I received a ‘distress call’ from a friend and went to meet him at the coffee-shop that evening. I was amazed and amused to discover the cause for the distress! Apparently, he found himself face-to-face with the daunting task of hiring for more than 150 positions in his organization and that too within a few days. “How can the business expect this level of agility from a very lean HR team and that too with only a couple of them handling talent acquisition?”, he lamented almost spilling the coffee on me as he banged his fist on the table! Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
My solutionist alter ego immediately appeared in front of me and began to analyze the situation to find a fix to this. The future of work is rapidly evolving and changing, taking with it drastic transformation of roles in the Human Resource Management function. Acquiring talent is not just about getting the right candidates to fill vacant seats but beyond that. Traditionally, recruitment was a support function that worked on filling a specific role or vacancy with a candidate having a prescribed qualification and experience. This is a short-term activity. Talent acquisition, on the other hand, is a long-term HR strategy meant to attract the best, most qualified people and convince them to bring their unique skills to the organization. Talent acquisition aims to attract talent regardless of specific vacancies. This shift from a short-term activity to a long-term strategy has undoubtedly changed the outlook or perspective of the HR function.
Let’s see how the talent acquisition team is expected to juggle three hats on its head in this evolution.
The visionary/CEO hat
Wearing this ‘hat’ broadens the vision from departmental goals to business goals. While recruitment may require focus on filling identified vacancies within departments, talent acquisition looks beyond the immediate needs. It is about understanding the growth plan of the organization and then strategizing regarding the resources that would be required to achieve the business goal. Finding the candidates who can help take you there is the implementation of this strategy. It is important to visualize where the organization is heading in the next few years and to use these observations in the talent strategy.
For instance, is the business looking at entering a new geography or planning to create a new product or service line? Finding out answers to such questions can help the talent acquisition team focus precisely on whether experience in the new geography is required or knowledge of new tools for supporting the new product is the need.
It is even possible that new roles need to be created to support the business goal and these have to be designed accordingly.
The data analytics/CIO hat
When the focus is not just on filling open positions but on building capability, data analytics comes to the forefront. The CHRO who adeptly wears the CIO ‘Hat’ knows exactly where the ammunition is. A bad hire can have negative repercussions on the business. The losses could vary depending on the nature and size of the business. So how does one prevent this? The answer lies in ‘leveraging data’.
The spotlight is now on data driven recruiting approach in order to ‘attract’ the right talent. A recent global survey has indicated that more than 50 percent of hiring professionals use ‘Big Data’ as part of their strategy and this has helped them with talent acquisition and also increased employee retention by almost 60 percent. HR professionals are able to draw meaningful insights from their people and organisational data to assess and predict what attracts a candidate and what makes them stick. Once identified, strategies can be designed and the information leveraged in recruitment to identify and fill talent and skill gaps.
Data also helps in trimming the turn-around time as well. Information around certain questions that are probably working as a deterrent to candidates while filling out job applications can be eliminated. On the other hand, audio visual enhancers can be used while designing candidate campaigns. These could be used extensively to highlight the organizational culture, and also enhance the candidate experience.
The marketing/CMO hat
Donning this ‘hat’ helps focus on better employer branding. Employer branding is a critical parameter for creating a successful talent attraction strategy. In fact, surveys show that more than 65 percent of job seekers rank employer brand as the deciding factor when applying for a job.
When talented candidates are comparing companies, they are sure to get attracted to organizations with robust values and enviable culture. By cultivating an impressive employer brand, talent attraction is facilitated, and such talent is retainable for the long-term. Repositioning of the ‘employee experience’ brand could include showcasing robust people practices, samples of familial bonding and increased accountability at work and other benefit measures.
The talent acquisition team could look at partnering with the marketing department to refine job descriptions, career pages and other campaign collaterals.
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, being a ‘Talent Magnet’ to attract and retain the best talent doesn’t happen in a day. It requires very efficient ‘juggling’ of all the three hats and ensuring that the right one is worn and the other two are held safely too!