In an Interconnected Digital Business World … Why Is Recruiting Still An Island?

a “think piece” designed to stimulate your thinking about strategic recruiting

Corporate recruiting, unfortunately, operates as if it were an island. Recruiting can, justifiably, be accused of acting as if it is an autonomous corporate entity because it seldom has any formal processes for sharing information and data with other clearly interdependent business functions. For example, in most corporations, when a recent hire fails, there is no feedback loop to recruiting from the exit interview process. This exit information could alert recruiting about the factors that caused the individual to fail (this information might allow them to improve the hiring criteria for this job). There is also no formal alert process from exit interviews that directly notifies recruiting that there is about to be a position opening (which would allow recruiting to begin preliminary sourcing).

All Other Business Functions Are Striving to Increase Interconnectivity

This lack of “connectivity” and the absence of feedback loops in recruiting are even more troubling given the current massive corporate-wide trend of “going digital.” One of the justifications for “going digital” is that business results improve when you systematically improve the coordination and information sharing between business functions. It’s a sad state of affairs when under “the Internet of things” even machines connect and share information with each other while recruiting shares with almost no one. Unfortunately, recruiting seldom receives direct feedback and information even from other clearly related talent functions within HR, like onboarding, performance management, training, and workforce planning.

Recruiting Must Connect With Many Other Interdependent Talent Functions

If recruiting is to stop acting as if it is an island, it must develop a list of the functions that could directly benefit the recruiting function if they openly shared information with it. Six of those interdependent talent functions that should be providing information and feedback to recruiting include:

  • Onboarding and recruiting must be interconnected — the onboarding process should be routinely providing information to recruiting that could be used to improve the recruiting process. The shared information should include the sources that influenced individuals to apply, the rating of their candidate experience, information about your competitor’s recruiting processes, and of course referrals from new hires. Unfortunately, the wealth of information that can be obtained during onboarding is seldom formally shared with recruiting.
  • Performance management and recruiting should be interconnected — performance management should alert recruiting about new hires who are failing and if any of those failure factors relate to the wrong hiring criteria. Obviously, recruiting can’t maximize its improvement if it doesn’t know which of its new hires failed. Performance management should also have a formal process for alerting recruiting about upcoming openings as a result of likely terminations. There should also be a feedback loop from the performance appraisal process of new hires that notifies recruiting when they made a quality hire.
  • Retention and recruiting must be interconnected — the retention function can obviously alert recruiting about any likely upcoming turnover. But retention could also provide recruiting with information covering the causes of turnover so that recruiters could modify their sales pitch to make it more realistic. Obviously, if many new hires quit early in their tenure, that information could be used by recruiting to improve the retention rate of future hires.
  • Recruiting and training must be interconnected – clearly, training can aid recruiting by reporting which new hires failed the initial training so that selection standards can be revised appropriately. Recruiting could also help the training function schedule the needed initial training if it alerted training about new hire start dates. Recruiting could also help training by notifying them which new hires will need specific training because the hiring assessment process revealed the areas in which a new hire was weak.
  • Compensation should be connected with recruiting — compensation might be able to improve the accuracy of its salary recommendations, provided that there was a feedback loop from recruiters that informed compensation whenever the compensation package was the primary cause of a key applicant turning down an offer.
  • Workforce planning should be closely connected with recruiting — recruiting could undertake some long term sourcing if the workforce planning team gave them advance warning about a planned significant increase in hiring. Also when workforce plans identified future corporate-wide competencies, providing that information to recruiting could allow them to begin looking for those competencies.

Final Thoughts

All strategic functions need to be interconnected. And as a result, corporate recruiting leaders that want to be strategic should begin to understand the tremendous value that feedback from other talent functions can provide. And of course, it’s equally important for recruiting to work with the leaders of all interdependent functions to identify the recruiting information that would be helpful to these functions. And finally, it’s important for recruiting leaders to understand that going digital and shifting to a data-driven decision-making model will only be partially effective unless recruiting also includes open information sharing and two-way feedback loops that provide information that allows both parties to continually improve.

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Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.