Stop the insanity and change the model, now!


Stop the insanity and change the model, now!

Why now? Because tomorrow it will be too late.

Access to talent remains a critical priority for most organizations while the processes for acquiring talent continues to be an on-going challenge. In spite of billions of dollars spent annually, surveys continue to report general dissatisfaction with recruiting quality, time, and cost as statistics point out chances of hiring a great fit remain low. Every year there are more “magic bullet” solutions, conferences, articles, and thought leaders offering answers. But overall indicators have barely moved.

I propose this stagnation is caused by the on-going use of the traditional recruitment model. Based on filling requisitions, it first appeared around 1945 and remains the standard operating procedure for nearly the entire industry. Sure there have been many technological improvements and an untold number of tweaks, iterations, and reworks of different aspects of the model since ‘45, but it is still the same model.

As an industry, are we not seeing a clear case of insanity? Faced with an ever tightening of the talent supply and recruiters already needing to work 60 or more hours per week, why do we believe the existing model will deliver a different result?

The Great Recession ushered in an era where every operation and expense receives a critical ROI evaluation. Historically spared from such scrutiny, Talent Acquisition must now find the means to “do more with less”. This demand for efficiency coupled with an escalating “war for talent” may have already shifted the decision to transform the way in-house recruitment works from opportunity to requirement.

Business process transformation is not a new phenomenon. Except for recruitment, since the inception of each business function major changes of their operating model have occurred. For example, in 1913 Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line permanently transformed manufacturing. By adopting a more efficient model, Ford developed a major competitive advantage, improved the level of customer satisfaction, and reduced costs!

About 20 years ago “HR transformation” started shifting HR from being a largely administrative function to being a more strategic operation. It has become a more value-driven function that more closely aligns with the mission of their company. Whether reporting to HR or not, isn’t it time to extend this thinking to recruitment? Why has this inefficient and ineffective requisition based model survived so long?

You may read elsewhere about recruitment “transformation”. After extensive research I have yet to see any of these “transformation journeys” being anything more than another reworking of the same old model. Within this article I layout a case for real in-house recruitment transformation from the traditional “Requisition” based to the modern “Optimized” model.

Optimized Recruitment Model

A new operating model where in-house recruitment performs with the ability and agility of the best of external recruiting firms. Where outperforming competition, satisfying internal clients, and operating in a lean and efficient manner become the new normal for organizations that fully adopt this model.

The following three sections describe the key distinctions, components, and benefits of this new model.


Basis “Requisition Based” model “Optimized” model
Production Self-sufficient production, commonly referred to as end-to-end or full life-cycle recruiting, is common Efficient production is achieved by maximizing key player’s time with layers of support resources
Action Reactive in nature; recruiting begins upon receipt of a requisition to hire Proactive recruiting ahead of demand by networking and pre qualifying candidates
Focus Transactional focus on requisitions to be filled now where speed and quantity are the main drivers Strategic partnering with clients by planning and supporting their immediate and long-term needs
Success The hire remains the long-time lone measurement of recruitment success Client satisfaction is now the key determinant of success, although hires remain a critical component


For an organization to realize the model’s distinctions and benefits, the following list of nine operating characteristics must be incorporated into their operation.
1. Process and metrics driven
Maintains and trains a set of operating standards that deliver consistent and desired results. Timely and meaningful metrics are tracked and used to drive performance improvement, maintain focus on key objectives, create realistic forecasts, and support business decisions.
2. Time management is incorporated in the culture
Constantly improves use of time, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.
3. Staff performs only high value and specialist work
Everyone performs work that is core to fulfilling the value of their position and all non-core work is delegated to qualified lower-cost resources.
4. Leverages talent market intelligence
Incorporates research in support of effective recruitment decision making, both from recruitment and client points of view.
5. Uses supply-chain like recruiting model
Operates recruitment process in the context of a manufacturing supply chain where raw materials are prospects and finished product being hires. Various suppliers are used supporting rapid change and scaling to meet needs. Benefits include balancing out supply and demand, improving business planning and working strategies, planning daily operations, and streamlining inventory manage-ment.
6. Uses highly effective and efficient techniques
Best practices are selected, trained, standardized, and fully utilized.
7. Maintains proactive sourcing strategies
This includes both direct sourcing of non-applicants as well as building and maintaining talent pipe-lines. Effective identification of future workforce requirements is incorporated within the strategic planning of the recruiting operation.
8. Manages all process participants
Recruiting and hiring processes involve recruitment and non-recruitment department personnel (e.g. hiring managers). Everyone that affects the process must be managed for maximum performance.
9. Advantageously leverages technologies
Regularly evaluates and implements IT based solutions to maximize efficiency and productivity, in-crease value, and/or reduce the cost of services



Raises the value of Talent Acquisition, improves production metrics, saves time and money, fixes chronic problems, saves hiring manager time, enables change, raises client, candidate, and staff satisfaction levels, and creates a substantial competitive advantage over competition that chooses to continue to operate like it is 1945.

Optimize to Fully Transform

Optimization makes the most effective use of the existing organizational structure thereby saving a tremendous about of time and resources. This opens the possibility for achieving even greater transformational changes. As an example, the organization could be transformed into a more consultative service where members of Talent Acquisition are considered trusted advisors and serve as key partners in client strategic planning.

In my next article I will present a vision of a fully transformed Talent Acquisition organization and discuss the emergence of the “Talent Organization”.

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