The first article in this series – Talent Acquisition –Business Strategy – began with the premise that “Talent Acquisition is a critical business competency which needs to be prioritized and organized the same way you would organize a strategic business unit that is critical to the long-term success of the enterprise. In other words, talent acquisition is best when it’s operated as a business – not a corporate service center.”
In addition to similarities between talent acquisition strategy and marketing strategy discussed in the first article, a good talent acquisition process has many similarities to professional sales. During many years of experience in both areas, we have demonstrated that just as the skillsets and behavioral preferences of people who are great at lead generation/ new business development [in sales parlance ‘hunters’] are different from the skillsets of people who are skilled account executives and relationship builders [‘farmers’ or ‘gatherers’], the same is true of sourcing and assessment/ selection.
While many talent acquisition functions require all recruiters to manage the end-to-end process, we have had success splitting those responsibilities. In general people who are proactive, high energy, resourceful and love the ‘thrill of the chase’ are better at sourcing *. Those who are more analytical, patient, inquiring and contemplative are better at assessment and selection. It is the rare recruiter who can manage all aspects of the process equally well. Inevitably, either sourcing or selection suffers – and there are significant consequences when either of these critical activities are not executed well.
Professional consultative sales process steps – and talent acquisition equivalents:
* NOTE: the term sourcing in this instance does not refer primarily to searching websites and databases. It refers to proactive activities such as developing sourcing channels for specialized skills, networking, asking for referrals, and contacting both referral sources and potential applicants, using various methods in order to develop and pre-qualify a talent pool – with an appropriate sense of urgency.
There is another critical skillset required by the talent acquisition specialist who consults with hiring managers. In addition to finely-honed consulting skills, the ability to skillfully manage-up in order to move the process forward is indispensable. Consulting with hiring managers in order to calibrate both position requirements and talent market realities is pivotal.
Moving an executive toward a hiring decision with respectful urgency requires mastery of a suite of persuasion, prioritization, communication and negotiation skills – and expert credibility. In the absence of these, the tendency to procrastinate amidst competing priorities often results in the most highly-valued candidates becoming discouraged and moving-on during a lengthy decision process. Often the process must be re-started from the beginning. Typically, when evaluating the effectiveness of the recruiting function, the contribution of hiring managers to extended cycle times is rarely given enough weight – and we all know where the buck stops.
We recommend that recruiters – as part of their continuing development – read books and attend workshops that are targeted toward consultative selling skills.
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Part 3 of this series will explore Talent Acquisition Execution
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