A new operating model for talent acquisition

A new operating model for talent acquisition
Posted by Arthur Mazor and Bill Cleary on December 13, 2016.

In our previous post, we looked at some of the ways HR can learn from leading practices for customer experience to improve talent acquisition. Enhancing the candidate experiences requires getting smarter about how organizations approach talent acquisition. According to Bersin by Deloitte, recruiting is already an expensive undertaking—US companies spend an average of $4,000 per hire—and it’s likely organizations will feel greater pressure to spend even more in the competition for the attention of Millennials and other talent.1 From social media to alumni networks, it’s time for companies to focus their investments on the areas of greatest payoff. That means linking recruitment more closely to overall corporate strategy as well as promoting a smoother ride for candidates through the process.

More important than cost-per-hire, in fact, is the quality per hire. We found surveyed companies that connected hiring the most with strategy (13 percent of our survey) spent twice as much per new recruit as the companies that were the most reactive (35 percent). But, they filled open positions 20 percent faster and had 40 percent less turnover in new hires. The extra investment pays off in the long run with a more predictable and experienced workforce.2

Companies can support this new approach to talent acquisition by starting with a degree of centralization. Many big companies have embraced shared services for HR, yet when it comes to recruiting, local hiring managers tend to work largely alone with the help of local recruiters or HR professionals. Given the expense, corporate HR is the most likely choice to invest in the talent acquisition products that can make the company stand out. And that’s likely to be money well spent.

Technology can do a lot here. Many companies have already developed “systems of engagement” for their employees in order to boost retention and motivation.3 The same approach can work for potential employees. Instead of transactional applicant tracking systems, companies are developing resource-rich interfaces that sell the company as well as the job. Not only are job candidates likely to be better engaged, but recruiters can more easily track their progress through the sales funnel.

Of course, a prospective employee is not the same as an active employee in terms of the information and experience they demand. Organizations need to understand the global privacy implications of the information candidates provide. How much of this information can they retain and use for continuing the relationship over time? Candidates in different countries have quite different levels of tolerance for these efforts. Depending on these and other parameters, organizations can organize their recruiters according to geography, function, talent-persona, or business unit.

Across these various strategies, HR leaders should focus on solving three challenges:

  • Make processes scalable to ramp up hiring as needed without a heavy investment of HR or hiring manager time.
  • Drive flexibility … because the talent needs of the organization will change. A highly demanded capability may become automated in a few years, or rendered strategically irrelevant, while a key skill of the future may not even be on HR’s radar.
  • Identify and keep the key experiences of the job candidate front and center, tailoring the candidate experience around the moments that matter in their talent acquisition journey with the organization.

The Model in Action
A large retailer was struggling with high employee turnover, a lack of focus on the candidate experience and overall brand/social presence as it tried to raise the level of talent in the organization. Most of its workers were nonexempt hourly staff. Hiring managers on the line were burdened with high volumes, especially at seasonal peaks. To keep from getting overwhelmed, they were taking people on with little regards to talent development. Potential new sources of talent were left untapped.

The company decided to implement a new software package to replace its hodge-podge of manual and automated systems. But the software wasn’t enough; HR also needed to get involved to show line supervisors the importance of managing talent over time, from hiring through orientation and beyond. HR set up a centralized recruiting center to pre-screen candidates for individual stores. It also established a series of standardized processes to make sure candidates didn’t fall through the cracks and would enjoy a better and more consistent experience. New employees were set up in learning plans as part of their onboarding, and HR took note of their competencies and career interests.

By centralizing the employee data, HR was able to move the organization toward an “open market” approach to talent and mobility. That helped not just with retaining current employees but also in attracting outside candidates, driving a consistent candidate experience across the enterprise that better aligned with the company’s talent strategy, and desired reputation in the marketplace.

As this large employer found, technology isn’t enough to elevate a company’s recruiting experience. To help ensure a steady flow of talent into the organization and create an approach that delights candidates, especially with the job market tightening up, companies need to start with a broader perspective on hiring through the lens of the candidate. They can no longer afford to rely only on local managers to represent the company. Sophisticated software packages are essential to managing a complex array of talent over time. But it’s also time for a more engaging and holistic approach that considers the experience of the candidate and the hiring manager.


Arthur Mazor is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the practice leader for HR Capability & Customer Experience and Global HR Service Delivery. He collaborates with complex, global clients to achieve high business impact with a focus on transforming human capital strategies, programs, and services.
Bill Cleary, GPHR, is a senior manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s US Human Capital service area. Bill’s primary focus has been on complex global HR transformation projects with extensive experience focused on Talent Acquisition.

1 Talent Acquisition Factbook 2015: Benchmarks and Trends in Spending, Staffing, and Key Recruiting Metrics,” Bersin by Deloitte, WhatWorks Brief, April 2015)

2 See Talent Acquisition Factbook, 2015

3Systems of Engagement: The Next Frontier in HR Services,” Workforce Solutions Review, Sept. 2015

For more insights about current HR topics, visit the HR Times blog.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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