TA teams are struggling to develop and move to the next level. Action needs to be taken before business leaders decide their investment isn’t worth it. 

Je ne regrette rien!

Referring back to our Talent Leaders: Facing 2019 report, at first glance one of the most striking answers was that 27% of talent leaders would not have done anything differently during the previous 12 months; it was a top answer! Upon first reading this statistic, I have to admit I was taken aback. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20; surely there would be something, however small, that talent acquisition professionals would change if given the chance?

I revisited this figure to find a different perspective. If 27% were happy with their decision making, that means 73% were not. Rather than giving us a picture of 1 in 4 TA leaders resting on their laurels and feeling that everything they did last year was great, we’re seeing 3/4 struggling to understand what they need to do in 2019 to rectify the mistakes of 2018.

Same struggle, different year

2019 doesn’t appear to be heading in a very different direction from 2018, or indeed 2017, or 2016… Our survey showed that talent acquisition’s priorities for the year ahead are almost identical to last year’s, namely overcoming the talent shortage and improving quality of hire. To me, this is disappointing, but does follow the same trend that we saw in the previous section on regrets from last year.

In other words, TA leaders are constantly battling the same issues, year in, year out. This means that all the previous strategies they have used to try and get a hold on these problems have failed. What’s more, I suspect that had we run this survey for the past decade, the answers would have been almost identical. It would be easy for a business leader to look at these results and believe that talent acquisition is failing to improve year on year and are directionless, but I believe that the true problem is one of having to run faster to remain in the same spot. The world is changing; recruiters and hiring managers no longer have the same control over candidates that they once did.

The power shift we’re continuing to experience in the digital age means that candidates are more informed, more financially savvy, and far more able to compare and contrast their experiences of companies, interviews and hiring processes with others. The job market has shrunk significantly with the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and self-employment, all of which adds up to a more difficult task in the talent acquisition department.

Getting a grip on TA in 2019

What is the solution to the apparently-rudderless TA industry’s inability to move forward? It appears that a lack of vision, clarity, drive and focus on overcoming the most pressing challenges will continue to hamper any attempt at progress unless drastic action is taken. 

That said, the conversations I have every day with TA leaders mainly revolve around discussing how to get the best from their teams; whether it be moving recruitment’s positioning from being an order taker to a strategic partner, adopting a proactive rather than reactive mindset, or increasing the hiring team’s focus on driving up quality, the will to improve is most definitely present. If talent acquisition wants to survive as a serious function within organisations, all of this must become a reality, and talent leaders know it. Businesses are not going to continue to invest in large recruitment teams with senior well paid professionals if they can’t move themselves on from just being direct sourcing machines.

If the desire for change is present and there are resources available, what’s hindering TA’s progress? It seems to me that coordination may be at the heart of the problem. Strategic imperatives get lost or downgraded in the midst of a busy and difficult year (which is every year, let’s be honest), and C-Suite executives are more concerned with current performance against targets than helping TA achieve the next level of delivery. Focus on what’s truly important in the long term must be retained, and putting a framework in place to support this should be top of every TA leader’s agenda for 2019.


Struggling to get a grip on your TA ambitions? We can help.

Howard Flint

Howard Flint

Chief Strategy Officer

Howard has worked in the HR and Recruitment sphere for almost 20 years. He is dedicated to providing his advice and expertise to global HR leaders to help improve Quality of Hire.