Talent Acquisition Optimization: Automated Process or Automated Chaos?

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Jan 23, 2017
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

When it comes to talent acquisition, one of the biggest mistakes HR leaders make is believing you can optimize the process by automating it.

That’s not to say that automation is a bad idea, or that the tools available are not helpful, because they are. It’s just that automation should not be your starting point.

You need to make sure your processes are both aligned and effective prior to automating. Otherwise, it’s garbage in/garbage out and what you will actually end up with is automated chaos; ironically, the opposite of what you intended.

Before you look to automate, you need to follow this three step process: standardize, stabilize, and optimize.  

Once your strategy is in place, you will be in a prime position to automate your end-to-end recruiting process.


Nearly every one of our clients has had a different approach to talent acquisition. The processes have varied across departments and sometimes the processes have even varied within the same business unit. In addition, there is often a lack of transparency into performance, putting the organization at risk and leading to inconsistent metrics.

The first thing to do is identify any silos. Replace them with a standard approach that is used consistently across all geographies, departments and business units. You also need to make sure that critical stakeholders are a part of the design process.

Your approach must include a standard set of Key Performance Indicators to assess the performance of the function. Your KPIs must tie to the organization’s growth strategy and tell the recruiting story in numbers; more importantly, in dollars. Not having this is one of the biggest mistakes recruiting leaders can make.


Once you have a defined standard process and KPIs, implement and stabilize. This will require a solid change-management plan which includes a communications strategy.  

You will also need to identify and compare any areas which are underperforming, and then look to address those issues. This is a great opportunity to identify the best implementation of your process and share that best practice with your stakeholders.

By having a consistent set of KPIs in place, it is much easier to establish benchmarks across businesses and departments. This means you can better highlight performance and use that performance as a way to identify strengths. Once all departments are operating with the same process and at the same or similar levels, and they are comfortable with the process, only then should you look to automate and optimize.  

Automation requires a dedicated team of internal key stakeholders who understand the organization. The best implementations also include objective recruiting process and strategy experts who know the potential pitfalls, encourage the organization to think more boldly, and ensure that the applicant tracking system vendor is building a solution that truly supports the organization’s process.


To optimize your recruiting process you need to be clear on your vision and how it may compare to industry standards. At that point, you can set your goals for the optimization stage.

Many optimization strategies include additional recruiting technology solutions (i.e. interactive job descriptions, video interviewing, assessments, employee referral programs, talent communities, etc.). It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one, or ones, are right for your organization.

To pinpoint what will most benefit your organization, you need to do an in-depth end-to-end review, from sourcing, to interviewing, to extending the offer. This will enable you to assess areas for potential improvement, as well as areas that are negatively impacting performance. There are several approaches you can choose from to perform this analysis such as Six Sigma, Lean, Agile, etc.

By continuously fine-tuning the process, you’ll end up with faster, more efficient hiring. This means hiring the right people for your organization, higher revenues, and a motivated, more productive workforce.

Automating and optimizing your talent-acquisition process will help to achieve certain benefits, but only if you standardize and stabilize first. If you automate too soon, it could lead to no real benefits and increased costs. This is contrary to your intention. Instead of an efficient, automated process, you may wind up with automated chaos.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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