Are you a Recruiter or a Talent Acquisition Manager?

Over the last several years finding talent, particularly good technical talent has escalated to the top of the priority list in many corporate boardrooms. Finally top management is beginning to recognize that ?it?s all about talent.? They realize that without the appropriate talent, a company is going nowhere. In the more progressive companies recruiters are being rewarded for making a significant impact on a company?s bottom line and for the quality of hires rather than for the quantity of hires. In these companies, the approach to recruiting has a much more strategic focus than simply filling requisitions. Top management views the role of the recruiting department as a mission critical function as does every recruiter and hiring manager in the company. Recruiters are no longer recruiters; they are talent acquisition managers. How are talent acquisition managers different than traditional recruiters? The difference is in the mind set and the approach to recruiting. Talent acquisition managers are constantly thinking about building relationships and about finding new places to look. When talent acquisition managers discuss opportunities with potential candidates they focus more on the type of contribution the candidates can make and the type of work that the candidates will be doing rather than on simply verifying skills. To talent acquisition managers nothing is a dead lead. They recognize that an uninterested candidate today may be the top candidate in 6 months. They recognize that because a candidate was rejected a year ago, he/she may be a viable candidate today. The company needs may have changed thereby qualifying the rejected candidate or the candidate may have acquired the requisite skills and experiences to meet the challenges the company has to offer. Talent acquisition managers focus on the motivations and needs of the candidate to find a long term match with company. They recognize that the cost of turnover and the resultant lost productivity is often more expensive than the cost per hire. Talent acquisition managers look for leads rather than resumes. They would rather review a profile of a candidate?s abilities and accomplishments than a chronological listing of work history. The interview process is focused more on looking for leadership, passion and the ability to make things happen than on specific technical skills. They realize that smart people who have the right mix of skills and experiences can learn new processes, software and methodologies. They look for people that are motivated to solve problems. An interview with a talent acquisition manager is focused on finding leadership qualities and passion, not just the specific skills listed on a requisition or a job description. When a talent acquisition manager discovers some great talent but doesn?t have a requisition to match the talent, they present the candidate anyway. They look for places to include the talent in the organization. They don?t let the talent slip away to the competition. Internally, a talent acquisition manager becomes an integral part of the team of clients that they support. They learn the business and the critical success factors. They know the current talent on the team so that they can find ways to fill the gaps. For example, there may be one job description for a team of oracle developers. The talent acquisition manager may need to fill three or four slots on the team. Instead of simply searching for oracle developers that match the words outlined in the job description, they seek to find a variety of oracle development strengths so that the team as unit can meet and exceed its goals. Companies dedicated to talent acquisition view it as an ongoing process. They begin at the colleges and universities to partner with professors and administrators to foster building talent pools in areas that meet the long-term company vision. They provide seminars and develop projects with the schools to build relationships with students throughout the education process. Employees at these companies dedicate their free time to tutoring or contributing to community service to help build the company reputation. While all of this is good PR for the company, it also helps them build leads and relationships for acquiring future talent. It is no wonder that recruiters for sports teams are called Talent Scouts. They too start to seek out talent at the development stages. They continue to invest in and support high school and community sports programs. They attend many of the high school and college sporting events. Their goal is to continually seek out and court future potential. Cisco is a great example of a company that manages their recruiting to this standard. It is no surprise that their stock has split several times and their products are some of the best in the marketplace. These results are not pure luck — it is about talent. Cisco pays competitive salaries but they don?t pay the top rates in the Silicon Valley. So why are they so successful, and why do they have such great talent in their company? It?s because of their commitment to talent acquisition at all levels of the organization. They are committed to doing everything they can to find the best talent for all areas of their company (even their recruiting staff). The result has been their ability to meet and exceed objectives, ultimately making most employees very financially comfortable. It didn?t happen overnight. It has taken several years and a dedication to the planning process. Their process is not about filling requisitions. It is about talent acquisition. Companies do not have to be the size nor have the recruiting budgets of a company like Cisco (last I heard it was a $25 million annual budget) to be successful at talent acquisition. Companies with small budgets can be equally as successful at talent acquisition as deep pocketed companies. The keys shifting focus from filling requisitions to talent acquisition are as follows:

  1. Gain the support and commitment of senior management that talent drives the company?s success.
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  3. Change the way recruiters think about talent and where and how to find it.
  4. Develop the attitude that the job doesn?t stop after the requisition is filled. Talent scouting is an ongoing process.
  5. Reallocate budgets and resources to focus on finding leads rather than resumes.
  6. Build relationships with colleges and universities to cultivate talent at an early age.
  7. Do profile research on the target talent?s outside interests and seek them out when they are not working. Are they baseball fanatics, wine enthusiasts, opera lovers, dog owners, readers of People magazine, skiers, beach lovers, rock climbers, stamp collectors, bowlers, etc?? Find out where they are and reach them in those places.
  8. Become involved in industry associations and symposiums to further build relationships with potential talent.
  9. Include talent scouting in the job description of every employee in the company so that everyone, not just the talent acquisition manager?s and the hiring managers are involved in the process.
  10. Make your employee referral program a key component of the talent acquisition process. This means raising awareness levels and educating employees on its importance to the long term growth and profitability of the company.
  11. Make sure that your company is a nice place to work with challenging assignments and growth opportunities. Make sure that your employees like coming to work everyday and that their enthusiasm is infectious.

These ten actions do not require a lot of money to be successful. They simply require a refocus of attitudes, actions and commitments.

Karen Osofsky (karen.o@tiburongroup.com) is a co-founder of TiburonGroup.com, an e-recruiting consulting firm that provides outsourced recruiting solutions to rapidly growing companies and new ventures. The firm provides a broad range of recruiting consulting, sourcing, screening, and strategy development services to help companies manage the front-end recruiting process. Tiburon Group is a Certified AIRS Solutions Partner.

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