we make Talent Acquisition (TA) impactful, sustainable, commercial, rewarding and fun.

Be exceptional at the basics. If you can build the require muscle of doing the basics repeatedly, they become innate and they then form the foundational elements of your proposition. Then, and only then can you consider adding new technology, attraction, insights etc.

You wouldn’t build a house without 1 – a blueprint 2 – foundations.

Something I have witnessed change over the last decade or so however is the range of solutions that can solve a wide array of problems but for me, what is often overlooked is the foundational elements. Adding on the latest gadgets does not make for a robust and sustainable TA proposition and, sadly, I suspect many people reading this will know exactly what I mean, a system has been bought as the silver bullet but, it doesn’t integrate, doesn’t do x and, recruiters don’t use it.

There are three pillars (verticals) I focus on;

  • the recruiter experience

  • the hiring manager experience

  • the candidate experience.

These pillars are non-negotiables, are interdependent, of paramount importance and must have balance.

The next three elements I focus on that are woven through (horizontals) the pillars and they are Marketing, Psychology and Customer Service. Let me expand on each for a moment and, hopefully, you will start to see how they weave together with the pillars to form a strong proposition.

Marketing – “a business overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products.” That aim applies directly to TA for me. We research, consult on and create propositions that meet the needs of people, promote these propositions and use a range of techniques to do so. TA isn’t become more like marketing, it is marketing and has been for a while.

Psychology – Our aim is to change human behaviour. It is part art, part science what we do. We want you to see a vacancy, be compelled by it, apply for it and then, when you join, we positively reinforce that you made the right decision. Pavlov was onto something with those dogs!

I have always said that employee engagement starts with a job advert, a LinkedIn post, a tweet. In TA we have the opportunity and responsibility to create those connections and positively impact the experiences mentioned above to arrive at something that is truly special, a feeling. One that equates to higher engagement score, lower attrition and better performance (individual and collective)

Customer Service – If you are good at customer service, you should succeed in TA. All the best systems in the world are no match for a recruiter who sends that update email at the time they said they would.

Remember, the irony about Talent “Acquisition” is that we reject more people than we hire. Never lose sight of that. We reject mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and grandparents daily. Yes, we are judge on the hiring of talent but please humanely remember about the 95% that do not get hired by your organisations and oh yes, they are your customers too.

That all sounds good doesn’t it?

But, what tips would I give to recruiters that are operating in these challenging times. These tips may differ slightly depending if I was talking exclusively to in-house recruiters, RPO or agency but, these seven have served me well across those models:

  1. Invest in your mental fitness and wellbeing. I am getting better at this but for large parts of my career and life in general, I struggled, I still do. Control what you can, influence where possible and be kind to yourself, in short, enjoy the process.

  2. Find purpose in what you do and link everything to this. I want to make the world of work better so, daily, weekly, quarterly, yearly, am I doing that? If I can answer yes and have clear examples then I can solace in what I am doing.

  3. Measurement and reporting are non-negotiables. What are you delivering, is it working and what is your confidence level if you are not reporting? How can you speak with conviction on what you are doing. How do you know?

  4. Have a people centric approach. Key here for me is the word “people”, hiring managers and candidate are people, treat them how you would like to and expect to be treated. This approach will also see you win regardless of the technology and clunky processes.

  5. Take pride in your delivery. Do what you do with some swagger and set yourself a performance standard you will never fall below, hold yourself to account and reap the rewards.

  6. Be commercial. If you have some robust commercial understanding it will put you in a good place, truly understanding ROI in our space is key.

  7. Ask for feedback. Be it a colleague, hiring manager, candidate, ask if you delivered a service they expected, there is always room to improve. Better never stops!

So, where do we go from here? Since my 2016 article, much has changed, yet much remains the same but what I would say is that the biggest shift and one that is continuing to move at a pace is people’s expectations.

Be it flexible working patterns, hybrid working or what people now expect from their managers and organisations, this change is one that we must truly understand and factor into the propositions we build.

Failure to appreciate these shifts will see you operating in the “recruitment” or “resourcing” space

rather than the strategic “talent acquisition” arena.

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