Recruitment Marketing

The Impact of Talent Operations: What True Personalization Looks Like

Personalization is not about sending a “Hi, Steve!” email to candidates.

Plenty of recruitment marketing campaigns look personalized on the surface, but are not actually targeted to the prospect. Ironically, they often end up creating more frustration than delight in the candidate journey.

The Dark Face of Personalization

The rest of the world only sees the tip of the iceberg when it comes to personalized recruiting campaigns. The first name in the email subject or the landing page welcome message, the retargeted ad, the thank you note post-interview… They don’t necessarily understand the backend operations necessary to make those things happen.

Even inside the talent organization, stakeholders can’t always see the significant gap between different levels of personalization, because cosmetic aspects can look the same, even if the actual impact on conversion rates or candidate quality vary wildly.

The Ingredients of True Personalization

There is a whole spectrum of sophistication when it comes to personalization in candidate journeys, and not every company needs to be the higher end of it. However, to compete for the best candidates, a token effort is not enough. For the best talent to look up and pay attention, you need to do more than send them a hopeful message and a job ad.

Truly personalized journeys take place over time, and drive much better results because they enable recruiters to build enough trust with the candidate to get a response at the right time. This trust comes from providing positive, informative interactions, again and again. They usually have the following elements in common.

Dynamic Processes

A dynamic process relies on content that keeps changing to stay up to date. In the context of talent operations, it’s a process that keeps information such as location, role, relationships with the company, or interactions with recruiters, up to date automatically.

It’s the difference between putting together an email list in a spreadsheet, and building a talent pool that is automatically cleaned and updated, complete with a process that ensures recruitment marketers access the latest data every time they build a new campaign.

Dynamic processes and workflows make a difference. Take the following example: Does it really matter if you use a candidate’s first name, and send them a job opportunity in the correct area of expertise, but then learn that they are too senior for the role or moved to another city five months ago?

Behavioral Triggers

True personalization takes into account behaviors as much as psychographic data. It launches different workflows depending on whether a candidate attended an event or was a no-show, for example. The added layer of operational complexity for this sort of personalization depends not only on the talent tech stack, but also on the way the talent ops specialist designs workflows and finds ways to leverage the technology.

Data Privacy

People are sensitive to the privacy of their information when it comes to job applications, far more so than when they are signing up for free wifi, for instance. As regulations around handling candidate data get fleshed out with every new court ruling, the impact of talent operations on the trust of candidates will become even more obvious. Smooth, user-friendly experiences that nonetheless fulfill every regulatory requirement and respect candidate’s wishes are not easy to build, and require specialized skills.

The Impact of Talent Operations

Technology and systems are not the extent of a talent operations specialist’s scope. The impact that they have on the organization can be viewed through many lenses.

Data Federation

With candidate data sourced from multiple places, both external and internal, large organizations need truly specialized people to manage the flow of information, aggregate it, and organize it in a way that allows recruiters to use it while staying within the bounds of data privacy laws.

The technical challenge in choosing, implementing and configuring the necessary recruiting tools is significant. It’s not just a matter of choosing a provider–the impact of talent operations specialists comes from knowing how different providers handle data flows from different sources, how deeply they integrate, how they affect the ability of recruiters to build truly personalized experiences.

A good example of this is integration between systems. An integration can be something as basic and limiting as “candidate profiles created in tool A will also be created in tool B”. What this statement doesn’t say is that the reverse is not true, or that not all data points about the profiles are carried through, for example, both of which severely limit the ability of recruiters to create truly personalized campaigns.

An operations specialist will know the right questions to ask to ensure that the talent toolstack enables information to flow as smoothly as possible, and that recruiting operations are not siloed.

Data Analysis and Insights

A talent operations specialist brings a crucial skill to the table through their data analysis expertise. They work with TA leaders to understand what matters to the talent organization and to the business in general, and suggest the best ways to measure and report on these items.

The challenge is twofold: not only do they have to have strong data analysis skills to pinpoint the right data points and calculations needed for the task, they also have to map those needs to what is technologically feasible with the available systems and processes.

Even widely used recruiting metrics can be defined differently from one organization to another. When does “time to apply” start? From the candidate’s first visit to a website? Or from the first time they see an ad? Or maybe the first time they click an ad to visit the careers site? Answering those questions is yet another aspect of the impact of talent operations professionals.

zalando community form

Problem Solving

Another value of bringing in recruiting operations specialists is that they are equipped with the right analytical frameworks to correctly identify root causes for any issues.

In larger teams, the reason why something is happening—why the sourcing team is not getting enough engineers at the top of the funnel, why the internship program has terrible retention rates, or why offer acceptance rate is dropping—rarely lives in one place.

A great Talent Operations specialist will not only be familiar with the inner workings of the talent team’s operations, they will also be trained in analytical problem solving tools that are found in Operations or Quality Assurance, for example, like such as root cause analysis, Ishikawa diagrams, or 6σ read six sigma analysis to mention a few. Ideally, they are also comfortable with advanced data analysis and are technically savvy enough to understand how talent tools should work together for the best business results.


The talent operations role is evolving faster than any other function in the talent organization, given the growing recognition of the impact of talent operations of the overall business and its ability to deliver on strategic initiatives. There is definitely an opportunity for talent ops professionals to define the scope of this new role, and to provide a competitive advantage to their organizations in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.