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What do CHROs look for in their Talent Acquisition Leaders?

The 7 Must-Have Capabilities of Talent Acquisition Heads of Today

Photo by Jenean Newcomb on Unsplash

Even as the world faces uncertainty around economic volatility, inflation, and a changing labor market, the demand for certain roles continues to grow. Change is vital for many businesses to survive in the new climate but there are hurdles to be crossed first. According to the ‘Future of Jobs Survey 2023’* by the World Economic Forum, 53% cite their inability to attract talent as the main barrier to business transformation. And that’s where the TA function and TA leaders come in.

The pandemic threw the industry a curveball but what followed after ‘The Great Resignation’ has been a sea change in the way companies work, what employees seek from their jobs, and by extension - how talent acquisition looks. Working closely with CHROs as well as talent acquisition heads has given us a ringside view of the story as it unfolds. Here’s a look at some of the key trends sweeping the talent acquisition function today. We show you how this impacts the skills and expertise the talent acquisition heads of tomorrow will need to have in their arsenal.

But before that, let’s take a step back and understand why talent acquisition remains so critical as a function for businesses, and why the role of the TA leader is such a strategic position.

Is Talent Acquisition Still Important?

The answer is a resounding yes. Staffing an organization right is vital to business success and this has never been truer than now. As organizations navigate choppy waters, an uncertain economic climate, and headwinds by way of cost cutting and financial prudence, the role of the TA leader has become increasingly important. According to ‘The Future of Recruiting 2023’** report by LinkedIn, 70% of TA professionals surveyed said they have a strategic role to play in the business - that coveted ‘seat at the table’.

To be able to do more with the same resources, to optimize processes, improve efficiency of recruitment, and deliver lasting results with reduced attrition - these are just some of the asks of a TA head today. Equally, organizations that are succeeding at talent acquisition have recognized the need to prioritize the function, to ensure the process is collaborative and aligned with business objectives.

The Future Of Talent Acquisition: Key Trends

So what are some key trends dominating talent acquisition across industries today? Here’s our outlook on key trends for 2023 and beyond.

  1. The TA function works in close quarters with business and other HR functions, ensuring recruitment goals are aligned with employee development as well as overall business strategy. As a strategic partner for the business, HR helps guide the direction and future growth. Additionally, various HR functions spanning talent acquisition and talent management (L&D) as well as payroll, are working to create a cohesive and meaningful employee journey from hiring to exit/retirement. This can ease attrition, enable effective internal hiring, and even aid succession planning. According to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2023*** 47% of L&D professionals have said that they are working in close coordination with TA now.

  2. The rise of contract work and boomerang employees - Boomerang employees or returning employees, retired employees being brought back into the fold, and internal transfers between teams are becoming commonplace. With prior organizational fit and comfort, these employees find it easier to hit the ground running than external hires. Contract work and external consultants are also growing in number as highly skilled experts prefer the flexibility of such engagements coupled with the opportunity to work on tackling interesting and unique projects. For the companies, this translates to result-driven short-term hires that deliver business value.

  3. Leveraging the latest tools and technology for talent acquisition - Be it candidate sourcing, interview process management, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) recruitment, or candidate relationship management tools, the TA function’s use of ATS(Applicant Tracking System) and its functionalities have evolved. A layer of social listening, automation, video interviews, as well as innovation in the form of AI for resume screening or automated interviews, are streamlining the process.

  4. Focus on data and metrics - Data isn’t just for sales & marketing or finance departments - it can also help TA to make more informed hiring decisions and improve the outcome of recruitment efforts. The TA function is leaning into data to gain insights on every step of the employee life cycle - from recruitment metrics and performance in interviews to post-hiring metrics. There’s a shift happening from metrics like the cost of hire to the quality of hire. Cloud-based talent platforms have made data and knowledge sharing seamless. Scenario-based demand planning can also help the TA function tide over fluctuations in hiring that come with crests and troughs in the economy.

  5. Customized compensation - The era of one-size-fits-all is over. Employees and prospective candidates value compensation packages that are customized to their needs, doing away with features that aren’t important to them and offering more of what is relevant to them. Things like the cost of living in their geography, a need for childcare at home, educational background/whether they’re pursuing further education could translate to benefits like tuition reimbursement or childcare subsidies, salaries that accommodate for living expenses in the candidate’s city of residence etc. Different individuals may place varying degrees of importance on factors such as paid time off or signing bonuses. Some may prioritize a larger assured fixed component of pay with a slightly lower payout over higher variable compensation or performance-based salary increases.

  6. What employees value in an employer is changing - where job security was important 30-40 years ago, today’s prospective employee values a workplace that offers a positive work culture, scope for learning and development, and flexible work arrangements like hybrid workplaces and work-life integration. Employees are also seeking internal mobility across functions and roles as opposed to vertical mobility; reskilling and upskilling programs are gaining momentum. Flexibility and personalized career pathways are also valued.

  7. The importance of communicating the ‘Employer Brand’ - Organizations are working on building an authentic employer brand and investing in showcasing it to draw in the top talent in the market. They leverage social media and employee advocacy programs, as well as content marketing to ensure that the target audience of candidates is aware of what the employer brand stands for and what the values and culture are.

Talent Acquisition Leaders

As the landscape changes and the role of a talent acquisition team evolves, the talent acquisition leader is expected to wear many hats and straddle multiple functions to keep up with these changes.

If you’re a CHRO looking to hire your next TA head or are staffing the role internally, these are some of the characteristics and areas of expertise in a TA leader that will help power business growth and strengthen the HR function overall.

The Business Strategist

Traits: strategic planning, business acumen, change manager, data-backed decisions, innovation leader

Profile: A business strategist with a comprehensive understanding of the intricate layers and key drivers within the organization. Takes a holistic approach to decision-making, factoring in the business model, the present financial standing of the organization, as well as the varied priorities and personalities of the many stakeholders.

The Marketer par excellence

Traits: brand advocate, excellent communicator, expertise in employer branding, creative, analytical

Profile: Is committed to building a strong employer brand and clear employee value proposition. Has experience handling recruitment marketing. Works with recruitment partners, agencies, and internal stakeholders to communicate the brand promise with clarity.

The Process-Oriented Operator

Traits: meticulous, analytical, organized, problem solver

Profile: An ability to operate efficiently and run a tight process, but at scale on a large canvas. Someone who has possibly worked before in process-oriented roles such as consulting, operations, HR, or has perhaps even been a founder. A fine balance between result-oriented and process-driven is the sweet spot that the process-oriented operator manages to hit time after time.

The Collaborative Founder/Pioneer

Traits: dynamic, driven, innovative, cross-functional collaborator, strong sense of ownership

Profile: Has a deeply ingrained sense of accountability and ownership, underpinned by a collaborative mindset. Their analysis of the business landscape informs the strategic design and objectives of the TA function.

The Technology Evangelist

Traits: curious, up-to-date, strategic, data-driven, leads change

Profile: Knows how to leverage technology in tandem with traditional TA expertise to deliver on recruiting, onboarding, and internal mobility of talent. Is up-to-date on the latest developments and applications of AI etc. and is ready to lead change.

The HR Insider

Traits: collaborative, strong HR domain expertise across HR functions, strong communicator

Profile: A solid foundation and in-depth understanding of key functions in HR. A collaborative mindset and appreciation of other HR areas helps TA to blend seamlessly with this leader at the helm. This will positively influence areas like Talent Assessment.

The People Leader

Traits: inspirational, approachable, resilient, growth-oriented, good coach and mentor, good at talent development

Profile: An undeniable leader with a take-charge quality and a vision that inspires the team and drives the goals of not just the talent acquisition team, but the business as a whole.

While the new capabilities a CHRO (Chief Human Resource Officer) expects of his TA head can be summed up in these 7 personas, the fundamentals continue to be important. Talent acquisition heads that have kept up with changes in the industry will already have cultivated many of these skills to varying degrees of proficiency. For instance, they are likely already leveraging the power of technology for managing the recruitment journey and beyond. For those that haven’t yet done so, these traits and personas can serve as guidelines to work towards to give their profile a balanced, well-rounded, and future-forward outlook. As more TA leaders move in this direction, enterprises will be able to realize the full potential of the TA function and leverage it to deliver strong and lasting business value for the organization.


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