What Does The S-Word Really Mean in Talent Acquisition?

Article main image
Aug 25, 2020
This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.

How can talent acquisition serve its purpose more successfully right now? 

By being more strategic. But what does that really mean? We throw around the S-word a lot, but rarely do we pause to ponder what being truly strategic actually entails — especially during today’s pandemic.

For starters, you’ve got a finance department that may still perceive your function as a “cost center.” Meanwhile, your CEO and HR might look at recruiters as the red-headed stepchildren of your company. On the other hand, if you’re lucky, maybe you belong to a forward-thinking organization that sees the importance of TA even in downtimes. 

Those sorts of perceptions existed long before COVID-19. But right now, the pandemic is injecting new challenges into a recruiter’s workday. And chances are, you’re reacting to these new problems in the same way you’ve reacted in the past — by, well, reacting.

You’re in a reactive state struggling to adjust to a changed — and changing — world. Which is understandable. We are living in unprecedented, strange times. This requires a new way of thinking. It requires a reinvention, a new plan, a new way for your TA function to relate to the world at large. 

It requires a shift from a reactive to a proactive state.That is what it means for TA to be more strategic.

Tomorrow (August 26), I’ll be tackling this topic in a webinar, the central question of which will be: How do you develop a strategic plan to win the war for talent during today’s challenging times?

Today’s TA Challenges

Being more strategic demands a new way of thinking in TA, a paradigm shift. It requires a new focus on “what is possible” vs. “how will I react.” 

Such a shift is so powerful that it can be the difference between losing and winning the new talent war and engaging candidates prior to needing to fill reqs. With the right series of steps to take you in the right direction, a proactive TA approach alleviates a plethora of business issues. 

Especially timely challenges due to COVID-19 include: 

  • Developing screening strategies that focus on skills and strengths needed for remote work
  • Sourcing strategies that identify and engage pools of talent 
  • Nurturing a creative synergy between labor forecasting and real-time hiring
  • Identifying key macro and micro trends (like Baby Boomers staying in the workforce as a result of decimated savings or millennials having some short stints on their resumes while trying to gain skills)
  • Addressing shifting worker preferences related to suburbia/rural areas vs. metro/city housing
  • Managing the rise of artificial intelligence (which I’ll be addressing at ERE Digital 2.0 this Oct 20 – 21)

Proactive Talent Acquisition

To tackle these other issues proactively, it’s important for TA professionals to:

  • Plan strategic hiring around labor forecasting
  • Use data to influence and collaborate with key executive stakeholders within your organization
  • Identify which metrics and methods will enable you to target pools of talent more strategically
  • Develop sourcing and engagement strategies to keep your talent bench ready with a “hook and hold” approach
  • Define roles most important to your organization — and the best recruiting methods and channels to engage candidates for these positions
  • Be seen as the “go to” careers leader in your industry
  • Influence your leadership team with a more strategic hiring and TA voice
  • Help your talent brand thrive while others are “waiting it out”

With the course of the pandemic all but clearly undefined until a vaccine is completely ready, developed, and executed, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next. Throw in social unrest and the fact that it’s an election year, and you have more layers of complexity than we’ve seen in many years. All these factors make the landscape of TA unpredictable.

Yet the only way to thrive in such an environment is to transition from reaction to proaction, by truly redefining, reinventing, and rediscovering TA in a new light. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for the webinar! 

Register here for “Strategic Talent Acquisition in a COVID-19 World.”

This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.
Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!