RTT – Bridging the Gap Between Resourcing and Talent

Jigsaw puzzle pieceThese are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Wednesday 24th June 2015, hosted by Which?’s Emily Woolley (Resourcing Manager), and titled ‘Bridging the Gap between Resourcing and Talent’.

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior Recruitment and Talent professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

With ever-evolving employee career-drivers and a highly competitive market it has become critical for many Recruitment, Talent, and wider HR functions to look at innovative ways to not only hire the best talent but engage with that which already lies in the business. As organisations strive to differentiate themselves from their competitors, creating cohesive processes and narratives that stretch from first contact, through the hiring process, to offer, and ultimately engage and retain subsequent employees is integral to driving better business performance on both cultural and commercial levels.

This is further spurred on by the blurring of responsibilities between previously siloed HR teams; the increasing appetite for proactive over reactive Recruitment functions; advancements in HR technology and ‘Big Data’ initiatives; and an increasing awareness of ‘Millennial’ attitudes towards work and careers.

It was evident from the morning’s discussion that, naturally, businesses are at differing stages of maturity in this matter; HR teams less siloed; process more robust; technology and systems implemented and gathering data; and the workforce engaged. As such, it was worth assessing what was ‘working’ and what concepts of best practice were beginning to coalesce.

13 tips for delivering best practice

1. Building a message, and implementing change off the back of it, starts at the top. Engage the business’ leadership teams on this to not only get buy-in but establishing a consensus. External providers (eg. YSC) can be engaged to assess and develop this.

2. Moving ‘ahead of the curve’ in a rapidly changing marketplace to ‘recruit now, for talent’ rather than specific skill sets, for business areas that may not exist yet. This is tough in Develop assessment tools to ascertain  and implement a consistent hiring profile across business lines off the back of this. Bring talent through the business and keep it engaged with skills-gap analysis, continuous learning, and subsequent internal mobility opportunities.

3. Ensuring  appropriate timescales are in place to monitor this development of  the current workforce – ensuring data from yearly reviews is collected and centralised; feeding into succession planning initiatives to assess ‘promotion ready’ employees.

4. Moving away from the typical 9-Box-Grid approach (potentially just using it in reward schemes), and introducing frameworks for behaviours and traits (eg. Insight, Results-Driven, Change-motivated…) alongside competencies.

5. Engaging with employees on what they want to do, what their own ideas for their careers are is critical. This begins by questioning aspirations at interview stage and upskilling the Recruitment team to ask the right questions, perhaps even bringing Talent/L&D into those interviews..Introducing ‘Career Conversations’ on a yearly basis for current employees and working with internal comms teams to raise awareness. Linking this to software tools (some online surveys ‘nag’ employees and managers until they’re completed). Encouraging the Business Partner community to follow-up on the results. At the same time setting employee expectations around training and mobility opportunities, and their levels of ‘potential’ are necessary and should dovetail with the organisation’s needs. Two-way honesty is essential; employees shouldn’t feel pressured into wanting the ‘next job’.

6. Internal secondments and ‘stretch opportunities’

7. Deep-diving in exit interviews to improve on the service to future employees

8. Sharing talent between  businesses in the same or different industries; arranging ‘job swaps’ for two years to keep employees engaged, encourage cross-organisational/functional learning and development and reaping the mutual rewards on their returns.

9. Moulding the Recruitment function into more of an ‘internal agency’. This can be achieved by introducing robust processes and data-gathering for passive, internal talent searches. This necessitates engaging with hiring managers on open jobs elsewhere in the business for their team members; having an open dialogue over letting them ‘leave’ and, if not, why not? Perhaps introducing an ‘internal LinkedIn approach’. This, when linked with continuous skills-analysis, in theory should encourage promotion and retention. If organisations don’t offer the opportunities, external headhunters will. To ensure operational consistency and avoid upheaval it is worth considering a ‘length of tenure policy’ (in current role) before approaches can be made.

10. Linked to this ‘internal agency’ initiative,  Talent teams could create ‘internal profiles’ (potentially working with external providers to import data from LinkedIn itself) for employees. For global businesses it’s worth noting the regional differences in EMEA and beyond in terms of reactions to different methods of approach and making that process adaptable.

11. Divesting responsibility to line managers. Supply them with Talent information, psychometrics, skills-gap analyses for their own teams. Most businesses have lean Talent teams so they need to upskill the business; this ties into the concept of having leaders not managers. They might be targeted on people moving out of their teams to bigger roles elsewhere in the business. Another, tangential approach is a mentor scheme; everyone has one other individual in business who is responsible for getting them promoted (this may be on a voluntary basis and feed into reviews/reward).

12. Negotiating geographical/relocation issues in International businesses by having a CoE handle future leader initiatives  and other levels handled in-country.

13. Having the right Technology and Systems is essential to mapping talent; tracking, pulling, and delivering essential data to the business to demonstrate ROI. Many businesses are in the situation where they have more information on their customers than their own employees!

  • Creating a centralised ‘Talent Platform’ to pool employee data gathered by different HR streams and either hiring or divesting responsibility to existing team members for its implementation.
  • Rolling out a ‘career tool’ for employees to log into that tracks their skills; their progress against their current spec/remit; what gaps they need to develop for different lateral moves in specific business lines. Linking this through to an eLearning suite that can, for example, pings alerts for relevant moves that match their predefined aspirations. This may also suggest logical career moves based on existing skills or training interventions to support them.
  • Implementing a ‘digital onboarding process’ where line managers have the responsibility for reading  PDP’s and, if they don’t action them, they are nagged by email. This can circumvent HR being forced into a reactionary mindset.

Identifying the challenges

There are a host of challenges that had been encountered by those businesses present, with no doubt more to arise in the future.  Below are some of the key ones for consideration.

1. Does HR understand the business strategy? Are they demonstrating their ROI and close enough to the business to be considered trusted advisors? The relationship between the HRD/VP of HR and senior leadership is critical in this regard; is there a mutual respect and if not how can that be won? Only then can a cohesive HR strategy be developed.

2. How siloed is HR; who is responsible for each part of the process; what are the touch points and their intervals. Are Talent and Resourcing even speaking the same language?

3. HR not not looking at it from the end-user perspective; do HR look at it from the employee angle? In some organisations the employee might not care who helps out of the Resourcing/Talent/Generalist communities (after all, they’re all HR?!). Is this down to a lack of information sharing / expectation setting and, therefore, trust? Is it issues with the Ulrich model itself; are the next wave of HR professionals no longer experiencing the full spectrum of responsibilities and unable to take a holistic view?

4. The wrong questions asked at interview; can Recruiters spot potential; are results being fed to Talent/L&D for onboarding processes; is the process itself reflective of the organisation’s culture?

5. Legacy systems make it tough to tie together new initiatives/platforms/data.

6. Recruitment Teams can’t access Talent systems (confidentiality/security issues or, sadly, internal politics)

7. ATS’ not capturing feedback properly (perhaps moving to one that sits on a CRM platform is the answer?)

8. With so many technological links to be made (Talent systems/portals, internal mobility tech, ATS’ tracking both external & internal candidates) and even once they’re actioned could this breed an over-reliance on technology? It can’t be a matter of implementing and then sitting back – attitudes must be changed and the business educated.

9. Past performance is not necessarily an  indicator of future achievement; people are ever-changing, not a fixed product.

10. Growth fuelled by acquisition can mean a lack of clarity and dilution of the business’ message / EVP.

11. Changing career-goals. The idea of a fixed, 40-year career path is becoming obsolete. Driven by the Millennial population’s hunger for variety. Perhaps a pragmatic approach needs to be taken; a business has the talent for 2 or 3 years and, if they treat them right, perhaps they’ll loop back round?

12. The business has an ethical responsibility to deliver on promises made at the point of hire and review stages. There is a psychological contract made with candidates when they walk through the door and they must strive to honour it.

13. Hiring for potential isn’t possible in the billing/commercial teams of certain organisations

14. With many businesses having successfully driven down the cost of Recruitment (eg direct hiring initiatives),  time-to-hire is becoming the driver in the market. Any advancements in assessing, measuring and tracking talent must not come at the expense of slick process and risking losing out to competitors. At the same time, if the function is just seen as a cost-saver, can they influence the wider business to adopt these initiatives?

15. Smaller businesses may not have vast and varied internal opportunities so have to be more creative. In these businesses, especially those who have recently grown, Recruitment may often be closer to the employees than wider HR – do they have the skills to handle this responsibility?


As discussed, with many businesses still in the infancy stages of strategy, some at implementation/embedding phase, and even the most advanced only just beginning to see the first sets of data, a consensus on best practice is still some way off. Having said that, when considering how to measure the success of these initiatives it is critical to ensure that this is data-driven to best indicate ROI. This should involve HR functions being brave enough to link individual employee performance data with the business’ performance.

This is not so much of a challenge for Recruitment teams as it is broader Talent/L&D teams. Recruitment is, by its very nature, a metrically-driven function. Many Talent teams find it difficult to quantify the work that they do and this is a next major step. When bridging the gap between Resourcing and Talent being scrupulous around the gathering, storage, and analysis of employee data, throughout their life-cycle is integral to measuring the success of  the HR function and its impact on the business as a whole.

Luke Simpson

Written by ,

Luke Joined Oasis HR in early 2014 having recently graduated from the University of York where he studied English Literature. Before joining Oasis he briefly worked in retail ('just to pay the bills' he maintains, but his wardrobe would suggest otherwise). He has an encyclopedic knowledge of football and a passion for literature and science fiction films.

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