A Perspective on Global Talent Acquisition Priorities

From the outset of the global pandemic, Talent Acquisition functions in many organisations have been deeply impacted. With requisition volumes down or hiring frozen, we wanted to hear directly from companies on how they were planning for the road ahead. Since March 2020, we have spoken to Talent Acquisition leaders, across a range of sectors such as FMCG/packaged goods, Technology, Life Sciences, Consulting, Consumer Electronics, Healthcare and Retail. We asked them a range of questions to gauge how the last few months had changed their focus and what the future priorities were.

Q. What are your key focus areas for Talent Acquisition in the next two to three years?  

1/ Diversity and Inclusion

This consistently came up as a key focus, with 80% of respondents highlighting this as a top three priority. We anticipate this being magnified with the global focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and anticipate this being even further accelerated as a key strategic initiative. However, it is important not to put the sole emphasis on the TA function to ‘solve’ the D&I problem. An inclusive employer brand, diverse shortlists and targeting the right talent pools can significantly help achieve goals, but the function needs to be aligned to the broader business and HR strategy on diversity and inclusion. The overall culture, leadership mindset and grassroots attitudes need to be wholly aligned in developing a truly holistic approach to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

One respondent shared that they now have large dedicated D&I sourcing teams within their organisation as a key talent acquisition priority.

to accelerate the flow of diverse talent into future talent pools

They also have a dedicated D&I recruitment events team with the aim of marketing to a specific diverse talent pool. We are hearing clear messages around targeting underrepresented talent and ensuring workforces are representative of their customer base. The number one goal for talent acquisition is to accelerate this flow of diverse talent and give it significant ‘intensity’, reviewing all processes to clear any bias be it indirect or direct. Tools like Textio (an augmented writing platform) have been widely utilised, but not optimised. However, broader cultural shifts are necessary with leaders and teams alike to embed inclusivity and equality into the DNA of their organisations. The most progressive organisations have diversity and inclusion as a top three business strategy and not just a top three HR strategy.

2/ Demonstrating the Commercial Value of Talent Acquisition

60% of respondents mentioned a pressing need to establish the true commercial value of the talent acquisition function. One leader highlighted how they translate talent acquisition activities into sales methodologies. For example, expressing talent acquisition goals and progress in terms of talent funnel management, target companies, conversation rates, ‘sales’ enablement and ‘total solution’ can often revitalise the process and make results much more commercially tangible and motivating.

Better systems, technology, and data can help provide evidence on this and there is still significant work to do for a number of talent acquisition functions in this space. Sourcing capabilities can also be included here – over 80% of our respondents said that this needs to be much more strategic, long-term and specialised.  The focus on increasing general ‘talent intelligence’ be it with an internal or external lens will be critical to demonstrating the commercial value of the talent acquisition function.  

Companies will build competitive advantage through smart workforce planning. This will be allied with building specialist sourcing recruiters who have expertise sourcing against key capabilities. These sourcing recruiters will build pipelines of talent together with talent competitor insight which will enable to company to hire the best talent and gain competitive advantage.

3/ Transformation – digital or otherwise!

Given hiring volumes have dropped there is more capacity for talent acquisition teams to improve operational excellence and augment technology. For a number of organisations, the next three years will focus on implementing a talent acquisition operating model that’s fit for a post-COVID-19 era, taking advantage of the opportunities coming out of this and becoming more efficient. AI platforms and tools to digitise, such as Beamery, Textio, Hire View and Restless Bandit need to be optimised and now is an opportunistic window to leverage fully.

This is the opportunity to build and implement agile-lean principles and teams to deliver technology change within a SAFe framework. It has taken this [COVID-19] to blast us into using it [technology] like we’ve never done before. We don’t want to go back on this.  We have changed behaviours. This tech adoption theme will continue.

Q. If you had additional budget for Tech/Innovation, where would you direct this?

We need to be gutsy and experiment fast, go quick-and-dirty, learn and improve then make perfect.

Half the respondents voiced their aspiration to invest in forward-thinking, intelligence-based initiatives. For example the “Black Box” of phone screening, utilising neuro-linguistic programming to convert these conversations from speech to text. In turn, this would allow all interview intelligence to be stored and analysed to help trend talent “market talk” and indeed further improve the interview effectiveness of talent acquisition team members. Consequently, this would help deliver a “memorable and differentiated candidate experience” and could really give a company that competitive edge.

Many leaders still felt that the administrative side of the talent acquisition team’s workload takes up too much time, and in worst case scenarios, can even be used as an “activity screen” for team members to hide behind, masking real strategic productivity. Through elegant automation processes it seems that this “workload” could be drastically reduced, or even eliminated, and time freed for strategic idea generation and enhancing the candidate experience.

Increasingly the bridge between talent acquisition and broader talent agendas needs to strengthen in many organisations. Leaders are spending their tight budgets on ensuring general HR and talent acquisition technology channels are more streamlined. This evolution could really help join the dots in businesses where these areas operate too much in silo.

Q. How does your organisation approach recruitment marketing/employer branding?

Dedicated, stand-alone strong recruitment marketing teams with responsibility for strategy, execution and capability building can reap significant rewards in the battle of early talent attraction. Responses here were really 50:50. Half felt the employer branding/ recruitment marketing teams were working effectively with broader comms, marketing, and brand functions yet the other half said it still felt a bit disjointed with ambiguous ownership around strategy and execution.

When a team is deployed effectively according to region and specialism, the nuances and intricacies of each market can be taken into careful consideration, and a very poised approach to employer branding, CRM campaign management, RM strategy work and activating business leaders can be taken. This is certainly an area that can be augmented and increasingly joined up going forward.

Companies that win and acquire the best talent in the new world will have a clear and authentic narrative and EVP which is tailored against the critical skills and capabilities that will drive the company’s strategy. This will be married to a proactive and targeted engagement of the right talent through CRM technology.

This genuine and authentic EVP, encapsulated by the employer brand, will then need to align to the broader company values, culture, leadership behaviours and purpose to ensure that the best talent are engaged, motivated, accepted, and productive in an increasingly agile and uncertain world.

The Future

Talent acquisition functions that can balance the priorities of quality over cost, optimising operating models and operational excellence through additive technologies will be well placed to be successful in the future. Diversity and inclusion will continue to be a key strategic priority for many HR functions and businesses and the recruitment strategy can have a real impact here. The current climate will also continue to put more pressure on talent acquisition functions to prove their commercial ROI to the business whilst hiring volumes are generally down. Increased virtual interviews and onboarding is also driving talent acquisition leaders to rethink operating models and re-shape the function so it is even more fit for purpose, efficient and agile. It is also a great opportunity for talent acquisition professionals at all levels to hone some broader skills outside of the pureplay recruitment piece and in the long-term this can only help augment the capability within the function. 


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Key Contributors:

Tim Spriggs

Regional Managing Director - EMEA

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Consulting Team

Tim Spriggs

Regional Managing Director - EMEA

Tim Spriggs is Regional Managing Director, EMEA with ChapmanCG based in the UK where, as part of the executive committee, he leads the EMEA business.

Tim and his team deliver senior retained executive searches for a range of clients from global multinationals to SMEs and has a background in global HR executive search. He is particularly passionate about finding unique and exceptional talent for his clients across the region.

Prior to returning to the UK in 2017, Tim spent five years in Singapore where he was instrumental in building the China business and covered international work out of Asia. Prior to ChapmanCG, Tim worked for JD Haspel, a boutique London-based executive search firm, where he specialised in EMEA HR search assignments across multiple sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, financial services and natural resources.

Before moving into executive search, Tim’s passion for sport led him to his first career in sports marketing and sponsorship with Octagon. He has a BA (Hons) in American Studies from the University of Nottingham, and a CIM Diploma from the London School of Marketing.

In his spare time, Tim enjoys running and cycling in the Chilterns and is known to have the occasional swim in the Thames near his home in Henley.

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