Recruiters Today Need 3 Degrees of Awareness

Read TA blog posts and listen to HR podcasts, and you’d be convinced that recruitment has undergone a huge change over the past six months. Target demographics have been adjusted, best practices have been revised, technology has been upgraded or replaced and then there’s what’s happening to budgets and headcount. That’s the conventional wisdom, but is it correct? TAtech has launched a TA Change Assessment Survey to find out. There are just 10 questions which should take fewer than 6 minutes to complete, so please give us your thoughts on this important topic. But, before you do, consider the following.

If you read what’s posted online, change is the new normal in talent acquisition. Here are just some of the headlines from recent articles and blog posts:
• “How to Adapt Your Talent Acquisition Strategy During COVID-19”
• “4 Ways the Gig Economy Will Change Talent Acquisition Strategies”
• “Tailoring talent acquisition strategies to a changing labor market”
• “Talent acquisition strategies in the new world of work”
• “Redesign Recruiting Strategies to Hire Quality Talent”

The change these titles are promoting are based on a cascade of assumptions. The primary one, of course, is that what’s happening today – the Covid-19 pandemic and recession, the social justice movement and the drive for greater DE&I, the rise of remote working and gig/contractor arrangements, for example – is a full and sufficient reason to implement a change in an employer’s talent acquisition strategy. The thinking behind all of these posts is that today’s dynamics are different in kind from those that existed previously and, therefore, adaptation is not only appropriate but necessary.

For that assumption to be valid, however, the employer’s current strategy must be inadequate to meet the current challenges. To quote a former Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That said, nothing’s perfect or even close to that state. Every strategy can be improved, and given current levels of women in higher levels of corporate leadership – to take just one example – there’s plenty of improvement needed. But then there’s a second assumption in the cascade. These titles all assume that corporate executives are rational leaders.

CEOs have long positioned themselves as the most rational of actors. They even have a phrase for it – they call it their “fiduciary responsibility.” If changes need to be made to ensure the financial wellbeing of the company and its shareholders, they will make them because that is the smart and right thing to do. As experience has shown, however, acting is a strong CEO trait – remember “Our employees are our most important asset” – but being rational is not. What many companies are doing today is what many companies have always done: they’re laying off recruiters and cutting budget because … well, because they aren’t hiring right now. And without appropriate headcount or meaningful investment, change of any kind is impossible.

Which brings us to the TAtech survey. To be successful at instituting real and useful change, talent acquisition leaders and professionals must have three degrees of awareness:
• First, they need to know if their strategy is inadequate to meet current challenges. They must conduct an honest and frank assessment of their performance to date, not to find fault, but to identify gaps that should be addressed.
• Second, they need to know if change is even possible given the capacity for rational decision-making among their corporate leaders. Most CEOs have learned to talk a good game on HR issues, so what’s important is to examine their behaviors – do they, in fact, walk the talk.
• And third, they need to know what other companies are doing. Not to play the copycat, but rather to assess how much traction all this push for change is getting in other organizations. Is it just the flavor of the moment or a genuine reset in the way talent acquisition is performed?

The first and second degrees of awareness are based on self-assessment. They can and should be achieved internally by an organization’s recruiting team. The third requires external input from HR and talent acquisition professionals and leaders at a range of enterprise employers and SMBs. That’s the purpose of the TAtech TA Change Assessment Survey. Please share your experience and insights and encourage your friends and colleagues to do so, as well. That will ensure we’ll all know if things have really changed in recruitment and, if so, how.

Food for Thought,

Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.

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