How to Build a Balanced Talent Acquisition Strategy (Part 1)

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Balance. It’s something we all need more of in our lives. It’s the reason I’m doing pilates and yoga a couple times a week to get some much needed perspective and time for myself away from the workplace daily grind. I need a life away from the workplace hamster wheel, this blog and my consulting business even if it’s an hour a few days a week. We all need balance and that’s certainly true when it comes to your talent acquisition strategy.

In our work as recruiters, HR and talent acquisition leaders, there are two kinds of recruiting needs: 1) reactive and 2) proactive recruitment. Each requires a very different strategy.

Defining Proactive Vs. Reactive Recruitment

Reactive recruitment is the type of recruiting most of us operate and the environment we work in. There’s a requisition and position in need. Recruiters actively work to fill those job openings presenting hiring managers with candidates that meet the position qualifications. In reactive recruitment, we are always chasing the goal. We’re following a never ending race between the carrot to place the candidate to fill that job opening.

Proactive recruitment is the type of recruiting where we anticipate hiring cycles working to actively build a pipeline or bench of qualified candidates to fill those roles before they are available. We can accomplish this many different ways through the engaging candidates through a talent network, sourcing or employment branding initiatives.

How to Find Balance in Talent Acquisition

As human beings we aren’t predisposed to always think strategically. It isn’t always in our nature. Mostly because we are pre-programmed to focus on our current situation and environment first which in this economic market forces most of us to stay focused on reactive recruiting. It’s familiar even if it’s uncomfortable and most importantly we think we know what it takes to get the job done. We’ve been chasing the recruiting carrot for years. We can anticipate and manage the pain even though there might be a better way.

Proactive recruitment is strategic in its nature not to say reactive recruiting isn’t either. However, we’re more inclined to focus on reactive recruitment because not because we like the stress, drama or urgency of always having a high requisition load. We foolishly tell ourselves that we’re happy. We can manage. We have before and we’ll be just fine.

Except that we are no longer fine. We’re working and living in amazing economic times where finding qualified talent to fill open positions within our is a challenge. Good candidates aren’t applying which seems crazy when you consider we’ve posted our jobs on job boards, tapped into our robust personal network and even picked up the phone to do some cold calling into organizations. Hell, we’ve even sent out our job postings on social media including Twitter.

Our best effort just isn’t producing the results we expect so we push harder. In 2014, 40% of talent acquisition teams regressed in their current hiring and recruitment efforts. We make more calls, post our jobs on more job boards, up that LinkedIn Recruiter spend and spend more hours in the office working. That doesn’t keep the skills gap from widening or the unemployment levels to continue to decline. Without proactive recruitment we don’t have the balance that we need to be successful in the current economic market when it comes to our human capital strategy.

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The Truth About Reactive Recruitment

Truth is we need reactive recruitment. We can’t possibly anticipate every single need of our hiring managers, economic conditions or plans for growth. We have to strike a balance which starts with building a strategy, then a process to effectively keep us from chasing after that never ending carrot. It’s time we flipped the model and start anticipating our talent acquisition needs and quit mindlessly chasing that carrot on a string.

The Pareto Principle tells us that if we focus on 20% of our actions, then it will produce 80% of our results. If we want to move beyond the hamster wheel of our current talent acquisition efforts relying on reactive recruitment as our as mainstay of our talent acquisition strategy, we need to expand our horizons and look at different options. This is where I believe that proactive recruitment can transform your efforts and dramatically realign your current recruiting process ultimately producing greater results.

5 Talent Acquisition Truths

  • Recruiting is Hard. Talent acquisition like the business world is fluid. We must adapt and be flexible in order to gain as well as maintain a competitive advantage.
  • Social Media is Not Your Recruiting Savior. Insert any type of strategy whether it’s employment branding, marketing, sourcing or code calling. There is no one size fits all strategy, process that works. Customization is king in the new world of recruiting and hiring.
  • People Are Our Competitive Advantage. It’s called human capital for a reason. Our people are our competitive advantage. These people make the processes, the organizational culture and guide the business.
  • Balance is Best. Recruiting cannot be an endless fire drill or the constant running on the hamster wheel. Recruiters are people too and in order to retain your best recruiting talent and build a world class organization you need to strike a balance between reactive and proactive recruitment.
  • Relationships Rule. Great recruiters happened through the building of their rolodex through a series of relationships and referrals. This truth holds truth although you must involve digital properties, communities and social networks in your talent acquisition efforts.

Bottom line is that talent acquisition remains an important part of any organization. The new challenges we are facing are not going away. The skills gap isn’t disappearing and we’re experiencing zero unemployment levels. It’s adapt or die time. Question is are you ready?

Check out Part 2 of our balanced talent acquisition series. 

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