Our Talent Acquisition Path at Intel, From Transactions to Relationships

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Apr 24, 2019
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Intel has been on a journey to rethink talent acquisition for the last two years. We started from a fundamental premise that the way talent acquisition in large enterprises like ours was operating was fundamentally flawed. It was not meeting the needs of:

  • candidates, who were longing for authenticity, communication, and support,
  • hiring managers who longed for more partnership, short lists of candidates that they were confident were relevant to their “unique” needs, and a TA function that was focused on how to make it happen versus “preaching” at them about what the processes is, and
  • recruiters who were over-worked, over-stressed, and struggling to meet the reporting, legal, and process requirements of their jobs.

We knew this to be true because we did our homework. We asked candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters what they thought. We watched how they worked, and we analyzed the results and impacts.

Honestly, it was a sad state of affairs we had gotten ourselves into. And I am sure if you are honest with yourselves you see that the same things have happened or are happening in your enterprise TA organization.

So, once we knew the problems we set out to start solving them. To do that, we needed to rip the bandage off and completely relook at everything we thought to be true about how talent acquisition was supposed to work. We needed to figure out a new way. We did that. It was hard work, and in another blog or at an upcoming ERE event I will talk about what that whole process was like and what it took to accomplish it. Let’s suffice it to say we did the work, and as a result we found a new path, the dawning a new day for Talent Acquisition at Intel.

At the heart of our talent acquisition rebirth was one fundamental principle. We needed to get back to what talent acquisition is all about. PEOPLE. We needed to shift our focus from individual transactions, which are about process, and reframe our focus to be about people. This meant redesigning our work to focus on three things:

  • Pipelines (People: who they are, what we know about them, how we attract and engage with them, how we organize and find them)
  • Quality (Relevancy: connecting the right people to the right opportunities)
  • Data (Information: what information we need to build lifetime relationships with candidates, to match candidates to the most relevant opportunities, to understand and tell good stories about the impact talent acquisition has on businesses success)

What we created was a shift from thinking about our work as a funnel (that’s the hiring transaction) to one that understands that talent acquisition is about building relationships and when done right is an infinity loop (the dance between building relationships and hiring people for specific jobs).

Our new infinity loop process is pictured.

Let me breakdown the loop for you and show you the major shifts we are making in each space to the way we execute talent acquisition at Intel.

Attraction: This is the body of work in which all candidates enter their relationship with Intel. We believed we could make this more meaningful and valuable for us and for candidates.

  • We are looking for a real relationship with candidates. We think that really knowing a candidate — not just their resume, but learning who they are, what makes them tick, what they are really interested in — how they are growing over time — will help us make more relevant matches to opportunities at Intel. But real relationships take time. They take trust  They take a give and take of information, engagement, and energy. We see attraction as the first step in a long-term relationship with our candidates, so we are looking at methods to purposefully design attraction scenarios, so they are more like eHarmony and less like Tinder.
  • Nurturing the relationship is as important as attracting a candidate to engage with us in the first place. That means every attraction effort needs to have a plan that accompanies it as to how candidates who join our talent network will be nurtured, and how will we purposefully manage our relationship with them going forward. Attraction campaigns go hand in hand with nurturing plans, which is what makes them real recruitment marketing plans.
  • We have structured our attraction efforts globally to focus on “always on pipelines.” We used data to uncover that if you take all our jobs and look at the skills attributed to them, then lumped them into job families (groups of like jobs), everything we are looking to attract talent for really aligns to a series of pipelines. We are building comprehensive recruitment marketing plans for those key pipelines that we will manage constantly. These are “always on pipelines.” Regional recruitment marketing and sourcing teams then can focus on augmenting those big attraction and nurturing investments with campaigns and efforts needed to meet their more unique or specific needs. This strategy allows us to ensure a consistent experience for candidates who now won’t fall into a gap where no one nurtures them because we didn’t know who owned the relationship with them. It’s a better way for us to manage our attraction investments by consolidating and getting bigger impact through consistent messaging.

Pipeline Management: We believe this is the heart of our work in talent acquisition, because this is the heart of building and managing our relationships with candidates. There is a lot of intellectual property in the science of pipeline management that we have incorporated into our strategy, so in a nutshell what I will share is the following core tenants of pipelining we have designed around:

  • Everyone who enters our pipeline is valuable to us. Maybe not right now, but maybe later, maybe again someday if they left us for another opportunity, maybe because of the friends they know or contacts they can connect us to. No opportunity for a long-term relationship is wasted or discarded.
  • We want candidates to be in relationship with us for the lifetime of their career. We are in it for the long haul, not just until we fill one job. We know candidates will engage with us at various times in their careers, and we want to be an active part of that, which means purposefully nurturing a long-term relationship and having tools to help us remember who they are and what they told us about themselves, so we are not starting from ground zero in every interaction.
  • Just having people in a pipeline is not helpful. We must have them organized. That organization needs to be dynamic enough to change and alter based on how they change over time and how the organization’s need to leverage them may change.
  • Pipelining = relationship management = getting to know someone = vetting. That equation means that we should be purposeful in what we ask candidates to tell us about themselves and when in the relationship we ask for it. But once they tell us, we need to document it and leverage it. That means relationship-management practices include vetting stages. This info follows the candidate when and if they enter consideration for a specific role, so we don’t have to duplicate basic vetting every time they are considered for a different opportunity.
  • Pipelining happens in a CRM, not in an ATS. Enough said.

Hiring Needs Are Identified: All this relationship building in the pipelining stage means we are positioning ourselves to be ready to meet hiring needs as they emerge, versus having to start the process of attraction and pipelining after a hiring need is identified. That makes us more efficient and allows us to focus on making great matches versus attracting any candidates we can find quickly.

Sourcing Need Alignment: We don’t want to post a req in the form of a job description on every job board available just because there is a hiring need. Requisitions are invoices. They are crappy at attracting relevant candidates. We let ourselves fall into the trap of just being order takers and requisition processers if we don’t apply some talent-acquisition insight and skill to this stage of hiring. We call this the sourcing need aligning stage. Here are the basics:

  • We empower our recruiters to walk into the initial conversation with hiring managers as talent-acquisition experts, not just process experts.
  • Recruiters with the support of their sourcing partners come equipped into every engagement meeting with a tester slate of candidates sourced from our pipelines (and other places) to determine if we are on the right path and generate a robust conversation about what the HM is really looking for.
  • Recruiters co-create a sourcing and hiring plan with the hiring manager because having hiring managers as part of the process of finding great talent makes sure their “real” needs are heard. It creates better, more effective recruiting and sourcing because hiring managers have skin in the game.
  • We start sourcing, which may or may not include leveraging job posts. There are so many more effective ways to find talent and we use them.

We have some secret sauce in the slate iteration, requisition management, and candidate-selection process which we are going to keep to ourselves, but I can share a few of the building blocks:

  • Proactive sourcing is key. This means spending time to know our business partners and their needs and aligning sourcers who are the best in the industry at finding top talent and building relationships with them even before a hiring need gets identified is critical.
  • Ensuring our recruiters’ No. 1 job is relationship management with candidates and hiring managers is essential. This means taking a lot of the process and systems tasks and moving them to talent coordinators. They’re experts in process and systems execution, leaving recruiters time to do what recruiters do best: connect with people and sell opportunities to candidates and candidates to hiring managers.
  • Reducing the number of candidates we short list for hiring managers is important. We are focused on quality, which means relevancy. So, that means stopping the practice of dumping candidates into a manager screen just because they meet basic qualifications. Recruiters pride themselves in sorting through the noise for hiring managers and serving up the best of the best candidates who fit their needs.

Silver medalist dispositioning: We want to do two things with candidates who make it through to an interview but don’t land that specific job.

  • One, we want to keep them engaged and use the deeper relationship we have built with them during the hiring process to enrich our knowledge of who they are and what makes them tick. That means landing them safely back into our pipeline-management program with an enriched contact record and a tailored nurturing program.
  • Second, we want to take advantage of the fact that they are primed and interested right then in opportunities at Intel. If they are open to it we want to connect them as quickly as possible to other relevant opportunities at Intel. Our sourcers prioritize these silver medalists and look horizontally across business groups for great opportunities for them.

At Intel we have been ushering in a new day for talent acquisition. It aligns to our core values as a company. People matter more than transactions.

This is not an easy or a fast change. We, just like every enterprise talent acquisition team out there, have years of institutionalized thinking, habits, and behaviors to change. But we are committed to working together to co create a new future where candidates, hiring managers, and TA teams find value in their interactions throughout the talent-acquisition life cycle and where everyone can say they love their jobs, not just tolerate them. We have started our journey and encourage other TA teams to explore how they can start their journey.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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