There is a lot of talk about Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding, but mostly just talk with little substance. Too often it – unfortunately – turns out that the “old” recruiting function has just been renamed to Talent Acquisition to keep up with the trend, without actually changing the operational model. Then this rebranded recruiting function is supplemented with Employer Branding, which – strangely – is often seen as a function of its own. Sorry to say, but this level of internal co-operation in today’s competitive talent market just does not cut it. But before we go any further, let’s take a step back and see why we are where we are.

Traditionally recruitment has been one of the many processes run by the HR.

HR-Recruitment-ProcessTraditional recruiting process


As it became evident that the roles  in many cases have shifted and it’s indeed the candidate that is running the show, we started to look into things that could differentiate our companies from the competition and that’s when we started to talk about Employer Branding. This happened around the time it became evident we needed to become pro-active and not just wait around for the talent to come to us. This was when we started to talk about Talent Acquisition.

TA in this shape and form is an improvement over the traditional HR led process. But in today’s world where we all are – at the same time -trying to connect with millennials, fighting for top talent that already have great positions, figuring out how to differentiate ourselves to build interest and learning how to reach students – in this world we need a better toolkit than this. We need Talent Acquisition 2.0.

Total Talent

‘Total Talent’ – for many – might be the same as learning to run before you can walk. ‘Total Talent’ thinking means strategic talent management (workforce planning) and total visibility of  the whole funnel of the talent needs to the talent market. It means a talent strategy that is fully connected with the business strategy. It means that TA sits in the meetings where business goes over their sales pipeline. It means moving TA from its HR bubble and integrating it to the business. It means fundamental change in how Talent Acquisition is perceived inside the company.

Depending on the company size and culture, TA driven ‘Total Talent’ can be anything from difficult to nearly impossible to implement. Yet, it should always be the goal. But there are good reasons why it’s so bloody challenging:

  • Accurate labor forecasting is hard
  • It’s not typically seen as the TA’s responsibility (change management)
  • It requires deep co-operation across different functions (TA, HR, Marketing, Communication)
  • Deep integration to the business and their ownership
  • It’s a big task. It’s a big shift. And change is scary.



Total Talent model


In essence, ‘Total Talent’ is all about co-operation and communication beyond business and support functions. It is horizontal and vertical integration where talent is in the middle of everything.  It means that acquiring talent is our shared responsibility as a company – every single employee in this company is a recruiter. We move away from reactive operational model to a pro-active model where TA is driving the talent dialog with the business.

‘Total Talent’ strategy empowers us with the capability of having the right talent where we need them, when we need them – whether that means staffing or re-skilling existing people, hiring externally, using contractors or whatever. The point is that all this is managed under one ‘Total Talent’ model. This requires good visibility to the businesses short- and long-term talent needs, and strategic talent management. This is TA 2.0.

Candidates are our customers

Business understands the importance of customers and increasing sales, so that is the language we as TA should be speaking. So, as soon as we start treating “candidates as customers” and the business taking ownership and understanding that this is something they need to lead, we start to create value. From the customer / candidate journey perspective the difference in what we communicate to our customers is very much the same than what it is for the candidate. Candidates are just as interested in the story we have to tell than our customers. If customer journey can be defined as the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with our company and brand, then candidate journey is the exact same thing, just with a twist. The future of employer branding lies in managing these experiences in similar fashion as in growth marketing (growth hacking).



Growth marketing meets talent marketing


Therefore, it is only natural to include the talent aspect to the mix when e.g doing growth marketing plans. For business it is already natural to have marketing and communications involved, it should be just as natural to have TA. This is the level of co-operation where TA needs to operate in order to bring real business value. This is TA 2.0.

If it Doesn’t Add Value – it’s Waste!

Lean is a management philosophy derived heavily from the Toyota Production System (TPS), a socio-technical system developed by Toyota.

The primary focus of Lean is creating more value with less work. It considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customers to be wasteful, and is based on the notion that you should only call upon your resources (in this case candidates) when you need them. In Lean manufacturing this concept is referred to as ‘Just-in-Time’ or JIT.

As we minimize the ‘waste’ in the recruiting process we free-up recruiters time from wasteful activities such as screening resumes.

In recruitment JIT means heavy emphasis on candidate pools. The typical recruitment process is more or less turned on its head. We no longer concentrate on collecting hundreds of new applications (the waste) but concentrate on the resources we already have. This can potentially be a huge time saver when filling hard to fill positions. Requirement is – of course – that we have good visibility to the talent need  (short- and long-term) and are actively building high-quality pipelines (keeping GDPR in mind).

As we minimize (and automate) the ‘waste’ in the recruiting process, we also free-up recruiters time from wasteful activities such as screening resumes, scheduling interviews, or sending rejection emails. By emphasizing lean thinking, minimizing waste and optimizing the utilization of resources, we can let recruiters to focus on more strategic ‘Talent Advisory’ tasks that help to drive the company forward. Things such as:

  • Capacity planning and needs forecasting
  • Strategic talent planning with the business to determine future skills requirements
  • Relationship building with the hiring managers
  • Networking within the industry

For us to effectively leverage Lean it’s important to have a good understanding of the hidden wastes inside of the recruiting process. Essentially which steps in a process add value to customers (business) and which do not. Then we should concentrate on improving the ones that add value and eliminating the ones that do not. This is TA 2.0.

Agility = Quality

In modern TA and especially in today’s highly competitive labor market, one size just simply does not fit all. In traditional recruitment it was thought that by standardizing the recruitment process we would ensure quality. I guess this approach can still work in some situations (mass recruitment) but the problem with it is that it mostly works on paper. The process is just as efficient as the people running it, so in reality it would require TA to run it, for it to function as designed. However, modern TA – as described above – should be about deep collaboration rather than managing a process.

As by Lean principle, anything that doesn’t provide value is waste. Therefore, we should always aim to fill positions from our Talent Pool to ensure efficiency. However, this is not always possible and for those times we should have another approach or a process (if that’s a term we want to use). Clearly traditional – one-size-fits-all – recruiting process is not the answer, but what could be? As each case is unique it should be something that allows us to purpose build the process. This is also crucial for us to minimize waste. Additionally, it should also ensure the Hiring Manager’s full involvement. So, in essence, we need a model that is flexible, agile, minimizes waste and ensures that business takes ownership. Challenging combination for sure. For this, our solution is something we call Recruiting as a Service or RaaS.

RaaS powered by candidate personas

‘Recruiting as a Service by Tieto’ is essentially a toolkit for business that consists of a set of modules. These modules can then be anything from interviews to assessments to prescreening to meetups. Instead of following just one predefined recruiting process we can now custom build the process based on the exact role we’re trying to fill.


RaaS modules


We no longer use X amount of time in educating (i.e. forcing) the Hiring Manager to follow one pre-defined process, but instead we collaborate and build the workflow together. Some modules can also require the participation of other functions such as marketing or communication. Each module clearly defines the content, explains what the commitment from TA and Hiring Manager is and defines the expense (in time and money). This way the TA can provide exactly the level of service that is needed (i.e. minimize waste) and the business knows what their exact commitment needs to be. Not every case needs to be built from ground up either. As the model is optimized for efficiency and speed, we can build templates based on candidate profiles. –You need a Senior Java develop? – fine – we suggest these modules.  You need an SAP consultant? – fine – we suggest these modules, and so on.

Collaborate, focus and create value

With ‘Total Talent’ we can build a base for all-inclusive strategic thinking, where talent is the enabler of our business strategy. With Lean processes we focus on things that add value. Through the improved efficiency we can transform recruiters into Talent Advisors. To guarantee speed we emphasize the use of talent pools and RaaS to prove agility. This is TA on steroids.

At the end we come back to the ‘candidate is our customer’ thinking.  We live in a brand-led, relationship-based talent market. The companies that provide purpose, recognize the full candidate journey, understand the decision-making process behind it and start building relationships – will be winners.

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