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Fixing Talent Acquisition Making It The Business Lever It Should Be

Fixing Talent Acquisition Making It The Business Lever It Should Be


Talent Acquisition might very well be the most broken of all talent processes. A mere 5% of organizations rate their talent acquisition processes as very effective.

Just about 15 years ago, Jim Collins told us all how hard it was to “get the wrong people off the bus and just why, therefore, it was so important to “get the right people on the bus”.  In reflecting on the current challenges most of us have in shaping an effective talent acquisition strategy, it appears Collins’ 1990s study has validity still today and likely will be with us tomorrow and the next day and the next as well unless we take action proactively. To these points, while a high-performance talent acquisition strategy involves much more than a hiring checklist, getting that protocol right is a pivot point to ensuring we know who the “right people” are and how to entice them to choose us over our competition.

Organizations identify at least three acquisition outcome priorities: quality hires, strong employer brand, and quality onboarding experience.

Each outcome implicates associated calls to action shaping our acquisition strategy that in turn influences our ability to get the right people on board, and retain them.

To close the gaps between talent acquisition outcome criticality and effectiveness, the best organizations are intentional about executing these items.

Quality Hires

Getting the best talent on board starts with knowing precisely which talent segments and job roles are critical to the business and what capabilities and experiences are requisite for each critical talent segment and key job role.  Just 4% (on average) of organizations are very effective at identifying these requirements.  After identification of requisite knowledge, skills, and experience comes broad communication and careful assessment of those criteria.

These practices screen out prospective hires that fail to meet minimally acceptable standards. Just 3% (on average) of organizations are very effective at communicating and assessing criteria vital for recruitment into key job roles. And finally, leverage your succession management to ensure an appropriate mix of internal and external hiring.

Talent Acquisition Outcome Hiring Checklist Calls to Action
Quality Hires Identify critical talent segments and key job roles
Define capabilities and experiences requisite for each critical talent segment/key job role
Broadly communicate (to all employees and in all external job posting) requisite capability/experience (hiring) criteria
Evaluate each applicant against requisite hiring criteria to determine those most qualified and narrow the candidate pool
Use your succession management to first identify highly qualified internal candidates

Source: 2016 Laci Loew & Company LLC

These calls to action guide effective hiring planning and preparation and candidate identification and evaluation.

Strong Employer Brand

Employer brand is not the same as company brand. Company brand is about how aware people are of a company’s products and services, their impression of those products and services, and how likely they are to purchase them. Employer brand is about how aware people are of the company as a place to work, their impression of that company as a place to work, and their likelihood to consider that company as a place to work.

While there are certainly companies that can easily attract top talent on the basis of powerful company brands (e.g. Apple, Google), these companies are in the minority. Recent research shows that strong employer brand is 2x as likely to be linked to job consideration as strong company brand – the clear case for investment in employer brand for attracting top talent. More than a third  of organizations do not yet have an employment brand strategy and of those that do, several said it needs improvement.

Strong employer brand, if done right, helps increase consideration of your company and lower recruiting costs. So, just how do you do it right? Let’s take a look:

Talent Acquisition Outcome Hiring Checklist Calls to Action
Strong Employer Brand Develop the company brand
Develop an employment value proposition (EVP) that aligns with the corporate brand
Create brand ambassadors who exemplify the EVP and invite them to share the EVP with their networks via social tools and platforms
Align all people practices (e.g. collaborative culture, leadership development, succession management) to align with and support the EVP
Continuously measure and improve the execution of your EVP promise

Source: 2016 Laci Loew & Company LLC

Quality Onboarding Experience

The hiring checklist doesn’t end after the new hire arrives. Attraction and retention of top talent includes formal onboarding in line with the EVP and enabled by technology. 19% of organizations have not yet put an onboarding strategy in place and nearly another third of organizations say that their new hire onboarding is only partially in place and inconsistent across the organization.

Companies lose 25% of all new hires within the first year, and a full third of external new hires are no longer with the organization after just two years. The call then for effective onboarding is clear.

Fortunately, more than a third of organizations plan to increase their investment in onboarding this year and devote the additional budget dollars to the most critical onboarding imperatives – those that shorten the newcomer’s learning curve and reduce the time required to make meaningful contributions to business goals:

Talent Acquisition Outcome Hiring Checklist Calls to Action
Quality Onboarding Experience Replace transactional onboarding (e.g. equipment issuance, paperwork completion, ID picture taking) with an onboarding experience that introduces new hires to job expectations, in-house networking, coaching and support tools, and continuous learning resources
Extend the onboarding experience to six months or a year, even longer for senior leadership positions
Pair up new hires with leaders who will “show how” work gets done and provide insider’s tips handy for tackling job responsibilities
Schedule frequent check-ins among new hire, manager, and peers to gain new hire’s input on ideas, answer questions, and clarify uncertainties as they arise
Use technology and social tools to bring scalability to the onboarding process yet individualize new hire learning plans

Source: 2016 Laci Loew & Company LLC

By executing on the hiring checklist shortlists, organizations improve the overall candidate experience and this significantly advances odds of the best organizations 1) attracting the best candidates, and of the best candidates 2) choosing top performing organizations – a pairing that yields retention of top talent and acceleration of business performance.

It is true that recruiting and hiring the best talent is a function of the sheer number in the available talent pool. But that function doesn’t stand on its own. Even if quantity of talent were not an issue, quantity does not mean quality. And while there may be a dearth in the number of people in the talent pool for certain key positions, there is always a bigger dearth for all positions in the availability of quality people -– those that are ambitious, hard-working, and give discretionary effort each and every day for peers and customers alike.

So, entering the acquisition playing field with ready-now shortlists of the most critical calls to action is surely in your best interest if attraction and retention of top talent is part of your business expectations and strategy.

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