Article: Is the new-age talent acquisition approach working?

Talent Acquisition

Is the new-age talent acquisition approach working?

Organizations are adopting new-age talent acquisition approaches. But are they asking the unasked question - “How do we make sure it works?”
Is the new-age talent acquisition approach working?

Organizations have turned to new-age technologies to help them edge ahead in the war for talent. But it might be the right time to ask the question if those technologies are helping in their quest. 

In this article, we take the journey to the recruitment of the past and compare it with the present, discuss the role played by the new-age talent acquisition technologies, and how organizations might be getting their implementation wrong.

From active to passive: The inflation of the recruitment funnel

In one of a ritualistic discussion with my mother, we were discussing how she got her first job in a university as a research associate. How she would scout for job adverts in newspapers and post her application to the relevant employers; and then wait for the postman to ring the doorbell someday and handover the acceptance letter. The newspaper adverts were soon replaced with online job boards, letters were replaced with emails and more recently to LinkedIn posts. 

But the approach mostly stayed the same - employers posting requirement, and active jobseekers applying. Until it didn’t. Enter the allure of passive candidates. Businesses started seeking the best of talent available in the market - even if they weren’t already looking to change ships - to win the war for talent. The addition of passive candidates in the recruitment funnel has inflated it - and to an extent that every individual that has the requisite skillset for the open position is a potential candidate. There are not many location filters - companies would work remotely with people from across the seven seas; minimum experience filters - as long as the candidate has the skillset, the number of years she has worked is not critical; there are no active / passive filters - if talent is not looking to change her job, then attract her using the employer brand’s pull.

Narrowing the recruitment funnel: The expectation from technology

Talent acquisition technologies have been relied upon by businesses to help ease the burden on their recruitment teams and narrow this funnel. Some technologies use keywords in resumes and sift out the candidates which would not fit the role. There are many advanced technologies which would use predictive analytics to parse the social job boards (like LinkedIn and Glassdoor) to shortlist and rank candidates based on their fitment for the role. There are others which claim to score and rank candidates based on the key business-identified metrics.

The unasked question: Is the new approach successful?

As the new approach of attracting the best talent using tools, technologies, and even vendors, organizations need to take a pause and ask - is the approach being taking even successful in their business context? A recent research found that in the U.S., only one-third of companies report that they monitor whether their hiring practices lead to good employees. 

What this implies is that: 

  • Organizations believe the new approach of filtering their recruitment funnel is working but have no measures in place to verify it

  • Organizations do not have a way to ascertain that the individuals hired using the new-age approach qualify as good hires

Making new-age talent acquisition successful

Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School, has done extensive research in this area. He recommends the following approaches to make the new-age talent acquisition successful:

  • Measure effectiveness of new-age talent acquisition tools: Establish Key Performance Indicators to know which vendors (such as RPOs), tools, and technologies are getting good hires. Evolve from having basic metrics around the volume of people hired to having metrics which measure quality of hire and the role played by the particular technology in making that hire successful. Correlate with employee performance, and longevity in the company to ascertain that hiring done using the new-age talent acquisition approach is successful.
  • Have realistic job requirements: Seeking unrealistic skills in candidates does not help when machines are at the forefront sifting through thousands of applications. If a keyword is absent from the resume, the search results won’t retrieve any values. A well-qualified candidate who may have written Salesforce instead of Salesforce Lightning on his resume may not be the top search result and the business may miss out on a great candidate. Use the human judgment to analyze if candidates have a set of transferable skills which they can bring to the team, instead of continuously seeking some unrealistic skills which are improbable to find.

  • Do not limit the focus to passive candidates: Challenge the misnomers around active candidates. Cappelli cites research which argues that active jobseekers want to move because of ambition and career opportunities and not payscale. A large focus (and recruitment budget) goes on getting passive candidates onboard, but on an average, companies are able to fill only 11% of their positions with passive candidates. Organizations need to measure and compare the difference in value brought by active and passive candidates and recalibrate their recruitment strategy’s focus.

  • Recognize the strength and weaknesses of the new-age talent acquisition technologies: Leverage technologies for your benefit, but also know their limitations - there are machine learning-based technologies which assess a candidate’s culture fitment in firm. But analyze what metrics is the algorithm using to determine fitment. The system could be clustering personality traits of high performers, but assess the causality between these behaviors and their performance at work. Maybe the system is clustering by demographic and unconsciously discriminating against candidates of other regions. 

These are some of the first principles that organizations need to keep in mind as they evolve to new-age talent acquisition models. Somewhere, there is a quality candidate lurking around on job boards, eager to grow with your organization - do not miss out on her just because the new system asks you to focus your attention elsewhere.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, HR Technology, #NewAgeHiring

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