Total Talent Acquisition for Today’s Job Market

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Managing the Workforce as a Single Entity

The Need for a Unified View of Talent

Even when it is handled well, talent acquisition is an increasingly costly process in today’s job market. Hiring the wrong people or in the wrong positions wastes time, money and effort. The intense competition for scarce talent makes mistakes more damaging – you may not get a second chance to hire the right person. In addition, inept hiring practices not only damage an organization’s reputation with other candidates but also may violate regulatory compliance.

Acquiring the right talent on a timely basis requires that companies understand today’s candidates, especially younger ones, and develop ways to attract them. But many hiring managers still operate in isolation and fail to access the variety of talent pools now available, often overlooking channels that potential employees prefer to use. Old habits and antiquated methods impede efforts to find and secure the talent that can satisfy not only the current but also the future needs of an organization. Organizations simply cannot continue to rely on these hiring practices as the generational demographics of the workforce change.


Organizations should take a comprehensive look at the total pool of talent options, including contingent and part-time as well as permanent workers.

It is well-documented that older workers are leaving as younger ones arrive. In 2011, the first Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) turned 65, and every day for the next 19 years 10,000 more will do so, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2014, the so-called millennial generation (born between 1977 and 1997) made up nearly half of the global workforce, according to Harvard Business Review. However, the Baby Boom generation was much larger than those succeeding it. The result is that the pool of qualified workers is shrinking as more people retire every day than enter the workforce.

This situation requires flexibility from organizations in their hiring functions. To succeed in identifying, recruiting and retaining the best talent, they should take a comprehensive look at the total pool of options, including contingent and part-time as well as permanent workers. By ignoring any of these workforce segments, organizations can miss significant numbers of valuable contributors or spend more than necessary on acquisitions. According to McKinsey & Co., 57 percent of companies plan to use more part-time, temporary or contract workers over next five years.

To master the changing dynamics of the workforce, we recommend an approach called total talent acquisition, which incorporates a series of processes that unify the entire chain of hiring events, from marketing the company, posting jobs, interviewing, screening, verifying and onboarding to engaging all candidates in a proactive and professional manner. It involves recruiters, human resources professionals, hiring managers and candidates. It also requires applications that provide access to all pertinent information and enable users to understand its import for acquiring talent. To get started, follow these steps designed to align people, processes, information and technology and direct them toward a single goal.

Establishing Total Talent Acquisition

Since this activity is about people, start by bringing together your own staff. To comply with the increasingly strict regulatory environment, HR should oversee hiring historically left to procurement functions or individual business units, even those that outsource their search; corporations have been found liable for discriminatory procedures of their third-party staffing agencies. HR also should include hiring managers from the outset and see that they have tools that provide access to all available talent and help them determine quickly whether candidates meet the specific needs of a role.

Total talent acquisition also focuses on the effectiveness of processes, which include sourcing, evaluating, selecting and onboarding. The parties involved should collaborate to assess all aspects of the acquisition process and identify where improvement is needed. The effort should produce quantified answers to questions such as these:

  • Who determines the criteria currently used to assess candidates?
  • How long does it take from placing a requisition with HR and recruiters until the job is posted?
  • How many and what sort of responses do you get from each source where you place job announcements?
  • How do you collect and assess responses from applicants?
  • How long does it take to schedule and conduct interviews?
  • What is the typical duration of the entire process until a new hire is brought on board?

Use these answers to guide improvement efforts, such as finding which parts of the process take too long, whether you receive the expected number and quality of applicants, and which channels deliver the most qualified candidates. Also determine whether your process is flexible enough to assess the labor status that might be most suitable. Then determine what it will take to address issues and what the risks are of ignoring them.

At this point, institute processes to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of your process, using tools that can apply analytics to workforce data related to time, cost and performance. We have found hiring metrics related to cost, quality, time, cost and satisfaction to be the most widely used. Participants in our benchmark research on social recruiting said that these metrics are very important: quality of hire (cited by 88%), cultural fit (68%), hiring manager satisfaction (56%), time to hire (53%) and cost per hire (49%). Also establish governance metrics to determine whether your processes are within industry and organization averages and compliance metrics to ensure that your regulations and policies are adhered to.

At the outset, ask all stakeholders candidly whether they get all the well-qualified candidates they need, in a timely enough fashion. If many say no, admit that change is necessary to acquire the right type of talent wherever it may be found. Involving all the right people, putting in place measurable processes and tracking their effectiveness, and providing tools for managers to use the information arriving from the increased variety of sources can bring the talent you need into the organization. If the time and cost of hire are reduced and the quality of available candidates increases, the entire company benefits. A unified approach to talent acquisition can make all the difference.

About Ventana Research

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