Mature Talent Strategies

Why Mature Talent Strategies Are Necessary

Organizations with the most mature talent acquisition functions perform 30% better on business outcomes and are 160% more likely to achieve higher recruiting performance results than organizations with primarily reactive recruiting processes, according to Robin Erickson, vice president and talent acquisition research leader at Bersin by Deloitte.

Bersin by Deloitte found that companies with high-maturity talent acquisition functions exhibit 18% higher revenue and 30% greater profitability compared to companies with low-maturity talent acquisition performance. These numbers are real and true reflections of organizations that are investing in a mature and appropriate talent strategy for their business. So, why is it that so many organizations treat their talent acquisition program and candidates so capriciously?

Talent acquisition is a complex, multifaceted function, and understanding the key performance drivers that propel an organization toward maturity is essential for TA leaders and recruiters. – Robin Erickson

A reality exists in most companies that talent acquisition and development is an afterthought or a rushed and unrefined activity – with most roles being filled in a reactive [and disturbing] “post and pray” way. This type of – for lack of a better term – strategy is tantamount to employing the strategy of hope in other areas of the business. Sure you’ll get resumes and candidates – but you will likely have a pool of mediocre – at best – people to select from that are the most homogenized and indistinguishable assortment of “talent” that matches the same type of person the company already employs. How is that beneficial to any organization in today’s quickly evolving markets?

Signs of a High-Impact Talent Acquisition Strategy

  • Talent Acquisition is integrated across all areas of the business – Strategy, Career Development, and Culture;
  • Talent Acquisition is utilizing strategic sourcing, which starts with recognizing the value of internal talent;
  • Talent Acquisition emphasizes a candidates work ethic, values, and potential as much as skills and past accomplishments;
  • Talent Acquisition constructs a personalized journey to engage top talent, strengthen the employer brand, and promote the organization’s culture;
  • Talent Acquisition continuously regenerates through a commitment to upskilling, learning initatives, and professional growth opportunities;
  • Talent Acquisition uses AI, predictive data analytics, and other beneficial and innovative technology tools to drive improvement and metrics.

The Talent Strategy Reality

We often measure, through different levers, the various levels of effectiveness around how companies strive to attract, develop, engage and retain talent to move their businesses forward.  According to Deloitte, 90% of mid-market firms and 59% of the Global 2000 are at a Level 2 maturity on the below 4-point scale.

  • Level 1: Little to no talent management strategy and inconsistent talent management practices [a.k.a. post & pray]
  • Level 2: Emerging talent integration strategies and some targeted learning for critical roles
  • Level 3: Clear talent management strategy, strong learning culture and the beginnings of systemic approach to talent
  • Level 4: Clear and well communicated strategy to build and sustain top talent in a systemic, strategic and inclusive manner across the entire organization

Sadly, in the same survey, no mid-market organizations had as yet achieved this Level 4 and only 29% of the Global 2000 were at Levels 3 or 4 – indicating most organizations have a long way to go to be truly powerful in their talent strategy plan to complement the organizational vision and strategic objectives.

Interestingly, when I speak with organizations they all have a very strong desire to drive talent effectiveness for elevated business results. But – rarely can even the most senior of the executive leadership team identify how to create and manage action around improving this crucial area of the business. Though this is not all the necessary considerations I usually surface, here are some ideas on how to make Talent Acquisition more effective in your organization or area of responsibility:

  • Understand the business strategy and critical priorities and how the roles fit in with these [priority on those that have the highest level of impact to the company objectives];
  • MUST truly understand the role(s) that they are hiring for [what are the critical success factors, what are the signature relationships practices of the business unit, what culture contributions should they be making?];
  • Identify how and where talent can most move the business strategy forward;
  • Analyze your workforce and identify current and future talent/skills gaps and create a learning plan to address these chasms;
  • Provide development and growth opportunities that are aligned with current and future needs, people marketability, and culture sustainability;
  • Build a learning ecosystem that believes in and supports career development and career journeys;
  • Encourage learning across functions to develop workforce flexibility and investment;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to inclusion and diversity that goes beyond an acceptable and token level [everybody makes a difference].

The Bersin by Deloitte research showed that developing strong relationships with hiring managers is the top driver of talent acquisition performance and four times more influential than the other performance drivers studied, which included employment brand, social media, recruiter training, employee referral programs, reporting and analytics, and leveraging of technology.

The impact of effective relationships with hiring managers is seen not only by smarter hiring decisions and increased productivity but also through the greater perception and value of talent acquisition as a whole in the organization,” Erickson said.

Candidate pipeline development is the second most influential talent acquisition performance driver, two times more influential than the remaining performance drivers.

The key to maximizing candidate pools is quality over quantity,” she said. “Good recruiters know not only where to find the talent they seek but also understand how to engage and, finally, how to nurture and sustain communications with prospective targets over time.” Not only do good recruiters do this but great leaders do this also when they identify talent that is right for their business, team, and culture.

Building A Robust, Vivid, and Human Talent Community

It’s clear that, as effective leaders [even those outside of the talent acquisition arena], we must embrace a more relationship-driven recruitment strategy to source and capture the high-potential and high-productivity candidate most organizations need to find to drive results, growth, and sustainability.

Despite what some organizations assume, simply investing in a recruitment CRM system and migrating contacts from your zero-charisma [and usually terrible] ATS will absolutely not improve or inspire candidate experience. Why? Because the power of a CRM system doesn’t just stem from the contacts in its database – it stems from an organizations and leaders ability to activate, engage, and energize those contacts through connecting with them on a personalized and human level.

SmashFly’s research on how Fortune 500 companies use recruitment marketing strategies showed that while 35% of companies have a talent network in place, many companies still have a limited understanding of what it takes to create an excellent candidate experience. Looking at key data points on how top companies nurture relationships with talent today, it’s clear that technology is, indeed, the mechanism, but it’s up to leaders to fuel the strategy and the most effective leaders ensure key personal elements are in place to capture and retain the best talent for their business outside of technology and using a hand’s-on | personal approach.

  • Identify intrinsic values tied to the employer brand/vision
  • Create a pipeline
  • Maintain open and accessible communication
  • Be patient and engaging with candidates and request their patience in return
  • Be honest & authentic at all times
  • Build a relationship around reciprocity
  • Focus on the individual – everyone is different and requires different levels of communication/interaction

Today’s talent has options and a voice – and more than ever they expect [and deserve] to have honest and open dialogs about the roles, expectations, career path, and culture of the company starting with their point of initial contact about an opportunity. Working to create and support a mature talent experience program will separate companies that clearly don’t invest in their people from those that insist on hiring the best and the brightest and treating them like the smart, ambitious, driven, innovative people they are both during the courting phase and through their career journey with the company.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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