Top 10 Things Talent Acquisition Leaders Need to Do in 2015

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RunAs the New Year dawns, it’s a great time to consider what you’ll do to attract and retain top talent in 2015. I spend a lot of time networking with peers in talent acquisition and am lucky to get an inside view on what is at the top of the list for those on the forefront of recruiting. Here’s my take on the top 10 things that you need to do in 2015 to take your TA program to the next level. 

1. Prioritize the Candidate Experience

If you do nothing else this year, do this one thing. It is the single biggest factor in your ability to attract great talent or turn it away.

We’ve heard it everywhere this year: “The war for talent is over and the candidate won.” This is so true. Spend time thinking about the candidate experience and the people going through your process. Whatever you are doing to keep pace with the demands you have, changes in workflow, increases in volume, and technology changes, be sure you take into account how it will resonate with candidates. Consider the candidate at each step in the process, and you will be rewarded for it.

Remember, too, that the candidate community is engaged, vocal, and communicative. If you build a process and it doesn’t work for the candidate, they will tear you down on social media. 

2. Leverage Technology

There is a plethora of technology available to make talent acquisition easier and more effective. Now is the time to take a serious look at what’s available and what’s appropriate for your organization. You will be sure to find something that works for you, is cost effective, and is easy to integrate with your other systems. Appropriately automating processes and upping the level of sophistication in your approach can make a big difference — not just to your people’s workflow, but to the candidate experience as well. 

3. Take the Time to Figure out How You’re Going to Get Things Done

We are all busier than ever before, with more demands on our time and more distractions fighting for our attention. Take time to plan how you are going to get things done. A good strategy will help you prioritize both workflow and time. Review your plan from from time to time and make adjustments based on the inevitable changes in your priorities.

4. Educate Hiring Managers and Don’t Let Them Be the Weak Link

While you may be painfully aware of how important candidate experience is, your hiring managers may have no clue. It’s your job to educate hiring managers on why their behavior in the process is critical to attracting and hiring top talent – and how it can create a disadvantage if they are not keeping pace.

No one ever really takes a job because the company has awesome recruiters. They come to work for the opportunity, the team they’ll work with, and the great managers who will help them achieve their best. If your hiring managers are your weak link, you are going to lose the best talent.

Don’t let their other job responsibilities be excuses for weak candidate experiences. Put it in terms they understand: for example, they won’t hit their bonus if they can’t produce because of lack of headcount.  They need to know how they impact the business — i.e., “The people you’re interviewing are turned off because you’re always 15 minutes late to interviews and you take three days to give feedback after the interview. Candidates go with who is most responsive, and you’re losing talent.” 

5. Align Your Employment Brand With Your Corporate Brand

It is increasingly the case that the prospective employee is some version of a consumer or is personally connected to your brand. If you are working in TA at American Airlines or FedEX, there are literally millions of people who apply to your jobs. Those applicants are consumers. You need to win them as both consumers and prospective candidates by aligning your consumer and employment brands. 

For example, Chipotle recently presented at a conference I attended, and the representative talked about how the company has worked to align a great reputation as a healthy fast food restaurant with a reputation as a good place to work. Why? The corporate brand had been marketing the healthy nature of its meals and the quality of its food, while the employment brand had never said anything about how great it is to work there. Thus, people did not perceive the company as a great place to work. 

The perception was not founded on reality, but lack of knowledge. This is dangerous ground, for as soon as candidates get a hold of the idea that your company is not a great place to work or that the company has done something wrong with the product line, you have a problem. Perception is everything.  You need to drive awareness of the employment brand. 

6. Train and Retrain Your Recruiters

Investing in people is critical. No matter what technology you implement, you still need to have people on the front lines, on the phone, talking to candidates. Recruiting is a sales function, and you need to train recruiters to be great sales people.

Recruiting is also an increasingly complex job, with more data, more reports, and more candidates than ever before, so you need to provide recruiters with information that deepens their skill sets. If you don’t, they will atrophy and become disengaged.  Recruiters who like what they do are more engaged and more charismatic, and they make a positive impact on candidates. Many recruiters feel like their company’s investment in them is deficient. Be sure to give recruiters the best training they can get.  

7. Connect With Onboarding

How often do you think this scenario plays out: recruiters talk to candidates, explain what the job will be like, and sell them on coming to work with the promise of a great job experience. Then, the new hire shows up for their first day and there’s no plan for their first week, they don’t know how to get around in the environment, and they end up with a sinking feeling that the job they have is not the one they were sold. This kind of disconnect can lead to people leaving and then talking about it! You need to make sure that TA is connected to onboarding so that what you recruiters are selling is what is new hires actually experience. 

8. Measure the Data and Make Sense of It

There are a ton of tools that help you measure and report on metrics. You must pay attention to what you’re measuring, think about what the results mean, learn from them, and make better decisions based on them. Be sure what you’re measuring matters to the business and to making your process better, faster, and more efficient. There are automated ways to do it, but you need to understand what the data means to your daily workflow and use it to impact your decisions moving forward. Don’t keep doing the same things that aren’t working. Learn from what is happening. 

9. Network With Peers

There are amazing people in talent acquisition and a tremendous well of thought leadership. And guess what? People are happy to share. So talk to others about what works and what doesn’t. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Borrow and draft and use what others have done.

Remember, of course, that just because something is right for someone else doesn’t mean it will be right for you. Still, you can get great ideas from your TA peers. Reach out on LinkedIn and connect with others in your field. Even those who are your competitors are often willing to share insights on best practices. So ask. Don’t be shy: reach out and take advantage of what your peers are learning, and share with them as well. 

10. Keep Recruiting Fun

You may or may not have a shiny, cool brand, and recruiting will always be a boatload of work. You need to keep the job fun. I have seen stunning presentations from companies who don’t do shiny, cool things, and they find ways to infuse their TA function with passion. Their TA people are enthusiastic and their energy is engaging. The best way to do that is to sell your recruiters and TA folks on the power of your company values, then find ways to make it fun for recruiters and hiring managers. Take a look at your brand and see what you can emphasize. Play up your best features and build an energy that makes you irresistible to candidates and employees. 

Pay attention to these 10 things and you will be well on your way to having an outstanding 2015!

By Greg Karr