Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. on Talent Acquisition

The following is a guest post by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., author of The Trouble with HR.

A Five-Step Program for Talent Acquisition

I’ve laid out a five-step program on what it takes to develop a talent acquisition strategy rather than what most organizations employ, which is the scattershot approach.

Step 1: Understanding Business Cycle and Labor Market Trends.

The first thing you need to do in developing a talent acquisition strategy is to understand the entire business context. If business is booming and accountants are at a premium, your hiring strategy will have to take a certain approach. If business is plummeting and there’s a glut of accountants in the market, you can take a different approach. Sizing up the marketplace is the first step to developing a hiring strategy.

Step 2: Getting Clear about Culture.

Every organization has its own workplace culture. What works in hiring at Microsoft, which offers a fairly structured approach to technology, may not work at Google, where creative, open-ended thinking is revered. For that matter, what works at the U.S. Army headquarters may not work at the National Institute of Health, although both are arms of the federal government. Therefore, hiring and talent managers must recruit for their culture and not just base their selections on skills and competencies.

Step 3: Designing a Strategic Plan.

Once you have sized up the marketplace and defined the culture, you need to create a strategic hiring plan. How are you going to hire? What will unify the approach? How will you involve both line managers and HR? How will you determine your hiring needs for today and a year down the road?

Step 4: Building Your Employment Brand in the Marketplace.

Just as every company vies for customers against its competitors, you must compete for employees in a difficult hiring marketplace in the post-baby-boomer years. Libby Sartain, former chief HR executive at Yahoo, has said that nearly every one of the company’s technical hires had received offers from Google and Microsoft. Sartain suggests HR must be able to explain why a prospective employee should choose your company over your major competitor. You need a strong three-sentence answer to offer your company’s competitive edge. How a company brands itself to employees can make the difference in attracting the most talented applicants that have multiple offers to choose from.

Step 5: Developing a Sales Mentality and Rewards Program for Talent Acquisition Professionals.

Like the classic Rodney Dangerfield comedic persona, talent acquisition staffs receive no respect. If they do their job right, no one notices. If vacancies aren’t filled, business groups are up in arms. Treating your talent acquisition team like a sales staff by rewarding them for recruiting revenue producers is one way to grant them respect.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is the author of The Trouble with HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People (AMACOM 2009) with Gary M. Stern. He was the first African-American chairman of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and served as CEO of Rushmore Drive, a IAC/InterActive Corp Internet business. He has held senior legal and HR executive roles with many companies, including Blockbuster, Paramount Pictures, and Alamo Rent-A-Car. Taylor travels the world extensively as a business leadership speaker and human resource thought leader and is frequently sought out by national and international media outlets such as “The Today Show”, CNBC, Reuters, HR Magazine, “CBS Evening News”, Time, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal for his opinion and comments regarding complex human resource and leadership issues facing employers.


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