Confessions of a Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader: Welcome to the Age of the Talent Advisor

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In the wake of COVID-19, everything has changed. There’s no time for complacency when the entire world shuts down. Companies are rethinking their strategies, while professionals are reconsidering their career choices. Now, more than ever, transformation and agility are the keys to success.

Recruitment is not unscathed. Going forward, recruitment functions are going to look and feel very different, thanks to the changes we’re seeing in company strategy and candidate mindset. Those organizations that don’t invest in understanding and meeting the needs of today’s candidates will find themselves behind the hiring curve.

The legacy way of recruiting is no longer valid. Posting a position and praying for quality talent won’t get you very far. Instead, the talent acquisition function needs to transform. It will need to evolve from something purely tactical into something that fulfills a more advisory capacity.

Broadly speaking, talent acquisition functions need to make three major shifts in their operations to accommodate the new needs of candidates and employers.

1. Recruiters Need to Become Talent Advisors 

Recruiters must embrace a culture of consultation instead of tactical demonstration. A talent advisor’s job is more than just sourcing candidates. Talent advisors trade intake forms for insights, driving transformational value in the organization.

Being a talent advisor means coming to the table with a comprehensive workforce plan and adopting a data-driven recruiting strategy to deliver on that plan. Talent advisors need to understand the entire talent market — and how their organizations relate to that market. Where is your organization losing talent? Where is your competition gaining talent? What universities are producing the brightest young talent for your industry? With a strategic understanding of the talent landscape, talent advisors can go beyond simply filling roles: They can help organizations turn hiring into a critical strategic function.

2. Talent Acquisition Operations Must Become an Essential Function

How the organization moves people through its process matters, and this process should be built on streamlined, effective, modern technology that is focused on the user’s needs.

The candidate experience starts with the talent advisor’s initial outreach, and it is further solidified by every subsequent touchpoint.  If your career site doesn’t accurately represent your organization’s culture in an engaging way, you have a problem. If your application process takes more than a few minutes and isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you have a problem. If your recruitment workflows and processes don’t leverage technology to offer candidates a seamless, convenient process, you have a problem.

Not convinced? A CareerBuilder survey  asked candidates how they would respond to a negative candidate experience and found:

• 42 percent of candidate said they would not seek employment at the company again.
• 22 percent said they would tell their friends and colleagues not to work for the company.
• 9 percent said they would not purchase products or services from the company.

On the other hand, when candidates had a positive experience, here’s what they said:

• 56 percent said they would consider working for the company in the future, even if they were rejected for the job.
• 37 percent said they would encourage others to seek employment with the company.
• 23 percent said they would strongly consider buying the company’s products and services.

3. Talent Technology Needs to Be Optimized

Without an innovative approach to talent technology, your recruitment process will likely be inefficient and cumbersome, even under the best of circumstances. In the post-COVID world, however, leading technology becomes even more critical: Virtual recruiting is an absolute necessity now.

Those organizations already leveraging virtual recruiting technology before the pandemic had a leg up on their competitors, which needed to stop, rethink, and restrategize. Many organizations were so behind the technological curve that they had to stop hiring altogether. Virtual recruiting will continue to be a key element of the hiring process going forward, and your organization will need to seamlessly integrate virtual options into its standard hiring workflows.

Applicant tracking system (ATS) integrations with sourcing tools are also important, but not as important as how talent advisors are responsibly using that technology to source and track candidates. ATSs are not only for streamlining the recruiting process, but they are also a means of protecting candidate data. If the high-profile corporate data breaches of the recent past are not enough to drive home the importance of data security, you should at the very least be aware of the evolving landscape of data privacy laws and regulations. You have a legal and moral duty to keep candidates’ personal information secure. Moreover, few candidates will want to work for a company that is careless with their data.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have long been key innovations in recruiting technology, and they will remain so going forward. They still have a ways to go to reach their full potential, but these tools can at the very least be helpful in automating outreach and maintaining email marketing flows. LinkedIn Recruiter, another go-to tool for talent acquisition professionals, also leverages AI  to help recruiters streamline sourcing and outreach.

Finally, it’s important to note that university career fairs and other traditional in-person recruiting events will be transformed by the pandemic as well. Toward that end, campus recruiting solutions and virtual career fair technology are likely to become integral components of the recruiting process.

Recruiting is evolving. “This is how we have always done it” is no longer enough to justify a recruiting practice. Instead, talent acquisition pros need to take a new approach: “We have always done it this way, but how can we transform the function to be relevant to the current and future talent market?”

The answer is to adopt an advisory approach to talent acquisition. Talent advisors conduct themselves as consultants to the business, and organizational leaders need to empower their talent advisors to bring transformative new ideas to the table. Pairing an operational mindset with a flair for innovation, a true talent advisor drives recruitment value in alignment with company objectives. They are a real partner to the business.

Laureen Kautt, BCC (with additional Career Coach designation), is a global talent acquisition executive and the founder and principal coach of Volitionary Movement, LLC.  “Confessions of a Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader” is her recurring column on Recruiter Today.

By Laureen Kautt