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Qualitative Talent Acquisition: 6 Steps to Strategic Improvement for HR and TA Leaders

RecruitAlliance delivers quality candidates.Another recruiting tool just hit the market.  Should you be excited this time? Is this one different than all the others you’ve evaluated over the past year--promises you’ll have candidates delivered to your inbox who will be knocking down the doors to be key contributors to your organization? Yeah, right.

Sure, you’ve got access to every active candidate out there through job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, and an array of other web search methods. You have your own career website, but the level of talent applying is not the best. Your Human Resources/Talent Acquisition department is scrutinized more and more by the Board of Directors and the Executive Leadership of the company. You’ve got to take the pressure off, and come up with a comprehensive strategy that will ensure the delivery of quality candidates. To add to the stress, you want to improve retention ratios, and keep the good people.

You’re pressured to fill openings across the entire organization, the new employees better be top notch, and by the way--you’re expected to reduce cost per hire, so you have less budget to work with than ever before. Sound like a typical day in the office?  It’s time to transition to a Qualitative talent acquisition strategy!

Qualitative talent acquisition is a process in which you focus only on hiring the right candidate, versus increasing headcount. Whether you’re a small operation or a Fortune 1000 organization, this plan can be put in place immediately. The results of implementing your new strategy are seen almost immediately. Here are the basic steps to get started:

  1. Analyze and discuss your recruiting budget with your DirectorHow much has the budget decreased over the past five years? How much has it decreased in the past year? If it’s increased, are you using all of your resources to ensure you tap into the highest quality talent? Do you have enough internal recruiters to adequately manage their requisition load? Are your internal recruiters able to meet their metrics on a monthly basis, without feeling overworked and stressed out? Can you identify where deficiencies lie that are preventing you from reaching your goals, from a budgetary standpoint?  Where are you spending the bulk of your budget, and are you getting a good ROI?  If you are not receiving the anticipated return on investment, will you stay status quo, or will you make a bold change?  The first step is challenging, confrontational, and necessary. Improvement cannot occur without pushing the current boundaries.

  2. Evaluate and optimize your internal recruiting team Is their process effective and efficient?  Are they spending enough time on the phone speaking with candidates, or are they screening out potentially good candidates without a conversation?  As the Talent Acquisition leader, you must set up checks and balances to ensure that all the time, money and effort used to attract candidates is not lending itself to rejecting qualified candidates.  Sure, there are always going to be unqualified candidates applying to roles they will never be considered for.  We’re not talking about that animal.  We’re referring to those marginal candidates who, meet the educational and certification requirements of the job, but may meet less of the hiring manager’s qualifications.  Are your internal recruiters having quality conversations with the hiring managers? In order for your internal recruiters to provide the hiring manager with an acceptable level of confidence, recruiters must first, be interviewing more marginal candidates.  Second, the recruiter must be willing to think about what’s best for the company, and present the hiring manager with those candidates who can be molded to be the right fit.  Your recruiters need to put all candidates into one of three baskets:  Basket one is the candidate who matches all or most requirements.  Basket two is the candidate who meets the education and certification requirements, meets some of the experience requirements, but has exceptional communication skills and is moldable to the position.  Basket three are the candidates who will be rejected.  Your internal team should be trained specifically on identifying the candidates for Basket two, and the right way to present these candidates to their hiring managers.    

  3. Implement a policy for working with external recruiting firms.  Whether you utilize external staffing firms for contractors or as needed for tough to fill, permanent roles, every organization should be leveraging agencies. How much is it costing your company to run without a quality employee filling an important job?  Multiply that number by the number of key openings across your business, and the fee associated with a search firm is nominal.  Where many companies fail in using outsourced recruiters is they lose control of the relationship.  In a qualitative talent acquisition strategy, you are empowered to control the terms of the contract, risk is mitigated, and you meet all compliance standards as required by law.  You are no longer spending hours conducting job scopes with multiple search partners.  Communication is conducted through a simple, cloud-based solution that allows you to manage and track every aspect of your relationship with external recruiters.  A quality Recruiter Management Tool provides you with useful data and analytics, so you can regularly evaluate your relationships with specific recruiters, and see who is delivering the talent you need.  This allows you to maximize your results, on-demand.  

  4. Optimize your career page, job descriptions, and job sharing ability. While it is typically out of the scope of a Talent Acquisition Leader’s job to optimize a company website, your input on the career page is crucial. Is your company’s career page attractive to candidates?  Is it easy to navigate, and find job openings?  Does your career page provide background about your company, why it’s a great place to work, and what’s in it for the candidate?  If you aren’t satisfied with the general look and feel of your career webpage, get with your Director and discuss next steps to optimize it.  What about the job descriptions you post for candidates to read? Is it a boring, out-dated list of tasks and duties that was written in the 1990’s?  You know it’s a candidate market out there, and there’s a war for top talent.  Stop trying to attract the brightest and most qualified candidates with something that clearly isn’t working. Every job description on your webpage should articulate the culture of your organization, provide a potential applicant with the features and benefits of working for your awesome company, and differentiate why they will love hanging their hat at your office or facility, versus with your competitors.  If you and your internal team aren’t completely sold on why your company is the best in the business, candidates will detect it.  As the talent acquisition leader, are you jazzed about your job, and are you excited to tackle the challenges most days?  The unspoken messages in recruitment are sometimes the loudest--your job descriptions must speak to the candidate, and stop listing a bunch of duties that are just going to change as business needs change, anyways.  Talent acquisition is in the business of selling jobs to the most highly qualified people.  Can the candidates you attract to your website easily share the opportunity with their colleagues?  Simple sharing buttons solve the problem.

  5. Streamline your recruiting process.  In talent acquisition, we focus on service delivery levels.  You assign benchmarks to your internal recruiting team, and meet with them on a regular basis to discuss whether they met the goal, how far they are from meeting the objective, and how they can improve in the future.  These are very important components of the process. If we shorten the recruiting process, and focus on simple, strategic measures to move candidates quickly through the process, your company will win.  What is an acceptable amount of time for a new application to sit without receiving a rejection notice or a phone call?  Are your recruiters following through on each candidate that applies to their requisition?  If they are not, why?  Can you identify the time wasters in their process, and eliminate those tasks?  Do you need to hire a departmental assistant to help with administrative tasks, or perhaps contract an outside sourcing company to provide a steady flow of applicants?  Is your internal team’s weekly reporting requirements taking away from their ability to adequately service candidates and hiring managers?  Look at each element of your talent acquisition process, and adjust accordingly.

  6. Review the Talent Acquisition - Compensation connection.  When you consider what it costs to attract and retain the highest quality candidates, it can be overwhelming.  You research and invest in new tools that promise to deliver the talent you need.  With few exceptions, they typically do not deliver the ROI you expected.  One progressive way to become the employer of choice, and ensure your employee referral program explodes is to offer compensation that is slightly above your competition.  Word of mouth is powerful. You will always be investing in recruitment marketing, but it may be beneficial to explore increasing starting wages for new employees.  As candidates become more savvy about their value in the market, evaluating the talent acquisition - compensation connection is a tool to instantly increase the value of working for your company.  If you’re already offering compensation that exceeds your competition, you should evaluate the ROI in making that investment.  Are you getting the word of mouth referrals?  Are candidates trying to get into your organization?  The talent acquisition - compensation connection can offer companies struggling for talent with an alternative to budgeting more money for recruitment marketing, and can set your business on a path to attracting a better talent community.
Focusing on qualitative talent acquisition in any organization is a simple plan, but never an easy fix.  It requires the fortitude to manage relationships with internal and external customers--all with different personality types.  HR and Recruitment Leadership must focus on working smarter and stop maintaining status quo policies that do not produce results.  Are you ready to take the steps to begin an era of qualitative talent acquisition in your organization?

RecruitAlliance is a Vendor Management System with an employer referred network of staffing agencies and recruiting firms, waiting to fill your most urgent hiring needs. Employers may sign up for their free* account and immediately begin posting jobs to the recruiting vendor network. Employers choose the fee they're willing to pay, the terms of the contract, and drive the hiring process. Recruiter members agree to all terms before a candidate is ever submitted through the platform. To learn more or get started today, go to
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