How talent leaders are investing in talent acquisition strategies during uncertain times

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5 mins, 33 secs read time

How do you plan for the future when there’s a lot of uncertainty? This is a question we’ve all had to ask ourselves over the past few years, but it’s especially critical for talent acquisition professionals right now. Which initiatives or tools do you invest in when you’re not sure what’s going to happen to the economy – and your hiring plan?

We recently gathered a panel of talent leaders to discuss the talent acquisition strategies and solutions that they’re relying on – even when the future is especially unpredictable. Patrick O’Connell, Product Marketing Specialist at Spark Hire, moderated a conversation between Melanie Runyon, Director of Recruiting & Talent Acquisition at AWL, Maria Culbertson, Senior Team Manager, Talent Planning & Acquisition at Greenhouse and Jeremy Tolan, Partnership Manager at Spark Hire. Keep reading for some of the key insights they shared or dive into the full recording here.

Why is having a sound talent acquisition strategy so important?

With all the uncertainty in the job market, you might be wondering if it makes sense to invest in a talent acquisition strategy. After all, your hiring plan is more likely to change than to stay the same – you’ll almost certainly have to scale up or down in response to outside forces.

Perhaps they’re slightly biased in this respect, but our panelists all agree that having a talent acquisition strategy is non-negotiable. The effects of not having a strategy can be disastrous, said Maria. “Not having a sound talent acquisition strategy in place really just feels like spinning your wheels. You’re wasting time and resources.” Jeremy agreed: “By hiring the right people for the right roles at the right time, you’ll be set up to achieve your organization’s revenue goals and lower the costs that are related to having empty seats.”

Employees end up being more satisfied with more opportunities to grow within the organization if you have a sound talent acquisition strategy in place.Jeremy Tolan, Partnership Manager, Spark Hire

Beyond cost savings, a talent acquisition strategy also allows recruiters to be more streamlined and efficient in how they use their time, said Melanie. Creating a clear, structured hiring process ultimately benefits everyone. “When you have a predefined process, you already know how you’re going to find those people. That gives you more time for networking and conducting phone interviews and screens.”

What talent acquisition strategies do you recommend organizations adopt for the coming year?

Looking to the short and mid-term future, where should talent acquisition teams invest their time and resources? Maria said she’s leaning heavily into an internal mobility strategy. “As companies continue to scale, the likelihood of finding talent within the walls of your own organization grows significantly. You have entire talent pools of candidates on hand, fully bought into your mission and ramped on your company. So why not go there first?”

An effective internal mobility strategy takes the partnership of your talent management teams. Collaborate with them to ensure that you have clear growth paths for your employees and that conversations about growth – whether that be vertical within your org, or diagonal, going outside your team and into other teams across the org – are happening often and always.Maria Culbertson, Senior Team Manager, Talent Planning & Acquisition at Greenhouse

Jeremy said he’s seeing a lot of emphasis being placed on candidate experience and encouraged everyone to look for ways to personalize communication with candidates. This takes on even more importance when the majority of hiring is happening virtually, said Jeremy. “I’m a big proponent of incorporating videos in email communication with candidates because it’s a lot more engaging and it can help you tell the story about your culture and give candidates a chance to virtually meet different members of your team throughout the hiring process.”

“If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that we have to remain agile,” said Melanie. “Nothing is the same as it was a few years ago and it probably won’t be the same two months from now.” She added that one of the biggest mistakes she’s seen over the years is talent acquisition teams suspending all their efforts during layoffs and hiring freezes. Instead, Melanie recommended taking a proactive approach: “Keep your network up and use your past experience to predict which positions will typically open up first or where you’ve historically seen the most backfill needs.”

What are the essential talent acquisition tools and strategies companies can’t afford to cut corners on?

Here’s a lightning-round overview of the panelists’ top picks for strategies and solutions.

Hiring service level agreements (SLAs)
“Creating a hiring SLA, an internal agreement between your different hiring team members, is particularly critical in a virtual environment because it will help you avoid any unnecessary communication that will slow down your hiring process like long email threads or too many instant messages being exchanged,” said Jeremy. To put together a hiring SLA, you just need to define each stage of your hiring process, and within each stage, outline which tasks need to be completed, when they need to be completed by and which team member is going to own each task.

A reliable applicant tracking system (ATS)
“First and foremost is a reliable ATS,” said Melanie. “That’s your home base – where you manage your prospects, nurture them and where you can consolidate all of your efforts.” Melanie also highlighted the importance of choosing other tools that integrate with your ATS such as text messaging or call systems so you can keep a record of all communication with candidates. Maria backed this up and said it’s important to have an ATS that allows your team to collect data and report on your progress.

No matter what changes you may see in the market, the ability to use data and make sure your team has what they need to do their jobs effectively remains. It’s the glue that holds it all together. Maria Culbertson, Senior Team Manager, Talent Planning & Acquisition at Greenhouse

Candidate experience
“In today’s market, anything related to candidate experience,” said Maria. She suggested investing in tools that collect qualitative feedback from your candidates, tools that allow you to create multiple touch points and white glove service and tools that help you showcase your company culture through the hiring process.

Looking for even more insights and advice from this conversation, including how to measure the impact of your talent acquisition team and make the case for a new ATS to company leadership? Find it all in the on-demand recording, available here.

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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