Talent Acquisition Leadership #1... the changing role of TA

I recently wrote a ‘bloggers with bite’ piece http://www.recruiter.co.uk/this-breed-of-talent-leads/1011356.article for the recruiter.  This was a cut down version of another blog which I will feature here this week. I also want to say a big thank you to Rich Baker @theintrapreneur for helping me tweak the wording - follow him now!


Dear Recruitment Consultant,

Every time I say the next line, external recruitment consultants and agencies get annoyed.  I love the emails though…

What talent acquisition professionals do can make or break a company.

That is me not you.  

Yes you can source and we will happily pay for that service but be under no illusion, you do not make the decisions, you do not embed yourself in a culture, understand what the business goals really are from within an organisation.

I do.

And whilst we are at it, finding a unique candidate on linkedin is not sourcing. Getting to someone before we did might require some skill but given our corporate recruiter access to linkedin more and more of it is luck.

The role of talent acquisition is:-

  • to attract and retain the best people
  • encourage internal mobility and
  • deliver an end to end service no matter what the role, timescales or geography.

When we get it wrong we will potentially lose market share, have stagnation in career development and (if I was being a doom-monger) a business will grind slowly to a halt.  

When you get it wrong you lose a fee.

But hold a minute, if we are so good at what we do, what is going wrong? I hate to admit it but despite all the resources the corporate recruiters potentially have at their disposal (the keyword there is potentially) it isn't going to plan.

The recruitment landscape is in a state of flux.  We are all changing the model, embracing social media as a route to candidates whilst in some cases losing sight of good old fashioned 'talk to people' recruitment.  

Some corporations are expanding and developing their in-house capabilities but in the main they are playing it safe; recruiting the old guard of in-house recruiters with a focus on admin and applicant tracking system performance management scared by the transparency the new tools bring.  

Some of the current breed of  in-house recruiters will have to adapt or move on as the future doesn't necessarily work for them anymore.

But who is recruiting these safe, conventional recruiters.


Maybe, or at least some of the time; to maintain the status quo.  

But who's status quo am I maintaining?

It is not the recruiters that need to change. Sure we should all be hiring a different breed with a different approach and mindset, but in the main it is the current recruitment leaders that have the biggest changes to make.

I have met a lot of corporate TA leaders in my time, some with a global, sometimes regional perspective and whilst some of them 'get it' a lot really don't. I am continually amazed at the ‘narrow vision approach’ they have.  They are all about career protection which in turn prevents them from making tough, bold decisions.  They focus on the detail of the applicant tracking system rather than the information it can provide.  In the corporate jungle they run scared because their leadership has managed to sideline them to the poor cousin of HR who in turn is the poor cousin of almost every other corporate function restricting their influence and business clout.

It might be a huge generalisation but in the main they do what they always do until forced by the business with a big stick to do something different.  

They are being reactive.

Being forced to do something by a business is not leadership.  

If people really are an organisations greatest asset then how come the people that lead the function are sidelined in the decision making process?

Tomorrow - Talent Acquisition Leadership #2... is your business leader lying to you?