Talent Operations

Creating Business Value Through a New Talent Acquisition Model

Top-ranking companies in our recent Talent Attraction Index grew their headcount 7x more than the companies in the last tier.

These companies chose to invest in a new talent acquisition model, one based on specialized talent teams, strong employer brands and sophisticated employee and candidate engagement practices throughout the hiring journey.

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These companies have seen on average a higher headcount growth over the past 2 years, and a higher ranking—by 57 places—in the Fortune 500, showing a strong correlation between the maturity of their talent practices and their financial success.

What were the top insights from the Talent Attraction Index of the Fortune 500?

Success breeds success

There is a high component of self-fueled success in talent acquisition, because a stronger, better articulated employer brand can attract talent more easily, so any investments in that aspect of the strategy pays off for a long time.

In other words, to catch up to the best employers, talent teams need to not only match the speed at which they are moving, but to exceed it.

Arming the front lines

Candidates aren’t only impacted by what they see on social media or on job search channels; they take in every signal they can from the human interactions along the recruiting journey. Every employer brand can be hobbled by a lack of engagement from the front lines of the talent acquisition strategy: the recruiters, the coordinators, the employees who participate in hiring events, the hiring managers and executives who pitch the organization and sell its culture and EVP.

Even the most passionate employees need support and direction in order to communicate the right message in the most impactful way. This support can take multiple forms, from regularly sourcing feedback on the EVP from these individuals, to sharing content to help formalize their thoughts on how to talk about the company, to regular training sessions to help them stay authentic while conveying important information to candidates.

Every aspect of talent maturity matters

Best performers in the Talent Attraction Index ranking scored high across all categories, and weren’t carried by only one or two of the index’s components. It is interesting to note that “Employee Activation” was the strongest scoring capability for 50% of the top 10 performers, followed by “Employer brand presence”. However, it would be a mistake to focus on those two aspects at the detriment of the rest.

Team specialization, for instance, has a strong correlation with many aspects of hiring performance. For example, the 10 most specialized companies in the ranking grew their headcount by 17% on average over the last 2 years, compared to only 5% for the rest of the Fortune 500 companies.

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Those same top-10 companies also average higher Glassdoor review scores, showing a correlation between the specialized skills available on the team, and the ability of the company to deliver a quality candidate experience.

What new talent acquisition model is needed for 2020?

For many companies, making enough improvements on these different aspects of talent maturity to catch up to the competition necessitates a wholly new talent acquisition model.

For instance, many teams are trying to become more specialized by hiring recruiters with a focus on employer branding or executive search, but if the talent team is not structured in a way that allows for specialization, with different processes, decision-making flows, and reporting lines, those skills are not leveraged to the fullest.

Another example where a new operating model is necessary is resource allocation for business impact. A modern talent team must be able to learn quickly which roles will have the most impact on the business, regardless of seniority or salary, or other characteristics informed internally by hiring managers.

The operating model of this team must allow it to make decisions such as these based on its talent intelligence and analytical capabilities:

  • 20% of our roles this year are categorized as critical based on their potential business impact. We will dedicate 4 out of 5 recruiters to them, and 1 out of 5 recruiters to the remaining 80%.
  • We will put only 2 recruiters on these 3 senior marketing director roles, and one recruiter full-time on this single mid-level Node.js Engineer role, because we know how scarce this resource is, and how critical it is for an ongoing business initiative.

So how does a talent organization design a new talent acquisition model that enables it to mature and compete with the best?

According to Steven Bianchi, who has led people operations and analytics in organizations such as Revolut, Improbable, Zalando, Deutsche Bank and Unilever, this requires an examination of what the team does, how it does it, and the goals it aims for.

An intuitive place to start is to investigate the role categories that the organization hires for, not from an industry or function perspective, but from a Go-To-Market perspective. Which roles require the team to cast a wide net and why? Which ones require focus on filtering out bad fits, or 1-to-1, highly personalized journeys?

From the bottom up, the “How” of these recruiting activities needs a much heavier focus than in traditional talent teams. In the new talent acquisition model, the enablement part of the talent organization is crucial, and designed in parallel with core recruiting processes. This includes the talent operations people behind it, as well as the technology and infrastructure that supports all candidate data and information flows.

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Finally, Steve suggests using the 3R model to sanity check the model that the organization comes up with, by ensuring that the team is able to offer a wide range of recruiting “services”, meaning able to recruit many types of hires, but also able to widely reach all target markets, and create engaging and rich experiences for candidates in every journey.


The best talent teams are constantly iterating on their own talent acquisition models, as can be gleaned from our recent interview with Coby Schneider from Intel. To be able to stay relevant in the current talent market, companies need to be ready to advocate for, and implement a step change in the way they approach talent. Change of that scale is costly and hard to manage, but in this case, it is absolutely necessary.


Start 2020 with an outlook on best practices from the Fortune 500

We analyzed and ranked the talent attraction practices of the Fortune 500, and learned how the world's most successful companies attract and engage the best candidates: what they do more of, what they do better, and what marks them as winners in the talent attraction game.

Download the study.

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Nada Chaker

Content and Campaigns

Nada Chaker leads content and campaigns at Beamery. She writes and reads about the latest news in Talent Acquisition, but also about business strategy, startups, food and indoor plants.

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