The 5 Things Talent Acquisition Should Be

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Sep 8, 2017

More than 100 of us leading practitioners and thought leaders in HR have been collaborating to understand the forces of change impacting work today and in the future, as well as how HR needs to evolve to help our organizations adapt and change to win in the marketplace.

I had the honor of co-leading a sub-team focused on the talent pipeline. Our team’s mission was to rethink the roles and capabilities needed to meet the needs of our changing business environment.

We talked about what the changing world means to talent acquisition. By changing I mean the democratization of work, digitization of work; globalization; social and mobile technologies; longer lifespans; previous minorities now majorities, and more.

We identified five specific capabilities the traditional Talent Acquisition role needs to develop to become a Global Talent Scout, Convener, and Coach.

A convener is the person who “brings together a community.”  The convener element is mostly about bringing together a community for the purpose of developing them to have a ready resource for future hiring needs.

Talent Scout

The traditional talent acquisition capability needs to evolve to look more like a Talent Scout where they can find currently unavailable/scarce talent and cultivate long-term relationships to increase sources for future, not current needs. Similar to how companies may court potential customers, we see a future where it will benefit the company to engage prospective candidates in social media groups, contests, or other marketing programs to raise their awareness of the company and its culture, and lure the talent to the company when the timing is right.

Community Development

Today some recruiters may help run alumni networks for their company to maintain relationships with former employees in case they may wish to return, or at the very least refer their friends to work for the company.  Going forward we anticipate that companies will need to have a much stronger sense of being “boundaryless” where the company actively invests in developing their community of talent so that potential future employees can develop a deeper connection with the company and allow that talent to move inside and out of the company, and back again.

No longer can we brand employees as being disloyal for leaving. Instead, we must let our best employees know that they are welcome back at any time.

Life Coach

Because careers will be more “boundaryless” in the future, recruiters will need to develop some new capabilities that have not previously been part of this role. We see the need for the role in the future to include more Life Coaching to help current and prospective employees think through the diverse personal and professional experiences they need to enhance their quality of life and workplace opportunities. In the past, career coaching (if provided at all) was done by the manager, talent development, or an HR business partner. But as people consider the various opportunities available to them, we see a growing need for recruiters to be able to help employees consider how to curate a series of work experiences that will make up the puzzle that is their career.

Talent Platform Expertise

Talent acquisition has traditionally worked on finding and acquiring the right talent, and the procurement function dealt with additional contract talent needed to fill specific, short-term needs. Today we see these roles merging as talent become more fluid for organizations.  Recruiters need to develop a new capability around talent platform expertise to understand the different potential sources for talent and how to effectively contract with individuals from different sources (e.g., free agent, contractor, employee, crowdsourcing, etc.). Increasingly either talent acquisition or HR business partners will need to advise and coach their line management on the most appropriate way to access talent to address business needs.

Diversity and Inclusion Advocate

While traditionally other functions within HR have been focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs, it all begins with the talent an organization targets as potential hires to progress the company’s mission. While we don’t see this role taking on the traditional aspects of D&I, we do see a strong need for the Global Talent Scout, Convener, and Coach to be a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion to ensure the organization has a well-rounded pool of talent to carry out the organization’s objectives.

While some of these capabilities are small (but meaningful) twists on current capabilities within the Talent Acquisition function, others have typically been more commonly seen in other functions (e.g., Procurement, Talent Development, Diversity & Inclusion). Developing a new set of capabilities will help the organization be better positioned to compete for talent in a world that is rapidly changing.


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