Talent Acquisition – part 1 – Business Strategy


The primary reason recruiting is still broken in many organizations is that it is rarely approached as a long-term, strategic, mission-critical endeavor. Stay with me a minute because what comes next may stretch your credulity.

Talent acquisition 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. Why?

A. Because it IS critical to the long-term success of the enterprise.

B. Because what is typically missing is a serious business mission and strategy – without which long-term value, sustainable execution and accountability are extremely unlikely; without which it’s “recruiting” – a cobbled-together set of short-term tactical activities that – even with the best people and technology – result in mediocre results and minimal return-on-investment.

About Strategy:

First, what strategy is not: even the best applicant tracking system, recruiting process and knowledgeable, talented people who work really hard do not add up to a strategy.

A strategy answers the question: “How Do We Win?”

There are at least two levels of strategy in talent acquisition: the overall strategy that guides the work of the talent acquisition function. And an essential subset – the strategy for those mission-critical positions requiring specialized skills that are in short supply.

High-demand skills that are in short supply result in a fast-change, brutal competitive environment – which requires critical thinking, resourcefulness and the agility to stay ahead of the curve. Absent a strategy, if you’re fortunate you may have a few people with these abilities. They often run into execution barriers – even from their own HR leadership. When they leave, it quickly becomes clear that there is a significant gap. 

A well-crafted, clearly-communicated strategy also educates executives and other stakeholders in the organization about the critical nature of talent acquisition results – and their role in achieving them. Absent a strategy, hiring managers are typically not educated about the realities of the talent market. Their expectations are often unreasonable, and they share responsibility for the extended cycle times that result in losing top candidates – the result of which is missed business opportunities and wasted investment. Absent a strategy, they are not mutually accountable – and they are enabled to routinely point the finger at a ‘failed’ talent acquisition organization.

One little known reality: effective talent acquisition is a mirror of marketing, sales, quality assurance and customer satisfaction. An effective recruiting strategy reflects that. This connection is a stretch for many talent acquisition leaders. If you’re one of them and you have doubts about this, I’ll be delighted to discuss it with you.

Marketing and Talent Acquisition Strategy Similarities:

Most people think of marketing as advertising and promotion. The American Marketing Association’s definition is: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Substitute: ”sourcing, assessment and selection” for “creating” and you’ve got yourself a ballgame!

If your talent acquisition strategy includes all the components of a good marketing strategy, you’re at least halfway there. Branding, differentiation, unique value proposition, communications, marketing and sourcing channels, timing, pricing – all are critical components of talent acquisition strategy and execution.

One additional challenge is that your ‘product’ is a sentient being who may make irrational emotional decisions, [much like customers], delay, re-negotiate – and too often, at the end of the day, get up and walk away. This is often a result of a series of premature and time-consuming process steps and delays that seem illogical and disrespectful to candidates – even to the people implementing them.

All of which makes a solid business strategy and infrastructure – as well as advanced marketing and consulting capabilities – essential for exceptional talent acquisition results. More about that upcoming in part 2.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to contact me if this is a discussion your organization can benefit from sooner rather than later – and as always, with any comments or questions. You can reach me Louie [at] TheStage1 [dot] com.

If you would like a copy of this article in pdf format, CONTACT US, and insert the words “Talent Part 1” in the comments field. So that we can avoid spammers, please use your company email address. 


© copyright 2014  Marilou Myrick, The Stage®/ Masters Among Us, Inc. All rights reserved.

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