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When Avature introduced CRM to recruiting about a decade ago, we had an uphill battle bringing established marketing practices into in-house Talent Acquisition (TA) teams. Many companies weren’t quite ready to consider that recruiting was really about engagement and redefining the up-front candidate experience. But that was just an idea, and now it’s a “must have” – it’s still not a strategic vision, though.

Dimitri Boylan, CEO at Avature, “considers HR is in the midst of a second digital transformation, where customers are looking to move beyond the initial CRM engagement process to a place where all their stakeholders – candidates, recruiters and hiring managers – are involved and highly engaged in the entire recruiting process, from initial shoulder tap with a candidate to their very first day and beyond”. This is central to a strategic approach to talent acquisition and implies a redefinition of the role of the traditional ATS from a system of record to a platform for engagement. Again – not a strategic vision but a necessary step.

Defining a Vision for Talent Acquisition

HR has spent 15 years trying to define employee self-service, which is fine, but that’s not strategic. Strategic means to have a direct impact on the competitive position of the organization. While core services (such as payroll and time-keeping) are necessary, talent-focused functions (recruiting and talent management) are the ones that are really strategic. CEOs of large companies know they are a hair’s breadth from digital disruption, and 90% of the way to avoid that is recruiting and retaining the right type of people. So there is no confusion about what strategic HR (and Talent Acquisition) is.

Talent acquisition needs to revolve around engagement and service delivery”

Dimitri Boylan, CEO, Avature

This focus will encourage companies to give those that are involved in sourcing, attracting and hiring talent the right technology to collaborate and engage with one another throughout the entire recruitment process. A service delivery focus has lots of tangible benefits – it doesn’t just redefine the analytical approach to the service; it sends the right message to the organization, establishes the terms of engagement and automatically aligns the recruiting team’s objectives with the strategies of the business it serves.

On the technology side, a service delivery focus sets a new standard for recruiting platforms and, remember, nobody gets credit for fighting with their ATS. When your team recognizes that hiring managers are customers, systems that manage service delivery are obvious choices. [Tweet this]

This level of engagement and collaboration is absolutely necessary when seeking improved talent outcomes. Recruiting agility, finding the right talent faster, building strong talent pipelines and sustaining a competitive advantage are ultimately a result of how efficient and effective the relationships are between key stakeholders. And you can only really stimulate engagement by focusing on service delivery.

Delivering a Great Candidate Experience

The impact of service delivery on the candidate experience is tremendous and can significantly alter outcomes. There has been a lot of talk about the candidate experience being about candidate responses to job adverts, or about the speed with which they can apply online, but that’s not the only important part.

“A crucial part for organizations is what happens further down the line, when the candidate starts to go through the interview, screening, and the offer process – because actually, you want the best talent to accept your offer!”

We hear lots of negatives associated to the candidate experience, such as “black hole”, “no feedback”, “long response times”, “poor interviews”, etc. These all exist because the service that takes place is not managed or enabled. From a candidate’s perspective, if their experience through screening and interviewing is average (perhaps the hiring manager wasn’t engaged, asked the wrong questions, didn’t provide feedback, turned up late), the candidate can feel let down and possibly lied to. Until the point of interview they’ve formed a good relationship with the recruiter and had an easy application experience, and suddenly it feels very different. So now it doesn’t really matter that the organization likes the candidate more and more; the candidate is actually in the process of liking them less and less. Then you arrive to the big day – the offer – and the candidate says, “no, thank you”. This is the moment when the organization starts to wonder where it went wrong. Without service management, you have no idea where or how many times the process failed, and you have no way of fixing it.

It’s only possible to deliver a great experience if the relationships between your internal stakeholders are productive, collaborative, and work in harmony. And that requires service delivery management.

Forecasts and Predictions

Ultimately, focusing on engagement and service delivery will improve your ability to forecast and predict. By managing the service delivery between all stakeholders, you can build a big picture and understand how they are engaging with each other, you can compare business area results and see where things go wrong. For example, HR can demonstrate the different ways they are working with manager x, y, and z, and show the associated outcomes. They can compare results and processes, share best practices and adjust internal practices to suit different manager needs in order to get good performances across the board.

When organizations get to this place, they are removing themselves from the one-size-fits-all approach. Ultimately you get to what all service delivery aims for, which is customer satisfaction. This is the only metric in service management – how satisfied your internal customer is.

Besides, the standard reports that many focus on – like time-to-fill and cost-per hire – are not actually reports that help you do business better. They are reports designed to satisfy other departments. Cost-per-hire is a CFO report. Time-to-fill doesn’t say anything about recruiting. They are both macroeconomic indicators and only tell you how easy or difficult it is to hire. [Tweet this]

“I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the industry are struggling to create reports that are meaningful, and the reasons for that is that you must first understand the prime HR objectives”, Dimitri explains. When you recognize that service management and delivery are the main focus, then you start looking at the reports that help you manage that service.

Extending the Focus of Candidate Experience

Our customers are placing a heavier focus on the onboarding phase than previously. They have spent considerable time, effort and money on getting the right candidate to the door, and potentially losing somebody at this stage of the game is disastrous. It’s not only financially costly but has a large effect on your brand and can send shock waves through the organization.

Strategic TA doesn’t stop with the offer process; it should and does cross right over and into onboarding and talent management”

Many view onboarding as a tedious core HR process – it’s usually a paperwork-heavy, compliance-driven process. Furthermore, it sits at the interface between TA and TM, and thus can easily be mistaken as a core process rather than a strategic one. However, it’s definitely strategic, as onboarding takes place at a sensitive period of a candidate’s life; it’s an exciting yet nervous time, with many doubts floating around. And those first experiences with an organization as an employee have the potential to impact how long a new hire stays, their perceptions, how quickly they become integrated and feel comfortable, etc. And so it’s important to approach onboarding from a strategic standpoint. With a well-structured process, an organization can squash any doubts, preserve that initial excitement and enthusiasm, positively shape the candidate’s organizational perceptions and ultimately get them up to speed and engaged quicker.

Banner of Avature's guide on employee onboarding best practices and a link to the landing page to download it.


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