The Future of Recruiting — The Talent Advisor Model Dominates (Part 2 of 2)

Note: This “think piece” is designed to stimulate your thinking about the future of recruiting

Many are unaware that the recruiting function is already beginning to undergo a strategic shift toward the “talent advisor model.” If you’re not familiar with the term, a talent advisor is a consultant role where the advisor moves beyond standard recruiting. A good deal of their time is on consulting with managers on how to improve their talent management capabilities and eventually their business results. The shift up to a more strategic role is happening as a result of new technologies which will eventually handle much of the transactional work in recruiting.

Talent Advisors Are Needed Because the Current Recruiting Model Isn’t Working

The No. 1 goal of the recruiting function is to impact business results. When surveyed, only 35 percent of hiring managers are satisfied with recruiting’s impact on the business. The second goal of recruiting is to have recruiters impact and improve a hiring manager’s decision making. However, only 25 percent of hiring manager’s talent selection decisions are actually influenced by recruiters (Source: The Corporate Executive Board/Gartner). Making matters worse, several sources have revealed that our new-hire failure rate is often close to 50 percent. So as technology increasingly dominates recruiting, recruiting leaders will have only two viable choices: allowing the recruiting function to wither, or to shift to the higher value-add talent advisor model.

Reasons Why Individual Recruiters Should Welcome the Shift to the New Model

The primary benefit to current recruiters is job security, as technology takes over more recruiting tasks. Your future job security further improves as you become more strategic and increase your business impacts. Your status within the organization will also rise because you have become a true talent expert that is both externally and future-focused. The new role will also force traditional recruiters to learn how to make data-based decisions, and that will increase both your credibility and the accuracy of your answers. Finally, your consulting skills will definitely increase both your internal and external movement opportunities.

The Primary Differentiators Between Talent Advisors and Standard Recruiters

If you need a big-picture view of the differences between the current “order-taker” model and the advanced talent advisor approach, here it is a quick list of the primary differences.

  1. Impacting business goals vs. aligning with goals  directly impacting corporate goals makes the business contributions of talent management and talent advisors much less ambiguous.
  2. Dollars of impact vs. numbers and words  converting quality of hire and turnover percentages into dollars also makes the contribution of the talent advisor much clearer, because executives understand dollars. And results that are presented in dollars make it easy to compare against the value produced by other business functions.
  3. Data-based decisions vs. intuition and past practices  data-supported decisions are much more accurate than intuition. In addition, shifting to a data-driven approach also makes a talent advisor’s advice more credible with managers, because they work in a world dominated by numbers.
  4. Relationships built on results vs. those built on friendships — personal relationships built on face-to-face meetings take a long time to build, and they cloud objectivity. Relationships built on results are the wave of the future in a global world where regular face-to-face meetings aren’t often possible.
  5. Prioritization based on impact vs. equal treatment — traditionally recruiting treats all jobs equally, when in fact some jobs have a much higher impact. So under this model, high-impact jobs are placed in the front of the queue, and they are provided with the maximum resources.
  6. Proactive with pushback vs. react to hiring managers’ orders — rather than waiting for hiring managers to ask for help, talent advisors proactively approach them with issues and opportunities. And rather than being subservient, they push back when necessary.
  7. Poaching from competitors vs. satisfied with unemployed actives — the best workers are invariably employed at one of your competitors. So talent advisors shift their focus away from active candidates and instead concentrate on poaching the very best from top firms.
  8. Notice of opportunities vs. notify only about problems — rather than just focusing on talent problems, talent advisors seek out and report sudden talent opportunities (e., LeBron is available right now).
  9. Broad strategic talent advice vs. just recruiting advice — rather than just focusing on recruiting, the areas of advice are broadened to include: Talent pipeline; internal movement; retention; internal workforce trends and needs; succession and leader planning; building a competitive advantage; increasing innovation; productivity improvement.

A List of the Actions That Differentiate the Talent Advisor Role

Look beyond the title of talent advisor. The best way to understand the role of a talent advisor is through the advanced and strategic actions that they have in their toolkit. Almost by definition, talent advisors do many things that a traditional recruiter would never try. These role defining actions are listed below, separated into eight different categories. If you are simply a traditional recruiter who wants to “raise their game,” this list can provide you with some more strategic options.

Strategic Actions That Differentiate the Talent Advisor Role

Long-term big picture strategic actions that might be taken by a talent advisor include:

  • Set measurable goals — advisors help managers set and reach measurable stretch recruiting and talent goals.
  • Prioritizing jobs — advisors help hiring managers to identify and then focus talent actions on the highest impact.
  • Build a recruiting culture — advisors can help a hiring manager build a recruiting culture in their team. Every employee prioritizes recruiting, and team members then continuously make referrals and help to sell candidates.
  • Hiring innovators — advisors help individual hiring managers find, assess, and then hire the extremely valuable innovators.
  • Integrate with other talent functions — recruiting shouldn’t work in isolation. So advisors work closely with other related talent functions to improve and integrate the entire talent-management process (including onboarding, retention, employer branding, professional communities and compensation)
  • Conduct failure analysis — advisors proactively analyze all major hiring failures and their root causes so that the same problems are avoided in the future.

Future-focused Actions That Differentiate the Talent Advisor role

Talent advisors are future focused, so they take actions to prepare for the future. Those actions might include:

  • Workforce planning and forecasting — advisors prepare a workforce plan for an individual hiring manager’s team. The plan should cover a manager’s future talent needs and new skills that will be needed to prepare hiring managers for their future problems and opportunities.
  • Maintain a talent pipeline — advisors help hiring managers build a pipeline of talent or talent communities so that they don’t have to search in a panic when there is a sudden opening. Advisors also track former employees who could become boomerang rehires.
  • Hire for this and the “next job” — talent advisors advise hiring managers on the likely career trajectory of candidates. So that after projecting their career trajectory, new hires will be better performers, they will stay longer, and get promoted more often.
  • Forecast turnover — advisors help hiring managers to forecast likely individual employee turnover so that they can apply retention actions. And they also link with the performance management function to ensure a quick replacement for those soon to be released.

Building the Business Case Differentiates the Talent Advisor Role

Hiring managers always need help in getting additional talent. Some talent advisor actions in this area include:

  • Increase their headcount — talent advisors can help managers build a business case for increasing their employee headcount.
  • Convert recruiting results into revenue dollars — advisors should work with the CFO to convert recruiting results in a hiring manager’s team (higher on-the-job performance, retention, and diversity) to their dollar impacts on corporate revenue. Seeing their dollar value gets hiring managers to realize the value added by excellent recruiting.
  • ROI — talent advisors can help hiring managers calculate their return on HR investment so that they can show executives the results that extra funding can create.
  • The consequences of cost-cutting — advisors can help managers understand the hidden costs of cutting back on funding for recruiting. They can show the business and recruiting costs that result from using weaker sources and stretching recruiters thin.

Externally Focused Talent Advisor Actions That Help to Define the Role

While most traditional recruiters are focused internally on the recruiting process, talent advisors are unique in that they are always monitoring the external talent marketplace. Some externally focused actions to consider include:

  • Competitor analysis — advisors analyze a hiring manager’s talent competitors. Then they report their recruiting actions, plans, and weaknesses to a hiring manager. They also show where a manager’s recruiting approach is superior and where it needs to get better.
  • Targeted farm team poaching — advisors help hiring managers to determine which area firms should serve as their “farm teams” and then when and how to target each firm that has talent with high potential.
  • Right timing — managers are seldom aware of the best time to recruit. So advisors should alert managers as to the best time of the year to recruit because the competition is low due to hiring freezes and slow hiring months.
  • Which firms beat you? — When you lose top candidates during the recruiting process, advisors should use LinkedIn to identify where the lost top candidates ended up. Then track their progress to determine whether missing them was a costly error.

Talent Advisors Use Data to Improve Their Results and Talent Decisions

Talent advisors are unique in that they always seek out and use data to support their actions and recommendations. Some of the best ways they can use data include:

  • Performance of new hires — advisors can help hiring managers measure the performance of their team’s new hires (aka quality of hire) and then help them to use this key success measures to improve their team’s hiring process.
  • Data identifies the best sources — quality of hire data allows recruiters and hiring managers to identify and then use the sources that produce the best active/passive applicants and hires.
  • Refine existing hiring criteria — quality of hire data also allows recruiters and hiring managers to learn which hiring criteria do and do not accurately predict on-the-job performance as well as any hiring criteria that negatively impact diversity. Advisors can also suggest that hiring managers look for candidates with game-changer competencies like rapid learning and a sense of urgency that contribute to team success.
  • More accurate candidate assessment processes — advisors can use data to make hiring managers aware of the most effective candidate-assessment approaches (including online assessment, improving interviews, and making reference checking more accurate).
  • Increasing speed of hire — advisors can make hiring managers aware of the impact that slow hiring has on team productivity, revenue, and the quality of their hires. They can also advise managers as to how they can expedite hiring.
  • Data reveals where talent is available — advisors can supply data to help hiring managers understand which geographic regions have a surplus or shortage of talent.
  • Data can improve hiring manager performance — advisors can work with the hiring manager to conduct a periodic assessment/audit of an individual manager’s talent results so that improvement areas can be identified.
  • Minimizing interview travel issues — advisors can convince hiring managers to use phone and video interview options to save travel costs, to increase the number of available candidates for interviews, and to reduce interviewee travel fatigue.
  • Application process problems — advisors can use data to analyze the job application process to make sure that a cumbersome process or a non-mobile-capable one is not driving away quality applicants.
  • Internal versus external hiring — advisors can use criteria and data to determine which jobs are best filled by internal or external candidates. They can then advise managers of the best course of action when a position opens up.

Candidate Selling Actions for Helping Managers Improve Their Selling Technique

When sourcing and assessment become mostly automated, the last remaining area that needs expertise is candidate selling. So become an expert in the hard-to-automate area of candidate selling. Some possible actions include:

  • Identify a candidate’s job acceptance criteria — advisors can get finalists to reveal their job acceptance criteria that covers the factors that they need in order to say yes to an offer. With these criteria, interviewers and hiring managers can ensure that the candidate is provided with the relevant information covering each factor and that any offer meets most of their decision criteria.
  • Provide hiring managers with a candidate sell sheet — most managers are not very good at selling candidates. So advisors can develop a single side-by-side “sell sheet” that compares what your team has to offer with the offerings of direct competitors. This sheet is especially helpful to rusty managers that may only hire once or twice a year.
  • A marketing approach identifies how and where targets search — to reach prospects better. Advisors can use surveys and market research to identify how each recruiting target segment looks for a job. Also, where targets would see recruiting and branding messages.
  • Identify the best attraction and selling factors — advisors can use surveys of candidates and new hires to learn the most powerful attraction and selling features.

Improving Customer Service

A successful recruiting process requires that all parties be responsive. A Service Level Agreement can dramatically increase that responsiveness.

  • Create an SLA — when appropriate, advisors should work with their hiring managers to develop team level service-level agreements that clarify the roles and responsibilities of all parties. Role clarification and response time goals can improve team recruiting performance.

The Top 10 Daily Actions of a Talent Advisor

Talent advisors are clearly defined by what they do each day. Some of their most important routine actions can include:

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  • Continuous learning — in order to maintain expert status, talent advisors need to be continually reading and benchmarking in business, your industry, and in all areas of talent management each and every day because knowledge is power and it is the key to success in a fast-changing world.
  • Coaching and influencing hiring managers — rather than cajoling hiring managers, influence them. The best approach is to use data to inform and coach hiring managers on the best talent actions to take each day. Managers should also be coached on best practices and common talent errors.
  • Alert hiring managers — advisors can proactively provide a heads-up, just-in-time notice to make hiring managers aware of current and upcoming talent opportunities. The alert should also include both the cost and the probability of each one occurring.
  • Best-practice sharing — advisors should actively share with their hiring managers the latest proven internal and external talent approaches in each common talent problem area.
  • Prioritize the best candidates — the very best candidates are gone in only a few days. So advisors can help hiring managers identify and then focus on the best candidates in the applicant pool. The focused manager can then offer the best personalized selling and customized offers.
  • Focus on referrals — because referrals produce such high quality hires, an advisor should encourage employees on a hiring manager’s team to continually produce only quality referrals.
  • Direct sourcing — advisors can reduce the focus on active candidates. And instead, use direct sourcing to identify the superior hard-to-sell, already employed prospects who have not applied for a job.
  • Social media presence canreveal the excitement” — advisors are active on social media. They post positive things and identify/neutralize negative information so that the team’s excitement is experienced by potential applicants.
  • Internal candidate sharing — an advisor can encourage hiring managers to review the top candidates from other internal open jobs that were not a team fit. They can also share their own “silver medalists” with other managers.
  • Diversity/unconscious bias — advisors should become experts in data-driven diversity recruiting in order to help hiring managers reach their diversity goals.
  • Being candidate-centric — advisors can help managers understand the importance of a positive “candidate experience.” Seventy-five percent of candidates (after a bad recruiting experience) would not likely accept a job offer even if they felt the role was a good fit. (Source: Korn Ferry survey). Advisors must coach hiring managers on how they can treat candidates better.

Final Thoughts

Like it or not, the shift away from recruiting areas that can be done by technology is inevitable. And rather than having to suffer a diminished role, shift to the talent advisor model. Some have already begun the shift, so don’t wait too long to decide on your own course of action.

 

Note: If you missed Part 1 of this article, it can be found here.

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Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business impact; strategic 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," Staffing.org 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 www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.