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Talent Engagement: How Talent Acquisition Teams got a Seat at the Table

Talent Engagement - Getting a Seat at the Table

Failure to attract and retain top talent ranked as the number 1 priority of CEOs worldwide this year.

The Conference Board, who surveys CEOs and executives about their most pressing challenges every year, reported that this year, talent is the most urgent business priority on the table. Think about it: CEOs on every continent collectively decided that hiring and keeping the best people worried them more than market disruption by new technology, global competition, or a stable cash flow.

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Source: C-suite Challenge 2018

Talent Acquisition teams are getting more scrutiny

It makes sense that recruiting would top the C-suite’s agenda, with talent being scarce in almost every major industry, and roles taking more time to be filled as a consequence of the happy rise in employment. The timing is probably also a consequence of Talent Acquisition teams becoming more sophisticated, and therefore able to do more for the business.

Whatever the reason, CEOs and boards are starting to consider the Talent Acquisition team a source of competitive advantage, of business value, and not just a service center to the rest of the business. Good news for Talent teams, if they make sure to seize the opportunity presented to them.

Talent engagement enables strategic vision

There is already pressure on these teams to become more sophisticated, coming from the candidates themselves. Transactional recruiting is not really how you get the best people- it’s all about relationships now, and the best teams know this.

Providing a quality multi-channel interaction from first touch to last interview means having a long list of work streams set up in parallel, and all working together in unison. So one thing these teams need is a tight handle on their backend operations. Automation is key, but so are processes, long-term planning, and a powerful technology platform to carry it all.

Another one is specialization. Whoever handles branding and marketing campaigns needs a very different skill set from whoever is in charges of proactive sourcing, or of operations, analytics, compliance, and on and on.

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But these are good things, in the long term. Because recruiters are stepping up their games and thinking in terms of relationships, of engagement, as opposed to one-way transactions, they are able to see further down in the future. Having a pipeline of talent lined up, nurturing them and learning more about them, means that the company is able to know whether or not it will be able to hire those senior VPs needed for next year’s expansion, for example. And that is just one aspect of the benefits coming from this change.

By being more engagement-focused, talent teams give the most of their attention to the piece of their function that has the most strategic impact on the business, and that is not to hire faster or at lower costs. Keeping costs down is an optimization exercise that shouldn’t be the be-all and en-all of hiring; if anything, it’s a secondary consequence of a great talent strategy, but it’s not the end goal. The goal is to ensure that the business thrives by providing it continually, sustainably, with great talent.

That’s why TA teams need to think about their role in terms of talent engagement- because engagement is what enables the “sustainable” piece of their role.

The strategic opportunity for Talent teams

The ability to provide the rest of the business with a more long-term outlook on its talent supply has incredible value for leadership. It’s one of the biggest shifts in talent acquisition in recent years, and what makes it possible for TA to become part of strategic business discussions.

But that’s only the start; because the C-suite and the boardroom are now giving their full attention to talent issues, TA leaders can step in and drive business-wide initiatives that will have a long-lasting impact on the whole business. Who would be best placed to facilitate a shift into a more agile company structure, for example? Who could advise and train hiring managers to hire internally and be more comfortable with an internal talent marketplace structure?

That is not just having a seat at the table- it’s having significant influence over the conversations around that table.

Focusing on talent engagement as a priority is what got TA a seat at the table. And really, shouldn’t talent be part of every business decision, as every decision will eventually have to be executed by people that the business will have to hire?

It’s a gross oversimplification of how businesses are run, but it doesn’t make it less true. The current conditions present an opportunity for TA leaders to create a lot of value for their organizations, and they have the means to seize it. So why shouldn’t they?

Talent Attraction Index 2019: A maturity analysis of 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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