Intel’s new talent operating model can offer inspiration and insight to every enterprise talent team in this competitive talent market.
This post is part of a series of contributions from talent acquisition professionals titled "Talking Talent". This month's guest is Coby Schneider, Recruitment Capability Adoption and Transformation Manager at Intel.
Intel Corporation is well-known names in technology, and one of the most notable companies in the history of the founding of Silicon Valley. It currently has over 100 thousand employees around the world, and generated $70 billions dollars of revenue in 2018.
Coby Schneider currently leads communication and change management strategies for Intel Corporation's talent-acquisition team. She has been in various different roles within talent acquisition for the last 12 years, and is particularly passionate about talent pipelines: how to build them, how to engage them, how to convert them, and how to measure them.
Can you tell me a bit about your background, what you do now and how you ended up there?
My career trajectory is a little unusual in that I didn't start out in Talent acquisition, or HR for that matter. I joined Intel straight from undergrad, and worked in our Sales and Marketing group. I did a variety of projects and people manager roles and programs. Then I went back to school for my MBA and came back to Intel, and ended up applying to a role that was a little out of my usual scope but looked highly aligned with my project management skills: managing our Interns program.
I’ve held a variety of roles there since then, changing scope about every two years. I managed our college strategy in the US and a few major projects in recruitment marketing, looked after our diversity programs, and more recently focused on internal transformation and on enabling the first iteration of Intel’s new talent operating model.
What does this new talent operating model entails? Where did the idea come from?
The basis for a new talent operating model came from us asking ourselves: what is a healthy talent pipeline? It’s not just about the number of likely candidates it contains, it’s about knowing exactly who they are and at what level of readiness they are–whether they are willing to engage with us.
The goal for us is then to “capture” leads, and to engage with them over time so every interaction is more tailored than the previous one, and gives more value to the candidate. It’s a give and take relationship; if we want to learn their interests and motivations, or their professional plans, we need to give them something they value.
The other part of it is a bit more technical. These candidates that we source and nurture, how do we gauge their readiness? How do we know who, among a group of equally qualified people, are most likely to accept an offer from us if we gave them one tomorrow? Or who could accept one if we gave them a different location? The value of the pipeline comes from us being able to immediately know who to go to when a new role opens or a requisition comes through, so we need that level of granularity for it to be truly valuable.
Not to mention, it avoids us having a false sense of security about our ability to cover future needs. If everyone in a certain pool of talent in our current pipeline is not ready to move just yet, we need to be aware of it and source more people to ensure better pipeline coverage. If we don’t have that, then we don’t actually have the predictability that a talent pipeline is intended to offer.
It’s this understanding of what it entails to have a healthy pipeline that defined our need for a new talent operating model. We know that for us to build a relationship with candidates, they need to feel like they have a good understanding of what Intel has to offer, but also that Intel has a decent understanding of what they bring to the table in return, and how they will grow in their new role. Building that feeling takes time, of course, as well as a different kind of approach to talent acquisition.
So you defined what the problem was around the concept of a “healthy pipeline” and decided what you wanted to achieve with this new talent operations model? What did that look like in practice?
Let’s look at it through a specific example of a high volume role here at Intel: “Manufacturing technicians”. We have a good understanding of the skills required and the volumes needed across regions. From there, we have to put a few workstreams in motion to make sure we hit our considerable targets every year.
From a recruitment marketing perspective, the Intel story has to be constantly broadcast to this audience, and the candidates need to have channels and forums to connect with us and be part of our talent community and our pipeline for future consideration. We need to both attract and engage every lead over time, well before the actual roles are live, using information that we determined is interesting to them.
From a sourcing perspective, we need to put numbers on our pipeline. Out of 100 candidates that we determined have the skills for a manufacturing technician position, how many would accept an offer tomorrow? How many would take it if it’s in another location? Who would need a relocation package? Who needs a longer transition period because they have kids who need to finish the school year? Are their spouses or partners of interest to Intel for another role?
This is the level of granularity and proactivity in candidate engagement that we need from our talent organization, and this is what we designed our new talent operating model around. It’s a vision that about 50 people in our talent acquisition team, across all regions, developed together over the course of a year and a half. We think about it internally as our talent transformation, and we branded it as the Infinity Loop.
The Infinity Loop is a good way to express that we're shifting from transactions to relationships. And that meant changing from the traditional funnel that generates so much fallout and disappointment with highly qualified candidates, to a conversation about the next opportunity, the next point of engagement.
Your role seems to be fairly focused on talent operations, from thinking about the whole operating model to managing change internally to thinking about technical infrastructure and new technologies, but still with some cross-functional aspects to it. Is that an accurate description of what you do now?
I mentioned earlier that my focus today is the internal transformation of our talent operating model. This means looking at our talent organization beyond the existing roles and specializations of sourcing, recruitment marketing and so on, and exploring the way we communicate, the experiences we’re trying to provide. It’s an exploration of the processes, infrastructures and technologies we can use to achieve this new talent operating model.
It is certainly cross-functional in the sense that we're solving complex problems using skill sets from from a few different areas. We look at what other teams are doing, and we explore what specialisations are needed, what operational support, what processes. We look at how other business functions operate, what they do to enable agile team work.
I do not sit in what we call the “direct team”, which is made up of specialized recruiters that work within in the “Infinity Loop” and directly affect the hiring effort, such as sourcers, recruitment marketers, talent coordinators and such. I am part of the enablement team that supports these core recruiters. We have a diverse set of skills on board, from data expertise to design thinking to agile, and we’re all tasked with iterations and efficiency improvements, pain point resolution, as well as the exploration of new capabilities or technologies, or getting insights from the industry and the talent market.
How do you define the roadmap for what the enablement team does? How do you decide what to do next?
Our roadmap is in large part defined internally, as we go to the market and collect a good amount of insights first-hand, not to mention the focus groups we do with different teams in the organization to identify pain points and define priorities based on their potential business impact. For example, one of our recent projects was to reexamine how much we prioritise the recruiter experience and the hiring manager experience. As the candidate experience tends to come first, it was always harder in the past to dedicate resources to the experience of recruiters, or hiring managers. Now, we’re working more actively on identifying what they need to be set up for success.
This is a great way of dividing priorities between the direct recruiting team, the one involved in the hiring effort, and the sort of “talent operations” team, the enablement team. What else do you think enables your talent team at Intel to be successful? What helped your organization get to this level of maturity?
That is a great question–I don’t know that we are a mature talent team per se, as we have yet to fully achieve our vision for talent acquisition, but we’re definitely making a lot of progress.
A large part of it is being willing to reexamine fairly structural parts of the way we work, even if they seem hard to change. For instance, we’ve had for a long time different processes for internal and external candidates. We'd also chosen to have some teams focus exclusively on college hiring, and others on experienced hires. We're now revisiting what this means for us as a business: the capacity implications, the inefficiencies and double work, and the poor candidate experiences that result from these separations.
There is always value in reexamining even the most ingrained parts of the team organization, as well as keeping an eye on what some teams are doing better than others.
Absolutely. I think this brings me to my last question: what is in the near future for Intel’s talent team? What are you excited about, and what are you exploring for the coming year?
The most exciting things for us right now are happening in the talent tech space, and specifically in our Technology Roadmap. We don’t necessarily know what that will look like, but we know that we can do so much more with the available technology and we want to make sure we enable our recruiters to deliver the best experiences with the right systems. It’s a compelling challenge because we need to stay open-minded to the promise of new technologies, but also cautious about staying on course with our strategic objectives, and not being swayed by the technology itself.
Specifically, we’re researching how to get better candidate insights matching capability, and how to set up our talent operating infrastructure to help us assign leads to skill profiles or open requisitions, and then score and prioritize profiles based on a variety of factors. This would totally change the conversations we have with hiring managers, and enable us to come to the table with advanced market insights much further upstream, before new open roles are designed.
Overall, we’re mostly excited about all of these changes that technology is enabling and designing the next iterations of our internal operating models taking all these changes into consideration.
It sounds like you have an exciting year ahead. Thank you for your answers, Coby!
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