Article: In 2015, talent to be in the cross hairs

Talent Acquisition

In 2015, talent to be in the cross hairs

In the War For Talent, the use of employer branding, social media are going to be the deal breakers in 2015
In 2015, talent to be in the cross hairs

Recruiters now need to ‘go where the puck will be’ and understand where candidates are spending their time


Recruiting is a sales function and you need to train recruiters to be great sales people. If hiring managers are the weak link, as a company, you are going to lose the best talent


In 2015, talent will be in the cross-hairs of all organizations. Talent acquisition has been reinvented and companies are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to the right candidate—be it using social media and professional networking sites, or reaching out to passive candidates and even re-branding their corporate image.  

There is a very positive industry sentiment for 2015—6 out of 10 companies are looking to hire this year. Talent acquisition pioneers are re-defining and expanding their roles within their organizations to deliver next-generation skills in large numbers that will in turn impact business. However, with evolving talent demands, we cannot just mirror today’s talent tomorrow. 

Indian and global talent acquisition leaders agree that sourcing skilled talent is the lynchpin of any successful organization. In 2015, recruiting volumes and budgets across organizations have increased in tandem indicating an overall positive sentiment in organizations on recruiting. Recruiters’ use of social professional networks as a source of quality hires is closing the gap with internet job boards and employee referrals and employer brands are getting socially engaged. However, according to a LinkedIn research, 47 per cent of Indian talent leaders believe they’re not doing enough to track return on investment for channels of hire. This is a cause for concern as well as a window of opportunity. One can’t manage what one does not measure. As hiring requirements and budgets ramp-up, it is time Indian recruiters start tracking key recruiting metrics via online and automated tools and work towards making an end-to-end talent strategy, which will provide precision in finding, keeping and enhancing the skills needed now and in the future. Proactive recruitment leaders are tackling the skill gap and the increasing demand in innovative ways, which are defining the trends for talent acquisition. Let’s take a closer look at what companies should look at doing in 2015.

Employer branding

Employer branding plays a very important role since the pride of association with the company is an intangible employee value proposition that very few can ignore. The employment brand reflects the organization and is the strongest asset for attracting new employees and continuously attracting/retaining the high-performers you don’t want to leave. Companies are giving this a hard look now and working towards uplifting and changing their employer branding as a tool for talent acquisition. According to a LinkedIn study, a company can reduce its cost per hire by 50 per cent and can reduce employee turnover by 28 per cent by investing in their brand image.

Take the example of Bosch, which was finding it difficult to create a credible presence in the IT talent market as a place offering high-value jobs and great careers. Volume hiring was a key challenge. Bosch decided to focus on hiring quality talent, providing great careers and also became a profit center executing high-end and high-value work. While it improved its existing talent brand and associated processes, it had very little impact though it was cost effective and low risk. Instead, Bosch focused on creating a niche talent brand through innovative approaches such as a segmented branding strategy. It formed a cross-functional taskforce comprising HR, marketing and communication teams. External branding was done through campus hiring, academia connects and strategic-tie ups at the fresh talent levels. At the lateral levels, the focus was on referrals and making existing employees ambassadors. Bosch also rolled out an alumni initiative. Not only did it successfully shed its earlier image in the market, it experienced an unprecedented low attrition of top performers of 1 per cent.

This reflects the power of what evolved employer branding can do. A crucial variable in this equation are the employees—they need to be the brand ambassadors for the organization. As a company, one may or may not have a shiny, cool brand. However, there are stunning presentations from companies who don’t do shiny, cool things and they find ways to infuse their employees with passion. Their TA team is enthusiastic and their energy is engaging. The best way to do that is to sell the recruiters on the power of the company values. Companies can take a look at their brands to judge what they can emphasize. Play up the best features and build an energy that makes the company irresistible to candidates and employees. 

Also, it is increasingly the case that the prospective employee is some version of a consumer or is personally connected to the brand. For a company like FedEx or an airline, there are literally millions of people who apply to these jobs. Those applicants are also consumers. Companies need to win them as both consumers and prospective candidates by aligning their consumer and employment brands. Employer branding as a trend has caught on and there will be a number of companies walking this path in 2015.

Leveraging social

The use of social media for recruitment is becoming the norm for businesses today in developed countries. According to a research report by Talent Pulse, 92 per cent of organizations in their survey said they use one of the big three social media sites (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). Likewise, 14.4 million people in the United States have used social media to search for a job and 73 per cent of organizations say they have made successful hires using social media. This trend is not far away for India either. Recruiters’ use of social professional networks as a source of quality hires is closing gap with internet job boards and employee referrals and employer brands are getting socially engaged. Online professional networks are replacing traditional channels like company website and word of mouth.

Recruiters now need to ‘go where the puck will be’ and understand where candidates are spending their time. A recently published High-Impact Talent Acquisition (HITA) industry study found that mature TA functions are five times more likely to have an effective social media campaign. A number of leading-edge companies have even dedicated social media strategists to curate content for their talent acquisition campaigns.

Moving beyond traditional recruiting skills, today’s recruiters need to think like marketers. Strong candidate marketing attracts the right hires and improves internal employee retention. Organizational brands that align with company culture and employee’s personal values attract and retain top talent. Yet many struggle to successfully spread the employee value proposition and enable recruiters and employees to be effective brand advocates. Used correctly, social media is effective in creating and promoting a company’s brand identity. Organizations who can measure the effectiveness of hiring via social media have a stronger perception of their employment brand, report earning more revenue from the previous fiscal year and also hire more employees via social media recruitment.

A great example of using social media as a means of both talent acquisition and employer branding is HCL Technologies, world’s first online recruitment campaign over Twitter worldwide. It was called #CoolestInterviewEver. There was no eligibility criteria for the contest. In fact, one would be allowed to work in their own country. The contest ran in three rounds, out of which two rounds were conducted completely on Twitter. This not only changed the perception of HCL as a young company to work with, it also helped them find great talent.

Using data and analytics

As businesses increasingly use analytics to make informed decisions across the talent lifecycle, the tools they use to gather information continue to evolve. Processes from applicant tracking system to career development analysis are becoming better incorporated into candidate management systems, ensuring activities are more seamlessly integrated. This intelligence is giving HR a complete view of its recruitment function, enabling the department to align talent strategy with business strategy and ultimately prove its strategic value to the C-suite.

Now that organizations grasp the power of data, this year the challenge will be to prove RoI on all activities using analytics. At the recruitment level, a plethora of channels are now available to brands to reach prospective candidates. Organizations need to be clear on the touch points that fit best with the type of candidate they are looking to attract and there is a real sense of implementing specific, quality processes over a multitude of different measures, particularly when it comes to finding niche talent.

Reaching out to passive candidates

The largest talent pool is that of passive candidates who form a whopping 75 per cent of the total talent pool globally. To tap this, there is an emerging trend of employers proactively mapping top performers of their competitors and having effective strategies for social media. According to a recent survey by Talent Pulse, on an average, companies spend 27 per cent of their time recruiting strictly passive candidates and report on average 22 per cent of their new hires last year were passive candidates. Passive candidates are mainly hired for mid-level positions (63 per cent) and senior level positions (42 per cent). A little more than a third of organizations (35 per cent) use passive recruitment as their primary source for senior level positions. About 54 per cent of organizations say they do not recruit passive candidates for sourcing entry-level positions.

When it comes to recruiting passive candidates from other companies (i.e., poaching), organizations are not terribly concerned about damaging their relationship with other organizations. While nearly half of the organizations say they recruit passive candidates from their competitors (47 per cent), only 27 per cent say they are concerned about straining relationships with other organizations as a result of employee poaching. Further analysis revealed that larger organizations are significantly more likely to recruit passive candidates from their competitors compared to smaller organizations. This may be because larger organizations may have more resources at their disposal to put towards recruiting passive candidates as well as the ability to provide promotional positions and requisite compensation.

Engaging hiring managers and 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 companies need to provide recruiters with information that deepens their skill sets. If you don’t, they will atrophy and become disengaged. No one ever really takes a job because the company has awesome recruiters. They come to work for the opportunity, the team, and the great managers who will help them achieve their best. If hiring managers are the weak link, as a company, you are going to lose the best talent.

While a company may be painfully aware of how important candidate experience is, the hiring managers may have no clue. It is the company’s job to educate the 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.

Re-Humanizing Recruitment

Today’s talent acquisition strategy must be people-centric. New technologies have enabled organizations to find, connect, categorize, and analyze people faster than ever. However, that can’t take precedence over the human connection. Turning applicants into connections—and possible connectors—is at the heart of a successful recruiting program. Better candidate experience leads to better hires and referrals. However, with all the current buzz around candidate experience, few understand how to improve the process to keep the applicant experience front and center at all times.

Many large global organizations with a multitude of sites are turning to centralized models to manage their business and talent strategies. To increase efficiency and accelerate growth, global businesses are investing in shared services infrastructures, allowing the streamlining of hiring processes and cost reduction to ensure a consistent experience for candidates. Looking ahead, businesses must be sure not to adopt a one-size-fits-all model, being conscious of the maturity and priorities of different markets, as well as specific cultural nuances to attract desired skills sets.

When we look at 2015, it all comes down to keeping the human element at the center and engaging with it across different platforms. From companies relooking at their branding to engaging talent on social media, or measuring prospective and passive candidates using data and analytics; it is all about finding the right fit for the right candidate and enhancing the skills needed now and in the future.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, #TalentAssessment

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