The Talent Acquisition Function: Time for a Rethink

By the GattiHR Staff

Significant focus is on recruiting in the last 4 years as the “war for talent” continues to heat up.  Hiring the right talent and doing so quickly is a primary driver of an organization’s success, regardless of sector.  Given its importance and the sharp increase in competition for talent, a spotlight is being shined on Talent Acquisition functions.

Looking for ways to accelerate the quality and speed of hires, significant expense and time have been spent in upgrading the technology and tools in Talent Acquisition functions.  Despite these investments and efforts, we’re losing ground in both areas, and our organizations are paying the price.

According to a recent CEB report, “The High Cost of Low Quality of Hire,” 1 in 5 hires are “bad hires” or are “regretted decisions,” and the turnover rate among new hires is much higher than that of all employees combined. This has financial cost—US$1.6 million in rework for every 1,000 new hires—as well as soft costs (damaged employment brand, recruiter morale, employee engagement and Recruiting’s relationships with the line).

In terms of filling positions quickly, we’re also losing ground.  It now takes on average 26 more business days to fill open positions than it did in 2010, according to the same report.  This lost productivity costs on average over $8.55 million per 1,000 vacancies.  So, counter to the aims of these improvement tools, we’re falling backwards.

In GattiHR’s work with hundreds of organizations across the US, we too often see the Talent Acquisition function viewed as just a process or operation where the focus is primarily or solely on volume—applicant numbers become bragging rights, number of “reqs” per recruiter, cost per hire and days to fill become the defining measures of success.  Far too often, we assess Recruiters exclusively by these measures.

Yet it’s the Talent Acquisition team that primarily defines who comes to companies.  For most roles, they do the “inviting” through building an employer brand, sourcing, weeding out or drawing in individuals, how they treat each applicant and shepherd them through the process.  Of course, the hiring team is instrumental too in assessing and closing a candidate, but it’s the Recruiter and TA team who drive the top of the funnel in hiring.  It’s a critical function, and we need to recognize its value and redefine its success criteria.

Having an efficient and well-run recruitment process is fundamentally important to getting the right people hired in a timely fashion.  Tools and technology should be selected that add to both the efficiency and to the elevation of quality of hire.  We need to recognize that drawing in the right talent isn’t done primarily through good word searches but by professionals who know how to really evaluate talent. It’s about relationship building. We need to redefine the skills of a Recruiter and recognize their role as Talent Advisor.

So, what do you need to do to draw in the best talent to your organization?

Reduce Workload. You can have the best skilled Recruiter, but if he/she is saddled with 25-35 openings, they can only do the “req to req firefight” and will have to forgo the time it takes to evaluate and build relationships with potential candidates.  In the short term, it may cost more, but if it reduces bad hires, it will more than pay for itself within a year.

Measure Quality of Hire. Yes, time to fill still matters, but we need to add an important measure around quality of hire as assessed over time.  Stays with the company, promotions or other internal career moves are some measures.

Elevate the Recruiter Role to Talent Advisor. Recruiters are too often solely focused on external hiring.  They should be wearing a broader hat for internal candidates and identifying them.  They should more consistently work with hiring managers on refining the candidate criteria, driving good hiring decisions and managing relationships with passive candidates for future hiring.  As part of elevating the role, make it a desirable career move within the HR function.

Build Skills of Recruiters. To be a true Talent Advisor, the Recruiter skill set must include a deep understanding of the business and the roles.

These steps will elevate the Talent Acquisition function and draw not only a stronger candidate pool but also result in better long-term hires for an organization.