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Re-discovering the art of Talent Acquisition and 4 Steps to Start Strong

I recently took responsibility for the global recruiting organization bringing together all of the people related solutions which support the attraction, development and retention of SAP’s 65,000 talents. In my 16 years of HR experience I have worked as a recruiter, worked with recruiters, and led small recruitment teams; however I must admit I’m finding that the world of recruiting has changed quite a bit over the past few years.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/tally_310667.jpgThe past 8 weeks have been a crash course in everything from employment branding and digital strategies to emerging technologies and evolving sourcing methods, to rapidly changing talent profiles necessary to WIN in today’s cloud environment.

My “re-discovery” of the talent acquisition profession has been a rewarding and energizing experience. Here are a few key lessons that I’m finding are critical to win the war for talent and ensure we have the skills and competencies we need in the organization to sustain our long term success.

No. 1: Get Social!

I have to admit that I am a few years out of the millennial generation but I like to think of myself as at least current if not closer to emerging strategies in HR. What I have learned over the last weeks however is that my knowledge of social and the role that social plays in reaching today’s talent did not position me on the cutting edge.

Social channels enable us to share with potential candidates what it is like working at SAP, share job opportunities with them and create a fan base to help further our brand. People want to know what it is like behind the scenes, the culture of a company, what employees do to have fun at work.  A candidate wants to see the people behind the product, solution or service that your company offers. What do they do, what are they like, how do they have fun at work. Employees are your best recruiters so tell their stories. It’s amazing how quickly a story can spread on social channels.

Social Media gives an organization the platform to truly speak, listen and vitally engage with communities, and build a compelling story and dialogue to show why their company is a great place to work. What is imperative is that your content is fresh and authentically supports your organization’s brand.

No. 2: Know your talent!

Do you know what talent you need and where this talent is in the market? Many organizations today don’t spend the time on strategic workforce planning that they should, in order to ensure they have the talent they need to achieve their business objectives. Investing in robust talent management by identifying upfront the skills and competencies you need and then accurately assessing the talent you have, is critical in determining the talent you need to develop or acquire.

Once you understand the talent you need to bring into the organization, does your recruiting organization have the insight necessary to know where to go to attract that talent, or better yet do they already have relationships with talent your organization needs to pursue? Having a deep knowledge of the external talent market through marketing mapping can not only dramatically reduce the time to hire the best talent, but also increasing the strategic impact of the recruiting organization and its perceived value to the business. A valuable talent acquisition partner is part of the upfront discussion on what talent their business needs and then is already positioned to discuss where this talent is found externally.

No. 3: Find the passives!

Today’s best talent are not actively looking. “Passive” candidates represent 80% of the overall talent pool.  The days of posting on a job board or sending an email and having great talent come to you are long gone.  Today we must be researching and map out the talent in our competitors, drawing out the complex organization structures, reaching out to key talent and developing relationships as we build their interest in joining us.

This is not easy. Having a comprehensive approach to sourcing can be a key differentiator in securing the talent you need into the organization. It requires creativity, discipline, and a recruiting team who is hungry to find the best talent – skilled relationship builders and amazing brand ambassadors who are able to deliver an attractive and compelling vision for potential talent. Sourcing is a skill that must be developed, and one that I believe will be even more critical to the acquisition of talent in the years to come.

No. 4: Build an experience.

What would potential candidates say about their recruiting experience with you? You can have the most attractive branding, social and sourcing strategies, but all of these efforts will be for nothing if a candidate does not have an amazing experience through the active recruitment process. How easy is your organization to interact with? How knowledgeable are your recruiting professionals and how able are they to professionally sell your organization? Do you provide timely follow up to candidates to questions they have? How are interviews coordinated? What information do you require from candidates? What is your offer process like?

While these may seem like basic questions, a candidate’s experience in each of these areas helps shape their impression of your organization and ultimately impacts their decision on whether to join you are not. I know of candidates who have been interested in joining particular organizations, but at the end have made the decision to not join due to a poor experience where a recruiter did not follow up with them in a timely fashion or the offer process was so long and complex that they become concerned that this represented the organization at large and they chose not join.

Both recruiters and hiring managers must be qualified ambassadors for your organization. Taking the time upfront to explain to candidates the process they should expect to go through as they move through the process can help to manage expectations and avoid frustrations or concerns. Having simple, consistent and high quality candidate interactions will best position your organization to ensure that you don’t lose a talent due to a poor candidate experience.

To say after 8 weeks I am now fully versed in the art of modern day recruiting would be a huge understatement; however I am gaining knowledge and appreciation for this complex profession and its importance to our business. Starting with the 4 areas above has helped me hit the ground running and shape an amazing candidate experience to attract the talent we need in today’s competitive environment.

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