Talent Acquisition as a Business Initiative
25th January 2024
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to recruit. The traditional way happens like this: the senior leaders of an organisation hammer out a strategy for the organisation and Human Resources is tasked with recruiting people to fill the gaps the strategy reveals.
This is the reactive approach to talent acquisition, where you plug the gaps that appear as a consequence of people moving up, out or sideways within the business. Strategy comes first. Recruitment follows behind.
The other way to recruit treats talent acquisition as a business initiative. It’s not a consequence of the organisation’s strategy; it’s a core part of it, achieved by ensuring the people responsible for talent acquisition are sat at the table when that strategy is formed.
But once you’ve made it part of your core strategy, how does talent acquisition contribute to overall business success?
What benefits can organisations expect from prioritising talent acquisition as a strategic business initiative?
When you put hiring at the heart of your business strategy, you’ll discover a lot of benefits:
We don’t simply mean reduced risk in making wrong calls in how and who you recruit, although aligning recruitment strategy with wider business strategy can certainly up your ‘hit rate’ in making the right hires.
We also mean reducing the risk to business operations in not having the right people in post when you need them, of being blindsided by leavers, or of finding you lack key skills essential to you growth.
Improved ROI from lower churn
You’ll have seen varying figures for how much talent acquisition costs an organisation, but one thing’s certain: it costs an awful lot more if those people don’t stay. By treating talent acquisition as a business initiative, you make recruitment part of an ecosystem that’s aligned with your goals, culture, people and processes. That dramatically increase the likelihood that you’ll recruit right – and that improves the ROI of your hiring activities.
Easier, quicker, more successful hiring
Candidates want to work for organisations with a story or mission. Where they feel part of something. Where their values chime with the organisation’s. By its nature, it’s not easy to make ad-hoc recruitment feel like part of a joined-up process. Make talent acquisition part of your wider strategy, however, and it’s much easier to sell an authentic vision to candidates.
It also aids quicker hiring, because you don’t constantly have to reinvent the wheel in terms of your talent proposition. It’s already defined and is a clear fit with the wider strategy.
Because talent acquisition as a business initiative makes your hiring proactive not reactive, it’s easier to identify and fix the inclusivity issues you face.
Treating talent acquisition strategically enables you to tap into a virtuous cycle where happy, successful recruits talk about their experience. That has a positive effect on the volume and quality of the next batch of candidates as you build a bigger reputation for being a good employer.
Ultimately, it’s the core goal of every recruitment exercise. When you connect the improved reputation, diversity and ROI of strategic recruitment with a pool of talent that better fits the organisation’s needs and which remains loyal, your actions have a clear effect on the bottom line.
What are the key components of a successful talent acquisition business initiative?
How do you make talent acquisition part of your organisation’s strategy? Follow these steps:
Identify required skills: As an organisation, what skills will you need to help you meet the challenges of the next few years? At a senior level, this might be hiring leaders with experience in technology including AI. At a retail store management level, this might be about leading change. This is about ensuring that you recruit for the organisation you intend to be, not for the organisation you once were.
Gap analysis: Having identified the skills and capabilities you’ll need for the future, conduct a gap analysis to explore the gaps in your current capability.
Understand attrition: An essential part of using talent acquisition as a business initiative, use churn data to forecast the likely level of future leavers, the roles they will vacate and the skills they will take with them.
Map progression and succession: Understanding how people progress through your organisation and climb the career ladder isn’t only important for ensuring key roles aren’t left vacant; it’s also an important factor in acquiring and retaining talent, because one of the things candidates and employees value most is a clear path for progression.
Understand D&I: Your organisation will have certain challenges to overcome from a D&I perspective — virtually every business does. Perhaps your gender pay gap is larger than you would like. Perhaps an imbalance in ethnicity in leadership roles is an ongoing concern. By understanding the landscape in your business, you can use talent acquisition as a proactive tool to address structural D&I issues.
Identify your ideal candidates: Using findings from the above exercises, identify the ideal candidate persona, with the skills, experiences and traits most valuable to the organisation.
Create your candidate proposition: You may have already defined your employee value proposition (EVP) — that is, the package of cultural, financial, developmental and work/life benefits that you offer in return for each employee’s skill, knowledge and effort. Now’s the time to combine it with the above persona exercise to create a proposition that appeals to the people you’re targeting.
Develop your recruitment strategy: With gaps identified, use Human Resources or an outsourced recruitment partner to map the market, identify the potential candidate pool, its location and any obstacles to tapping into that pool.
A good recruitment strategy sets out not only the ‘what’ (that is, the people you’ll need), but also the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ — that is, people/skills required in the short or long term, and whether those requirements will be met from the visible talent pool (existing job seekers) or from the passive pool.
If it’s the former, your Human Resources team may be able to recruit the people you need with no or limited support from an external recruiter. If it’s the latter, an external recruitment partner with networks of passive candidates may be essential.
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