How to Take the Guesswork Out of Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition (TA) technology is a complex landscape that continues to evolve at a rapid pace. According to industry analysts at Aptitude Research, 73% of companies have increased their TA tech investments in 2022, and 70% say they will continue to do so even during a recession.

A desire for efficiency in hiring has driven employers to focus on improving sourcing, onboarding, and assessments over the past several years, but quality of hire is playing a primary role today. The focus on quality pushes companies to better understand who is the best fit at the best cost and where to focus their TA effort. Such demand for intelligence fuels new investment in technology and a hunger for data, even as some organizations remain unsure of the returns on their technology.

So, how has TA technology evolved, and how has it changed the industry for the better?

Going Deeper with Detail and Relevance

The idea that TA tech helps employers replace “hunches” with factual data for their workforce and strategies is no longer new. Most TA decision-makers are familiar with running analyses of past efforts, seeing who was hired and when, or determining what it took to achieve that hire.

But many still do not rely on such information. The reason is that while analysis was possible, in the past, it often entailed a long research process. Today, the advances in workforce intelligence solutions eliminate that barrier of difficulty. The strength of a mature artificial intelligence (AI)-driven data aggregation and analysis solution is that it quickly delivers detailed intelligence relevant to specific questions and demands. This data provides the feedback necessary to adjust and adapt the TA process based on current information, not last quarter’s results.

For example, consider the time-to-fill (TTF) metric. Traditional TTF shows how long it takes to put people in certain positions on average over a specific time frame. While it helps point out issues, it gives little indication of why a role is slow to fill. Today, organizations should expect timing metrics to go into more detail. The data can now indicate how long each step in the process takes, allowing us to drill into focused points of the process. If you know the hiring manager’s decision time after a particular interview stage took overly long, then you can go and fix that point and achieve the results you need.

That level of detail is also crucial to promoting diversity in hiring. When you can measure diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at every step in the process, you gain a unique insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your recruiting operations, and you can identify places to take specific actions that will influence your outcomes.

A Shift in Priorities

The recent advancement of TA technology has also created a shift in priorities for TA leaders. What used to be a world that revolved around speed and efficiency now focuses on quality of hire and retention. Although efficiency remains critical to TA, the pendulum is swinging back to the quality of hire as the number one driver in TA investments in 2023, according to Aptitude Research. We have shifted from a “hard to find vs. hard to fill” landscape to a “hard to attract vs. hard to keep” landscape over the past 2 years.

So, how have tactics evolved to prioritize quality? The answer begins with the idea that knowledge is power. Particularly at the start of the process, extra research ensures the recruiting effort targets the right talent with the most effective strategy possible. And while that extra effort may feel like a slow start, using market intelligence and research at the beginning of the funnel allows for a more accurate candidate pool later.

Best Practices for TA Managers

 Before deciding on how to refine your TA process, here are some ideas to think about:

  1. Question every assumption in your TA process (e.g., tools, tech, cost, location, skills, time required, pipeline required). Examining everything is a lot of work. We know this. Every hiring manager, recruiter, and executive knows this. But the alternative—using outdated tools and practices—is even more work. The pain of a challenging market now makes every stakeholder more open to questioning the details, which is good for TA.
  2. Open the conversation with all your TA and business stakeholders. This includes surveying the recruiters. Often, different stakeholders in the recruiting process are left out of planning discussions, yet the success of the whole effort depends on their support. Recruiters are a prime example. Make sure they are heard and that they have a say in how decisions are made. The same can apply to all stakeholders in the TA process.
  3. Don’t let urgency replace thoughtful investment for staying competitive. Urgency is coming at us from every angle, including, and most importantly, from the business. That means many goals that are perceived as nonessential get left behind. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and capital in those “nice to haves.” They are likely necessary to keep you ahead in this competitive market.

There is no simple formula for putting the above priorities and practices into action, but the stakes are significant. Raising the role of data in the talent decision is not just important for TA but also essential for the future of the business.

Noelle Paras is VP Client Services at Sevenstep.

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